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Thursday, 30 August 2012


Since I love eggplant, it wasn’t difficult to make my second choice from the many borsch recipes offered in Bohdan Zahny’s The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine

Surprisingly, there is no vinegar or lemon juice in this excellent borsch, but we did not miss it.

BORSCH Z BAKLAZHANAMY (Borsch with Eggplants)

½ pound beets
½ pound eggplants  (this is double Bohdan’s amount but next time I would add even more)
½ pound potatoes  (if desired – I didn’t use potatoes)
½ pound cabbage
½ pound green pepper  (but Bohdan suggests 2 green peppers)
¼ pound carrot
¼ cup tomatoes
¼ pound onions
8 cups degreased chicken broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/8 tsp pepper
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup sour cream 
1 tbsp each dill and parsley for garnish

1.       Julienne beets and cut the eggplant into large dice.  Set aside on one plate.  (Large pieces of eggplant mean you'll get to recognize their melt-in-the-mouth texture in the midst of all the other vegetables.)
2.      Cut into small pieces cabbage, green pepper, carrot, tomatoes, and onions.  Set aside on another plate.
3.      Chop dill and parsley and set aside.
4.      Peel and julienne potato if using.
5.      Put beets, eggplants, tomato paste, pepper, and chicken broth into Dutch oven and bring to a boil.  (also potato, if desired)
6.      Add bay leaves and the rest of the vegetables.  Cook for 15 minutes.
7.      Taste for salt.  Add ½ tsp if needed.
8.      Add sugar and cook another minute. 

9.      When serving, put a tsp of sour cream in each bowl and garnish with parsley and dill. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

PICKLES # 1 : Marinada v Ohirkiw

AUGUST 28:  My nephew Lorne’s birthday

George, Aline, and Lorne

Yesterday, my sister-in-law, Aline, sent me a recipe for some of the pickles she’s been making.  The name of the pickles struck me as a perfect description of George and Aline’s feelings in the picture of them with their first child.


Aline got this recipe from the Ukrainian ladies cookbook of Roblin, Manitoba.

24 cups sliced cucumbers (Aline uses big cucumbers)
12 large onions, sliced
3 green peppers, chopped in squares
Put 1 cup salt over these ingredients and let stand 3 hours, then drain and wash.

1 1/2 qt. vinegar
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup mustard seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
1 can pimiento, juice and all
1 red bell pepper (sweet)  chopped in squares
Boil the sauce, then mix the vegetables in  and bring to a boil.

Fill jars and wipe the tops.
Seal with snap tops.  Aline likes the snap tops because everything is so hot and you close it up and the tops pop telling you that it’s sealed.

                                                           Wait a week before using. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012


In Ukraine, you’re fascinated by this old lady   . . .

                                                                      and these ones

                                              when all you did was set out to see the church.


At my dinner, I thought it was going to be all about the ham . . .

but then I took a forkful of  the potatoes . . . 


based on a recipe in Taste of Home magazine, Feb/March 1995
2 lbs 12 ounces potatoes (up to 3 pounds)
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp flour
1 and ½ cups milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
12 ounces Old Cheddar

  1.  Boil unpeeled potatoes in enough water to cover and 1 tsp salt.
  2. Peel cooked potatoes, cut in cubes, and put in 9x9 casserole (needs a lid).
  3. Grate cheese and set by the stove.
  4. Make cheese sauce in a saucepan:
-          melt the butter over medium heat
-          stir in flour with a whisk
-          stir in milk with whisk.  When lumps are gone, use a wooden spoon to stir sauce until it thickens.
-          stir in the cheese until melted
  1.  Pour cheese sauce over potatoes.
  2. Sprinkle with paprka.
  3.  Potatoes can wait now until one hour before dinner. 

  1.  One hour before dinner, preheat oven to 350. 
  2.  Cover potatoes and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.


Friday, 24 August 2012

OVOCHI -- Zucchini Matchsticks

Exotic Vegetables

Mom grew all the usual stuff in her farm garden and even tried some unusual things like watermelon and green peppers.  A lot of stuff, though, I never experienced until I left home.
The first time I tasted zucchini, for example,  was in England.   They were called courgettes and were about 3 inches long and ½ inch thick -- in other words, baby zucchini.

So when Bryan and I had our first garden, we had to have zucchini and, boy, do those things grow.  The recipe  below can be used with those huge ones as well as the regular ones in grocery stores.


1 ¾ pounds zucchini
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp dill weed (or 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill)
1 pound onion
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp flour
1 cup sour cream

EARLY IN THE DAY preparation:

1.       Chop and cook onion in oil in large frying pan for 5 to 10 minutes until tender.
2.      Stir in the flour and sour cream and turn off the heat.
3.      Stir in all the seasonings.
4.      Slice zucchini into matchsticks (3 inches long x ¼ thick)
5.      Mix zucchini into cooled onion mixture.
6.      Cover and let sit until 5 minutes before serving time.


Leave cover on.   Turn element on to medium and heat up zucchinis.   They will be tender but not overdone.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hryby (Mushrooms)

Mushrooms for sale in YAREMCHE RYNOK, Ukraine


August  22, 1980:  Mary Stadnyk wrote:

I have been very busy last and this week ,  mostly this week.   Have no time to write letters.  
I have been picking raspberries.   Made 2 gallons wine and canned 8 quarts raspberries, canned 17 pints mushrooms, and 5 pints peas, 5 quarts borsch, and picked two more pails of peas and shelled them today.   Tomorrow I will can them.   I have pickled 14 quarts cucumber dills and yesterday picked the last of raspberries. 

Mom was almost 68 years old at that time.


Canning mushrooms, on top of everything else?    I’ve never canned anything.


9 ounces button mushrooms
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/3 cup stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 tbsp sherry
salt & pepper
Dill for garnish

  1.  Slice mushrooms.
  2. Chop garlic .
  3. Heat oil.   SautĂ© mushrooms and garlic over high heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in vinegar and stock.  When liquid is gone, add sherry and stir until absorbed.
  6.  Serve with steak, etc.  

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


It’s almost tomato season and my sister, Diana, emailed me this memory from when she was a teenager on the farm:

Covering the kitchen floor were pails and pails of tomatoes.  To me, it meant sandwiches.

I liked toasted tomato sandwiches . . . they were my brother's and sister's favorite sandwich too.

 We made our toasted tomato sandwiches day after day. 

Then, out of the blue, my sandwich was borrrring .  I added something new – mustard relish.   It was good.

One night we had a visitor.  Mom made a fresh pot of tea.  I made my new special sandwiches.

 Mom and the visitor bit into their sandwiches .  Then they looked at each other.

“Kids,” said Mom.

Diana’s school photo: 1962?

Monday, 20 August 2012


With the Lonely Planet as our guide, my daughter and I travelled to the Crimea to visit Chufut-Kale, which dates back sometime between the 6th and 12th centuries.

Somehow we managed to get on the right bus and off at the right (unmarked) spot. 

We climbed up and up, past vendors of arts and crafts to the deserted city.

Rooms were carved into the rock.

I loved the window seats.

The views into the gorge were spectacular.


 Russian is the preferred language in the Crimea.  For example, when I asked at our hotel about snidanok  (breakfast) I got a blank stare; the operative word was zowtruk. 

Lonely Planet informed us that one of the Crimean dishes offered in restaurants is:

PLOV:  serves 8 to 10

*make the lamb stock a day before making Plov

(based on a recipe in From Borshch to Blinis by Catherine Atkinson)

Fresh Leg of Lamb
salt, peppercorns, whole cloves

½ cup raisins
½ cup pitted prunes
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion
1 pound lamb (from Leg of Lamb)
½ pound ground lamb (also from Leg of Lamb)
5 garlic cloves
2/3 cup lamb stock
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

4 cups lamb stock
2 cups Basmati rice
½ tsp salt
1 tsp saffron
mint for garnish

  1.  Debone lamb leg. 
  2. Weigh out 1 and ½ pounds of lamb meat.  Wrap in plastic and keep in fridge until ready to make plov. 
  3. Freeze remaining lamb meat for another use.
  4. Cover bones with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. 
  5. Remove scum and add 1 tsp salt, 10 peppercorns, and 4 whole cloves.
  6. Simmer uncovered for one hour.
  7. Strain and refrigerate.  (Before using for plov, remove the hardened fat.)

Prepare fruit and meat:

1.        Cover raisins and prunes with ½ cup water.  Let soak for 1 hour.
Drain, then quarter the prunes.  Reserve for adding to the rice.

2.       Peel and chop onion in food processor.
3.       Peel garlic.
4.       Cut one pound of lamb into ½ inch chunks.
5.       Grind the remaining lamb in food processor.
6.       Heat butter in large frying pan.  Cook onion for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
7.       Add  garlic that has been crushed through a garlic press.
8.       Stir in ground lamb and lamb chunks.  Brown lamb for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  
9.        Add 2/3 cup lamb stock,  1 tbsp lemon juice,  ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper.  Bring to a boil.
10.   Cover, lower heat, and cook for 45 to 50 minutes (until tender).

Prepare Rice:

1.        In Dutch oven combine rice with 4 cups stock, ½ tsp salt, and saffron.  Bring to a boil.
2.       Cover and reduce heat.  Cook for 15 minutes.
3.       Take off heat.  (If there is still liquid, it will be absorbed in the next 5 minutes.)


1.        Gently stir hot meat and fruit into hot rice.
2.       Taste for salt and pepper.
3.       Turn into serving dish and garnish with mint.

Serve with a lettuce salad and another side dish such as mushrooms.  

If a second meat dish is desired, Chicken Kiev is a good choice. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012


Crimea, September, 2008

Bohdan says that Kherson Borsch is popular in Southern Ukraine.

It has taken me a long time to appreciate a chilled soup.  For instance, I have a wonderful Four Seasons recipe for Vichyssoise but, after trying it chilled once, I’ve always served it piping hot.

Bohdan Zahny’s book, The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine, offers 21 different recipes for borsch so why did I choose a chilled version? 

First of all, I had buttermilk in the fridge.   Secondly, every window in the apartment was thrown open trying to catch a breeze.   Offering a chilled soup to my guests suddenly made complete sense.

 I wasn’t totally surprised when it tasted great.   I was finally ready to enjoy a chilled soup . . . so I did.
That’s the key  .  . .  confidence in what you’re going to serve. 


p. 38 in Bohdan Zahny’s book, The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine

2 medium or 3 small beets
3 cups water
½ cup halved cucumber slices
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
2 tsp fresh dill
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk

  1.  Wash, trim, and quarter the unpeeled beets.
  2. Boil covered in 3 cups water for 15 minutes.  Test with a fork.
  3. Lift out beets and reserve water.
  4. Cool, peel, and chop beets.  Return to the water.
  5. Add cucumber, green onions, lemon juice, honey, chopped dill, pepper, salt, and buttermilk.
  6.  Chill before serving.

Friday, 17 August 2012


Savella says that potatoes are ‘the mainstay’ of meals in Ukraine.  

That was also true for our farm in Canada. 

                                                     my sister, Diana, with potatoes in background

Mother had not one but two huge gardens – one was right by the house, the other about a mile away.   Imagine trudging to the far garden on hot summer afternoons to battle the portulaca weed, Mom’s most hated enemy.
About half of each garden was for potatoes.  Mom hoed and hilled those potatoes and dusted them.  (Even so, I still remember picking off potato bugs and their disgusting pink larvae.)

Then, in the fall, pail after pail of potatoes rolled through the basement window into a storage bin.



Cocktail: the Bronx:  popular in the 1900s before Prohibition  

Appetizer:  Pickled eggs with delicious Swedish Rye Bread:

   from Bake Your Own Bread by Floss and Stan Dworkin:  made by my very own Cheflovik!                  

Soup:  Chilled Kherson Style Borsch:  “The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine” by Bohdan Zahny, p. 38 : 

Main:   Baked Farmer’s Sausage
Sides:    Bukovina Salad:  recipe provided below
                Lettuce Salad

Dessert:   Orange Pecan Cake from Grandma Rose’s Book of Sinfully Delicious Cakes…



based on Bohdan Zahny’s recipe in The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine

1 pound cooked sausage:  garlic sausage, smokies, etc.
3 ½ pounds potatoes
8 ounce carrots
2 green peppers (about 12 ounces)
4 green onions
1 cup frozen chopped green beans
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne

  1.  Boil potatoes in their jackets in salted water.  Peel and chop into 1 inch cubes.  Put in large bowl.
  2. Peel and boil carrots.  Add to potatoes.
  3. Boil green beans.  Add to potatoes.
  4. Chop green peppers into ½ inch squares.  Add to potatoes.
  5. Chop green onions.  Add to potatoes.
  6. Chop cooked sausage.  Add to potatoes.  (Or you can serve the sausage separately as a hot meat dish . . . that’s what I did.)
  7. Stir seasonings into mayonnaise.
  8. Stir mayonnaise into potatoes.
  9. Refrigerate until serving. 

My daughter loved the meat-mayo-veg salads in Ukraine and asked me to make one.  I will incorporate the meat and serve this salad as an appetizer sometime.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

SYRNYK (Cheesecake)

When we visited our cousins in Ukraine, Miroslava went to no end of trouble with our breakfast.

 For sure, she served chicken noodle soup and vareniki, but, you name it, it was probably on the table that morning .

The most irresistible dish for me was Miroslava’s elaborately decorated Cheesecake.   

                             Alexander, Miroslava, their granddaughter, my brother, and I

According to Catherine Atkinson, a Raisin Cheesecake is a Ukrainian dessert that is an Easter specialty.

Cousin Marilyn wrote: "I actually prefer cottage cheese in my cheesecake, with fresh strawberries or other fresh fruit , you would love it too! I do remember Grandma making the cottage cheese cake with raisins."

I am not as much a fan, however, of cheesecakes made with ricotta cheese as of those made with cream cheese.  
Does anyone remember those wonderfully tart and creamy Eaton’s cheesecakes that you could buy in their Winnipeg Foodhall or Restaurants?  

 I’ve spent years experimenting with different recipes trying unsuccessfully to duplicate that Eaton’s Portage Avenue Cheesecake.
 Finally, Bryan and I have just developed a recipe for cheesecake that pleases us.   We gave it a fresh lemon topping that harmonizes with the slightly tart cheesecake.   This topping was inspired by a recipe in Grandma Rose's Book of Sinfully Delicious Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Cheese Cakes, Cake Rolls & Pastries by Rose Naftalin. 

However, its base was not so great.   I love butter pastry but have not yet found or developed a reliable shortcrust recipe.

Our cheesecake was made with Catherine Atkinson’s butter crust, but the dough was rather dry and the finished crust was tough.  Next time I make it, I’ll use more butter and water. 

A graham cracker crust would work, but I think another really good choice would be to use Suburban Grandma’s vanilla cookie base.  


1 cup whipping cream
500 g cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

  1.  Prepare the base for the cheesecake in a pie plate or springform pan.
  2. Soften cream cheese by leaving it on the counter for at least an hour.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla.
  4. In another large bowl, beat the whipping cream to the soft peak stage.
  5. Beat the whipping cream into the cream cheese.
  6. Pour the filling into the base and refrigerate for several hours until firm.
  7. Prepare lemon topping or use your own favorite topping.   (e.g. Cherry pie filling was used on the Eaton’s Cheesecake.) 

½ cup sugar
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup boiling water
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp lemon juice
grated rind of 2 lemons

1.      Put water on to boil in a kettle.
2.      Separate eggs and reserve yolks in a medium bowl.
3.      Mix together cornstarch, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.
4.      Using a wire whisk, add boiling water to the saucepan.
5.      Stir until thick and smooth.
6.      Add butter to the sauce.
7.      Stir some hot sauce into the egg yolks.
8.      Stir all the egg yolks into the saucepan and cook for 3 minutes.
9.      Blend in lemon juice and rind and set aside to cool completely.
10.  Spread on the cheesecake and refrigerate. 

Monday, 13 August 2012


CHICKEN PYRIZHKY APPETIZERS:  easier to make than vareniki! 
The dough pinches together very easily and you don’t have to worry about them coming apart.  Just stick them in the oven and voilĂ !   

2 tbsp butter
½ tsp sugar
½ cup lukewarm water
1 tsp yeast
½ cup milk
2 cups flour  (more if necessary)

1.        Melt butter and set aside.
2.       Dissolve sugar in lukewarm water.
3.       Sprinkle yeast on top.  Let sit for 5 minutes.
4.       Turn oven on to 350 degrees.  Time for 1 minute and turn off.
5.       Heat milk to lukewarm.
6.       Put one cup flour into large mixing bowl.  
7.       Stir together milk, butter, and yeast.
8.       Stir milk mixture into flour.
9.       Mix in the second cup of flour and knead to make a soft dough.
10.   Put back in mixing bowl, cover, and put in warm oven to rise for one hour.
11.   Grease a large baking sheet.
12.   Prepare the filling.


based on From Borshch to Blinis by Catherine Atkinson

4 ounces onion
6 ounces chicken breast
1 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup water  (or stock:  vegetable or chicken)
¼ cup chopped parsley (include stems as well as leaves)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1.        Grind the chicken in a food processor.
2.       Chop onion finely in the food processor.
3.       Heat a frying pan on medium heat; then add oil.
4.       Fry the onion and chicken together for 8 to 10 minutes.
5.       Add the salt and pepper.
6.       Stir in the water.  Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the element.
7.       Chop the parsley.
8.       Stir parsley and nutmeg into the chicken.

1.        Roll out the dough and cut out 3 inch circles. 
2.       Place a teaspoon of filling on a circle and pinch together.

3.       Once the baking sheet is full, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for pyrizhky to rise.

4.       Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1.        Bake for 5 minutes at 425. 
2.       Lower heat to 400 degrees and bake 10 more minutes.  (Check after 5 minutes.  If they are browning too fast, lower heat again to 375 degrees.)

REHEATING:  Preheat oven to anywhere between 350 and 400 degrees.  Put pyrizhky in, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes.

And now, a little more Leschyshyn history for you to chew on: 

When  my mother, Mary, was growing up,  a crock of butter was taken to a store and traded for bar soap and bluing and groceries such as flour, grits (Cream of Wheat), oatmeal, rice, Lily’s white syrup, Rogers’ corn syrup, sugar, raisins, and tea.  They also got bran –  finer bran was mixed into flour while coarser bran was fed to the pigs.