The war in Ukraine has brought to the fore some of the Eastern European and Ukrainian cooks that have been writing in Britain recently. Writers such as Ukrainian Olia Hercules, Romanian Irina Georgescu, Polish Ren Behan, and the Scottish-based Caroline Eden. There are no upsides to a war: but we can expect the resulting mass of refugees, to bring us good food, new recipes and brilliant restaurants, in the next few years. Just as we have with Syria, see my story here.
If you have volunteered to take in Ukrainian refugees, here are some recipes that might make them feel more at home.
Vegetarian baked cabbage rolls with sauerkraut
This is a veggie riff on the classic stuffed cabbage dishes of Eastern Europe.
- 1 flat white cabbage (found in Polish shops)
- 200 g rice, cooked
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 brown onions, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jar of wild forest mushrooms in oil (or use fresh mushrooms)
- bunch fresh dill, chopped
- 1 packet sauerkraut
- 2 cubes mushroom stock in 500ml to 1 litre cabbage water
Boil or steam the cabbage until soft then separate out the leaves into petal. Retain the cabbage water.
Steam the rice
Fry the onions till soft and golden then add the garlic
Mix the cooked rice with the onion/garlic mixture, add the mushrooms and dill.
To assemble the rolls:
Oil a deep baking dish (20 x 10cm)
Preheat the oven to 180C
Slice off the thickest part of the cabbage leaf spine so the leaf is finer and easier to roll.
Place a tablespoon of the rice mixture in the centre of the cabbage leaf. Roll over once, then tuck in the sides, continue to roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish.
Continue to do this until all the space in the dish is taken or the cabbage leaves used up.
Place any broken leaves on top of the rolls. Spread generous scoops of the sauerkraut.
Pour over the mushroom stock. Cover the dish with foil.
Bake for 1.5 hours.
Ukrainian Easter bread (Paska)
This is similar to an Italian panettone. If you have the correct mould, great but otherwise use a well-oiled empty 800g tin can. You can leave it plain or simply iced. If you have leftovers, slice them up and use for a bread and butter pudding.
- 175 ml whole milk, warm
- 2 eggs plus an extra yolk if you wish
- 1 tsp active dry yeast or 15g fresh yeast
- 200 g caster sugar
- pinch saffron or turmeric
- 100 g salted butter
- 50 ml sour cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- 375 g plain flour
- 50 g dried sour cherries or 500g fresh or frozen sour cherries
For the icing:
- 100 g icing sugar
- squeeze fresh lemon juice
- blue and yellow sprinkles (optional)
Mix together the warm milk, eggs, yeast, sugar, saffron, butter, sour cream, vanilla. Whisk until pale.
Add in the flour, knead for 15 minutes, then fold in the dried cherries. Leave to rise for 2 hours.
Oil the can well with sunflower oil and fill with the dough. Leave to rise for another hour, Preheat the oven to 180C.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Remove and cool. Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with lemon juice, Drizzle over the pasta .
Pickles to down a Russian drone
It was originally reported that a Ukrainian grandma downed a Russian drone by throwing a jar of cucumber pickles. Subsequently it was revealed that it was, in fact, a jar of pickled tomatoes. Pickles are very Ukrainian and it seems a particularly good weapon with which to combat an invader. I've stuck to cucumbers as they are easier to find than green tomatoes. These are quickly made and a wonderfully tonic side dish for any meal or even in soup. I've also read that Ukrainians dip the cucumbers in honey and eat them like that!
If you have access to oak leaves or blackcurrant leaves, add them as it will add crunchiness.
- Ball or Kilner jar
- 800 g mini cucumbers, washed, quartered lengthways
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- bunch large fresh dill, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 100 ml white vinegar
- 50 g untreated sea salt
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1 small red chilli, chopped
- honey to dip (optional)
Sterilise a one litre jar either by running it through a dishwasher/ clean thoroughly in boiling water or putting it in a hot oven for 15 minutes.
Chop the dill and add to the clean jar along with the bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, chilli.
Add the cucumbers, the vinegar and salt.
Top up with water and seal. Leave for a few hours then keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Odessa herring and egg salad
This recipe is from Caroline Eden's superb food and travel book 'Black Sea' which has a whole chapter on Odessan recipes, many of which are Jewish influenced.
If you can get hold of unfiltered sunflower oil, common in that part of the world, it's a joy. While travelling in Georgia, I would dip my bread in this oil which was every bit as flavoursome as olive oil.
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
- 4 marinated herring fillets, cut into chunks
- 1/2 lemon, juice of
- 2 eggs, hard boiled, halved
- handful radishes, sliced thinly (on a mandoline)
- freshly ground black pepper
Combine the oil, vinegar, sugar, apple and herring in a large bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice and grind on some black pepper. Leave to marinate for 2 hours in the fridge
Drain off most of the liquid from the marinated mix, assemble the herrings, radishes, eggs and drizzle over some of the leftover liquid as a dressing.
Stuffed peppers with roasted buckwheat, with a sour cream, tomato and paprika sauce.
Buckwheat or kasha is a Russian and Ukrainian cereal that is very popular. You can easily buy it, either plain or toasted, in Polish shops.
- deep dish baking tin
- 4 large red peppers, cored, deseeded, with the 'hat' removed
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 200 g feta cheese, cubed
- 150 g Toasted buckwheat, cooked
- handful fresh dill, chopped
- handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 350ml sour cream
- Pinch smoked paprika
Prepare the peppers and cook the buckwheat. Oil a baking tin. Preheat the oven to 180C
Gently fry the onion then add the garlic.
In a bowl mix the cooked onion, garlic, buckwheat, feta, herbs and stuff the mixture into the peppers. Put the 'hat' back on the peppers.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Cook the sauce: add the tinned tomatoes, sour cream, paprika and salt in a pan. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the tomato sour cream sauce to the baking tin of peppers. Bake for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.