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Ukrainian dishes

Nalenski. Pixabay photo

By Barbara Beltrami

As I pottered around my kitchen preparing dinner, the evening news was on the TV. I watched the tragedy in Ukraine unfold with its shattered buildings and shattered lives, deliberate assaults on hospitals and shelters, courage and heroism and knew that for so many Ukrainians, there was no longer a home or a kitchen, where a babushka or young mother stood cooking a batch of varenyky or pirohi (dumplings), chicken kyev, a pot of borscht (beet soup) or holubsti (stuffed cabbage), a pan of nalesniki (cream cheese filled crepes) or deruny (potato pancakes).

Today my friend Svitlana told me that her family has safely escaped to Poland, but for so many innocent victims of this cruel siege by an unhinged Russian egomaniac, there will be no food, no shelter, and for some, no life. I dedicate this column to them and their heroism.


YIELD: Makes 16 crepes



5 eggs

1 1/4 cups flour

2 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

3 ounces melted unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


1 1/2 pounds small curd cottage cheese, rinsed and drained

1/2 pound cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a 9” x 13” baking dish. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer beat together the eggs and flour until most of the lumps are gone. With mixer on low speed beat in the milk, then the salt, sugar, butter  and oil. Heat a 10” crepe pan or nonstick skillet over low heat. Pour 1/4 cup of prepared batter into pan and tilt to evenly distribute it; when edges are slightly crisp, about one minute, carefully flip the crepe and cook another 30 to 45 seconds, remove, place on plate and repeat with remaining batter. 

In a medium-large bowl, beat together the cottage cheese, cream cheese and sugar; place a crepe on a flat surface, spread with a thin layer of cheese mixture and, starting with the end closest to you, tightly roll into a long, thin log; repeat procedure with remaining crepes. Place half of them in baking dish, drizzle with half the butter, then repeat procedure with remaining crepes. Bake about 30 minutes, cut logs in half and serve with jam and tea.


YIELD: Makes 4 servings


12 -16 outer leaves from 1 large head green cabbage

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled, finely grated

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 3/4 cups water

1 large bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground beef

1/3 cup long grain white rice, pre-cooked for 5 minutes

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill


Fill a large bowl with ice water.  In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the cabbage leaves, one to two minutes, until they are bright green and pliable; carefully place them in ice water, then drain them between several layers of paper towels. 

In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and cook half the onion and all the carrots until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes; add tomato paste and sugar and cook another minute or two, until caramelized. Add tomatoes, water and bay leaf and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and season. 

Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine ground meat, remaining onion and rice; season with salt and pepper and thoroughly combine ingredients. Working one at a time, cut center stem from each cabbage leaf; place two generous tablespoons of meat mixture in center of leaf, fold the sides over and roll up. Place, seam side down in pot, repeat with remaining cabbages leaves and filling and nestle them close together in pot; bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low, partially cover and cook about 40 minutes, until done. Remove bay leaf, transfer with cabbage rolls and sauce to bowl or platter and serve hot with sour cream.