Ukrainian soul food

Potato and cheese pierogies or varenykyin Ukrainian are the ultimate comfort food. Enveloped in a silky dough of sour cream filled with a variety of simple ingredients, varenyky are a dumpling from Ukraine in Eastern Europe that anyone can enjoy at home. In the United States and Ukraine, or wherever Ukrainian diaspora have created lasting communities, one of the most popular and traditional varenyky filling are caramelized onion, potato, and cheddar cheese.

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This recipe works well with any sharp cheddar available in grocery stores. For further fillings, use the dough recipe below and then complete a simple Google search for mixtures such as sauerkraut, farmer’s cheese, fresh cabbage, mushrooms, berries, plum, and apple.

Varenyky are traditionally consumed in late 19th and 20th-century Ukrainian tradition with sour cream, more hot butter, and caramelized onions.

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Varenyky require a lot of time on your feet, so be sure to set aside 3-4 hours total from the start of the dough and filling, to the boiling of the last varenyk. Approximation and trial/error are techniques that can easily be practice in this recipe.

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Varenyky

October 11, 2015

This distinctly Ukrainian dumpling recipe can be made absolutely any time of the year, with any type of filling.

  • 65 varenyky

Ingredients

  • 5 c flour
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 c or so  water not cold
  • 2 c grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 6 onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 12 medium yellow potatoes, peeled
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh dill (optional garnish)

Instructions

Dough

  1. Beat eggs lightly, mix with flour. Add (sufficiently cooled) butter then sour cream.
  2. Slowly add water in increments. Set in kneading machine on low setting for 5-7 minutes until dough forms. (If by hand, knead a few minutes longer). Dough should be silky upon completion, not as dense as bread dough. Set dough aside in refrigerator for use later.

Potato Filling

  1. Cook diced onions in a pan with 2 TBS butter until caramelized and lightly brown.
  2. Cut and boil peeled potatoes until done. Drain water and add butter, grated cheddar, half the caramelized onions, and salt & pepper. Cover with lid to melt. Then use a potato masher to combine, not whip, the mixture.

Assemble the varenyky

  1. Roll out a portion of the dough with flour above and beneath the dough to easily pull it up. Use the top of a glass at least 3" in diameter to cut out as many circles in your flattened dough as you can fit. Recombine discarded dough to roll out with a new batch later.
  2. Use a melon baller or small ice-cream scoop to portion even amounts of potato filling into a single dough circle. To make the dumpling, stretch out top and bottom of dough circle to create an oval, place scooped mixture in center, and then attach top and bottom pieces of dough to form a "half-moon" around the potato filling. Finish by pinching the dough closed very tightly from edge to edge. Fold in and pinch in corners. Seal tightly so that no dumplings open during boiling later.
  3. Bring half a large pot of water to boil. Boil varenyky for 8-10 minutes, or until they rise to the top and simmer in the rolling water for a few minutes. Continually top off water and keep it boiling as you cook each batch after punching and sealing, in sums of about a dozen.
  4. Serve freshly boiled with remaining caramelized onions and a new dollop of sour cream. Add fresh chopped dill on top as an optional garnish.
  5. To freeze: organize batches of cooled varenyky into freezer gallon bags. You can easily fit a dozen into a single bag. Freeze, and then reheat by boiling or frying to prepare and eat as if they were just freshly made.

Eggplant parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is a classic casserole dish in the United States. In this recipe, the bread crumbs used are Progresso Italian Style Bread Crumbs, and any seasoned or Italian flavored brand from the store will work.

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The oil used to fry and prepare the eggplant for the casserole is grapeseed oil. There are many other oils that have high smoke points depending on your budget.

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I am so thankful for our access to local, farm fresh produce in the Boston area. If you can’t make it to the farmer’s market, consider a local area CSA or pickup for great deals.

Visit localharvest.org to browse farmer’s market products via e-commerce, or find a local CSA membership program that you and your family or roommates can join.

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Eggplant Parmesan

August 16, 2015

Choose eggplants that have bright green stems and healthy, shiny skin for freshest taste. This dinner can easily be reheated and frozen for even more delicious leftovers anytime you need a quick, filling meal.

  • 45m
  • 45m
  • 1h 30m
  • 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 c italian bread crumbs
  • 2 c grapeseed oil
  • chopped fresh basil leaves (garnish)
  • 1 jar italian tomato sauce
  • 1 c shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 pkg mozzarella (sliced)
  • ground fresh black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice eggplants into 3/4" sices. Beat egg and mix with milk and salt in a bowl for dipping. In another bowl, pour breadcrumbs.
  2. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg and milk mixture. Then, dip the slice into the breadcrumbs. Repeat this process for all eggplant slices and discard leftover milk, egg, and bread crumbs.
  3. Heat approximately 3 tablespoons oil in a cast iron skillet to medium. Once oil is hot, fill pan discs to fry. Flip after golden brown on each side. Set finished and fried eggplant slices on a plate or pan lined with paper towel for cooling.
  4. With completed fried eggplant, fill 9x13" pan with a bottom layer of tomato sauce, placing the eggplant on top in a single layer. Then, cover with tomato sauce again. Cover with half of parmesan cheese, and half of sliced mozzarella cheese. Place another layer of eggplant on top of the cheese layer, and cover that with tomato sauce. Repeat by covering with parmesan cheese, then the remaining sliced mozarella cheese.
  5. Cover with fresh ground pepper, and set to bake in a 350°F oven for 30-45 minutes, until bubbly. Garnish with fresh sliced basil to serve with a spatula.