- Borscht: A must try. There are more versions than imaginable, so just pick one that sounds good. Green borscht, made with sorrel and no beets, is a favorite in Greg’s family, but finding fresh sorrel in the winter is difficult. Make a meaty borscht with red beets. It should be sour. Greg likes his borscht so thick that a fork will stand up straight in the bowl, but his dad likes it very brothy. Either way is right, so make it as I like.
- Varenyky and Perohy: Varenyky are similar to pierogi. They can be filled with anything….mashed potato and onion, liver, or even cherries. Perohy are also dumplings stuffed with the same types of fillings, but they are very small…the smaller the better. A cook who can make the tiniest of perohy is revered.
- Greg’s Ukrainian Appetizer: While he didn’t know the English name for the dish, he explained that most Ukrainian restaurants cook peas in lard, mash them with garlic, salt, and pepper, and serve it on Russian black bread as an appetizer. He also explained that in the Ukraine this would more likely be made with kidney beans than peas.
- Blintz: Make with ground meat and onion like you’d use in shepherd’s pie. Roll like a tamale, not like a crepe. Fry in lard to crisp the edges.
- Kiev: One of the most famous dishes from Ukraine. A definite must. Serve it with potatoes.
- Vinigret: Greg’s dad’s favorite dish. A salad made with beets. Very important to cut up all vegetables in the same sizes.
- Olivye: A salad served at EVERY special occasion.
- Latkes: A family favorite.
- Pork: They eat lots of it.
- Sour Cream: Serve it with everything.
Despite my adoration for roasted beets, I never found the idea of borscht appealing. In full disclosure, I knew nothing about it beyond the fact that it was a beet stew, its pink coloration in photos reminded me of Pepto-Bismol, and its mention summoned images of a circa 1950s housewife trying to impress her husband’s boss at a dinner party. I was so wrong.
|chicken kiev served with |
mashed potatoes and peas
Although its components are simple, assembling Chicken Kiev is not an easy task. The key to successfully preparing the dish is rolling the chicken so tightly around the butter that it cannot escape while frying. If properly prepared, a distinctive “poof” of air releasing can be heard when cutting into the center of the roll. After several attempts to roll the chicken tightly, I gave up and tied mine with cooking string. I’m not sure if that’s considered cheating, but I knew that my rolls would never stay together enough to achieve the necessary “poof” without a little help. Cheating or not, it worked. I leaned in closely as I cut into my first piece of Chicken Kiev, and sure enough…I heard it. I sighed with amazement. Everything worked like it should. The chicken was moist; the breading was crisp; and the compound butter pooled onto my plate and provided a perfect elevation of flavor. I cannot say that there was anything particularly different or interesting about the flavors here, but the simplicity of the ingredients and the technique for preparation certainly result in a well-cooked piece of chicken, which is not always as easy as some might think.