Ukrainian recipes: in the kitchen of Mariya Kovalenko


While the cohabitation will last several weeks, even months for some, what better way to discover the culture of your guests than to share a meal around a well-stocked table.

Mariya Kovalenko invited us to her kitchen in Dieppe, New Brunswick, where she kindly agreed to present three typical Ukrainian dishes.

A zucchini dip as a starter, a vegetable pie made from potatoes for the main course and a sweet poppy seed pie to close the feast.

At the age of 4, Kathrine is already taking a liking to cooking. Her favorite dish: pies.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Maya Chebl

Ukrainians love to eat, love to share meals and love to cook, confirms Mariya, who immigrated to Canada with her spouse almost 5 years ago. She gave birth to two of their three children in Moncton.

[La nourriture ukrainienne] is tasty, very high in fat, and traditionally contains a lot of meat and vegetables describes this cooking enthusiast who, despite the traditions of her country, defines herself as a vegetarian.

She even owned a restaurant in her hometown of Kryvyi Rih, located in central Ukraine.

The three recipes that Mariya chose to prepare are relatively easy to make. Even children can join in the game.

From the height of her 4 years, her daughter Kathrine, who has become accustomed to accompanying her in the kitchen, is delighted to get her hands dirty.


Zucchini dip (kabachkova ikra)

Ukrainian vegetable dip

Photo: Radio-Canada / Maya Chebl

There are several ways to prepare zucchini dip (kabachkova ikra). With three children and a job, Mariya likes to opt for the pressure cooker to save a little time and cook several meals simultaneously.

This strategy remains optional, however, as the cooking of the vegetables can just as easily be done in a pan or in a saucepan.

Ingredients :

  • 3 zucchini
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 clove of garlic

Preparation :

  • Coarsely chop the zucchini, peppers, carrot, onion and tomato.
  • In a saucepan, add olive oil and vegetables. Let the mixture cook until the vegetables are very tender (this part can also be prepared in a pressure cooker or in a frying pan).
  • Season with salt, pepper and any other spices of your choice (such as dill, coriander or turmeric).
  • Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and grind it a few times. You want the mixture to be a little more runny and retain some chunks of vegetables.
  • Serve with crackers or sliced ​​bread.

Vegetable pies (kartoplyaniy lezhen)

Ukrainian vegetable pie

Photo: Radio-Canada / Maya Chebl

This vegetable pie, which looks rather like an imposing stuffed bread, is prepared from a mashed potato dough. Ukrainian women are strong because they crush a lot of potatoeslaughs Mariya, at arm’s length.

Usually I open the fridge and use whatever vegetables I have on hand., she explains, talking about the filling of her recipe. In this case, she had carrots, peppers, baby corn and broccoli. But it would have been possible, she says, to put cabbage, cauliflower, beets or zucchini.

Doting with seasoning, she sprinkles her ingredients with spices such as turmeric or dill seeds. The latter are often found in Ukrainian gastronomy. It adds a nice smellshe mentions in passing.

Ingredients (for the dough)

  • 5 large potatoes
  • Yogurt

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper cut into small pieces
  • Broccoli cut into small pieces
  • A handful of cut baby corn

Preparation

  • In a saucepan, add the potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender (this step can be done the day before).
  • After cutting the vegetables, cook them in a pan in a drizzle of olive oil. Season with the spices of your choice (salt, pepper, dill seeds, turmeric, etc.). Remove when tender or before, depending on your preference.
  • Once the potatoes are well cooked, peel them, then mash them, while adding cooking water or yogurt, until a paste is obtained. Season with salt.
  • Place the potato dough on parchment paper and flatten it with your fingers into a half-inch-thick rectangle.
  • Pour the vegetables over the dough and roll the dough around using parchment paper.
  • Garnish with olive oil and sesame seeds, onion seeds and thyme.
  • On a baking sheet, place in a preheated 350°F oven for about 40 minutes, or until a golden coating appears on the surface of the dough.

Sweet poppy seed pie (makoviy plyacok)

Poppy seed pie

Photo: Radio-Canada / Maya Chebl

A finger-licking pie, trusting little Kathrine who struggles to resist the sweet taste of the dough.

For this recipe, the ideal is to do it in advance, advises Mariya, by preparing the poppy seeds the day before, or at least a few hours before. The preparation must be completely cooled before it can be added to the mixture.

The pie dough has something to please the little ones.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Maya Chebl

This dessert calls for a good dose of sugar and butter, just like high-fat Ukrainian cuisine. The recipe makes two pies.

Ingredients (for the dough)

  • 300 g all-purpose flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 150g sugar (about 3/4 cup)
  • 180 g softened butter (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup yogurt or fresh cream

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 200g poppy seeds (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 130 g sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 100g butter (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (or cornstarch)

Preparation

  • In a small saucepan, cover the poppy seeds with water and allow an inch overhang.
  • Boil for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • In the blender, put the poppy seeds (keeping a little water), butter, sugar and rice flour (or corn starch). Mix until you obtain a more or less homogeneous and slightly thick preparation.
  • For the dough, pour the flour, sugar, butter and baking soda into a food processor and mix. Add the yogurt or fresh cream then mix until a ball forms.
  • To assemble, divide dough and filling into two equal portions.
  • Flatten the dough in the oven from the pan (about half an inch thick) then sprinkle a little rice flour before pouring in half the poppy filling.
  • Place in a preheated 350°F oven for about 40 minutes.

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