A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Archive for Food

Bliny with red caviar

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After traveling for two weeks in Russia, I returned to Ukraine with the great desire to eat caviar and sip champagne (very rare delicacies here, whereas every restaurant in Moscow and Saint Petersburg will offer these on the menu). I splurged and prepared the most delicious homecoming treat in this part of the world!

Read the full recipe here.

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Borsht

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One of the great things about Passover in Ukraine is that many of the dishes we normally eat are naturally kosher for Pesach. A prime example is borsht, perhaps the most well-known and beloved example of Ukrainian cuisine. Every Ukrainian woman has her own version and so I present to you my very own, one of a kind, borsht recipe.

Read full recipe

The Jew & The Carrot

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This is a public service announcement.

Henceforth, all recipes will be posted on The Jew & The Carrot, the epicenter of Jews, food, and sustainability on the web. I am now a contributor for the “Best New Blog” and “Best Kosher Food/Recipe Blog,” as awarded by the Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards in 2007. I’ll be adding a new recipe or food-related post every week, so be sure to check it out!

In fact, I just wrote an introductory post, Stranger in a strange land, and tomorrow at noon you’ll find an entry on February 23 and my famous vinaigrette. Coming soon: borsht, Pelmeni (both the classic and kosher variations), Ukrainian shwarma, and mushrooms a la Drapkina!

A look back at Hanukkah

New s*** has come to light, man.

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We began with Amir lighting the candles. Ina, standing next to him, is the most religious amongst us in the office, other than Amir and Sharon, that is.

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Mimoza salad

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This is a traditional Soviet party dish, so put on your party hat, cause it’s gonna be GRATE! (Sorry, I just can’t help myself. Bad puns are like a disease.) You’ll need:

  • A can of your favorite fish. I used сайра (sorry; I don’t know how to say it in English!), which looks a lot like a sardine and is similar in taste to tuna.
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  • 4 eggs
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large onion (any kind will do, but unless you’re really an onion nut, I would recommend green or red, as these are slightly milder in flavor)
  • 2 large potatoes (your preferred kind)
  • A healthy amount of mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the eggs, carrots, and potatoes for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the fish into a paste and spread an even layer on the bottom of a plate:

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Cover with a layer of mayonnaise. I don’t love mayo, so I tried to use as little as possible, but this is literally the glue that holds the whole dish together, so don’t spread it too sparingly:

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When the eggs, carrots, and potatoes have finished boiling, let them cool. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, grate the whites, and spread them evenly on top of the layer of mayo paste you just added:

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Here add a very thin layer of mayo (this is the only time it is recommended to be sparse). Next grate the carrots and spread them on top of the whites.

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Add another normal layer of mayo (as before on top of the fish). Chop the onion as finely as possible (very important! I was lazy and left my pieces fairly large, and it proved quite difficult to spread the mayo evenly and to add the next layer to the salad, as you can see in the picture). Add this as the next layer.

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You get the pattern. Spread another normal helping of mayo as evenly as possible. Now grate the potatoes and add them as the next layer.

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Spread your last layer of mayo, again your normal amount. If you’re really not into blander food, and you know you’re going to add salt and pepper eventually, this is the best time to do so. When you’ve sprinkled and spiced to your heart’s content, crush the egg yolks as finely as possible and sprinkle them evenly on top of the potatoes.

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All that remains are the decorations! Dig in and enjoy. Priatnovo apetita!

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Vareniki

Vareniki are Russian dumplings filled with potato, cheese, mushrooms, cabbage, or of course, meat. I made mine with potato and onion.

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Ukrainian Cagor

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The problem is, I can’t decide if I like sweet wines or not. My initial impression was not, but then I tried a more traditional Bastardo the other week (I forgot to write it up in the blog, but it was good enough to bring home to my parents as a gift, so that says something), and it just didn’t do it for me, either.

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Massandra Red Muscat Livadia

I have been craving muscat grapes for two weeks straight now, so I could not resist a muscat red when it presented itself so affordably to me in the supermarket the other week. This wine truly lives up to its name. While its scent is merely that of a sweet red, the taste is so much more. It is very sweet and very intense, almost overpowering in its fruitiness. It immediately warms the entire pallate with its almost spicy glow. Although I do not usually like such sweet wines, I am getting used to Crimean reds, and this one is my favorite that I’ve tried. Although it does have an almost sticky sweet aftertaste, it is still pungent and alive with dancing flavor. (This wine is also very alcoholic– 16%, and gave me a happy buzz after the first sip!)

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Baklazhannaya Ikra

This eggplant spread is another very common Ukrainian dish served at most major gatherings. It is even easier to prepare than vinaigrette! What you need:

  • 4 eggplants (keep in mind that Ukrainian vegetables are much smaller than American roid-raging ones)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed for juice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

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At the market

I had two reasons for wanting to go to the market today. I have been dying to cook myself some fish, but there is only one supermarket close enough to me that has its own aquarium (meaning the fish will be fresh), and I was told that it’s much better from the market, anyway. Additionally, I am going to cook some kind of dessert for Sharon and Amir for Rosh Hashana dinner on Monday, and I wanted to buy some berries to use as decoration. In the supermarkets, you can find common vegetables and some fruit (usually bananas, grapes, apples, oranges, nectarines, etc. sometimes in pretty dismal shape, depending on the store), but certainly no berries at this time of year, already out of season. The market, however, would still have some.

Lena and I set off after pilates, at around noon. Already, the market would be stripped of its best meats and cheeses, but our quarry would still be there. Sure enough, three hours later, I arrived home loaded up with as many groceries as I could buy with a little less than 80 grivnas (about $15). Read the rest of this entry »