My family returned this February after almost four years in Ukraine. It is a beautiful country with amazing food, in fact, it was often our selling point when trying to convince family and friends to visit: “the churches are spectacular and the food is unbelievable!” We were often thankful that our temporary hometown, Kyiv, was a city of hills because it helped to balance out the many hearty, rich, and delicious meals that we enjoyed. 

When asked to share our favourite recipes, I figured that I would avoid well-known recipes like varenyky (more commonly known by their Polish name, pierogi) or borscht with a healthy serving of sour cream. While both are delicious, they certainly contributed to my need for hill climbing. 

First up are cheese pancakes called Syrniki (pronounced “seer-ni-kee”). In Ukraine, these little pancakes are made with quark of farmers cheese; however, these aren’t necessarily found in every Canadian grocery store, so we make them with cottage cheese that has been strained. They are best served with a bit of sour cream and honey or jam on top; my two boys certainly do not complain about that.

 

Ingredients:

500 g of dry packaged or strained cottage cheese

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup all purpose flour plus ½ cup for dredging

¼ cup honey

¼ tsp salt

½ cup dried fruit like cherries or raisins (optional)

 

Preparation:

  1. Mix together the cottage cheese, eggs, vanilla, flour, honey and salt. 
  2. Add any dried fruit in before scooping medium sized balls which you roll and then gentle press into a flat disk.
  3. Fry in a greased fry pan until the syrniki are golden. 
  4. Serve with some sour cream and jam or honey.

 

The second Ukrainian breakfast that I fell in love with was found on a family vacation to the Carpathian Mountains. I’ve never quite been able to find a name for this cottage cheese dish, but it was so simple, but delicious and hearty enough to fuel our hikes we did around Yaremche.

 

Ingredients: 

1 cup cottage cheese, drained

3 tbsp sour cream 

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp walnuts

 

This is really simple! You drain your cottage cheese, top it with sour cream (or Greek yogurt for a lower-calorie version) and walnuts. Enjoy!