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A three-course meal from Ukrainian chef Yurii Kovryzhenko

A famous Ukrainian chef and TV presenter, Yurii Kovryzhenko was in London when Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year. Since then, he has been committed to assisting the cause, raising awareness and donations through cooking and events 

On 24 February 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking a violent conflict in the country that continues four months later. Ukrainian chef Yurii Koveryzhenko was in London at the time for work purposes, the outbreak of war stranding him in the country for an indefinite period of time. 

It has been a time of unimaginable stress and pain for the Ukrainian people, and yet throughout it all they have rallied together to support their home countries and families, finding the strength to fight, even from afar. Kovryzhenko is no different: he has spent the last four months putting his culinary skills to use, cooking at one-off events and supper clubs and continuing to raise awareness and funds within the food industry and beyond. 

He has kindly shared these three recipes – a starter, main and dessert – with us here at Foodism. Cooking allows us to feel connected to the world around us and places far away. Through sharing these recipes, Kovryzhenko hopes to help you understand Ukrainian culture a little more. "Each dish is bright and original and breathes history and traditions," says Kovryzhenko. "Most importantly, each dish transports you to places you probably haven't been before, but you'll taste them."

Please consider donating to With Ukraine, the charity set up by The Embassy of Ukraine to the UK, as a thanks for his generosity

Donate here

Eggplant Caviar from Odesa

Not actually involving caviar, this dish derives its names from eggplant seeds, which resemble the luxury product

Serves 6

Preparation time 20

Cooking time 30

Odesa is a city in the south of Ukraine, washed by the Black Sea. As, perhaps with everywhere in the south, people here are very open, bright, and cheerful. Odesa is called the capital of humour because the people of Odesa treat everything with a smile. They call eggplant caviar "ikra z synenkykh," which literally means “caviar from little blue ones.” All because they call eggplants incredibly kindly - "blue.”

Eggplant caviar is a salsa made from fresh and baked vegetables. Why caviar? There are several reasons for this, including the structure of the dish - eggplant seeds look like eggs. And also, because the dish is highly luxurious in taste!

The main philosophy of cooking eggplant caviar is not to use a blender when grinding eggplant and sweet peppers. Odesans do it exclusively with a knife. They do it energetically and with a smile. This structure, which the dish gets through different grinding methods, is essential for taste. Also, don't worry if the skin of the sweet pepper or eggplant is slightly charred during baking. Some Odesa housewives burn vegetables on the fire (for example, over a gas stove) before baking to get a light smoky aroma of the dish. But don't overdo it, just a little!

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggplants
  • 2 Red bell peppers
  • Half a large tomato
  • Half a white onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5g parsley
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • A pinch of Sugar
  • 1tbsp olive oil 
  • Bread crisps or crackers
  • Cheese

Method

  1. Wash eggplants and red peppers well.
  2. Rub them with oil and place them in a pan. Put the vegetables in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes at 200 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the onions and garlic. Grate a clove of garlic, half an onion, and half a large juicy tomato on a fine grater. Mix in one bowl.
  4. Remove the eggplant and pepper from the oven. Give 5 minutes to cool. While the vegetables are still warm, peel them, leave only the flesh.
  5. Finely chop the eggplant and pepper flesh on a large board with a large knife. Let me remind you, no blender!
  6. Mix all ingredients in one bowl: chopped eggplant, pepper, onion, garlic, and tomato. Add salt, sugar, black pepper, chopped parsley, and mix. Add olive oil, and mix. Done!
  7. Serve with salted cheese - for example, feta, and bread crisps.

Yurii Kovryzhenko's Chicken Kyiv

Dating back to the early twentieth century, Chicken Kyiv has become the national dish of Ukraine

Serves 4

Preparation time 30

Chicken Kyiv is an authentic gastronomic brand of the capital of Ukraine, which has a centuries-old history. The first mention of it dates back to 1915-1918. There is evidence that Chicken Kyiv was cooked in Kyiv in the early twentieth century in Kyiv’s hotel "Continental” restaurant.

The Ukrainian name Chicken Kyiv literally means ‘Kyiv’s Cutlet’ or ‘Cutlet Kyiv style.’ This dish is a roll of chicken fillet stuffed with butter and greens with a strong crust of breadcrumbs. The perfect match for Chicken Kyiv is mashed potatoes. When you slowly cut the cutlet, butter flows out of it in a golden stream on the potatoes.

I suggest serving Chicken Kyiv with mashed new potatoes. I also added double cream, a little mustard, chopped green onions, and wild garlic to the puree. It's summer, so I wanted some color. That's why I also added a little green to the plate – pak choi and peas. I blanched the pak with green peas, drizzled it with garlic oil, and baked it for about 10 minutes in the oven (when the Chicken Kyiv was baked there).

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken fillets
  • 4 chicken wings
  • 100g salted butter 
  • 15g dill 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • Salt - to taste
  • Pepper - to taste
  • 150g flour 
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g bread crumbs 
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Method

  1. Soften the butter, finely chop the dill, rub the garlic, and mix. Wrap in foil, roll into ‘a sausage’, chill in the freezer until completely solidified.
  2. Separate and clean the large bone of the boiled chicken wing.
  3. Separate the inner small fillet from the large one.
  4. Flatten the Large and small fillets by pounding them between 2 slices of food wrap. Remove the wrap, salt and pepper the inside.
  5. Cut the butter into four portions. Put one part of the butter inside of the beaten fillet, cover with a small fillet winged on top, and wrap around with the large fillet so that it is closed and the wing bone remains outside as per the photo.
  6. Dip the rolled fillet in flour, shake off the excess, then in the egg and bread crumbs, repeat again: egg and breadcrumbs.
  7. Fry in deep fat until crispy, then finish in the oven at 190C for about 10 minutes. Place on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

Medivnyk (Ukrainian honey cake) from Carpathians

Ukraine is one of the largest producers of honey in the world – so incorporating this liquid gold into a classic dessert makes it all the sweeter

Serves 6

Preparation time 25

Cooking time 5

Ukraine is one of the largest producers of natural honey in the world. And this is not for nothing: the Ukrainian tradition of working with honey dates back to the tenth century, from the times of Kyiv Rus. Incredibly fragrant and delicious honey is produced from Carpathian herbs in particular.

The Carpathians are a picturesque mountainous region in western Ukraine. The oldest Ukrainian traditions are preserved here. That is why Carpathian honey is the most delicious for me: because there is fresh air, pure nature, meadows full of various flowers and herbs, and people who pass on the subtleties of beekeeping from generation to generation.

Medivnyk is a unique sweet treasure of Ukrainian cuisine. It is best to eat it the day after cooking. Sour cream will soak into the honey cakes during the night well, and the cake will be tender, like childhood memories.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 2 eggs
  • 150g sugar 
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 100g honey
  • 5g baking soda 
  • 550g flour

For the cream

  • 700g sour cream
  • 300g sugar

Method

  1. Beat eggs with sugar until foamy. Melt honey with butter on a water bath. Add beaten eggs and soda.
  2. Cook on a water bath for 5 minutes, until the mixture doubles in volume and is covered with white foam.
  3. Remove from the water bath, mix in the flour and divide into 10 parts. Roll out thin cakes (up to 2 mm thick) on a silicone mat.
  4. Bake until golden brown for 3-4 minutes at 190C.
  5. For cream, beat sour cream with sugar until completely dissolved.
  6. Layer the cakes, with an even amount of the cream mixture between each layer, and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
  7. The next day, sprinkle the cake with crumbs from the scraps of the cakes.
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