Thursday, November 11, 2010

Varenyky - Dido Remix

я українка! (I am a Ukrainian girl). For those of you dear readers who do not know me very well, I have some Ukrainian heritage on my mom's side (okay I am half Ukrainian) and proud of it.  I have been so lucky to grow up knowing my loving grandparents (my Baba and Dido) who were more than happy to share their pride from where they are from. One of those wonderful blessings includes Ukrainian cuisine. Today I am specifically referring to Pyrohy or Varenyky. These are a potato dumplings bursting with rich delicious flavor.

As the holidays are drawing near I am reminded of this food, and long to share some of it with you.  Soon I will be preparing a feast of this wonderful cuisine for my family - and just maybe you might want to do the same.

So here it is, Baba's official pyrohy recipe - the Dido remix (as you read on you will see what that is all about)


To Make Dough:
2 cups of flour
1  teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup water

To Make Filling:
14 large Idaho potatoes
3 onions
6 sticks of butter (don't be scared, this is a larger recipe . . .)
24 oz of homemade dry cottage cheese (there is no substitute for this, for directions continue reading)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (we use cheddar)
black and white pepper


* Please be aware that there is some strange wording as I chose to use my Baba's exact words because it makes my sister laugh and warms my heart*

Homemade cottage cheese
* This needs to be done ahead of time as it takes 4 days*
Add a quart of buttermilk for 2 gallons of 1% or 2% milk.  Let it sit covered at room temperature for 3 days.  After the 3 days, pour into a large pot and bring to a boil over the stove top.  When it starts to curdle, drain with a cheesecloth.  Wrap up in the cheesecloth and place on a flat surface with a heavy object on top to help squeeze out the moisture.  Leave for about 24 hours.  After the 24 hours, place in a container and store in a refrigerator.  This can also be frozen if it will be used for cooking.

Crack egg and remove the fertilizer (also known as the germinated disk), add water and salt.  Mix together.  Add flour and mix with a spoon.  You may need to add more water.  Kneed dough in the bowl with your hands, later moving to a flat surface (such as a counter top).  The dough should feel firm.  Cover with a plastic bag or towel and set aside.

Finely chop all the onions and saute in butter over medium heat until golden brown.  (Use all of the butter).  Once complete, separate onions from butter using a strainer.  Store in separate containers.

Just gathering the ingredients can be a little overwhelming.  To make sure you are not stressed about the task ahead, it is best to have a shot of Brandy with Dido.

Cooking with Dido is always fun!
Next peal and boil 14 potatoes.  Use a ricer to break down the potatoes.  You can also use a masher and prepare them as mashed potatoes.  Add the sauteed onions, 24 ounces of dry cottage cheese and 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.  Liberally add black and white pepper.  Add a handful of salt.  (Sorry, I know that everyone has a different idea of what a handful is, but these are Baba's directions).  Kneed filling with hands to evenly mix ingredients together.

What, all this work and we haven't even really prepared the meal yet?  Yes, true Ukrainian cuisine is a labor of love.

Kneed dough that was set aside.  Use a rolling pin to flatten out dough about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.  Use a Hamm's Beer glass to cut out circles of dough.  (Okay, not everyone has Hamm's Beer glasses, so any drinking glass will do - even a circle cookie cutter).  Place a spoonful of filling in the middle the dough circles.  Fold in half and tightly seal by pinching along the edges.

Baba, we love cooking with you!
Wearing aprons just adds to the festivity.
Yes, this will take a long time.  It's probably appropriate to have another shot of Brandy with Dido.

Dido, not sure how many shots he's had while helping us in the kitchen.
Have a large pot of water boiling on the stove.  Add a handful of salt to the water.  Place groups of the dumplings in the boiling water, once they start to rise to the top, allow them to boil for about 4 more minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

 If you choose to freeze, pour cold water over pyrohy in a colander to cool.  Spread out on a cookie sheet  and place in a freezer.  Once the pyrohy are frozen, place in a zip lock bag or tupperware container and store in freezer.

If you have any question about this process, please feel free to leave a comment.  This is truly a delicious meal and I want you to enjoy too!

Live the moment, love life!


  1. That looks like fun...apart possibly from making the cottage cheese...I especially like the role of assisting with the brandy though :-)

    1. It's a lot of work, but the tradition is what really makes it fun. Plus everyone in my family loves to eat them. Yes, my Dido is always there to have a shot or two and make any event worth celebrating ;)