The Canadian Food Experience Project – June

The Canadian Food Experience Project – June

Welcome to my first post of The Canadian Food Experience Project for June.

What an exciting project to be a part of! Join along and follow more then 50 bloggers from across Canada highlight what is our Canadian food identity! When you think about what is Canadian food the ideas very from province to province and each nationality has its own version of what they identify as Canadian foods within their families.

Our first topic is  about each of our own First Authentic Canadian Food Memories.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. Which is so completely strange that it would stay with me like that. I dare say,  it was the day I started thinking about and looking at food differently.

I was playing at a friends place, just like any other Saturday afternoon. Her mom and baba were busy in the kitchen. Perhaps there were more people there, of the details of the day, the people are not what peaked  my interest. It was the food.

They were using one of the girls rooms to cool and store everything while they worked. I remember being told to stay out! But being 9, the words stay out made us want to go in even more so. I remember the door being cracked and we peaked inside. Every surface was covered with clean sheets and on those sheets were 1000’s of tiny little lightly golden walnut sized buns. 1000’s. The aroma of freshly baked bread filled the space. Of course, once you have entered there was no going back. We had to taste just one. The dough has just the slightest hint of sweetness and they were filled with cottage cheese. They were the most fabulous thing I had ever tried. I am not sure how many we ate that afternoon? In fact I don’t even remember the rest of the day but I can still see the room like it happened yesterday.

And I never forgot those amazing little buns.

When I got older and began cooking I found myself being drawn to traditional Ukrainian foods. The labor intensive dishes that you not only cooked to eat that night but always made extra for the freezer. Things like perogi (verenyky) and cabbage rolls (holubitsi) . Where you make 30 – 40 dozen in one sitting. Essentially what is known as peasant food.

If you google peasant food Wikipedia describes it as the following:

Peasant foods are those dishes specific to a particular culture made from accessible and inexpensive ingredients. Peasant foods often involve skilled preparation by knowledgeable cooks using inventiveness and skills passed down from earlier generations. Such dishes are often prized as ethnic foods by other cultures and by descendants of the native culture who still desire these traditional dishes even when their incomes rise to the point where they can purchase any food they like.

I grew up in a predominately Ukrainian area of Alberta, just north of Edmonton. Both my Baba and Gido spoke Ukrainian and English, my great Baba only spoke Ukrainian. Well except for all the names of her great grandchildren and a few words like keep, as she would hand you a $20 bill. I never knew where she got her money from, but she always spoiled her great grand children. As would my baba and gido as well.

They were a huge influence on my first experiences of growing your own food. They had 2 gardens. One in town that grew the main foods for fresh eating and the freezer. The garden on the farm was raspberries and potatoes. Rows and rows of raspberries and potatoes. I remember many hours out there picking berries and digging for potatoes. Or the hours of watching Baba turn her garden goodies in to pots of Borscht or freezing beans for winter.

I learnt that not only can you create amazing food in your kitchen I learnt that the best food is the food you grow yourself.

Those memories have fostered two of my greatest passions, cooking and gardening. It is who I am.

Here is a dish that has it roots in Ukrainian cooking. These are fantastic as a side with ham. The cream and dill really work well with the saltiness of ham.

Nalysnyky

Crepes:

4 eggs

1 cup of milk

6 tablespoons of water

1 cup of sifted flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

canola oil

Filling:

2 cups of dry cottage cheese

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons of whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of dill (fresh chopped) or dried

also:

2-3 cups of whipping cream

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 of a small white onion (chopped fine)

Beat the eggs with a beater until light, add milk and water, beat again. Gradually add the flour and salt, continuing to beat as you add the flour. Beat until smooth. The batter will be thin.  Using a papertowel, just lightly oil the surface of a non stick pan and heat on medium. Using a small measuring cup pour roughly 3 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan. Tilt to distribute the batter evenly across the bottom. Cook over moderate heat. They will have air bubbles like what you see when making pancakes. When the bubbles pop it is a good indication that the crepe is ready.When lightly browned on the bottom and the top firm to the touch remove to a plate. Continue until all the batter is used.

Crepes for nalysnyky for The Canadian Food Experience Project

For the filling combine the cottage cheese, egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of whipping cream, salt and dill. Spread the filling down the center of each crepe and roll into a tube. Lay the Nalysnyky side by side in a butter casserole dish. Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over the each layer.

Add the chopped white onion to the 2 – 3 cups of whipping cream and pour over the Nalysnyky. Cover with foil and bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes.

A finishe dpan of nalysnyky for The Canadian Food Experience Project

If you have a few crepes left may I suggest spreading them with a nice layer of caramel and rolling them tight, top with fresh whipped cream and toasted pecans!

Crepes with caramel, fresh whipped cream and toasted pecans for The Canadian Food Experience Project

Peasant food, just got sexy!

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.

And finally, here is a list of many of the first round of participants of – The Great Canadian Food Experience Project.

22 Replies on “The Canadian Food Experience Project – June

  1. Hi Phil.

    They are a really nice side that most don’t see to often. They are definitely a treat. Hope you give them a try.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Helene,

    Great seeing you! I have a feeling many of my posts for the Canadian Food Experience Project will be featuring Ukrainian dishes. Eating the foods of my heritage is what inspired me to begin cooking so many years ago. Simple peasant food that takes me back to my earliest childhood food memories.

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. Anya, thank you so much for stopping by!

    I hope you enjoy the Nalysnyky! I would love to hear your review of it. That is neat the you make your own cottage cheese. I think I would eat it everyday if I made it at home. So glad this food takes you back home. I plan of posting many Ukrainian recipes during the Canadian Food Experience Project. I hope you come again.

    Have a fantastic weekend.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. Ukrainian food is amazing. I love how simple and healthy it is, everything is made from scratch. I’ve never heard of Nalysnyki before, but they look look yummy! Going to try this recipe as soon as I make dry cottage cheese. I am Russian and this food always brings me back home.

  5. What a nice post to read. It’s nice that you are talking about Ukrainian food, growing up in Quebec I was not exposed to that cuisine. Thanks!

  6. Rhonda, So great seeing you!

    Most of the recipes I use tend to be fairly simply flavors but at times with labor intensive production.
    Funny, I have never thought of ways to modify the Ukrainian dishes I make. Which is strange because I usually love to play with recipes to give them a different twist or just make changes to better suit my families tastes.

    I do agreed with what you mentioned about hanging on to the culture of those who have left us. To pass the recipes down to our children exactly the same as what we grew up enjoying.

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

  7. Genia!

    I would love to see your versions of the recipes. Mine come from cookbooks from a Ukrainian community within Alberta.
    I am now curious as to how traditional they are compared to the ones you would use.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Hi Redawna,

    These look so tasty and I loved your story. I’ve also read your comments and I think that it is simply amazing that the recipes have remained the same over the years. I think it’s a real testament to wanting to preserve the culture of the Ukraine. I often wonder if the desire to hang on to culture is a fervent desire of those who’ve left vs. those who remain behind.

    Looking forward to reading more from you.
    Rhonda

  9. I love that you shared a Ukrainian recipe 🙂 Having been born in Ukraine, we eat a lot of these foods at home on a regular basis but its interesting to see how everyone has their own different recipes.
    Great post!

  10. I don’t believe it has changed at all with Ukrainian fare Valerie.
    I still use the recipes that have been handed down from many many years ago.
    Always the same, with simple ingredients, not changing anything.

    The only difference in my kitchen is that I have modern equipment to use for the preparation of what I make.
    I know my baba hand made every loaf of bread where I may be inclined to use my Kitchen Aid mixer!
    And you know, if anyone had bought her one, I doubt she would ever have used it.

  11. Redawna,
    So interesting to hear you retell a story so vividly from your 9 year old perspective. How profound those childhood food memories are! Yup, love that Northern Alberta is so saturated in the yummy Ukrainian food heritage. How lucky are we? I do find it interesting, though – that I don’t know how we have changed those food from their authentic versions. For example, in the US, Veal Parmigiana evolved from Eggplant Parmigiana in the new country as the immigrants became a little wealthier and could add meat to that dish… it doesn’t exist in Italy. Is there anything similar that has evolved from the Canadian perspective with the Ukrainian food?
    🙂
    Valerie

  12. They are pretty fabulous! And pretty easy to whip up.

    Glad you liked the pictures.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Hey Deb!

    Fantastic seeing you!

    I am actually a self taught cook who did a lot of watching when I was young. Little did I know I would refer back those days once I became interested in food.

    I would love to be able to go back and talk food with my baba and my great baba. Knowing how lean times were back then I imagine they would have had some great stories to share.

    I suspect most of those recipes from back then would be quite similar. Now a days we have so many more ingredient choices and are less limited by money so we an really change them up if we so choose. Though I love sticking with the original recipes, simple comfort food!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Hi Sarah!

    Most Ukrainian recipes are heavily based on technique. I know it took me a few tries to nail down perogy dough and good cabbage rolling technique. It was worth the extra effort though and I formed good labour intensive patience for the more difficult recipes.

    Plus when in doubt, add cream, lots and lots of cream. Oh and butter as well!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Thanks Joanne! They are a staple in my home during the holidays. Those are some of the first recipes I started work with in the kitchen when I was young. Was a great learning experience.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Beautiful memory!
    I never knew my great-baba (I was a newborn when she passed away) but I have great memories of making dozens and dozens of perogies, pedahea (spelling?? lol) and cabbage rolls with my aunts and babas. Even one of my uncles would sit at the table with all us girls/women and pinch perogies 🙂

    Not surprisingly, your Nalysnyky recipe is the same (or very similar) to the one we use.

    Take care,
    – Deb

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