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Monday, April 9, 2012

This is how we do it: Ukrainian Easter

It's great to be Ukrainian at Easter time. We get a chance to make all our fave foods and feed them to the people we love. This year for Easter, Chris and I decided to make the works for each other and stuff ourselves like it was Rome before the fall.

But let's back up a bit. There is a ton of tradish in Ukrainian Easter, but we only observed two small parts of the meal for brevity's sake. Here is what my grandma's cookbook has to say about the Easter feast:

"The Easter food blessed in church has deep symbolic meaning. Egg is the symbol of new life. The egg shell represents Christ's grave. Easter bread (paska) represents Christ as the lifegiver, cheese and butter, God's grace, horseradish, the bitterness of sin and beets, the blood of Christ. At the beginning of the meal the head of the household is to divide the egg one piece for each guest with the greeting of "Khrystos Vockres" (Christ Is Risen), and the guests respond with the traditional reply "Voistyno Voskres" (He Is Indeed Risen)."

That excerpt was taken from the St. Demetrious Ukrainian Orthodox Church Cookbook, and the women who wrote it are badass. On the same page as the recipe for Easter paska is the Ten Commandments. Yeah. Shit gets real.

Chris and I did say the tradish stuff to each other, but as for the tradish food I only made beets and horseradish, because boiled eggs aren't really my favourite and paska takes forever. So we had cabbage rolls, perogies, ham, sausage, beets and horseradish. MMMMMM MMMMMM, bitches.

I have already given you my recipe for perogies, it can be found here. For the rest, it is as follows (including timing). As for the perogies, best to prepare them the night before, so you can boil and pan-fry while the ham is finishing up:

Cabbage Rolls

1 medium head cabbage
2 cups white rice
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 46 oz can tomato juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a large casserole dish with either butter or canola. Stea the whole head of cabbage until it is al dente. Using a bamboo steamer and covering the cabbage with a clean dish towel works well. Cook rice fully in a rice cooker or using the stovetop method.

Melt butter in a small skillet and add the chopped onion, cooking until translucent. Stir into the cooked rice, adding the dill, salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the leaves off the cabbage and cut the larger leaves in half, place 2-3 tbsp of rice mixture in each leaf and roll tightly, place in casserole dish. When the dish is full, pour the tomato juice over top until all rolls are covered. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven for 2 hours.

Ham and Kielbasa
1 precooked ham, size depends on how many you are feeding
4 large kielbasa, for this dish as well as for pan frying the perogies
4 medium shallots

Drain the ham and place it in the centre of a baking dish. Chop kielbasa into inch-wide chunks and scatter around the base of the ham. Chop the shallot into halves, peel, and place in dish with kielbasa. Put in oven after cabbage rolls have been cooking for about 1 hour. Remove after 1 hour.

Beets and Horseradish
2 medium beets
1 6 inch horseradish
Olive Oil
1 clove garlic
juice of half a lemon
maple syrup to taste

Peel the horseradish and beets and chop both into circles. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Using a garlic press, press one clove of garlic and the lemon juice into the bowl and mix well. Place in a small baking dish and drizzle with maple syrup. Place in oven at the same time as the ham.

Epic meal time, no?

Thanks to Chris who was a good sport putting up with my endless chatter in the kitchen and who supplied some of the raw ingredients to make our feast dreams come true.

Khrystos Vockres, muthafuckas.


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