Ukrainian Recipes, Culinary History & How You Can Help Deliver Food to Those in Need

Last year I received a copy of this book, Summer Kitchens: Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine by Olia Hercules. I posted it to my Instagram account, as I was super excited by the gorgeous contents of this cookbook. Not only do many of the recipes look so tasty, but they are also very interesting to my discerning eye. Admittedly, I don’t have much experience with Eastern European cooking other than experimenting with a few products in my favorite grocery store in Chicagoland or because of receiving edible gifts from friends and neighbors from Hungary, Croatia, Russia, and Lithuania. I found them to have a simplicity in their presentation and very, very earthy in nature, with lots of root vegetables, fresh herbs, and pickled vegetables- all of which are not in my own family’s culinary heritage yet appealing to my desire to learn how to pickle, ferment, and preserve in the way that they do.

In Summer Kitchens: Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine, Olia takes us through a culinary food tour of the summer season in the countryside of Ukraine, her home country. She shares stories of local artisans, old traditions of preserving food by drying, fermenting and pickling and even making sourdough bread from scratch.

Considering the deeply saddening current situation in Ukraine, I thought this would be a good time to bring some awareness and appreciation for the place and its people who are going through the unthinkable right now. Our community is no stranger to this type of distressing, painful event so it’s an opportune time to

Dried Smoked Pears in Summer Kitchens Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine

There’s a big focus on vegetables and herbs in this cuisine. Any recipes with pork can easily be substituted with chicken, duck, or beef.

Zucchini with Herbaceous Lyok Dressing in Summer Kitchens Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine

Olia Hercules has written more cookbooks about Eastern European cooking:

A celebration of the food, flavors, and heritage of Eastern Europe—from the Black Sea to Baku, Kiev to Kazakhstan—Mamushka features over 100 recipes for fresh, delicious, and unexpected dishes from this dynamic yet underappreciated region. 

Olia Hercules was born in Ukraine and lived in Cyprus for several years before moving to London and becoming a chef. In this gorgeous and deeply personal cookbook, she shares her favorite recipes from her home country with engaging and loving stories about her culinary upbringing and family traditions. 

Featuring personality and panache, Mamushka showcases the cuisine from Ukraine and beyond, weaving together vibrant food with descriptive narratives and stunning lifestyle photography. From broths and soups to breads and pastries, vegetables and salads to meat and fish, dumplings and noodles to compotes and jams. You’ll also find some of Olia’s favorite dishes, like a Moldovan giant cheese twist and garlicky poussins, to sublime desserts such as apricot and sour cherry pie and a birthday sponge cake with ice cream, strawberries, and meringue.

Including new flavor combinations, vibrant colors, seasonal ingredients and straightforward cooking techniques, Mamushka’s earthy dishes appeal to home chefs everywhere. Join Olia on this delicious and diverse culinary tour through Eastern Europe.

In this gorgeous cookbook, Olia Hercules shares more than 100 dishes that celebrate the food, flavors, and unique culinary heritage of the Caucasus—Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, Russian, and Turkey. Kaukasis charts Olia’s exploration of this unfamiliar area and introduces its wonderful cuisine that combines European and Middle Eastern ingredients in ways that are fresh and new.

How You Can Help Ukrainians in Need:

World Central Kitchen is a non-profit organization started by famed Spanish Chef Jose Andres that has been feeding those in need around the world during natural and man-made disasters. I first learned about WCK when Chef Andres was in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the deadly hurricane just a few years ago. They are now serving thousands of fresh meals to Ukrainian families fleeing home as well as those who remain in the country. Use the hashtag #chefsforukraine and #cookforukraine if you’d like to promote their work on social media. To read more about their efforts and donate your support, go to: https://wck.org/relief/activation-chefs-for-ukraine .

Zakat Foundation is a Chicagoland non-profit organization headed by Turkish-born Halil Demir that is quick to respond with humanitarian aid in disasters all over the world. They are, of course, also helping Ukrainians in need now, too. To read more about their efforts and donate your support, go to: https://www.zakat.org/#spotlight.

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