The invasion of Ukraine is causing a huge humanitarian crisis as millions flee the violence. So this week we are raising money for UNICEF who are on the ground providing life-saving aid to refugees. Thank you for your charity box orders, we are adding an extra €10 to each and donating them (as cash, not boxes) to Unicef Ireland.
Ukraine has incredibly fertile farm land and a rich and diverse food culture. One of my favourite Ukrainian chefs is Olia Hercules. Her food (and instagram account) is always so inspiring. I’ll be sharing some plant based twists on some of her recipes this week too. Celebrating different cultures than our own through our shared love of food is one way to honour, respect and bring some humanity to an awful situation. Do you have any Ukrainian experiences or recipes to share?
First up are these fried buns. Think of them like savoury donuts (although you can stuff them with fruit or jam before frying too and make delicious sweet versions) they make an incredible snack or packed lunch on their own or I often serve them as a side to a brothy Ukrainian style stew or borshch.
Ingredients (makes 12)
- 250ml oat milk (or any milk)
- 1 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 7g dried yeast
- 350-400g flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 300g potatoes, boiled
- 150g cheese, crumbled or grated (feta works well, have you tried my tofeta recipe?)
- 1 white onion (sliced and fried until caramelised with a pinch of salt and a tbsp of sunflower oil)
- a handful of chopped dill
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 100ml sunflower oil, for frying
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the milk, sunflower oil, salt, sugar and yeast until frothy. Add 350g of the flour and mix with one hand into a sticky dough. If too sticky to handle, add the remaining 50g of flour and fold and knead in the bowl until you have a soft, smooth ball. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.
- Meanwhile make the filing. Mash the potato then mix in the fried onion, dill and cheese. Taste the mixture and season well with salt and pepper. Of course you make any kind of filling you prefer. We love sautéed cabbage and mushrooms, mashed beans… or for sweet fillings, chopped fruit with a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of sugar.
- When the dough has risen, tip it out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 12 equal pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a circle. Then place a heaped tablespoon of the filling in the centre of the circle. Bring up the sides of the dough and pinch them together ensuring there are not holes. Then turn the bun over so the seam side is down and gently squash the bun with the palm of your hand. You should end up with palm sized, lemon shaped buns. Repeat with all the dough and keep them on a lightly floured work surface or tray, not touching each other, until you are ready to fry.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a wide frying pan until very hot. Carefully fry the buns in batches for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Turn the heat down a little if you find they are catching. I find a medium-high heat works best. use metal tongs or two spatulas to carefully turn the buns. Be careful not to splash hot oil onto yourself.
- Serve the buns whilst still warm or enjoy them cold on a picnic or for a packed lunch.