ukrainian family favourites - pyrogy and nalysnky

Wow, I can't believe how fast November has gone by!  Things have been a bit hectic on this side of the keyboard, so let me take you back in time a bit...

Trev and I spent the Remembrance Day long weekend out at the lake with his parents and grandparents.  His Grandma was super-excited to show us how to make some Ukrainian favourites - pyrogy (varenyky) and cheese rolls (nalysnky).  Both Trev's Mom & Grandma make these dishes so we did some comparisons and made a few adjustments as we went.  I married into this Ukrainian family, so I'm happy to learn some of the recipes that make family gatherings special.

We had some adventures in pyrogy filling - the first batch of potatoes we cooked up were new potatoes from the garden at the lake, but it turns out new potatoes have too much moisture in them, so our filling was waaaay too runny.  We cooked more potatoes (russet this time) to add to the runny filling so we could get a better consistency, but that resulted in a HUGE batch of filling.  We just kept making pyrogy until the filling ran out, so we ended up with well over 400 pyrogy!  That should keep us stocked-up for a while!

Pyrogy Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 cups cooked & mashed potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Pyrogy Filling
  • 4 cups mashed potato
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 pound of bacon, diced
  • salt & pepper

Start by cooking and mashing the potatoes, then letting them cool.  Make the dough by combining all the ingredients and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Allow it to rest in a bowl covered with a damp cloth while you make the filling.  To make the filling fry the onion in the butter.  Fry the bacon in a separate pan and drain the fat.  Mix the potato with the butter, onions, bacon and salt & pepper to taste.

Roll the dough out in batches.  We used a glass that had about a 3" diameter to cut the dough out.  It was good to have lots of extra flour on the counter so the dough wouldn't stick.  I found it worked best to stretch the dough into an oval shape in my hand after it was cut into a circle, then add a heaping teaspoon of filling to the center.  Fold the oval in half and pinch the edges shut.  Lay the pyrogy on a cookie sheet covered with a lightly floured tea towel (so they don't stick) and freeze them in a single layer, then transfer to a freezer bag OR cook some up right away to enjoy with onions and butter - yum!

To cook the pyrogy, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop in the pyrogy (either fresh or frozen).  They're done when they float up to the top of the pot.  You can drain them serve them just like that (with butter & onions and some sour cream) or you can heat a large frying pan with a small amount of oil and fry them up, so that they're golden and crispy on the outside.

Nalysnky (cheese rolls) are another family favourite that usually make an appearance at Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.  Now that I know how easy they are to make though I could probably make us a small batch to enjoy a few more times during the year.

Grandma's recipe & her special 'cheese roll' ladle

Grandma's recipe & her special 'cheese roll' ladle


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • salt to taste
  • 1L dry cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • melted butter
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Make the batter by whisking the milk, one egg, flour and salt together.  Make the pancakes first by pre-heating an electric skillet (high).  Grandma's trick is to use a gravy ladle to measure out the batter - she uses about 3/4 of a ladle for each one - pour the batter on the skillet then use the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter out to about 2 1/2" diameter.  When the bottom is lightly browned flip the pancake over and let it cook for another minute.  The pancakes can be stacked up on a plate as they come off the skillet, and filled after you've made all of them.  (I *may* have gotten in trouble for eating a few...)

Put the filling on the lighter side so that the golden side is on the outside

Put the filling on the lighter side so that the golden side is on the outside

Make the filling by stirring the cottage cheese, two eggs, salt & pepper together.  Lightly oil a medium-sized casserole dish.  Hold a pancake in your hand - paler side up - then add about 1 heaping teaspoon of filling to the pancake, spread it out a bit, then roll it up like a crepe.  Lay out all the filled pancakes in a single layer, then brush the tops with butter and continue stacking.  Brush with butter between each layer.

If you want to bake the nalysnky right away (or the same day) preheat the oven to 350 F.  Before you put the casserole dish into the oven pour cream over top of the rolls (just until it comes half-way up the upper-most layer).  Bake covered for 35-45 minutes or until the rolls look puffy and browned on top.

You can also freeze the casserole before adding the cream.  Defrost the nalysnky in the fridge overnight , then bake as above.

the nalysnky crew

the nalysnky crew