Cook for Ukraine as chefs share recipes from their homeland to raise funds

Two chefs from Ukraine and Russia have teamed up to raise vital funds for UNICEF Ukraine appeal.

Alissa Timoshkina, who is originally from Siberia but moved to the UK in 1999, launched Cook for Ukraine with Olia Hercules to help families affected by the Russian invasion.

Olia was born in Kakhovka, Ukraine but now lives in London. So far the pair have raised more than £300,000 by putting together a feast of Ukrainian and Russian recipes and inspiring others to organize supper clubs, fundraisers and bake sales to support the appeal.

Alissa shared how her “heart breaks for the children and families affected by this conflict.” She said: “Like millions of RussiansI, too, have Ukrainian roots and grew up on a wonderful diet of Ukrainian and Russian dishes.

Chef Olia Hercules shares her recipes


Dave Benett/Getty Images for Har)

“These countries share a complex and rich history, and culinary language reflects that relationship in the most powerful and relatable way.

“Let’s cook for peace, for freedom, for truth, for common sense, for rational thinking and for love.”

Here are some of Alissa and Olia’s favorite recipes to try at home…

Beetroot and walnut dip with plums

Beetroot and walnut dip with plums

Served 6

Ingredients for the pie:

■ 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

■ 1 onion, finely chopped

■ Sea salt to taste

■ 4 medium-sized beets, peeled and grated

■ 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

■ 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

■ 1 tsp mild honey

■ A large pinch of chili flakes

■ A small bunch of dill, stems removed

For covering:

■ A large handful of walnuts

■ 6 soft plums


1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onions with a little salt and let them soften for 8-10 minutes. Next add the grated beetroot and half the garlic, season with more salt, add a tablespoon of oil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water, cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

2. While the beets are simmering, prepare the garlic walnut plum topping. In a separate pan, heat the remaining oil over low heat. Add the garlic and let it cook, toss in the oil for 1 minute, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Add the walnuts and plums and cook for another minute, brushing generously with the garlic oil. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes.

3. Add vinegar, honey and chili and stir well. Process with a hand blender or in a food processor to a puree.

4. To serve, sprinkle with walnut plum topping and garnish with fresh dill.




■ 6 baby eggplants or
3 large

■ 100 ml clarified butter

■ 6 medium-flavored tomatoes, halved across the equator

■ 10 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

■ 200 ml water or vegetable (or chicken) broth

■ Sea salt and pepper to taste


■ A small bunch of each or one of the following: dill, cilantro, basil

■ Some lavash flatbreads or something similar


1. If using baby eggplants, cut off the tail and then make 2 cuts as if quartering them lengthwise, but don’t cut all the way to the end. Sprinkle some salt in the incisions and leave it in a colander. If using large ones, cut lengthwise into 4 or 6 wedges and salt them in a similar manner. Leave them for an hour.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a heavy-bottomed casserole and sauté the aubergines until well browned all over. The skin blisters and the white flesh turns golden brown and crispy. Take them out and set them aside. Do not clean the pan.

3. Now heat another 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan and add the tomatoes, cut-side down. Cook them on high heat only on this side until they take on some color and the skin begins to wrinkle. Use tongs to remove the skin from the tomatoes and discard. Remove the tomatoes and add them to the aubergines first.

4. In the same pan, heat another 2 tablespoons of clarified butter and sauté the garlic over medium heat. Keep stirring it. You want it to go deep golden, but not burn. Tilt the pan so the butter and garlic gather in one corner – this is how you confit them. It should take around 2-5 minutes.

5. Now return the aubergines and tomatoes to the pan and add the liquid. Try chicken broth if you’re not a vegetarian – it adds an extra layer of flavor. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Serve with shredded pieces of lavash or another flatbread or regular bread. Alternatively, you can use plain rice.

Tvorog Pashka Cake


■ 75g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

■ 3-4 tablespoons of sugar

■ 500g of ricotta

■ 5 tablespoons sour cream

■ 1 tsp vanilla essence

■ 80 g toasted almonds, roughly chopped

■ 100 g dried fruit mix (sultanas, apricots), chopped apricots

■ ½ lemon, juiced and grated

■ A pinch of salt


1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the remaining ingredients until well incorporated and all the dried fruits and nuts are evenly distributed.

2. Place the mixture in a muslin cloth and hang it over the sink just as you would when making lebneh and let it strain overnight.

3. The next morning, transfer the mixture to a mold, still keeping it wrapped in muslin.

4. Squeeze the mixture into the bowl and cover the bottom with another cloth. Put a weight on it to push it into shape. You can use a plate and half a liter of water for this.

5. Leave in the fridge for 2-4 hours.

6. Before serving the cheesecake, wipe up any excess liquid and muslin cloth from the bottom. Tip it onto a plate and remove the bowl and the rest of the cloth.

Stuffed cabbage leaves

Served 6


■ 2 tbsp
sunflower oil

■ 1 large onion, finely diced

■ 1 carrot, grated

■ 1 tsp powdered sugar

■ 1 tablespoon tomato paste

■ 1 fresh bay leaf

■ 1 can of chopped tomatoes

■ 1 head of savoy cabbage, 12 leaves separated

■ 250 g ground beef

■ 250 g minced pork

■ 160 g rice, pre-cooked and drained

■ 40 g barberry (optional)

■ Sea salt flakes

■ Freshly ground black pepper


■ ½ small bunch of dill, finely chopped

■ Sourdough bread

■ 100 ml sour cream


1. First make the sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sauté half the onion and the grated carrot over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add bay leaf, tomatoes and 400 ml water and season well.

2. Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then rinse in cold water and drain well on kitchen paper.

3. Mix the ground beef, parboiled rice, barberries, spices and the remaining diced onions. Place 50g of the filling on each cabbage leaf and fold into packets.

4. Place the packets, folded side down, on the sauce and pin them tightly together so they don’t dissolve.

5. Cook over low heat for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with plenty of chopped dill, sourdough bread and a generous dollop of sour cream.

Blini stuffed with apricot tvorog

Blini stuffed with apricot tvorog

Served 4

Ingredients for the blinis:

■ 200 g plain flour

■ 200 ml whole milk

■ 150 ml boiling water

■ 50g unsalted butter, melted, plus more for frying

■ 2 eggs

■ A pinch
from salt

■ A pinch of sugar

For the filling:

■ 200 g goat’s quark (or 100 g ricotta and 100 g cottage cheese)

■ 150 g semi-dried apricots

■ 1 tablespoon of sugar

■ ½ lemon, juiced


■ 50 g unsalted butter

■ 1 tablespoon of sugar

■ 4 ripe apricots or peaches (or a mix of both)

■ Sliced ​​almonds, toasted


1. For the blini, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Gradually pour in the milk while stirring so that no lumps form. Add the melted butter to the mixture. Crack an egg into the same bowl and beat more until evenly integrated. Once a thick batter has formed, gradually add 150ml hot water and continue beating until the mixture has reached the right consistency – which should be similar to pouring yogurt with no lumps. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and sugar.

2. Heat a non-stick frying pan with some butter. Pour 1/2 ladleful of the mixture into the hot pan and swirl it around until the batter covers the entire surface in an even, wafer-thin layer. Fry on one side for approx. 2 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the edges start to curl. Flip the crepe (on air if you like or dare) and cook for another 40 seconds or so. Stack into a nice pile, with a knob of butter between every other crepe.

3. In a food processor, blend the goat curd (or ricotta and cottage cheese mixture) and dried apricots. Be sure to use the plump, juicy apricots, as the really dry apricots don’t blend well and just make a lot of noise in your blender. Blend for 5 minutes until you get a semi-smooth paste with a few chunks. Add sugar and lemon juice to taste.

4. To assemble the blintzes, top each crepe with 2 Tbsp of the cheese mixture and roll into a burrito shape. Then heat butter and sugar together in a pan. Cut fresh apricots or peaches into 4 slices and sauté in 50g butter and 1 tbsp sugar until lightly caramelized
and softened.

5. To serve, arrange 2 blinze per plate, add some of the fried fruit slices and sprinkle with toasted slivers of almonds.

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