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Easter

Easter is one of the most solemn Christian holidays of the year. It associates not only with the Resurrection of Jesus but also with the resurrection of all nature, its life-giving force and energy. Considers that celebrating Easter in Ukraine began at the end of the first millennium with the advent of Christianity, Though the traditions of preparing the Easter meal have a centuries-old history.

 

Traditionally, the celebration of Easter in Ukraine distinguishes a variety of gastronomic traditions. Our ancestors started the preparation of both spiritual cleansing and the festive table in advance. At the same time, each region has specific colouring in the combination of tastes, the use of methods of processing products and their storage: smoking, salting, fermentation, etc.

Among the voluminous list of Easter dishes, the place of honour is given to ritual ones: Pasca and eggs (pysanka, krashanka, dryapanka). However, the Easter table also had a place for modest dishes. We can divide all Easter dishes into two categories: dairy and meat. Dairy products are a symbol of people’s connection with Jesus Christ. 

 

Therefore the list of dairy dishes is numerous: butter, cheese paska, casserole, flatbread, cheese dumplings, banosh, various pies with cheese, cottage cheese, ‘cheese horse’. You may find the last one usually in the western region of Ukraine.

Meat dishes

During Easter, meat dishes symbolize the fed calf (which the father ordered to slaughter after the prodigal son returned home). We can find those variants: sausages, ham, traditional buckwheat sausage, smoked pork fat, head cheese (Seltz, kovbyk, saltison), aspic, stuffed cabbage, pork knuckle and more modern versions of meat delicacies: meat rolls, cutlets and even kebabs.

 

By the way, as you know, the homeland of the cutlet is France, which means ribbed, on the grill. Traditionally they were prepared from meat on the grill. In Ukraine, they appeared on the menu of noble estates in the first half of the 18th century, becoming a “Lords’s dish”. According to the legends, for the first time in the first decade of the 20th century, in the `Continental` hotel ( in Kyiv on Mykolaivska Street, and now Gorodetsky), the legendary recipe for “Chicken-Kyiv” was created by order of Hetman Pavel Skoropadskyi.

Vegetable dishes

As Easter occurs in spring, there was not a wide choice of vegetables and side dishes. However, greens were present not only as a decoration for the Easter basket but also as an independent dish on the table: green onions, dill, and parsley. 

 

A special place on the Easter table belongs to horseradish as a symbol of health and strength. It represents strong family roots and faith in the resurrection. They prepared these recipes: grated horseradish seasoned with beetroot juice, white horseradish mixed with boiled egg, etc.

Easter cake

The decoration of the Easter table was and still is the ritual yeast bread – Paska – as a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ. The Church bread of a cylindrical shape, baked in the church on the eve of Easter, is called artos (“leavened bread”). By baking homemade Paska, Ukrainians continue the tradition. A special place in Ukrainian folklore belongs to this baking: “Not every day is Easter, and bread is not paska”, ” If the Paska is high – a good year will be a good one”, and “How many housewives – there are many Paskas”. For baking Paska, everyone used the best products: high-grade flour, homemade butter, sour cream, and fresh eggs. From generation to generation, from daughter to mother – they passed secrets about baking Paska. Thus, during baking, it was not allowed to make noise in the house or to start the dish in a bad mood. They started making dough with a prayer and sprinkling it with holy water. At the end of the 19th century, the most wealthy families added raisins and spices such as saffron and cardamom to the Paska. However, recipes for “poor Paska” made from buckwheat flour were also widespread.

 

Today, baking Paska combines the basics of the classic recipe with adding modern ingredients, including some European traditions. One of the most common is the traditional Italian sweet Christmas bread Panettone, which translates as “a big piece of bread”. 

The recipe for the first panettone was invented about 500 years ago. It remains unchanged to this day. In some regions of Italy, it serves with sweet liqueur or mascarpone cheese. According to one of the legends, the panettone was invented by Toni, the assistant cook of Duke Louis Moreau. The cook burned the pie that had to be served on the Christmas table. His resourceful assistant Tony saved him while adding all the goodies from the kitchen to a small piece of dough and gave the product a cylindrical shape. The taste of the new pie impressed the duke, and he asked the name and received the answer – Ran del Toni. Only at the beginning of the 20th century, did Milanese bakers start industrial production of this Christmas dessert. 

 

There is a long story about how it came to Ukraine. There is a legend about the gastronomic preferences of the great Frenchman Honore de Balzac. He stayed in the estate of the Polish countess Evelina Gdańsk in the village of Verkhivny on the border of the Podilska, Kyiv and Volyn provinces in the first half of the 19th century. It says that he was the one who introduced the custom of serving the so-called “Lord’s Paska” to the Christmas table, and in its shape, it resembled the classic panettone.

 

And today, the soft, airy, delicate texture of panettone, complemented by the aroma of candied fruit and raisins, its appetizing yellow colour and incredible taste conquers hearts and contributes to the gastro integration of Ukrainian national tastes with world culinary traditions.

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