Nalysynky (nah-liss-neh-key): Cheese crepes. Ukrainian food. Delicious, waist expanding Ukrainian food.
Nalysynky is not a complicated food item to make. It just has multiple steps and requires your full attention whilst making the crepes. It’s a great food to make as a couple, however, I am one of those cooks that sends my husband off on errands, or hopes there is a game on TV to keep him occupied and out of the kitchen. I am lucky to have a hubby who is happy to stay out of the way, but who also has one ear open to the kitchen, on the ready for a high pitched un-family friendly litany of curse words followed by a sugary sweet “Darling would you mind going to the store to pick up more cream?”
To start, one must have the essentials. In this case:
Music MUST be on and playing the background to keep the cook in a festive, happy mood, because crepes are one of those things, if they go wrong (meaning over-cooked, torn, or lumpy, a mood can sour and instead of providing a family with lovely rolls of rich, savoury cheese crepes, they will get a Corning Ware dish containing something that resembles calamari tubes, noodles and cottage cheese that went through a fan at high speed.
Once these critical items are in place, you are ready to begin. The recipe, almost word-for-word can be found on the web. My recipe comes from an old family Ukrainian cookbook. However, back in the day of BBS boards and home computers the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, I was excited to be able to spend tedious hours and hours typing in recipes into a program called Meal-Master. There are four parts to making nalysynky:
1. Make the crepes
2. Make the filling
3. Roll the filling in the crepes
4. Arrange in dish and bake
One could argue the fourth step could be split into a fifth step. My blog. My steps.
To make the crepes you will need:
1 cup milk
6 tbsp cold water
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp salt
Beat the eggs until light. Add milk, water and beat again. Add the salt and gradually add the flour. Beat until smooth. The batter will be very thin.
To cook the crepes, I use a crepe pan loaned to me by my friend. A person could use any flat-bottomed non-stick pan, and if I wasn’t so fussy and didn’t have a friend with a crepe pan, could easily use my non-stick fry pan.
Heat the pan. I use Level 4 or 5 (mediumish) on my electric stove. I spurt on some Pam spray, but if you want to be authentic, use butter. Pour two tablespoons of batter into the centre of the heated pan. Tilt the pan to distribute batter evenly across the bottom. You want a round shape. But do not stress if they are not perfect, I had shapes that looked like the USA (not including Alaska or Hawaii), a crab nebula and a rhombus. When the crepes are ever so lightly browned on the bottom and the tops firm to the touch, they are done. Do not flip these. These aren’t pancakes. They are crepes. You don’t flip crepes. Remove the crepe and place on a plate. Layer between wax or parchment paper. Continue until all the batter is used up. You’ll be there for a while.
2 cups cottage cheese (I used the full 600g container of dry-curd or .4%) (if you use regular cottage cheese, drain it well)
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp whipping cream
¼ tsp salt
Combine all ingredients and mix until mixture is smooth. More cream may be added if cheese mixture appears to be too thick (I had to add about six tablespoons of cream). If too thin, add more cottage cheese.
The paragraph above is nearly word-for-word from the original recipe. However, I don’t really know what they mean by “mix until mixture is smooth”. I used dry curd cottage cheese, and unless I beat the bajeebus out of it in a food processor or blender, I don’t think I’d ever get it smooth. So my cheese mixture looked like cottage cheese mixed with egg and whipping cream. And it tastes great, so I really don’t think we need to worry about this part.
Butter bottom and sides of a casserole dish. Place rolled crepes in dish. Pour a bit of cream over each layer. Just a bit, maybe a teaspoon or two, you don’t want soup. Bake. Bake at what temperature? How long?
Good question. My recipe doesn’t have that sort of detail, but I don’t think you’d go wrong putting it in a 350F oven until it’s hot through. You’ll just have to watch it and see when the cream starts to bubble on the sides, or, if you don’t have much cream in there, touch it. If you go, “Ow ow ow ow”, it’s hot. If you keep repeatedly poking at it to see if it’s hot.. it’s not.
Some people like to put dill in their nalysynky. We don’t, but please do if that’s your thing. You’d put it in the cheese mixture. You might make a dill sauce to pour over top. The choice is yours.
If you live in Edmonton, you could skip all the above and just drive to Uncle Ed’s Ukrainian Restaurant on 118th Avenue and buy frozen nalysynky and cook it at home. Theirs is quite yummy, but, we all know there is nothing quite as delicious as homemade.
Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving everyone!