Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules have been close friends for over a decade, sharing their love of food and cooking.
Shortly after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian and Ukrainian chef duo teamed up to launch Cook for Ukraine.
Cook for Ukraine is an online initiative which encourages chefs, food writers, home cooks and restaurateurs to make Ukrainian and Eastern European dishes and raise funds for Unicef UK.
Since its launch the initiative has raised over £480,000 and has become a global movement.
You can get involved by hosting your own Cook For Ukraine supper club or bake sale, donating through the Just Giving page and sharing your pictures, recipes and stories on social media by adding the #CookForUkraine hashtag.
Russian chef and food writer Alissa Timoshkina has shared one of her recipes so we can have a go at creating our own Russian dish at home.
Blini (Russian pancakes) stuffed with apricot tvorog
For the blini:
- 200g of plain flour
- 200ml of full fat milk
- 150ml of boiling water
- 50g unsalted butter, melted, plus more for frying
- 2 eggs
- A pinch of sugar
For the filling:
- 200g goats curd (or 100g ricotta cheese and 100g plain cottage cheese)
- 150g semi-dried apricots
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 ripe apricots or peaches (or a mixture of both)
- Flaked almonds, toasted
To make the blini, sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl.
Gradually pour in the milk while whisking away to make sure there are no lumps.
Add the melted butter to the mix.
Break an egg into the same bowl and whisk more till evenly integrated.
Once a thick batter is formed gradually add 150ml of hot water and continue whisking until the mixture reaches the right consistency which should be similar to pouring yoghurt without any lumps.
This is a trick I have learnt from my grandma, as hot water not only helps to achieve a smooth batter but will also make your blini light and lacy.
Season with a pinch of salt and sugar.
Heat up a non-stick frying pan with some butter.
Pour half a ladle of the mixture into the hot pan and swirl around till the batter covers the entire surface in an even, paper-thin layer.
Cook on one side for approx two minutes.
You know it is ready when the edges start to curl.
Flip the crepe (in the air if you wish or dare) and fry for another 40 seconds or so.
Pile into a nice stack with a slice of butter in between every other crêpe.
In a food processor, blend the goat’s curd (or the ricotta/cottage cheese mix) and dried apricots.
Make sure to use the plump, juicy apricots because the really dry ones won’t mix well and will just make a lot of noise in your blender.
Blend for five mins until you have a semi-smooth paste with a few chunky bits.
Add sugar and lemon juice to taste.
To assemble the blintzes, place two tbsp of the cheese mixture on each crepe and roll it into a burrito shape.
In a frying pan, heat the butter and sugar together.
Cut the fresh apricots or peaches into four slices and fry in 50g of butter and one tbsp of sugar, until slightly caramelised and softened.
To serve, place two blintzes per plate, add a few of the fried fruit slices and sprinkle with some toasted almond flakes.
This recipe comes from Alissa’s Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian kitchen cookbook.
You can support Cook for Ukraine and find all of Alissa and Ola’s recipes on their Just Giving Page.
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