Updated: Sep 20
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Today, the whole world is watching news about Ukraine and praying for peace, while I'm constantly worrying about all my Ukraine family and praying for their safety. Who would have thought that in the 21st century we still would find ourselves worrying about guns and bullets?
As I think about Ukraine, my mom is most present in my thoughts, for this month she will celebrate her 80th birthday. If the world would be more peaceful, I would probably be seeing her right now. Food for me is not only energy and medicine, but also, it's like music. My kitchen melodies often take me to places where I have never been and also allow me to return to places I have been, such as being in my mother's Ukraine kitchen. Therefore, in honor of my mom's 80th birthday, I can't skip on making one of her favorite dishes, potato pancakes. Generally speaking, potatoes are her favorite vegetable and as most Ukrainians are well aware that potatoes are a king crop. People get so inventive with their potato recipes that they are able to serve potato in some form for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never get bored due to their inspirational variety.
A year ago, I posted another dish that is not only a national dish, but also another one of my mom's favorites, which is a soup called borsch. She can't exist without this soup for more than a week, I think every 3-4 days she needs borsch.
Here is the recipe on how to make it:
The Best Ukrainian borsch and bread that is traditionally served with borsch:
The recipe that I am sharing with you today can be served as an appetizer or a side dish.
My mom only made this for us on weekends. It was special and she served them with garlic sauce and cream fraiche. The garlic sauce she made in a vessel, called Makitra, and it was so cool to watch her make. Makitra is made from clay, and it very much reminds you of a big pestle and mortar.
What is Deruny?
Many people believe this dish has Belarus roots, but who knows? Ukrainians love their potatoes as well. If you are familiar with traditional Jewish latkes, it's not like that.
Deruny is made entirely from finely grated raw potatoes. They are crispy outside and soft inside being simply flavored with raw onions and cooked in lard or refined sunflower oil. It's an easy, quick, and tasty appetizer, which can be eaten at breakfast or as a side dish that can be made in half an hour.
In the old days my mom didn't use a food processor so grating by hand was a big deal so that is why she only made these on the weekends. But today, life is much easier, and you can do deruny any time you want plus you can be adventurous by stuffing them with pretty much anything. In the video I kept it simple by using a good quality feta as the stuffing.
Few more ideas for the fillings:
1. Fried onions and bacon or mushrooms
2. Cheese, such as feta, ricotta, farmers cheese
3. Bean pure
5. Hamburger meat, cooked
6. Pulled pork
7. Shredded roasted chicken
Be creative, use your leftovers to make new versions.
Plain or with filling you decide, since you are the boss of your plate.
What Do I Need to Make Deruny?
Potato, Yukon Gold is my first choice, but Russet potatoes are great here as well.
Onion, yellow onion. Remember “Yellow onions are your standard cooking onion".
Flour, All-purpose flour, for gluten free option, use rice or chickpea flour.
Eggs, my eggs small that's why I used two eggs.
Dried Yeast, just a small amount will make a difference.
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sweet paprika.
Oil, for frying them. My mom uses lard, she always has on hand homemade lard for cooking, Sometimes I use ghee but, in the video, I used grapeseed oil. Use whatever you prefer, just make sure you use fat with a high smoke point.
What to serve with it?
My mom serves her potato cakes with garlic-dill sauce and sour cream. For my mom's sauce please check out this post
But I like to serve them with creamy garlic sauce. See recipe below.
Can I freeze them?
You can, but I'm not recommending it since starchy foods like potatoes do not hold well for, they lose their texture.
Let's do it...
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yields: 12-14 cakes (deruny)
Ingredients for the Deruny
1 and 3/4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
1 big yellow onion
2 small eggs or one large
6-7 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (see note above for GF option)
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
oil to fry them (grapeseed oil, I used in the video)
1 cup of feta cheese for the filling (optional)
Ingredients for the garlic sauce
1/2 cup of créme fraiche (sour cream, or Greek yogurt)
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely graded
1-2 Tablespoons of finely chopped parsley or dill
1-2 Tablespoons sauerkraut juice or lemon
Wash and paper dry potatoes, cut into quarters and put into the food processor. Pulse a few times or until the mixture has a paste consistency. Set aside in a separate bowl. After this step and next work quickly, grated potatoes after benign exposed to air will begin to turn brown.
Peel onion and cut into quarters. Pulse in the food processor until it looks pasty and then add it to the potato mixture along with a pinch of salt. Mix all together.
3. Pour potato-onion mixture into a cheesecloth bag and squeeze out the liquid, as much as possible.
4. Pour the potato-onion mixture back into the bowl and add eggs, flour, yeast, and seasoning (salt, pepper, paprika). Mix all together.
5. Place the bowl in a warm place for 10-20 minutes. Meanwhile make the sauce. Mix all ingredients for the sauce in a bowl, set a side.
6. Turn the stove burner to medium heat and add a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil to a cast iron pan. Let the oil heat up until nice and hot. Scoop two tablespoons of potato-onion mixture per cake into the pan. After scooping the last cake, add two teaspoons of feta cheese in the middle of each cake. Then place one more potato-onion mixture on top of each cake and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side.
7. For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and keep in refrigerator until you ready to use it.
8. Place on a serving platter along with creamy-garlic sauce.