Uzvar : Ukrainian Spiced Fruit Compote

On January 6th my house smells like dried apricots and honey. It’s the Orthodox Christmas Eve, which in Ukrainian is called Svyata Vecherya, the Holy Supper, and two dishes central to it are kutya and uzvar. I have written about kutya already, but uzvar deserves special mention, because this spiced fruit compote is not only delicious, it has a heady perfume.

uzvar1

Uzvar is not only paired with kutya for the Ukrainian Christmas and Easter, it’s a favorite winter dessert in my family. It’s simple, healthy and can be varied based on what’s available in the cupboard. I can still picture my great-grandfather, Sergiy, laying out sliced apricots to dry on the roof of the garden shed and smoking plums over cherry wood. “For uzvar in the winter,” he would say, while turning the dark, jammy fruit.

Drying does fascinating things to fruit. The fresh, green notes vanish, and instead caramelized, spicy and dark aromas take their place. Something as ordinary as an apple starts tasting of brown sugar and cinnamon, while apricots, plums and peaches become creamier, sweeter, with hints of cocoa and almonds. In Ukraine, plums as well as pears are dried by smoking, which adds another dimension reminiscent of incense.

dried fruit2

All of this richness is the key to uzvar, and while making it can’t be simpler–take a selection of dried fruits, macerate them in water overnight and simmer slowly with a few spices, the taste is lush and complex. Taking the time to steep the fruit in water is important for unlocking flavors, while a touch of spice can add different nuances. For instance, cinnamon accentuates the natural aromas in apples, but star anise and lemon zest tone down the sweetness of apricots. In Rochas Femme, Guerlain Mitsouko and Serge Lutens Bois et Fruits, the combination of spicy and plummy notes achieves the same effect and gives these perfumes their strong character. 

dried fruit1uzvar and kutya

Use your own taste as a guideline for adding spices, but since the flavor of dried fruit is rich enough, use a light hand with seasonings. More important is the selection of fruit, and for the most complex taste and perfume, use a few different kinds. My great-grandmother insisted on plums as being essential for flavor, but the smoked variety is hard to find outside of Ukraine; you might have to experiment to find your favorite combination. 

Uzvar is served cold or at room temperature, either with kutya or on its own. Plump, spicy fruit tastes delicious topped with whipped cream or over Greek yogurt. Decorate the compote with chopped pistachios for a festive splash of color and enjoy the taste of summer on a cold winter day.

uzvar

Ukrainian Spiced Dried Fruit Compote : Uzvar

Below is one of my favorite proportions that gives a pleasantly tart compote, but feel free to experiment and use whatever you have on hand. You can also mix fresh and dried fruit, such as fresh apples and pears with dried apricots and plums.

Honey adds a delicious note, but it should be used with a light hand. You may find your compote sweet enough without needing extra sweeteners.

1/2 cup (75g) dried cherries
1/2 cup (75g) dried apples
1/2 cup (75g) dried apricots
1/4 cup (35g) dried pears
1/4 cup (35g) dried plums
5 cups (1250ml) water

Spices :
1/2″ cinnamon stick, 1/2 star anise, 1 clove

OR

1/2 vanilla bean

2″ strip of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, or to taste
Honey to taste (optional)

Rinse fruit in cold water and drain. Cover them with 5 cups of water (if using vanilla bean, add it now) and leave overnight.

Next day, bring fruit and water to boil, and add a strip of lemon zest (if using cinnamon, star anise and cloves, add them now). Simmer covered on low heat for 5-10 minutes or till fruit turns soft and the liquid has a rich flavor. Remove from the heat and let the compote cool to room temperature.

Once cool, remove the spices and lemon zest. Add lemon juice to sharpen the flavors and sweeten uzvar with honey, if desired. Serve the perfumed liquid with kutya. Or eat compote on its own, along with stewed fruit.

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89 Comments

  • rosarita: This sounds delicious! Thank you for another recipe 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 7:33am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s so simple, but the combination of different dried fruits really makes a difference. January 6, 2015 at 9:51am Reply

  • Aliya: Smoked pears! I’d love to try that. January 6, 2015 at 7:56am Reply

    • Victoria: They don’t look all that appetizing, being chocolate brown and shriveled, but they pack a lot of flavor.

      One recommendation is to look for these kind of smoky dried fruits at the Polish or Ukrainian stores, if you have any nearby. My Polish store, for instance, sells a ready made mix for compotes. The fruit is too dry to be eaten after cooking, but it gives really good flavor. January 6, 2015 at 9:52am Reply

  • Michaela: Happy Christmas!
    That sounds so good! Thank you for this recipe. There are dried fruits everywhere, but not smoked ones. I think it’s worth trying anyway. Uzvar must be so delicious and fragrant!
    We also make a sort of kutya at home, but not on Christmas Eve, but for special days in the remembrance of our dead.
    I find this combination very exotic. January 6, 2015 at 8:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Dried plums have a bit of smokiness anyway, and if you want to try soaking them in lapsang souchong tea, it might be another interesting idea.

      Christmas Eve is very much about the remembrance of dead in the Orthodox tradition, so it’s not a particularly joyous holiday. Traditionally, it was the time to remember the dead and to ask for good fortune for the coming year. Christmas Day and the subsequent days until Epiphany, on the other hand, are very much about fun, games and eating lots of good food.

      How do you make kutya? January 6, 2015 at 9:58am Reply

      • Michaela: Actually I don’t, my mother makes it. Very similar to your recipe, but without soaking the wheat overnight (maybe she soaks it a little but not overnight, for sure), and without poppy seeds. Now I feel I’m missing something, they should give a very nice taste. She boils the wheat a lot. I’ll tell her the soaking tip.
        The rest is more or less, the same. She flavors it with vanilla and soaks raisins in rum. She covers it with some confectioner’s sugar, and adds some more nuts on the surface, to decorate. The decoration usually includes a big cross. January 6, 2015 at 10:36am Reply

        • Victoria: I find that if you don’t soak it, it takes 3 times longer to cook, but I suppose you can pressure cook it as well. Your kutya sounds delicious, with vanilla and rum soaked raisins! I will have to try that, since I have some rum soaked raisins on hand. January 6, 2015 at 10:48am Reply

          • Michaela: Yes, It takes so long to cook it that soaking is a much better idea.
            I hope you like it! 🙂
            And I’ll have to try the poppy seeds… January 6, 2015 at 10:55am Reply

            • Victoria: I added vanilla to kutya today, as per your suggestion, and I really liked it. It worked so well with the almond flavor of poppyseeds. Thank you for an idea. January 6, 2015 at 3:20pm Reply

              • Michaela: I’m so happy you like it! January 7, 2015 at 4:50am Reply

          • Amalia: If my English was better I would give you the Greek version of kutya we call them koliva, for remembering of our dead. It is so delicious and healthy! I will ask for my sons to help me, to translate the recipe, if you interesting. Of course our mothers – grandmothers recipes are the best in the world! LOL January 6, 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

            • Victoria: I would love your recipe for koliva. If you send it to me in Greek, it would be ok too, since Google translate is easy enough. If I still don’t understand something, I can just ask you.

              And I can’t agree more with you, grandmothers’ recipes are the best ones. 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 3:31pm Reply

              • Amalia: How can I send you the koliva recipe without disturbing your blog? January 7, 2015 at 5:09pm Reply

            • Annette Reynolds: Happy new year, Amalia!

              Growing up (as a teenager in the late 60’s/early 70’s) in San Diego, California, we attended the Greek church there and I remember the koliva was really delicious. I wish I knew their recipe, because others I’ve tried haven’t matched the flavors I remember.

              I lost my mother about 10 years ago, so don’t have a family recipe to try (I may have to do some searching through my mother’s recipes…). That, or WAIT! There was a cookbook put out by the church – I remember my mother doing most of the illustrations for it and MAYBE the cherished recipe is in there! Ah! Now I have a quest. 🙂

              If I do find the recipe, would anyone like to try their hand at it? January 7, 2015 at 4:01am Reply

              • Victoria: I would love it, and I will be glad to try making it and sharing the results. January 7, 2015 at 1:00pm Reply

                • Annette Reynolds: Okay, Victoria. Am now officially on the hunt for the Greek church’s cookbook. If I find it (and there’s a recipe for the koliva in it), I’ll copy it into an email and send it along.

                  Wishing you most joyful celebrations, and again thank you so very much for Bois de Jasmin. I’ve been reading it for a long time now and really do have you to thank for my continued obsession with perfume and the memories it can bring.

                  Happy 2015, Victoria! Hugs… January 7, 2015 at 2:43pm Reply

                  • Victoria: Those cookbooks published by the church groups are wonderful, and I have several (including one published by a synagogue in Chicago and a mosque in Mumbai). The recipes are usually interesting, tried and tested and sometimes they includes stories about customs and traditions. If I ever see them on sale, I never pass them by.

                    Happy 2015 to you too! January 7, 2015 at 3:23pm Reply

      • AndreaR: On Sviat VechirI we always set the table with an extra place setting. One year my little brother asked about the extra place setting and my mother explained it was set for those family members who had died. There was a long silence and then my brother announced that he was not sitting next to “the ghost”.
        My kutya is sweetened with my beloved buckwheat honey from the prairies of Manitoba, Canada and I steep my fruit for Uzvar in sweetened camomile tea.
        A blessed Sviat Vechir to all of you who observe this holiday. January 6, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Your brother’s comment made me giggle. I like this tradition very much. Remember those who came before, those who departed is important. We’re here because of them, and while the Christmas Eve is not the most joyous Orthodox holiday, it puts things in perspective.

          My kutya is sweetened with honey I helped making this year, when my cousin and I worked at our neighbor’s apiary. Ok, working is an overstatement, since I mostly took photos and got taste for handling bees, but it was still a great learning experience. Enjoy your evening, and a blessed Sviata Vecherya to you too. January 6, 2015 at 3:27pm Reply

      • Michaela: I asked my mother last night. She soaks the wheat grains in boiling water, while another batch of water is boiling. She drains the grains, then pours the new boiling water over the wheat. She repeats it 4 times. The last time, the grains are just a little covered with water. This way boiling wheat takes only 30 minutes. She used the overnight soaking method years ago but she prefers this one now. January 7, 2015 at 4:54am Reply

        • Victoria: That also sounds like a good tip to keep in mind! January 7, 2015 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Danaki: Merry Christmas!! This treat sounds delicious, I must try it next Christmas. January 6, 2015 at 9:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Merry Christmas! It reminds me a little of the Middle Eastern preparations in which different fruit is stewed with spices and rosewater. January 6, 2015 at 10:02am Reply

      • Aisha: I was just thinking that, Victoria, especially when you mentioned the chopped pistachios. 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 10:14am Reply

        • Victoria: In the old Ukrainian cookbooks, you often find rosewater used as flavoring, and I suppose, a splash along with vanilla would be great.

          I’ve made some of my great-grandmother’s recipes with pistachios instead of walnuts, and I liked the result, especially the color. January 6, 2015 at 10:18am Reply

          • Danaki: True 🙂 In Lebanon, the Armenians are celebrating Christmas and the rest are celebrating Epiphany. I love Anoushabour, an Armenian dish eaten on this day which sounds rather like a variation on Kutya. I love Anoushabour, a sweet pearl barley pudding made with sultanas and garnished with dried fruits and pistachios.

            For Epiphany, in the old days in the villages, you would hang a bread dough (kind of like a starter dough) in a cloth sling and hang it on an olive tree for Jesus Christ to bless it passing through the night. I love the traditions of Epiphany, they make me miss Lebanon more than Christmas does. January 6, 2015 at 12:47pm Reply

            • Victoria: I love nothing more than learning about these traditions. I probably mentioned it in another post, but really, this makes the world so much richer. And I love noticing interesting parallels. For instance, here in Belgium they make a bread called Cougnou, which is shaped like a swaddled baby and even has a small marzipan baby attached to it.

              Anoushabour does sound like a variation on kutya. In different parts of Ukraine, people use different grains, depending on what grew better, and you can find kutya made with barley as well. January 6, 2015 at 3:33pm Reply

  • Tijana: Yummy, this sounds fabulous and I must make it! Thank you Victoria, Merry Christmas, I will think of you tonight when I eat noodles with poppy seeds and walnuts 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Merry Christmas!
      Noodles with poppy seeds and walnuts sound delicious. A friend from the western part of Ukraine on the border with Hungary said that in her grandmother’s village, kutya is made not with wheat but with noodles. So, it sounds like a similar idea and must be very delicious. January 6, 2015 at 10:04am Reply

  • Hamamelis: Hi Victoria, lovely & simple recipe=my favorites! I sometimes add cardamon pods, or powder to my stewed fruit, especially if I want to add sweetness, but not honey or sugar (or stevia).
    On Epiphany (called Three Kings in the Netherlands, Drie Koningen) we used to have a pudding (just a nice one) or cake, and my mother hid a dry bean in it. Whoever had the bean in their portion was ‘King of the day’ and what they wanted was done, although that later changed into could pick a treat for everyone as children as kings are dangerous! January 6, 2015 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, cardamom would also great instead of clove, cinnamon, and star anise. That’s a nice variation, and I didn’t think of it, mostly because we never used cardamom at home in uzvar, but there is no reason not to try. Plus, cardamom matches so well with any stone fruit.

      Here in Belgium (at least in Brussels) galette des rois is a popular treat. I keep meaning to buy it one of these years, but I invariably have other plans for Christmas desserts. January 6, 2015 at 10:23am Reply

  • Aisha: My stomach just growled. 😉

    This sounds — and looks — so delicious! I’ve never had smoked plums or pears before. Actually, it never occurred to me that you could do that. 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 10:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I suppose if you wanted to dry them whole, smoking helps to speed up the process. We didn’t smoke anything else, though. Whenever I go to Ukraine, I bring back a couple of kilos of smoked plums, and while I use them in some desserts, my favorite is to pair them with meat. Just adding a small handful transforms a regular chicken or turkey stew into something gourmet. For this, you can use plums soaked in any strong, smoky tea, and it works well enough. January 6, 2015 at 10:26am Reply

      • Aisha: How long do you usually soak the plums? I have lapsang souchong tea. Would that work? I’m now very curious about adding it to a stew. 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 1:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: One hour should be plenty, I think, and I think lapsang souchong will be perfect! Please let me know how it goes. January 6, 2015 at 3:39pm Reply

  • solanace: I love your Ukranian recipes. You certainly provide some insight beyond the CNN angle. Will certainly try this, it looks delicious and will make the house smell very Lutensian. For Christmas, in the end, I made a Thai sweet and sour hot dipping sauce to gift everyone. It tasted very good and was a hit, and I’d like to say a big thank you, because BdJ empowered me to make preserves without fear of killing my relatives! January 6, 2015 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Preserving is not that difficult or risky, if you follow the basic steps. Lucky guests of yours! I really love food gifts all of sorts, but the homemade ones are very special.

      And you’re right about the smell, very Lutensian. January 6, 2015 at 10:51am Reply

    • Karen: It is so wonderful to learn more about Ukraine through the traditions of food and home-arts. For me, these are what make a place come alive – especially when, as you say Solance, we only see or hear one (very limited) aspect of it through the news.

      Victoria, by sharing your personal stories and family history through recipes, photos and more, I’ve gained knowledge and appreciation for a place that I knew next to nothing about. January 7, 2015 at 6:13am Reply

      • Victoria: I very much enjoy sharing these stories, and I’m glad that you like reading them. Ukraine is really a fascinating place, and given its history and location, its culture and traditions are quite multifaceted. It took going away to live elsewhere to appreciate all of it, and I now love returning, traveling and discovering more. January 7, 2015 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Chilloften: I can imagine the amazing fragrance…home sweet home. January 6, 2015 at 10:47am Reply

    • Victoria: One of the best parts of making it is the fragrance. 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 10:51am Reply

  • Karen: This looks simply delicious! And smoked dried fruit sounds like an incredible addition to a tagine. January 6, 2015 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes! It mimics tagines cooked over wood fire, and smoky flavor goes well with lamb and many other meats. January 6, 2015 at 3:24pm Reply

  • Amalia: I will try it, for sure, at the Fasting period before Easter! January 6, 2015 at 12:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a very good dish for Lent, since it’s so wholesome. January 6, 2015 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Jackie: Beautiful photographs, Victoria!

    I can just smell the aromas as this simmers on the stove.

    My husband’s Granny, whose dear memory is brought back by your post this morning, was Ukrainian, and used to make kutya at Christmastime. We’d begin the Christmas meal ceremoniously with a small bowl of it. January 6, 2015 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: I remember eating kutya even before we could celebrate Christmas openly (in the USSR the religious holidays were banned), and it’s one of the strongest childhood memories for me. The combination of kutya and uzvar really brings me back to my grandparents’ house. January 6, 2015 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you for sharing your traditions with us Victoria and Happy Christmas. Uzvar, the name sounds so exotic and lovely to me, soulful too. I’ve read your article about the kutya and find magical that your grandmother and you were connected simply by making it, a great lesson this.

    Thank you for the tip about checking Polish stores for the ingredients and I am lucky to have locally a great Turkish store, they might carry dried fruit.

    I am glad the Belgians celebrate Epiphanie, in France too we eat the galette des rois and find the feve; it’s one dessert the French don’t make themselves, the local bakeries make it to perfection, especially the ones in Paris. January 6, 2015 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: The name comes from the word for boil, varyty. Ukrainian dishes often have straightforward names, although when it comes to our wide repertoire of pasta-like dishes, the variety of names is endless. My husband loves words like bubliki (bagels), pampushki (round buns, which can be baked, boiled or steamed), butsiki (small boiled squares of dough folded in flowers), etc. The same dish also can have different names, depending on the region.

      Turkish store will be a perfect place to buy dried fruit. I forgot to say that figs, dates and raisins can also be used, although with dates and raisins you won’t need much extra sweetening. January 6, 2015 at 3:39pm Reply

      • Aurora: Such lovely names, it’s a real treat to learn some words in Ukrainian. It’s such an interesting country; I remember your visit to the embroidery place vividly with the pretty example of the marvellous work they do. If I am adventurous enough I will try to make kutya as well as uzvar at the weekend. I have also noticed that since reading your blog I care more about the presentation of food, your photos are always so enticing. Alas the lovely Limoges plates and silver cutlery belonging to my greatgrandmother are in storage in France. January 7, 2015 at 5:51am Reply

        • Victoria: Isn’t that school amazing? The embroidery masters there are really so passionate and I was touched by how generous and kind they were. They taught me, explained everything, and they didn’t want to accept anything in exchange. Once the holidays are over, I will work more on my embroideries. These days I seem to do mostly cooking and entertaining friends, but that’s the fun part of being on break. January 7, 2015 at 1:05pm Reply

      • Annette: When you say “boutsiki”, do you mean “little shoes”? You know that languages fascinate me and I just couldn’t help myself 🙂

        Merry Christmas to you, dear Victoria! January 7, 2015 at 7:19am Reply

        • Victoria: Hmm, I think you might be right. After all, if you fold the corners of a square inward, the shape is not unlike little cute shoes. 🙂

          Merry Christmas, Annette! January 7, 2015 at 1:19pm Reply

  • Jehanne Dubrow: This takes me back to my childhood years in Warsaw. Dried fruit kompot was a favorite treat of mine, especially when served over vanilla ice cream. January 6, 2015 at 2:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mmm, I have never had it this way, which is all the more reason to try. Thank you, Jehanne. January 6, 2015 at 3:40pm Reply

  • behemot: Mery Christmas and thank you for a recipe. I think I will make it for our next traditional Christmas Ever instead of Polish dried plum compote, which is mostly a drink and nobody in my family really likes it.. Yours sounds and looks so much better 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 2:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Merry Christmas, Jola! I hope that you like this variation. In Ukraine some families also make uzvar which is more like a drink, but I prefer the compote/desert version. Spicy, honeyed apricots and cherries are so good. January 6, 2015 at 3:43pm Reply

      • behemot: Yum 🙂 January 7, 2015 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Katy: My Husband speaks fondly of a similar dish that was placed in a large jar with brandy and left to stew and preserve in it’s own juices. His people are of Scotch Irish descent and still live in Palestine, Texas. This fruit compote was served over vanilla ice cream and I have not had much luck finding a recipe or the history of this dish. January 6, 2015 at 3:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Katy, is it anything similar to Rumtopf, which involves soaking different summer fruits in brandy, macerating them till Christmas or so and enjoying over ice cream.

      Here is a recipe I tried and loved:
      http://germanfood.about.com/od/desserts/r/Rumtopf-Recipe.htm January 6, 2015 at 3:45pm Reply

      • Katy: If only these non expressive, stern people would have used anything as fun as rum! I suspect there was beer, whiskey and brandy for thie Christmas compote, not for imbibing! Right under this recipe you so thoughtfully sent was one for brandied fruit and I suspect this is the ticket! I will try it this summer! January 6, 2015 at 5:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: Brandied fruit also sounds like a delicious desert. Well, there is nothing fancy about uzvar either, but it’s really good. January 7, 2015 at 11:07am Reply

  • Joy: Thank you for this lovely recipe, Victoria. When I was quite young, my favorite thing was working in the kitchen with my Swedish grandmother in rural eastern Montana preparing traditional baked goods. We had such fun together! She had a lot of patience. She made a double layer cookie that was filled with a cooked dried fruit mixture. She let me cut out the dough circles with a floured glass. She would place the fruit, then I got pinch the edges together. So, thanks for triggering the memories. January 6, 2015 at 5:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have a soft spot for anything with dried fruit, so your cookies sound like something I would love. Do you still make your grandmother’s recipe? January 7, 2015 at 11:08am Reply

      • Joy: I lost a few days to the flu that was not covered by this year’s flu vaccine in the US, or I would have replied sooner.
        I do not still make the cookie recipe, but am going to write to my cousin now that I have the energy to type again, to see if she recalls how to make these cookies. If I get the recipe, I think that your fruit combination would work really well in it after draining the fluid. I used to gently insert a fork in the top to allow steam to vent, but loved the way the juice would sometimes flow out and carmelize as it flowed down the side. January 9, 2015 at 3:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: Joy, I would love a recipe too! It sounds really interesting and delicious, and I can never resist a grandmother’s recipe.

          Hope that you’re feeling better! January 10, 2015 at 8:33am Reply

  • annemarie: This sounds lovely and I will try it when the weather cools down here. Lutensian indeed!

    I fear my kids may not like it though; they may find it way too rich and sweet. Of course they are accustomed to cakes and confectionery of all sorts, but rich fruity dishes are not common where I live, and for my kids’ generation. My friends’ parents and mine would cook rich heavy fruit cakes and pudding for Christmas but I never liked them and nor did my husband. Not too many people I know bother with them much any more, and my kids probably don’t have the palette for them. (They do quite like the north African tradition of adding dried fruit to meat dishes, though.)

    So I think there may have been a change in tastes in Australia, especially as regards Christmas fare. At last there is a recognition that Christmas occurs in SUMMER here, so why cling to the tradition of hot roasted meats and rich heavy food?

    But I should give this recipe a try because it sounds delicious, and very easy! January 6, 2015 at 8:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you like it! You can make it as (or as little) sweet and rich as you like. My combination is not at all sugary, since apricots and cherries are tart, and you can skip honey. Unless I’m making uzvar to serve with kutya, I don’t add honey and I up the amount of lemon juice.

      It makes sense, though, to cook something more summery for the holiday, since I can’t imagine wanting to eat all those heavy roasts and fruit cakes on a hot day. In the winter, they’re perfect. January 7, 2015 at 11:17am Reply

      • annemarie: Good suggestions, thanks. 🙂 January 7, 2015 at 6:31pm Reply

  • Viviane: Thanks for sharing! I’m preparing it right now! I didn’t have any dried apples or pears on hand, so I used figs and cranberries instead. I’ll try again later with the right fruits. And I’m using lapsang souchong tea as my fruits aren’t smoked either. Do you think I should make a regular tea and add it to the soaking water or let the bag soaking with the fruits overnight for stronger flavor? Happy christmas January 7, 2015 at 4:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Viviane, figs and cranberries would make a delicious compote, since figs are sweet and cranberries are tart, and this will make a very harmonious blend. I would soak only the figs in tea, brewed in a regular way. And cranberries can soak on their own in water which you will use for cooking uzvar. Otherwise, I worry that a tea bag left steeping with fruit might make it too bitter.

      Next morning you can taste the tea in which figs were steeped, and if you like the flavor, you can add a little of it to your compote for an extra smoky nuance. Please let me know how it turns out! Merry Christmas! January 7, 2015 at 5:01am Reply

  • Viviane: Thank you for your reply and explanations! It is what was worrying me to. So my mix is: cherries, apricots, plums, figs and cranberries. I’ll try the cinnamon/star anise/clove version this time. I go to sleep now and let you know tomorrow of the result. By the way, about the galette des rois, I just made one sunday for the first time, and it’s really easy to do actually (I suppose you can find puff pastry dough in Belgium). Let me know if you want some recipes. January 7, 2015 at 5:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I would love your recipe. My local bakery sells very good puff pastry, so I don’t have to make that. Maybe, I can try making it for the Orthodox Epiphany. January 7, 2015 at 1:03pm Reply

      • Viviane: Ok, so, I just tried it, and it is very nice! I added all of the lapsang souchong tea and cooked it for much longer (about 1 hour). I really appreciate the smocky flavor. Great with yogurt. But my apricots felt a little bit alone in the middle of all of these red fruits, so next time, I’ll try as your recipe suggest. I’m thinking also that a “only berries” and a “only orchard fruits” versions can be fun to try, with perhaps a splash of orange blossom water in the latter instead of the lapsang souchong tea…
        For the galette recipe, I think you can read french, so check this two recipes:

        http://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_galette-des-rois_10832.aspx

        http://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_galette-des-rois-facile_19012.aspx

        I made the first one, and it was really good, but a little to dense for my tastes, so I plan to try the other one next time.

        Thanks again. January 9, 2015 at 1:30am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s delicious over yogurt, and if you didn’t add honey, then a drizzle of honey on top of yogurt and fruit is very good. You can definitely experiment and see what your favorite combos are. You can do only apricots, for instance, and add orange blossom water and vanilla. This combination is so successful and really complex.

          Thank you for the recipes. I’m going to try it for the Ukrainian Orthodox Epiphany on the 19th. I also watched the video in the second link, and I like the idea of mixing almond powder with pastry cream for the filling. The woman behind the camera sounded so much like Emilie from Le Meilleur Patissier’s 3rd season. Not sure if you watch this show, but I love it and I can’t wait for the 4th season to start. January 9, 2015 at 7:05am Reply

          • Viviane: You’re very welcome.
            I don’t know if you already knew Marmiton, but it’s a great website for french cuisine.
            Let me know if the pastry cream version of the galette is good when you try it, if you have the time!

            At the risk of sounding like a weirdo, I don’t watch TV, so no idea who you are talking about 😀
            And I’m not leaving in France anymore, so anyway…
            But I just saw you can find the recipes of the show online. I’m gonna have a look to see if they are worth it. January 10, 2015 at 12:13am Reply

            • Victoria: I’ve used some of their recipes in the past, and I like that they always have several versions, which makes it easy to compare. Will let you know how my galette turns out.

              You’re not a weirdo at all. I went for years without owning a TV and then owning it to watch movies on DVD. Returning to Europe, we started watching it again. Anyway, the show is terrific. It’s a cooking competition for homebakers, and at the end of each show, after they do 3 different challenges, one baker is eliminated. What I like about the French version and the original British one is that the competition is really fair and you, as a viewer, actually learn something watching it. I haven’t made the recipes themselves, but I learned some new tricks and tips. January 10, 2015 at 8:42am Reply

              • Viviane: What I like about Marmiton is that there are plenty of really good recipes now (it wasn’t the case only 10 years ago) and a lot of people rate them so you can really choose the right ones for you and improve them thanks to the comments. (I’m always amazed how French people s* at rating on Amazon for ex. but when it’s about food it’s another story :D)

                I tought I wouldn’t be able to survive without my cookbooks and the precious recipes I gathered over the years but actually I find all I need for french cuisine on Marmiton. But I’m always searching for good recipes of other cuisines. And thanks to you I discovered an ukrainian dessert!

                For the TV, good to know I’m not alone 😉

                I tried the 2nd galette recipe the other day, and it’s definitely an improvement. The filling is moister. Almond extract AND vanilla are mandatory in my opinion (it’s best to have a light hand with vanilla as it can overpower the almond), rum a question of personal preference.
                But the pastry cream version you saw is definitely worth a try for an even creamier texture!
                Me, I’m good with galette des rois for this year, so it will wait for next year now. January 13, 2015 at 6:29pm Reply

                • Victoria: So funny that you mention the Amazon.fr ratings (or the lack thereof), because I was wondering why there are so few. On the other hand, the ratings on Marmiton is exactly why I started using it. January 14, 2015 at 11:38am Reply

  • Teresa: Thank you for this. It takes me back many years to my grandmother’s kitchen on Christmas Eve (Jan. 6). There was straw on the floor and multiple tables to hold all the family & kids. The sights, sounds, and smells of that night has stayed with me all my life. January 8, 2015 at 1:26am Reply

    • Victoria: The celebrations with all the family around the table are the best. Ours also stayed with me, and I can recall so many sights and smells. January 9, 2015 at 7:06am Reply

  • Austenfan: This dish reminded my of a desert my grandmother used to make. My father took over the tradition later on.
    It consists of layers of different kinds of dried fruit (often sold as tutti frutti) that were just soaked in water overnight and then cooked. In between there were alternating layers of lady finger biscuits and custard. All of this was finished with a thick layer of whipped cream on top. Rumour has it that it is excellent for your health, especially mental health 😉 January 8, 2015 at 3:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: What is this dish called? It really sounds great. And I’m a big believer in enjoyable, delicious things being very good for you. 🙂 January 8, 2015 at 4:02pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I don’t know that it had a name. I have just googled desert and tutti frutti and haven’t found anything like it.
        Very simple though:
        Just even layers of biscuits – custard-tutti frutti. Topped of with whipped cream. January 8, 2015 at 4:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: This sounds really wonderful! How can you go wrong with those components? 🙂 January 9, 2015 at 7:07am Reply

  • Olga Talyn: I am so proud that you are a sister Ukrainian. For the beauty of your words and the spirit with which you live. I live in Princeton New Jersey and am fortunte to be near Trenton with it’s Polish section and stores where I can buy all the ingredients to make our traditional holiday dishes. I think I will make a batch of uzvar this eve, play some Ukrainian carols and splash on a bit of Mitsouko to round out the sensory delights of this Christmas season! January 11, 2015 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words, Olga! There are so many grocery stores catering to the Polish and Ukrainian clientele in NJ and NY, so it makes finding the right ingredients easier. You might even find the smoked plums and pears.

      Mitsouko sounds like a perfect perfume to wear on such an occasion! 🙂 January 12, 2015 at 8:59am Reply

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