My name is Dasha Vakulova. I am a Ukrainian food photographer and a mother of two.

5 years ago, when the war in Ukraine began, I was forced to relocate from Donetsk (1M inhabitants), where I worked as an economist, to Novovasilievka (a small village with a population of 2200 inhabitants and a non-existent job market). It was a huge change but it allowed me to start doing something I am passionate about.

I was always into food but I didn’t have much time to make it. I started mastering my new skills such as cooking and photography to create my new career as a food photographer. Thanks to the Internet and social media, I found lots of inspiration.

One of my major challenges is that many ingredients are expensive, and it is hard to find them in my town. I set a goal to make sure that the cost of each recipe that I am cooking doesn’t exceed 4 USD per meal. It can be challenging but it makes me think creatively about what I am cooking and photographing!

The real miracle happened when the Cook.me team approached me and together we unlocked my recipes for millions of people around the world! I still live in Novovasilievka, and I am still the only food photographer in the village. I feel very happy and blessed to cook and be a part of such a large global community like the one that is growing around Cook.me!

My message is to never give up. There are plenty of opportunities out there.

Here you’ll find some of my work. I hope you like it. Bon appetit!

P.S. I hope that the broadband speed in my little village continues to improve!

More info: cook.me

Victory Chocolate Cake

Image credits: cook.me

I love to bake birthday cakes for my friends on their birthdays and this Victory Chocolate Cake is always the request. Low on sugar with the added treat of coffee makes it the perfect choice for all my mom friends!

Dating back to the Second World War, when there was a sugar shortage, this recipe was designed to make a sweet enough chocolate cake, regardless. My favorite chocolate syrup glaze to complement the taste of dark corn syrup and coffee.

Follow the link to make Victory Chocolate Cake.

Soft and Sticky Christmas Star Twisted Bread

Image credits: cook.me

This Christmas Star Twisted Bread is a sweet and sticky bread that is so soft it can be pulled apart. I love opening the oven to the aroma of that freshly baked bread smell. It fills the entire home.

This recipe may look tricky, but it’s worth the intricate details to create this artistic piece. Once you have tried it, your skills will certainly have earned you the ‘Great Baker’ title!

Grape Schiacciata, Sweet Focaccia Style Flatbread

Image credits: cook.me

What is Grape Schiacciata? I asked myself the same thing when I came across it in a bakery when I traveled through Tuscany some years ago. Well, schiacciata is a flatbread from Tuscany which is very similar to focaccia. In fact, in some areas of Tuscany, the words schiacciata and focaccia are interchangeable.

The word schiacciata can be translated as “squashed” or “crushed” in English which I really like! It can be savory or sweet. In this recipe, I combine flour, water, yeast, olive oil, and sugar to make a dough. Then, I add black grapes and rosemary and fennel seeds to flavor the dough.

Healthy Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Image credits: cook.me

This Healthy Raspberry Frozen Yogurt includes directions to making frozen yogurt in a few different ways. I have included directions for a healthy soft serve, or a harder frozen yogurt texture as well as if you are choosing to use an ice cream machine.

Just 3 ingredients in 15 minutes and you’re ready for summer. Fresh, sweet and healthier than your store-bought ice creams.

Mincemeat Cookies

Image credits: cook.me

I always have a batch of these Mincemeat Cookies on standby around the holidays. They are perfect with coffee if someone drops by unexpectedly. The recipe makes 74 cookies, so it is great to make for a crowd and these cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

Simple Au Gratin Potatoes

Image credits: cook.me

These Simple Au Gratin Potatoes are the perfect side for any menu. It’s creamy, cheesy, and so tasty! The prep time is quick and easy, so you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen – pop it in the oven for a good hour to an hour and a half, the cheese will melt, and then crisp on top for that perfect potato that we all know and love!

Vegan Tomato Chickpea & Coconut Soup

Image credits: cook.me

If you’ve never tried a coconut soup, you need to try this Vegan Tomato Chickpea & Coconut Soup ASAP. I love coconut-based soups. I find that there is an extra depth of flavor that you just can’t get from soups made with vegetable broth. This soup is awesome because it’s not just healthy and plant-based, but it’s super filling and wholesome too.

To make this, you simply fry some onions and garlic in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the paprika and balsamic vinegar before mixing in the tomatoes, sugar, thyme, chickpeas, coconut milk, and water. Once the soup is cooked, blend it & serve in large bowls. Enjoy!

Okroshka – Cool Russian Summer Soup

Image credits: cook.me

Feel no guilt with this Russian inspired Okroshka, most commonly described as a light and cool, cold Summer soup. It’s made using a sour cream base seasoned with salt and vinegar and filled with chopped dill, green onion and diced ham, cooked potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and cucumbers for some crunch.

It’s absolutely fabulous and easy to make – all your family needs for dinner.

Easy Chicken Pizza

Image credits: cook.me

This Chicken Pizza is my kids’ favorite pizza because of the best combination which is chicken and cheese. A pre-made pizza crust will help to speed up things in the kitchen too so that you can have dinner ready in no time.

Get your kids to even help you with the pizza toppings, it can be a fun activity for the whole family! Pizza night just got that much better!

Gooseberry and Chamomile Jam

Image credits: cook.me

Gooseberry and Chamomile Jam that you just have to try! I love to make my own condiments and especially in berry season, you can always find jars of this tasteful jam around my kitchen.

I really enjoy this with a slice of buttered toast, coupled with a hot pot of English tea. My mornings already feel more peaceful just by describing it!