Cheers and Cheese

So, how was your Thanksgiving? How much turkey did you eat? I know, I can’t even mention it now, don’t want to eat anything with turkey till like next Thanksgiving.
My mom is in charge of making turkey with all the trimmings each year and I generally take care of desserts (are you surprised?). The rest of the appetizers and sides are decided on a spot, depending how many people we have and on a general mood. But, don’t forget, we’re Russians so, our turkey is half Russian too, we generally stuff it with buckwheat mixed with fried onions and mushrooms. Trust me, it’s delicious! And we have pickles and sauerkraut on a side.
Anything sour and pickled is actually a must to go along with all the drinks flowing around. That’s a Russian thing too, we pair liquor with an appetizer or a bite of food right after you take a shot (we don’t dilute our alcohol, “on the rocks” doesn’t exist in Russian vocabulary, they teach us young how to do shots, I’m kidding, half kidding). So, cognac, for example is served with a slice of lemon or anything sweet, like a chocolate candy, vodka is good with a pickle or a small toast and caviar, any other grain liquor will probably be served with smoked fish toast or salami, dried meats and cheeses. I know, we’re very particular, and, because generally different liquors are served at any Russian party, you’ll have all those appetizers and many more.
One side of my family prefers cognac or tequila, and the other side goes for some scotch, we all love vodka of course, and, when we’re around Americans and need to look civilized, we drink wine. I’m kidding, we’re all civilized, well, sometimes. 😊 I don’t like champagne, or “girly” sweet wines and liqueurs (I know, surprise! If we ever had dinner together, I was probably drinking wine, because see above, I was trying to act civilized). I usually go for some good cognac. I may sometimes settle for Amaretto with dessert (but, OMG grappa we had in Rome this past summer was the strongest, in all the good ways, I’ve ever had!). I do drink wine too of course, especially when cooking. My kid and I can kill a bottle of a nice red one while in the kitchen together. “Teach them young” works! I’ve raised a responsible (half)-Russian drinker. 😊 He actually prefers beer, but will go for red wine, cognac or scotch.
How did I end up talking about alcohol today?! Probably because I’m hugging a cognac bottle as I write this. I’m kidding. But, I wish I had a drink in hand right now. It’s been one of those days.
Hopefully you had a nice Thanksgiving though and gearing up for the upcoming holiday season.

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What’s Cooking This Week

Today’s recipe comes from a traditional Russian breakfast of sweet cheese pancakes but transformed into an appetizer version. Syrniki (syr is cheese in Russian) are pancakes made primarily from farmers cheese, a dry variety of cottage cheese, with just a bit of flour and egg, plus a sweetener and add-ons, like raisins or other dried fruit. So, syrniki taste very “cheesy” you can say, much more than ricotta pancakes for example. I have a recipe for traditional syrniki, you can find it on the Recipe pages under Breakfast. Today’s version is a savory appetizer made with two kinds of cheeses, farmers cheese and Chevre, and can be served warm or cold with eggs, fresh vegetables, caviar or any smoked fish. You can have this dish as breakfast or brunch too. And, of course, it can pair nicely with any drink you prefer!

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Savory Syrniki (Russian Cheese Pancakes) with Chevre and Herbs.

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A traditional Russian breakfast of sweet cheese pancakes transformed as a savory appetizer or brunch dish.

The ingredients list is quite simple and you probably have most, if not all, of them at home.

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Combine two cheeses and mix very well, using a fork or food processor to break down any lumps, add seasoned salt, pepper, dried herbs and mix well.

Combine flour with baking powder. Stir one egg into cheese mixture and then gradually mix in the flour breaking any lumps that may develop.

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Finally chop scallions and dill and add into mixture. Dough will be very sticky.

Put some flour on a plate and rub some on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Form large oval pancakes and lightly dust each side with flour.

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Fry in oil turning every couple of minutes till a deep golden crust forms on each side.

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Serve with eggs, lox, caviar, sour cream, spicy jam or any other toppings you prefer.

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This meal is full of light protein, especially when paired with eggs and caviar.

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And not to mention it just tastes great any time of the day!

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Savory Syrniki (Russian Cheese Pancakes) with Chevre and Herbs

Author:
Recipe type: breakfast, brunch, appetizer
Cuisine: Russian/Ukrainian
A traditional Russian breakfast of sweet cheese pancakes transformed as a savory appetizer or brunch dish.

Ingredients

  • Makes 8-10 medium-large pancakes:
  • 10 oz of chevre/goat cheese
  • 16 oz of farmers cheese, unsweetened
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of flour, plus more for dusting (I used King Arthur gluten free)
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of seasoned salt
  • ¼ tsp of black pepper
  • ½ tsp of dried herbs, French mix
  • 2 stalks of scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp of fresh dill, chopped
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Mix two cheeses together, breaking any lumps with a fork or in a food processor, add salt, pepper and dried herbs and mix well.
  2. Combine flour with baking powder.
  3. Stir one egg into cheese mixture.
  4. Gradually mix in the flour.
  5. Combine chopped scallions and dill into the dough.
  6. Dust hands with flour and put some on a plate.
  7. Form large oval pancakes and lightly dust them with flour.
  8. Fry in oil turning every couple of minutes till a deep golden crust forms on each side.

Notes

Can be served warm or cold with eggs, caviar, lox, sour cream, fresh vegetables or spicy jam.