Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Syrniki (Russian Cottage Cheese Pancakes)

Like most cooks, I tend to taste my way through a recipe. I pop cubes of raw vegetables in my mouth after I dice them, and grab a couple bites along the way to gauge whether they're cooked through. And then how can you season to taste if you don't taste? By the time the meal is served, I've already eaten my first course.

But with syrniki, I have taken the snack-and-simmer approach to new heights (or depths?). These Russian cottage cheese pancakes are just so amazingly delicious that I could not stop eating them directly from the pan. They're moist from the dairy (farmer cheese or cottage cheese, if you don't have access to the Russian dry curd cheese tvorog), fresh-tasting and barely sweet. And the pan-frying in melted butter probably doesn't hurt. Often they're studded with raisins, but in the summer they're lovely with cold sour cream and some sweet berries or compote (though I ate a good third out of hand, before they even hit the plate, and that might have been the best of all).

Unlike heavier American flapjacks, these light syrniki make for a sweet dessert. But they're equally good as a small meal in and of themselves, especially on summer days where you don't want to turn on the oven. Provided you have better self-control than I do, and can manage to actually save some for your dinner guests. You can find the details, along with stories and recipes for several other Russian dishes, over at NPR's Kitchen Window.


  1. These look amazing! I need to try them!

  2. I'm reading the book Season to Taste by Molly Birnbaum. An accident in which she received head trauma left her without a sense of smell, a phenomena called anosmia. She had planned to cook, was scheduled to begin studying at the CIA, and instead fell into depression. I'm really enjoying it, and find myself thinking more about scent and how I smell, how it affects taste.

    I looked into making tvorog once and had forgotten, I'm excited to read the article!