A favorite recipe: Tvorozhniki (a.k.a. syrniki – cheese pancakes)

Tvorozhniki topped with blueberries and sprinkled with powdered sugar

Well, for a complete change of pace, I can’t resist posting this recipe as it’s one of our family’s favorites and definitely a tasty “tradition” worth passing along. I first tasted these thick cheese pancakes during a school trip to the Soviet Union in April 1977. In Moscow, we stayed at the “gi-normous” Rossiya Hotel along the Moscow River; once the largest hotel in the world with a capacity for 4,000 guests, it was torn down in 2007 to make way for an entertainment complex.

The gargantuan Rossiya Hotel along the Moskva River; photo taken by me in April 1977

The hotel was situated on a very historically significant parcel of land in Moscow, an area known as Zaryadye. The neighborhood was originally demolished in the 1940s, much to the dismay of most Muscovites, to make room for a skyscraper. The skyscraper was eventually scrapped and the hotel built in its place.

A couple of historic Zaryadye structures that were spared during the Rossiya Hotel’s construction; photo taken by me in April 1977

A few small historic structures, including a 16th-century boyar residence and the 17th-century Church of All Saints, were left intact, thankfully. In any case, it was in that enormous Soviet hotel that I had my first taste of tvorozhniki; together with a sweet roll with poppy seeds, they were a highlight of every breakfast. Once you get the knack of making them, they’re very easy to produce.

Another glimpse of a church in the background that survived; photo taken by me in April 1977

Tvorog is a cheese slightly reminiscent of cottage cheese in appearance, but the latter definitely will not do. Given tvorog‘s absence in most US supermarkets & grocer’s, you’ll need to buy or make farmer’s cheese. I’ve heard it’s readily available for purchase but frankly I have never looked; it’s really very easy to make, and there is something very satisfying about making your own cheese.

To make farmer’s cheese, I recommend using this recipe. There are others out there, but this seems the simplest to me. All you need is a gallon of milk (whole is best) and a quart of buttermilk (or 1/2 cup vinegar or 1/2 cup lemon juice). Going the buttermilk route, you should end up with roughly 1.5 – 2 lbs. of farmer’s cheese.

  • In a large pot, combine milk with the buttermilk (or vinegar or lemon juice).
  • Stick it in a warm place (back of kitchen counter is fine) until it becomes the consistency of thick yogurt (this takes from 12-24 hours).
  • Put pot over the heat (use the lowest setting possible) for an hour. No need to stir unless you like a grainier consistency.
  • After an hour, you should find that the curds have separated from the whey.
  • Remove from heat and cool for 1/2 hour.
  • Cut strips of cheesecloth and use them to line a colander.
  • Pour the cheese and whey into the colander (get help with this part since the cheesecloth can cave into the colander if you are not careful).
  • Drain the cheese for several hours, ensuring the end product is as free of liquid whey as possible.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.

View from west-facing entrance of Rossiya Hotel, photo taken by me in April 1977

As for tvorozhniki recipes, there are variations out there, and generally speaking, all are good. This is the one I have been using lately (and I love it!). It is a slight variation of the recipe from the excellent 1990 Russian cookbook Please to the Table with a bit of borrowing from the 1983 Russian cookbook, A La Russe: A Cookbook of Russian Hospitality.

Tvorozhniki Ingredients -Yields 12; allow a minimum of 2 per person; of course, there is no need to cook them all up at once; make half now and save the rest for another morning, but use within several days (or freeze and thaw when ready to use).

1/3 cup raisins
1 lb. farmer’s cheese
2 large egg yolks, beaten
1.5 Tbsp sour cream
1/3 cup flour, plus a little extra for dusting the pancake patties
2 Tbsp uncooked cream of wheat (not instant)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
grated 1/2 lemon peel (optional, but I always try to add it in)
4 Tbsp butter

  • Combine farmer’s cheese with the raisins, egg yolks, sour cream, 1/3 cup flour, cream of wheat, sugar, grated lemon peel, and vanilla. Mix completely, and add in the salt at this time.
  • Form a large roll (like a sausage roll). Wrap in plastic & refrigerate overnight.
  • Cut 12 slices from the roll; form each into a flat round patty (about 3.5 inches across).
  • Dust both sides of each patty with a little flour.
  • Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, and fit in as many patties as you comfortably can. They are done when they are golden brown (YUM!) on both sides.

Tvorozhniki served with fresh raspberries and drizzled with honey

Serve the tvorozhniki immediately with the traditional Russian toppings of sour cream and berry preserves (black currant/raspberry/loganberry) or, in their absence, experiment with honey, maple syrup, and other jams/preserves. No matter what you select, they will be delicious!

Приятного аппетита! (Bon appetite!)

Update 3/16: Since writing this post, I have made these many times. When I noticed farmer’s cheese on sale at my local store six months ago ($5/lb.), I started buying it—it’s definitely a time-saver, and the result is just as tasty. So I guess, it’s a matter of preference, and how much time you have, and what supplies you have on hand.

Advertisements
Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites | Leave a comment

Post navigation

Leave a reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by WordPress.com.

Hello Hygge

Finding hygge everywhere

Well, That Was Different

Travel Stories, Expatriate Life, Undiplomatic Commentary and Some Pretty Good Photos

Sketching Family

Urban Sketching

Observaterry

Terry's view on things

Giselle Potter

Illustrator

Emma

Politics, things that make you think, and recreational breaks

The Sketchbook

MOSTLY MONTREAL, MOST OF THE TIME

Smart Veg Recipes

Welcome to home made, vegeterian, healthy & kids friendly recipes

Jane Austen's World

This Jane Austen blog brings Jane Austen, her novels, and the Regency Period alive through food, dress, social customs, and other 19th C. historical details related to this topic.

Travels with Janet

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Do Svidanya Dad

Exploring Dad's Unusual Story From NJ to the USSR

La Audacia de Aquiles

"El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto" / "The Visible World is Just a Pretext".-

Spared & Shared 2

-- rescuing history from old letters one page at a time

TOWER AND FLIGHTS

In The Beginning Man Tried Ascending To Heaven via The Tower Of Babel. Now He Tries To Elevate His Existence Using Hallucinogenic Drugs. And, Since The 20th Century, He Continually Voyages Into Outer Space Using Spacecrafts. Prayer Thru Christ Is The Only Way To Reach Heaven.

London, Hollywood

I'm Dominic Wells, an ex-Time Out Editor. I used to write about films. Now I write them.

Uma Familia Portuguesa

A história da nossa família

Trkingmomoe's Blog

Low Budget Meals for the New Normal

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

dvn ms kmz time travel

This is all about my travels to the past... my reflections and musings about yesteryear, as I find the stories of a people passed away and learn how to tell them.

newarkpoems

350 years of Newark in verse 1666-2016

Russian Universe

Understanding Russia with a Russian

Bulldog Travels

Everything and Nothing Plus Some Pretty Photos

Dances with Wools

knitting, spinning, dyeing, and related fiber arts

Life After Caregiving

On caregivers, faith, family, and writing...

Why'd You Eat That?

Food Folklore for the everyday scholar. These are the stories behind the foods we eat.

Cooking without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

The Pioneer Woman

Plowing through Life in the Country...One Calf Nut at a Time

Almost Home

Genealogy Research and Consulting

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy and Family History Research

ferrebeekeeper

Reflections Concerning Art, Nature, and the Affairs of Humankind (also some gardening anecdotes)

Map of Time | A Trip Into the Past

Navigating Through Someplace Called History

Out Here Studying Stones

Cemeteries & Genealogy

WeGoBack

family research ... discover your ancestry

the Victorian era

Did I misplace my pince-nez again? Light reading on the 19th century.

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

This is the story of an ordinary family, trying to live an ordinary life during an extraordinary time frame, and the lessons they learn through experience.

Moore Genealogy

Fun With Genealogy

Meeting my family

RESEARCHING MY FAMILY TREE

Shaking the tree

musings on the journey towards knowing and sharing my family's stories

A Hundred Years Ago

Food and More

Scots Roots

Helping you dig up your Scots roots.

Root To Tip

Not just a list of names and dates

%d bloggers like this: