In the special short edition of The Dairy Show, we go into the Kitchen with culinary historian and author Anne Mendelson to make a recipe for Russian Pot-Cheese Fritters called from her latest work Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages.
This recipe uses a traditional Russian Pot-Cheese called Tvorog. This type of cheese is slightly grainy with a very fresh taste and slight sour flavor. If you are going to make these fritters at home don't substitute cottage cheese or cream cheese for the Tvorog. If you can find a Russian store you can find Tvorog, if you don't have one where you live, you can probably find a fresh cheese labeled as Pot-Cheese for Farmer's cheese, I've found that at my local supermarket.
But, if you still can't find it or if you want to, you can easily make it yourself. Just find a good local whole milk, warm it to about 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit and inoculate it with a good buttermilk with active cultures. Now cover it and just let it sit at room temperature (the warmer the better) and let the bacteria in the buttermilk turn the lactose in the milk into lactic acid. After 12-48 hours the curd and way should be separated and the milk should have the consistency of very thick yogurt. Now heat the milk on a very low flame for until you see tiny bubbles of whey breaking through the curds, this will take anywhere from about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Next shut of the heat and scoop out the curds into a strainer lined with cheese cloth. Let the curds drain thoroughly and then enjoy your homemade Tvorog.
Syrniki or Tvorozhniki
(Russian Pot-Cheese Fritters)
Recipe courtesy of Anne Mendelson author of Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages.
1 lb of Tvorog (or other fresh pot or farmer cheese)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Dash of vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 Cup golden raisins plumed in hot water and drained (optional)
1/3 Cup (approximately) of Flour, plus more more shaping
1/3 -1/2 Cup of unsalted butter (preferably cultured) for frying
Make sure that your pot-cheese is well drained of whey, if not wrap it in dampened, wrung out cheese cloth and place it in a colander under a weight. Next force it through a course mesh sieve to create a cheese with a very smooth texture.
Beat the cheese in a bowl with a wooden spoon and add in the salt, sugar, and lemon zest. Next whisk the egg lightly and beat it into the cheese mixture along with the raisins and vanilla. Sift the flour into the cheese mixture a little at a time and beat it until you have a dough that is almost too stiff to work with.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. With floured hands, shape it into a log about 10-12 inches long. Now wrap it in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
When it is properly chilled, cut the log into 8 slices and using floured hands shape them into small hamburger-like patties.
Now melt the butter in a skillet large enough to hold the syrniki in one layer. When the butter is hot add the patties and fry until nicely browned on both sides. Drain briefly on a paper towel and then enjoy.