Pancakes! The Tastiest Way to Eat Cottage Cheese

by Sarah on October 8, 2010

Cottage Cheese pancakes

Cottage cheese is not very well respected among gourmands and rarely finds itself in fancy restaurants. I never met anyone gushing over its curdy texture and insipid flavor, calling in glee “Ooh goody an entire carton of just for me!” Babies and toddlers seem to be the only ones who love it so much they mash it all over themselves.

It may be recommended by nutritionists as an inexpensive and low fat way to add calcium to the diet, but even these qualities are not enough to cause a cottage cheese craze (except perhaps with dieters and body builders). Which is why the best way of eating the soft white mounds is to camouflage it within something better, like pancakes for instance.

farmer's cheese from cottage cheese

Farmer's cheese in Romania (Moldova)

When I was a student living in the dorms I had a friend who made incredible things with cottage cheese. Her parents immigrated from The Republic of Moldova, a landlocked country between Romania and the Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. Many of the recipes she taught me are popular Russian comfort foods.

She was practical, frugal and didn’t have the fixation about eating only “healthy” fresh foods the way Americans have been taught. Most of all, she considered fermentation a natural process and would not  wrinkle her nose in disgust if she found something creepy and blue in the  back of the refrigerator. She would try to think of ways to use it.

It’s good she never told me her secret to her wonderful pancakes- often cottage cheese or sour cream that were on the verge of going bad. What I would have thrown away she simply tasted on the tip of her tongue to see if it could be salvaged. Her cooking ethics, taught to her by a generation who knew scarcity and famine, should be a part of how everyone manages a kitchen.

Today, cottage cheese can be made with or without rennet, the enzyme that catalyzes the curding process. These curds can be pressed to form farm cheese as they do in Western Romania, part of historical Moldova and known by the same name. Farmers often make these farm cheeses to sell at the local market.

cottage cheese pancakes

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Known in Russian as Syrniki and often made with either cottage cheese or quark.

1 1/2  cup cottage cheese, (about 250 grams or 9 ounces)

2 eggs

4-6 tablespoons of flour, depending on consistency of the cottage cheese

1 teaspoon baking powder

Salt or sugar to taste

Oil or butter for frying

Mix the cottage cheese and eggs together. Add the baking powder, salt or sugar and enough flour to form a thick, gloppy batter the consistency of oatmeal. It should not be runny.  Preferably in a cast iron pan add a bit of oil or butter and fry first on one side, waiting a few minutes until it solidifies and then on the other. Serve with fruits and drizzled with maple syrup or honey.

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After doing a mini twitter survey on cottage cheese I found out, surprisingly,  that there are those who love cottage cheese (two words I rarely see together), while a good number think the best way to describe it is “bbbllleeeuuurrrggghhh”

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Yael October 8, 2010 at 3:50 am

I definitely belong to people who think cottage is “Blaaagghh” but Erez can eat gallon of it.

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Yael the Finn October 8, 2010 at 4:53 am

Syrnikis are so delicious! I learned how to do those when living in the north from an Ukrainian friend.

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Jodi Lewchuk October 8, 2010 at 6:51 am

Sorry I missed the Twitter survey, as I surely would have chime in on the “love” side. Cottage cheese is our favourite get-home-and-put-the-groceries-away snack. There’s always that moment upon arriving home from the market when, ravenous, we want to tear into all the good stuff we’ve bought for the week — the cheeses and breads and olives. As a preventative measure, we pick up a bit of cottage cheese. We grind some black pepper and sprinkle some sea salt over the top and wolf it down before putting everything else away. So hooray for cottage chesse, which keeps our weekly supply of foodstuffs intact!

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Sarah October 9, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Wow, cottage cheese is more popular than I thought ;-)

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Nisrine@ Dinners & Dreams October 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I love the fact that they’re mostly made of cottage cheese. Brilliant! I am very tempted and will very probably make them soon.

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Faye Levy October 9, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I loved your text about using foods even when they get old, your sensational photos and the nice recipe – thanks!
At one of the markets where I shop I often see a woman from Moldova. She likes to buy hot peppers. When I asked her about this, she said they are popular in Moldova and added, “We are the Mexicans of the former Soviet Union!”
For the cottage cheese survey: In summertime, a scoop of cottage cheese sprinkled with toasted nuts is a nice topping on Israeli or green salad.

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Sarah October 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Thanks Faye, My mother in law from Poland also makes egg noodles with cottage cheese with lots of butter and freshly ground pepper. The ultimate comfort food.

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Faye Levy October 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Sarah, that does sound wonderful and so easy! My mother was from Poland and she made a kugel version of that dish with sauteed onions – it was scrumptious!

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Cherine October 10, 2010 at 2:06 am

Fabulous pancakes!!

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Sally - My Custard Pie October 10, 2010 at 4:43 am

I think it’s an Eastern European thing. My Aunt tells us of when they used to go for walks in the country in Poland. If they wanted a drink they’d knock on a farmhouse and ask for some sour milk.

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Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread October 10, 2010 at 9:12 am

I’ve made similar pancakes and really was surprised how lovely they are!

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Mrs. S. October 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

Yum! My grandmother a”h (from Lithuania) called these pancakes “cheese latkes” and would add some breadcrumbs to the flour.

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Lisa October 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

Wow, those pancakes look incredibly fluffy and delicious. Great way to add some more calcium to breakfast.

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Katy T October 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm

So can you taste the cottage cheese at ALL….or does it (hopefully) disappear? My trainer wants me to eat it and I just can’t bring myself to do it! :O

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Sarah October 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Katy, The cottage cheese texture all but disappears so I don’t think you will have any trouble eating it like this

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Katy T October 11, 2010 at 2:59 am

awesome! thank you!

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Mimi October 11, 2010 at 10:56 am

Raising my hand in favor of cottage cheese, here. I like the salty Israeli version and almost gagged when I tasted the sweetish cottage cheese you buy in the States. I pile it on top of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives, accented with a little chopped scallion. That’s often breakfast for me in the summer.

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Oana July 15, 2011 at 7:34 am

Hi! I love cottage cheese, mostly because helped me to lose up to 16 kilos… And I’m also Romanian, but I don’t trust farmers market when I want cheese, especially in summer time. Is too hot to preserve this kind of products uncontaminated.

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George July 17, 2011 at 4:46 am

Thank you for posting this recipe! I wasn’t sure how they were made. My mom used to make “Syrniki” all the time and I had a craving for some this morning. I like eating them with some sugar and a dollop of sour cream on top! You can also mix some raisins into the batter. Yum!

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Mariah January 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Very disappointed in this recipe, could not get it to turn out. :( stuck to the pan, way too much cottage cheese vs flour…I add lots of extra flour, still didn’t work.

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Sarah January 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

Mariah, Very sorry the recipe did not come out as expected. It seems to me (and according to Elena’s comment) there are large variations in the consistency of the cottage cheese. The cheese in Israel is on the dry side, not surprising since the first immigrants came from Russia. I would try draining the cottage cheese next time, perhaps in a cheese cloth or a very fine mesh.

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Elena January 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

I’m also Moldovan, and I make these pancakes quite often now that I’m on a low carb diet. To make them even healthier put one whole egg and a egg white instead of 2 eggs, and add a little salt to the batter to make them savoury and then serve them with plain Greek yoghurt instead of maple syrup (by the way, we don’t have maple syrup in Moldova, your friend must have added an American twist to an Eastern European recipe). I live in the UK now and I find the cottage cheese sold in the local supermarkets very runny, so I end up using more flower than I would like (the Russian tvorog is normally very dry)

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Tamara March 19, 2012 at 9:15 am

Really yummy. I added skipped the sugar and added some apples and cinnamon to the mix- didn’t miss the sugar at all!

Just a friendly note: it’s Ukraine, not “the” Ukraine. Many people find the “the” offensive because of its colonial implications (i.e., it’s taken to mean that it’s a territory or region rather than an independent nation-state). Just plain Ukraine is the accepted form nowadays. :)

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Sarah March 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

Tamara, Thanks for the tip. Will remember that next time I write about Ukraine.

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Tamara March 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

No problem

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Shirlene January 14, 2013 at 1:19 am

OMG. Thank you for this post… I was having the hardest time eating cottage cheese because of the texture. This will definitely help

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Sarah January 14, 2013 at 4:17 am

Thanks Shirlene!

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Rivka February 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Hi, these look wonderful. I stay away from flour so I was wondering if I could replace that with coconut or almond flour and if so, in what amounts? Thank you!

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rhysmhor July 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

Hi Sarah
So nice to see another recipe for Syrniki! I have been making home made curd cheese for a while now, every week. And Syrniki is what i make to use up the left overs at the end of the week. This is the first other recipe i’ve seen for them, so its nice to see it out here. There’s a recipe for them, and for the curd cheese on my site, and low and behold, i think we pretty much agree!

Lovely site, btw. Keep it up!

cheers
rhys

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Sarah July 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for the comment- would love to learn how to make my own cottage cheese!

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rhysmhor July 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm

It really is quite easy. I have the advantage of Norwegian Kulturmjolke, which is already cultured – a bit like K’fir, but not so salty. You can see the procedure i use on the eatingwellisthebestrevenge site. But i am currently experimenting with using ordinary milk for all my friends who can’t get kulturmjolke. As soon as i get it worked out, i will put it up too.

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