Russian food often gets dismissed as being just borscht, meat, potatoes and cabbage, but what often is overlooked are its delicious dairy products, especially Tvorog (farmers cheese). Syrniki are farmers cheese pancakes, often served with fruit or berry sauce, jam, and preserves, maple syrup or a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, and plus a healthy dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche. One of my absolute favorite breakfasts or tea time snacks since childhood. The outside of these delicious pancakes is crispy and the inside is creamy and warm.… Yummy!
Although traditionally Syrniki are a sweet dish, I often make them savory by adding chives or green onions, a healthy dose of deferent fresh herbs, salt, freshly ground black pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper and even a handful of very well squeezed lightly blanched or frozen spinach.
• 1 pound firm full fat farmers cheese or ricotta, drained over night under press
• 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
• 2 eggs, room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest
• 1/2 cup all purpose flour + extra for coating the pancakes
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• Light oil or clarified butter for frying
For the sauce:
• 1 cup sweet or sour cherries, petted
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice, if using sweet cherries
In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. To another bowl add cheese, sugar, well-beaten eggs, lemon or orange zest and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
Gradually add flour mixture until well combined and very smooth. Place in the refrigerator for 45 to 60 minutes, and then scoop balls of the dough and place on a lightly floured board. Form into rounds about 3/4-inch thick, and about 2 and 1/2- inches in diameter. Make sure that you flip dough rounds and lightly coat both sides with flour.
Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium-low heat. Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil or clarified butter in the bottom. When the oil is hot, lay the pancakes one at a time into the skillet, not more then three or four, depending on the size of the skillet.
Sautee until first side is golden brown, turn the pancake over and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Place Syrniki on a serving platter. Serve at once with crème fraîche or sour cream and any your favorite jams, preserves, fruit or berry sauces or fresh berries.
To make the cherry sauce: Combine cherries with sugar and lemon juice (if using) in a small sauce pan. Bring to simmer; cook for 3 to 4 minutes. In a cup mix together potato starch with water and add to cherries; when it comes back to simmer, cook for about 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens; mix in vanilla extract and pour over Syrniki. Enjoy!