Impossibly moreish little pancakes made from sweet cheese, known as “Syrniki” in Ukraine, Russia, Belarussia, Latvia, Lithuania , Slovenia and “Nalangate” in Romania and traditionally served with sour cream and jam. Olia Hercules in Mamushka goes for maple syrup with her nostalgia fix. I made a savoury version and gave them a little oomph with parmesan. Try them as party nibbles or as a magnificent grounding for a poached egg smothered in hollandaise sauce although your Eggs Benedict might never be the same again. For those folks concerned about such things, these are high protein and almost zero carbohydrate.
I actually discovered these gems earlier this summer when thinking what to do with a surfeit of goat ricotta from Ioana and Mihai Preotescu (oh the suffering) and improvised mixing leftover ricotta, eggs, a pinch of nutmeg and a smidgen of flour. It is worth being daring with just the smallest hint of flour for fluffier pancakes result. And about that cheese….high quality full fat cheese with a high protein content will give you the best tasting pancakes with great mouth feel and texture. Cheap, watery low fat cheese will give you…well… lets just not shall we.
500g good quality ricotta or sweet cheese “branza dulce”
75g grated parmesan (omit for the sweet ones)
1 heaped tablespoon of flour
Fresh herbs: a choice of chives or spring onions, dill, basil, mint, chervil, parsley
salt, pepper, nutmeg for savoury version, sugar if you must for sweet versions
Mix ingredients together in a bowl with a fork.
The mixture should be fairly thick.
Prepare a frying pan by lightly oiling. I fry on a medium high heat. Drop spoonfuls into the pan, flip over when solidified on one side and golden.
Best eaten warm.
This is a sublime pesto all vibrant, pungent and aromatic. It marries gloriously with “Urda gnocchi” and equally is delicious slathered on rye & seed crackers. Its excellent as a pasta sauce – add chopped green beans or chunks of pre-roasted eggplant for fabulously tasty vegetarian main courses and a personal fave…use as a sauce for grilled halloumi. As the first green wild garlic shoots appear in the woods in Spring, grab them and make something to wipe away dark winter memories.
50-100g fresh wild garlic (including stalks)
50g parsley (counters the effects of the garlic and adds yet more chlorophyll)
40g walnuts or almonds
25g parmesan – cubed (optional – not a disaster if you do not add parmesan)
2 garlic cloves (excessive but good)
85ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The zest of 1 lemon 9I think the lemon is quite important to the taste – try not to omit)
Salt and pepper
Equipment: a blender, food processor or stick blender
- Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into your blender
- Whiz together and with the motor still running, pour the oil in until the pesto thickens. You may need to press down on the leaves to make sure they are processed.
- Store in a clean jar in the fridge covered with a layer of oil to prevent it drying out and oxidizing.
Nothing says apero like a small square of this tangy tart from the South of France
Shhhh! dont tell anybody but if you have a jar or two of Onion & Beer Confit handy and some very buttery pastry then this is a five minute assembly job. With a bit of planning this is how “Slow Food” can be “Fast Food” 😉 and how you can be a kitchen star with ease! Traditionally this is made with bread and indeed made with a pizza dough it is also sublime but must be eaten on the spot…generally not a problem.