Sunday, June 1, 2014

Baked Cottage Cheese Pudding -- A Russian "Twofer"

Many (but not too many) years ago some friends went to Russia to adopt a daughter.  While they were gone, I helped out with some of their responsibilities.  When they returned, they brought me this book, Russian Cuisine, by Lydia Lyakhovskaya:

ISBN 5-8194-0010-0
It is a charming book with a lot of great pictures, some cute illustrations, and interesting authentic recipes. 

The recipe that drew my attention was Baked Cottage Cheese Pudding (page 66). It is in the category of "Cereals, Pasta Poaches, and Omelettes" and is presented as a lovely dish to serve when having tea or coffee. 

Baked Cottage Cheese Pudding

1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. sugar
a dint each of salt and soda
1 tbsp. semolina
1 tbsp. candied orange peel or a handful of raisins
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. bread crumbs

Ready to be doubled.
Rub cottage cheese with salt, sugar and egg, add semolina and soda, stir until well blended and spread as an even coat in a buttered mould or pan sprinkled with bread crumbs.  Bake in a 356 to 392 degree oven until brown.  Serve the fritter with sour cream, honey, jam, cranberry or currants ground with sugar, for tea and coffee.

My Notes

Notice there are no directions for what to do with the orange peel or raisins.  The picture looked like the orange peel may have been scattered across the top but it was hard to tell if it was before or after baking. 

I was having trouble deciding if I wanted to use the orange peel or the raisins and then I realized one container of cottage cheese was big enough for a double recipe! 

I wasn't sure how much a "dint" was, much less doubling a dint, so I treated it like a "pinch" and made the doubled measure about 1/8 teaspoon.

The soda was baking soda and it made the mixture bubble just a little bit.

After I made the doubled recipe but before I spread it into the pan, I split the mixture into two bowls.  Two and half cups split into one and a quarter cups per bowl.  Then I mixed in a handful of raisins into one and about 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest and 1 teaspoon of extra sugar into the other.  (Candied orange peel does not last long around my house!)

Each flavor went into a buttered pie pan.  My bread crumbs were homemade and rather large.  Some would compare them to Panko crumbs.  They kept the pudding from sticking to the pan, as desired, but also formed a nice crunchy crust on the finished product.  That really added to the overall texture.

Ready for the oven.
 The two pans baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.  They smelled delicious and the crumbs browned. 

Ready for eating.
The Verdict

Taking the advice of the recipe, I served the puddings with hot tea in a clear glass cup.  The cup has a map of the world on it, so I enjoyed looking at Russia while I dined.

Ready to please.
I tried the puddings both hot and cool.  I liked the cool best because the flavors came through clearly.  My first reaction was that I absolutely loved the orange peel one and imagined that the raisin one wouldn't be as good.  As it turned out, the raisin pudding was very good, too. 

The puddings were each very thin.  The surface was a little rubbery and the inside was soft and creamy.  The rubbery did not detract from the flavor or texture.   The orange flavor with the cheese was outstanding.  The raisins added a bit of sweet chewiness.  I think it might be tasty to put both orange peel and raisins some time!

After the initial taste as they were out of the pan, I tried them with sour cream -- an excellent accompaniment, especially with the raisins -- and with strawberry jam and orange marmalade.  The jams were good, too, but I thought they overwhelmed the flavor of the orange peel.  My guest taste tester thought everything was good and loved both the sour cream and jam on them. 

I declare it a success!  This was so easy to do and very tasty.  I think it would make a good breakfast or brunch dish, along with some grapes and perhaps a croissant or a bagel.  It was quite excellent with tea.

I called this a "twofer" because I got two flavors from one recipe.  I'll add in another twofer by mentioning that the next page talked about "Cottage Cheese Fritters" which is this recipe except use 2 tbsp. wheat flour instead of semolina.  Roll the batter into a round strip, cut into pieces, shape them into an oval or round shape, then saute' in butter on both sides until brown.  Sounds like a good camping recipe to me.


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