Goat Cheese Syrniki with Black Currant Jam
Russian syrniki are rich, pan-fried cakes made with a cheese-based dough, and are typically served for breakfast or lunch with jam, honey, applesauce, or sour cream. Syrniki are made from tvorog, a soft curd cheese that is somewhat similar to cottage cheese or ricotta. There are abundant variations on syrniki in Russian cuisine — they can be made with spices like cinnamon, with raisins, or even with pureed carrots or potatoes mixed in. Tvorog is difficult to lay hands on in the U.S., let alone Iowa, but whizzing unsalted cottage cheese in a food processor for just a few pulses (you don’t want to turn it into mousse) provides an acceptable substitute. Since local, fresh goat cheese is abundant in this part of the country, I decided to try a Midwestern twist on this Russian classic. Chevre is a little drier and firmer than tvorog, so I’ve added a bit of thick, Greek-style yogurt to keep the dough appropriately moist and sticky. These homey cakes gain a sophisticated flair from the goat cheese flavor, and would taste equally wonderful paired with a sweet fruit salad or a savory salad of mixed greens and nuts.
Goat Cheese Syrniki
6 oz. soft goat cheese (chevre), at room temperature
6 Tbsp flour
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp Greek-style or other thick yogurt
pinch of salt
Beat the goat cheese and eggs together, and then stir in the remaining ingredients. The dough will be soft and sticky. Drop by the spoonful onto a plate of flour to dust and form the dough into ping-pong sized balls. Flatten the balls into disks. Heat 2 Tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the disks on both sides until golden brown. Serve hot with honey and black currant jam. Makes 8 syrniki (4 servings — did I mention how rich these are?).