I love Russian food. I know, it’s heavy and often unsophisticated but to me, it’s pure comfort. Last night in an attempt to sneak in some pasta before Passover, I boiled up some Siberian pelmeni, meat-filled dumplings, which I served with sour cream. I used fresh, decadently rich homemade sour cream from my favorite Russian market. To serve with it I made a quick cucumber salad composed of cucumbers and seasoned rice wine vinegar. I also made a beet salad with chunks of orange, a splash of blood orange olive oil and some vinegar.

The Russian market I go to has a huge deli selection with lots of salads. They also always have some sort of treats on the counter to tempt me. Latest temptations? Syrniki, a kind of cheese pancake and blini. The blini just screams “party”. I could see buying a batch, picking out some salmon caviar and cracking open the vodka.

Syrniki is something I figured out how to make with some help from a couple of Russian friends. After last night’s Russian feast, it’s the perfect breakfast. Heavy, yes. Unsophisticated, yes. Delicious, oh yes. You do need to buy a very firm type of cheese called tvorog to make them, Ii the cheese is too creamy it won’t work. But fortunately Russian markets always seem to carry quite a variety of this cheese.

2 servings

1 cup firm farmers cheese “tvorog”
1 egg
3 tbsp flour
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
butter for frying and extra flour for dusting

Combine the cheese, egg, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix very well. Dough should be firm enough to form into balls that don’t lose shape from too much moisture.

Roll into balls about the size of a ping-pong ball. Roll the balls in flour.

Melt some butter, or a combination of oil and butter for a lower smoking point, in a frying pan (cast iron works well). When hot, flatten the balls to about 2/3″ thick and pan fry them over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. After the first side is done and you’ve flipped them, lower the heat a bit, and cover the pan loosely, to make sure they cook through. Carefully place the pancakes on a plate, allow to cool and firm up before serving. Top with a dollop of sour cream.


Russian Revelry 12 April,2006Amy Sherman

  • Catherine


    Those look delish! I’ve never heard of that particular cheese – I’ll have to look out for it next time I’m in the city. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Anonymous

    It’s also knows as Farmer’s cheese on the east coast. Can buy it in any supermarket.

  • whatmotivation

    great recipe! My boyfriend is russian, I tried this recipe and he was happy as a young boy! They were authentic, he said

  • Masha

    This is a great recipe. My grandmother (who is Russian) use to make syrniki this way. I would put some sour cream on top, spray some sugar on top of it and enjoy it…

    In my blog I have a couple of nice places that have decent syrniki:


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

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