Who thinks much about cottage cheese these days? I know that I do not.
This week’s recipe, from my grandmother Jessie’s recently rediscovered recipe files, features cottage cheese as the star ingredient.
Back in the late 1960s and 1970s, cottage cheese was a “diet food”, often combined with iceberg lettuce and flavourless tomato wedges as a standard main course salad in American restaurants. I think gloppy Thousand Island dressing would have been the most popular accompaniment, hardly a low-calorie option. Another purported health food was a leaf of iceberg on a plate, supporting a perfect pineapple ring (canned), on which sat a neat ice cream scoop of cottage cheese, topped with a maraschino cherry. Richard Nixon, President of the US until his resignation in disgrace in 1973, stated that he enjoyed ketchup and cottage cheese together – which seems more like a gore-ish prop for a horror film, rather than a favoured food combination.
Around 1970, Jessie was recently widowed, and she seemed to enjoy shocking people a bit. My uncle (Jessie’s son) had given the recording of the Broadway musical Two Gentleman of Verona to my youngest cousin, who was a teen at that time, shocking my grandmother because of its strong language. To prove that she was “with it” or just that she could shock our family even better, Jessie gave me the album from the Broadway musical Hair, lyrics of which I still can recall almost verbatim. I cannot remember if I asked for it (it was my first record album, when they were long-playing black discs, with nothing compact about them). The language, however, was a bit much for a child of seven or eight – even I have to admit.
More than Hair – with all its revivals – cottage cheese just is off the radar these days. Perhaps ricotta and artisan curd cheese have eclipsed cottage cheese in the realm of culinary trends: category curds and whey.
Jessie, however, always seemed to have cottage cheese in her fridge. Perhaps it was for salads or to make this cottage cheese pancake. After making this dish, I finally remembered having these pancakes at her place, when I stayed over for the weekend.
The pancake is almost like a mélange of a Swedish pancake or a French crepe with a more fashionable lemon-ricotta pancake. (I have recipes from different versions at one west coast and one east coast B & B at which I have stayed – perhaps these are future blog fodder?)
For the pancake analysis – and the recipe…
Nonetheless, this pancake is a bit more sturdy than its Swedish or French cousins with a decided tang, from the sour cream and cottage cheese – which also add a pleasant chewy texture. I chose to highlight the pancake’s sassy tang by serving it with lingonberry preserves.
One note about making these is that I added a bit more flour, as the batter is very soft and not terribly cohesive; I could not see why Jessie suggested rolling the batter in flour before dropping on the griddle. This technique was messy and did not work for me. Instead, I add one extra tablespoon of flour, though a couple more tablespoons beyond that could help provide more body to the batter. I am not sure about this change and should experiment in the future.
So, for a bit of throwback to the days when cottage cheese was king, reigning supreme over ricotta and the like, try these charming pancakes.
Cottage Cheese Pancakes, from Jessie’s recipe file
Serves two (10 small pancakes)
- 1 cup cottage cheese (I used low-fat)
- 1 tablespoon sour cream (I used light, to continue the theme of cottage-cheese-as-health-food)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons flour
- Drain cottage cheese (unless you are lucky enough to find a “dry” version), by placing over a strainer over a bowl.
- Pre-heat griddle or frying pan.
- Mix drained cheese with sour cream.
- Beat in egg.
- Add sugar, salt, and flour together.
- Mix until just blended.
- Drop batter by soup spoons on griddle, being careful to shape the pancakes, as they are delicate.
- Turn once the side facing up starts to lose its shininess.
- Saute until golden brown on the second side.