Easter: Part II

For some reason I decided to make sirnaya pascha (think cheesecake filling, but maybe a little less sweet) the same day as I made the kulich. I felt like I was on a pretty good roll, so why not just whip it up? Right, Olya, because it can be ‘whipped right up’. My excuse is that I was a rookie at sirnaya pascha so I had no idea – even though the recipe told me everything that was involved before hand. It’s not like it was hiding anything.

To make things even easier (sarcasm) I decided to follow a recipe in Russian that a new found friend on facebook shared with me – to go along with my naive ‘whip it up’ attitude.

First you squeeze 2.8 kilograms (roughly 6 pounds) of farmer’s cheese through a fine mesh seive and set aside. Psh, who needs pilates this week? – this was a serious arm workout. And I almost had to bury my new sieve next to my new mixer in my quickly growing kitchen appliance graveyard.

I was dorkily excited to buy the farmer’s cheese at a regular grocery store in Moscow. I kind of splurged on it as there were cheaper brands available – I had overheard a woman in the store ask a salesperson where their ‘amazing farmer’s cheese’ was so I really wanted to use it. Plus it looked like it was packaged and sent over from a farm. I just couldn’t resist. It came in little packages of anywhere from an inconsistent 264 to 311 grams so I may or may not have looked super silly standing there for 20 minutes with my cell phone calculater trying to gather the exact amount I needed over several pre-packaged containers 🙂 (Does anyone have a simpler way to do that, by the way??)

Anyway, with the ‘sifted’ cheese to the side, separate 10 egg yolks into a metal bowl (or double boiler), add a 1/2 cup of milk, 2 cups of sugar and one packet of vanilla sugar. Now, I wanted to use fresh vanilla beans so I opted to just replace regular sugar for the vanilla sugar. Having seen different sizes of packets of vanilla sugar, I wasn’t really sure how much regular sugar to substitute. I don’t think I put enough because the result was not as sweet as I would have liked.

The yolk, milk and sugar mixture gets heated over a pot of simmering water. You must stir constantly (and avoid making scrambled eggs) until the mixture becomes a thick cream. Take it off the heat and add 400 grams (or a little over 4 sticks) of butter that have been cut into cubes. Mix until the butter melts, and let it cool.

Add the milk-egg-sugar cream and 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to the farmer’s cheese and mix it very well. The recipe suggests using a blender. Probably even an immersion blender would work. I have neither so I got another bonus arm workout. Add some grated lemon zest. I used a vegetable peeler and a knife, which was fine, but it made me sincerely miss my microplane zester. Seriously, I miss it…like number one after family and friends.

Then the recipe says to add raisins, dried fruits, and/or nuts. We all know how I feel about this, so I will move on.

Line an upside down pascha form with gauze/cheesecloth (which I purchased at the pharmacy like a true local!) and fill it with your (totally fat free, I swear 😉 ) sirnaya pascha mixture.

Some forms come with pegs that will hold it over a bowl to drain. Mine didn’t, so I put one in a pasta strainer over a bowl and the other in my mesh seive over another bowl. If you can, add some kind of weight on top – I stacked a couple plates on each. They should drain for 12 hours or more in the fridge. Then you can flip it over and take it out of the form. If you don’t have a form at all, you can just put it in a bowl and let it set in the fridge. The XB on the side of mine (and most) stands for “Hristos Voskrese”, which is “Christ is Risen!” To which one would answer, “Truly He is Risen!”

My sister and I always had a theory that if you eat ice-cream in a giant spoonful, taken right out of the carton, without using a bowl, then the calories and fat do not count. It used to drive my brother absolutely insane. Not even sure why – it’s not like sticky drops of something on the floor by the refridgerator were uncommon in our house. In any case, I have chosen to apply this theory to eating sirnaya pascha as well. So skip the bowl and you’ll skip the calories too.

Andrei will not eat sirnaya pascha unless it’s spread across the top of a piece of kulich. That is also a tasty (soul-healthy) snack.

***(When making the sirnaya pascha, I revised the measurments recorded in the blog for 2 kilograms of farmer’s cheese. That gave me enough for 2 sirnaya pascha forms plus some extra in a bowl)***

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6 Comments to “Easter: Part II”

  1. You left me hanging at the end — want more of the story!!!

  2. Haha about the micro plane. I have several, but it’s always my favorite one that is nowhere to be found. I make several attempts on the fine grater, then start looking for the micro plane again, pulling the offset spatula out of the utensil jar, thinking that it somehow became the micro plane since the last time I pulled it out. How come you didn’t bring it with you?

  3. I *so* enjoy reading your blogs, Olya!! XB!

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