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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quark -- Not Just Another Sub-Atomic Particle

Pancakes with quark filling and plum butter mitt schlag
I read and posted on Facebook yesterday that Novak Djokovic (tennis) is gluten-free. Then I had lunch with my friend Vickie (hiker), who is going vegan. Later I got an email from my friend Jasna (marathon runner) telling me that she is micro biotic, gluten, dairy, meat and fish free.  Not to forget my friend Jeff (Mt. Everest climber) who’s been vegan for over 30 years.   All too much to take in one day!  It made me (former ballerina, current couch potato) fall down a quantum physics wormhole into the land of quarks.

While a quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter, it is also a fresh creme cheese enjoyed in Eastern Europe. [Actually there are 6 kinds of quarks, 7 if you count the cheese.] 

East of Paris : The New Cuisines of Austria and the Danube (Ecco)I recently found some quark from Vermont and had to try out the Bohemian Pancake recipe in David Booley and Melissa Clark's elegant cookbook:  East of Paris : The New Cuisines of Austria and the Danube.

My grandmother often made pancakes, from very thin crêpes (a/k/a naleśniki or palačinke) to fluffy yeasty cakes topped with jam and powdered sugar. Somehow, she could make a batch without referring to any cookbooks. In my case, I had to read the instructions several times. The effort was worth it.

Here is my adaptation of the recipe for the pancakes and filling.

Step 1:  Find some time.  The batter and preparation of the the quark filling should be done ahead of time -- about 8 hours or the night before cooking and eating.

Step 2:  Pancake batter
1 cup warm milk
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbsp. melted butter, cooled
1 tsp. Cointreau orange liqueur
Pinch of salt

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the warm milk with the yeast. Add the egg yolk, melted butter, the liqueur, salt and flour, whisking after each addition. Cover the batter tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate about 8 hours or overnight.   

Just before cooking the pancakes, fold in a stiffly beaten meringue made by whipping 2 egg whites with 2 Tbsp. of sugar and 1/8 tsp. of cream of tartar.

Step 3:  Quark filling
1/2 cup quark cheese
2 Tbsp. Cointreau orange liqueur
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. sour cream
Pinch of salt

Put the quark cheese in a cheesecloth-lined sieve, set it over a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it drain about 8 hours or overnight.

Put the drained quark in a bowl, add the other ingredients, and stir well.

Step 4:  Cooking and serving

Heat a large non-stick skilled over medium heat. Brush the pan with butter. Using a soup ladle, pour batter into the pan. Pour in 3 ladle-fulls at a time to cook 3 pancakes at a time.  Cook the pancakes until bubbles form all over the tops (about 3 minutes). Turn the pancakes over and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Both sides of the pancakes should be brown and just getting crisp. This approach yields 9 to 12 pancakes depending on the size of the ladle.

To serve, place one pancake on a plate and spread a few spoons of the quark filling on it. Put a second pancake on top and spread plum butter or jam on it (apricot jam is also a traditional option). Top off the plate with a few shakes of powdered sugar.

Then decorate with some whipped cream (mitt schlag ) since east of Paris almost all desserts have some whipped creme on the side.

Plum butter from Poland
Quark Cheese
aka tvorog (творог in Russian)

1 comment:

  1. Well, we are planning "girls cooking get together" at Vera's so start thinking what's you going to do; of course I am going to seriously look at some divine vegan recipes.


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