Today’s recipe, which looks like a pancake but is actually a rich, creamy fried egg and cheese mixture, strays a bit from Barbie’s designs. She intended cottage cheese cakes to be sweet and topped with syrup or “frozen strawberries, slightly thawed and mashed.” I saw the potential for something savorier and more to my liking if I left out the sugar she calls for, and so I did.
Savory Cottage Cheese Cakes
- 1 cup soft cottage cheese
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- Butter for the griddle or pan
Press the cottage cheese through a mesh strainer or sieve (see note). Add flour, salt, and eggs. Beat until smooth and lump-free.
Heat a non-stick pan to medium and add a generous amount of butter to grease. Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the grease and gently press into a pancake-ish shape. Wait for bubbles in the middle to indicate ready-to-flippedness (1 – 2 minutes). Flip the pancake (you did use a nonstick pan, right?) once and cook for about a minute more on the opposite side. Remove to plate and serve with a topping of your choice, or just eat it plain!
This recipe makes about 8 pancakes. Or 4 if you burn the first batch in your stupid not-nonstick pans.
-Inspired by Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook
Cottage Cheese Cakes initially appealed to me because the recipe seemed weird and unlike anything I usually make. I also associate cottage cheese with vintage recipes, and I’m finding that I enjoy Barbie’s dishes more when I can appreciate them through a very 1964 lens. That said, I hadn’t actually had cottage cheese since I was a kid, and back then, I thought it was second only to peas in disgustingnessness. Child-me was wrong about a lot of things though, and I thought it was time to give it another try.
It turns out I really love cottage cheese. So much that I ate the entire first tub I brought home before I even got a chance to try the recipe and had to go out and buy some more. The deliciousness of the cheese made me extra excited to make this, and it moved my vague thoughts of leaving out Barbie’s sugar toward a determination to do so. The cakes were really good, so I think I made the right decision.
- I first learned the ‘press through a sieve’ technique for turning a soft and chunky thing into a soft and uniformly smooth thing when making Russian ‘herring under a fur coat.’ There was a lot about making that dish that was fun, including the act of using a spoon to force hardboiled egg whites through a mesh strainer. For cottage cheese, you want to place a mesh sieve or strainer over a bowl, and then dump the measured cheese into the sieve. Gently force the cheese through the mesh with the back of a large spoon. About a third of the stuff will stick to the outside of the sieve, so be ready to scrape it off and into the bowl.
- Did I mention? This is another recipe that you really, really, REALLY need a nonstick pan for.
- Frying in butter is a finicky affair, but the flavor is worth the effort. Use enough butter to completely coat the bottom of the pan and heat on medium until just melted. Add the food you’re frying just as the butter begins to foam, but not brown. (What? No! Don’t spoon off a bit of the foam and just eat it straight out of the pan! It’s not good for you! It’s… ok. Actually, it’s really good, and I do it every time. So, maybe start with a little extra butter…) For something that fries up fast, you can usually get away with just watching the heat closely and lowering it as the butter turns browner. For longer-cooking foods, try mixing the melted butter with a mildly flavored oil, like canola, to keep the flavor while raising the burn point.
- If you think a sweeter version sounds good, more power to you. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar to the mixture and you’ve got Barbie’s original recipe.
I chose to top my (Pancake? Cheese cake? Neither seems right.) with a pepper relish, which was good, but at the end of the day, I liked the cake better plain, no toppings. It looked like a pancake, but the flavor was richer and butterier than a pancake, and it held up well on its own. I did not try it this way, but after making it once, I’m thinking that Barbie’s butter and syrup suggestion was probably the right one. Or maybe salsa… I will definitely make these again to find out.