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It's paskha, Western-style.

The delicate tang of cheese freshly made from buttermilk gives this Western variation of Russian Easter paskha its exceptional freshness. Blended with butter, sour cream, sugar, and eggs, the buttermilk cheese mixture is very gently cooked, then poured into a mold and chilled.

In our Western variation of paskha, we use dried fruits instead of the more typical glaceed ones and offer the option of homemade candied orange peel for a less sweet, lighter flavor. Toasted almonds add crunch to the mixture.

Like a dense cheesecake, paskha is good with juicy fruit sch as strawberries or pineapple--and plain cookies or toasted and buttered sweet bread. Dried Fruit and Nut Paskha 1 gallon (4 qts.) buttermilk 1 cup (6 oz.) whole unblanched almonds 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature 2 cups (1 pt.) sour cream 2 eggs 1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 1-1/2 cups raisins or pitted dates, snipped 1 cup chopped dried apricots 1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel, homemade (recipe follows) or purchased

Pour buttermilk into a heavy 5- to 6-quart pan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring gently once or twice to distribute heat, until buttermilk registers 185[deg.] on a thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes; buttermilk will separate into curds and whey. Line a fine-mesh strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, rinsed and squeezed dry. Pour mixture through strainer. Let stand until the curds stop dripping, 10 to 15 minutes; discard clear whey.

Meanwhile, spread almonds in 10- by 15-inch pan. Bake in a 350[deg.] oven until nuts are golden under the skin, about 12 minutes; break one in half to check. Reserve 8 to 10 whole nuts. Coarsely chop remainder and set aside.

Combine the buttermilk curds, butter, sour cream, eggs, and sugar. Place half the mixture in a food processor or blender; process or whirl until very smooth. Repeat with remaining half. Return mixture to the 5- to 6-quart pan; cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 140[deg.] on a thermometer, about 20 minutes. Remoe from heat. Blend in the chopped almonds, vanilla, raisins, apricots, and orange peel.

Line a 6- to 8-cup round basket with flat bottom (or a clean plastic or new clay flowerpot) with two thicknesses of cheesecloth, rinsed and squeezed dry (see bottom left, next page). Allow excess cheesecloth to drapeover sides. Arrange reserved whole nuts in a circular pattern on bottom of container.

Spoon the cheese mixture into container; fold excess cheesecloth over cheese mixture. To press cheese and force drainage, set a plate (one that fits within the container) on the cheese and top with about 4 pounds of weight--such as canned foods. Set basket on a rack in a pan; cover the whole unit with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.

Remove weights from cheese; lift off plate. Fold excess cheesecloth back to expose cheese. Turn a plate right side down on cheese; invert cheese onto plate. Pull off basket and cheesecloth. Serve; if made ahead, cover with plastic wrap and chill up to 3 days. Cut into wedges to serve. Makes 4 pounds paskha, enough for 12 to 16 servings.

Homemade cndied orange peel. With a vegetable peeler, pare off colored surface of peel of 3 large oranges. Combine peel and 3 cups water in a 1- to 2-quart pan. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes; drain. Discard cooking water. Return peel to pan with 1/2 cup each water and sugar. Boil on high heat, uncovered and stirring frequently, until peel is shiny and most of liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Lay peel on a rack to cool. Use, or cover and chill up to 1 week.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipe
Date:Apr 1, 1984
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