These cheese-filled, sour cream dough pastries were one of my favorite treats as a child. I can eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer. My mom, Sarah, baked hundreds of these as hors d’œuvre for our wedding. Now my kids and husband gobble them up as fast as I can make them.

We use the same filling as for Blintzes.  I changed mom’s recipe by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour she used, and mixing nonfat ricotta cheese with the farmer’s cheese to cut down on the fat. But I still top them with a bit of sour cream. The fresh strawberries I placed on top add just the right amount of sweet juiciness to balance the filling.

I got a  kick out of the comments or rather criticisms I got on this blog entry. Russians have got to be the most opinionated people on the planet! (I should know, being half-Russian myself).

makes several dozen, depending on the size

Dough for Vatrushka
1 cube butter, softened to room temperature
5 Tb sour cream
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and beat well. Add flour and salt and mix until dough is formed. Knead on a floured board about 12 times, until it is no longer sticky. Roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for ½ an hour. Prepare the filling while the dough is chilling.

Cheese filling
1 1/2  cups farmer’s cheese
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ tsp salt
1/2  tsp sugar

Mix ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350◦

Roll out the dough on a floured board until thin, and cut with a round biscuit cutter. For larger pastries, I made little balls and roll them out into circle shapes. The circles don’t have to be perfect as long as they can fold into a half-moon shape. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and fold it over into a half-moon shape.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, spray the pan with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350◦

Serve topped with sour cream and fresh strawberries.


Blintzes and crepes

When I was growing up, our family always ate unsweetened blintzes with sour cream, no sugar or strawberries. To this day, I only like them this way. My mom used to make these for my birthday since they were my favorite food. Since today is my birthday, I made these for lunch. I altered the ingredients to make the blintzes lower in fat. I combined nonfat ricotta cheese with the better-tasting, rich farmer’s cheese, which has 12% fat. I’ve also made this with full-fat ricotta cheese only.

But the low-fat sour cream didn’t taste right; a small spoonful of the real deal is much better. Or you can try nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

Serves 3 (makes 8 blintzes)

Crepe batter:

1 cup 1% milk

¼ cup water

2/3 cup finely ground whole wheat flour (also sold as white whole wheat flour)

3/4 cup white unbleached flour

3 Tb melted butter

3 eggs

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp sugar for sweet crepes

Blintze Filling:

1 cup farmer’s cheese

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp sugar

Combine crêpe ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, scrape sides and blend again. Let sit ½ hour to let the gluten develop.


Whip filling ingredients together with electric mixer.

Rub a butter cube over a nonstick skillet. Pour crêpe batter into pan until it covers it, moving the pan around so that it is evenly covered.. Let sit a few seconds until the bottom begins to cook, then pour off excess into the blender container. This way the crêpe will be thin. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a dinner plate. After a minute or too, the bottom of the crêpe will become golden brown. Loosen the crêpe, using a spatula, then slide it on the parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper, and repeat.

When all the crepes are cooked, you are ready to fill them. (You can fill as you go if you have a partner to make the crepes.)

???????????????????????????????Place the crêpe so the cooked side is up. Place a few tablespoons of filling in the middle of the crêpe. Fold one side (such as the side furthest from you), then fold two left and  right sides. Then fold the side nearest to you, opposite the first side.

Rub the butter over the pan again. Gently place the  blintzes on the skillet, fold side down, and cook both sides over medium low heat so the filling will cook and the crêpe will be a nice brown.  Eat with a teaspoonful of sour cream spread over them.

If you have leftover crepes, you can do as my daughter does, and flip them over to cook on both sides. When they cool, spread Nutella on them, slice some strawberries and a banana over that, then roll them up and have them for dessert.