Cook: Secret to pie crust Curds and whey

I love cottage cheese. I can eat it three times a day and then some. Mixed with fresh fruit, it is a sweet way to start the day. For a savory lunch, stir in some radishes, cucumbers and green onions, and for dinner spoon a little dollop on a dish of pasta. My favorite midday snack is a scoop of cottage cheese sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

The virtues of this versatile cheese don’t end there. As a main ingredient in pastry dough, it produces a practically no-fail result — dough that is forgiving and easy to roll, shape and freeze. The finished product is flaky and tender and just a bit on the tangy side, which lends itself to both sweet and savory fillings.

You can make batches of the dough, freeze and bake as needed. This is wonderful for holidays, such as Thanks-giving and Chanukah. Make fillings a day before using so they will be cold. The dough may be rolled out after 1 hour of chilling in the refrigerator. Do not thaw pastries before baking as they will become soggy. Just add about 8-10 minutes more to the given baking times.


Cottage Cheese Pastry

Makes about 41⁄2 dozen small pastries, 4 strudels or 1 double-crust pie

8 oz. butter, room temperature

8 oz. low-fat or full-fat cottage cheese, room temperature

21⁄4 cups flour

1⁄2 tsp. salt

Combine butter and cottage cheese until well blended. Add flour and salt and mix until a smooth dough is formed. (I use a food processor). Form dough into disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Dough may be refrigerated

2 days.


Parsley and Parmesan Cheese Twists

Makes about 4 dozen

1 recipe “Cottage Cheese Pastry”

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1⁄2 cup minced parsley

1 yolk beaten with 2 tsp. milk or cream

Divide dough in half and roll each half in a rectangle 1⁄4-inch thick. Sprinkle with half the cheese and parsley and press mixture in lightly with rolling pin. Fold dough over into thirds and roll again. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and parsley, press with pin and fold again. Roll in 18×5-inch rectangle. Brush with egg yolk mixture and cut into 3⁄4-inch strips. Twist into spirals and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Chill

1 hour. Bake in 350-degree oven about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove to rack at once to cool.


Curried Mushroom Turnovers

Makes about 5 dozen

3 Tbs. butter

1 lb. mushrooms, chopped

1⁄2 onion, chopped

1 tsp. curry powder or to taste

1⁄2 tsp. turmeric (optional)

1⁄8 tsp. cayenne

1 Tbs. flour

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1⁄3 cup cream

2 Tbs. chopped parsley

salt and pepper

1 recipe “Cottage Cheese Pastry”

Heat butter and cook mushrooms and onion until soft. Stir in curry, turmeric, cayenne and flour and cook about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and cream and cook until thickened. Stir in parsley and taste for salt and pepper. Let chill.

Assembly: Divide dough in half and roll each half into a 9×6-inch rectangle. Cut into 21⁄2-inch rounds. If there are a lot of trimmings, reroll them. Put a scant teaspoon of filling in the center of each round, moisten edges with water and fold over. Press edges to seal. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake in 350-oven about 25 minutes or until golden. n

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected]