Have you ever asked someone for a recipe only to have them tell you that it’s a family secret? I can’t say it’s happened that many times to me, but when it has it always seems a little selfish and the food just doesn’t taste quite as good anymore. (There is one exception to this. If your livelihood is dependent upon said recipe, then keeping it a secret would be valid.) Otherwise, here’s the thing about food: Aside from nutrients and nurishment, food is meant to be enjoyed. It brings people together. It is welcoming and somehow represents generosity. I genuinely couldn’t tell you whether I get greater pleasure out of the creative process of cooking, or out of sharing what I make with people I care about. The greatest compliment I can get from someone is if they ask me for the recipe. (Then I KNOW they weren’t just being polite!) 😉
This may sound funny, but hear me out. When you share a recipe with someone, you get to become a part of their family. There are certain recipes I make that, without fail, when I make these dishes, I think fondly of the people they came from. I get to share stories about them with my kids and I’m pretty sure the food tastes even better because of the great memories I get to relive with each bite.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that hoarding a recipe seems to be the antithesis of what food is supposed to be about. This is why I offer to you today one of my family’s oldest recipes.
Now, I feel a little guilty because I’m sure that some people saw the title of this blog and thought I would be dishing on family skeletons in the closet. So as not to disappoint, I will share the juiciest bit of family history I know. I’m not sure it qualifies as a ‘secret’ since I’m pretty sure I included it in my 7th grade family history report, but it’s the best I’ve got for now.
The story goes that my great, great, great grandfather, Fredrik, was the illegitimate son of a German Count. His mother was a maid in the household. When his father died he was away working as a journeyman to a master stone mason. Not wanting to share their father’s fortune with their half brother, the Count’s children absconded to America with the family fortune. When Fredrik returned home he sold everything and sailed for America, hoping to hunt down his stolen inheritance. He never found it, but he did eventually settle down in Wisconsin. Which is, perhaps, why our oldest family recipe contains cottage cheese. Do you like how I brought that full circle back to the recipe I’m sharing today?
This recipe is my great grandmother’s and there are two ways to make it. Pillows have been thrown in our family over the argument of which way is best! The original (which I’ve photographed here), uses a ricer or chinois. The more modern way is to throw it all in the blender together and call it a day. This does produce a smoother pie in the end…and I still maintain that if great grandma had had a blender at her disposal, she would have used it. Anyhow, when Andy requested this for his birthday dessert, I thought I’d make it the old fashioned way for him, just so I could tell him that I love him so much I thought he was worth the extra work! 🙂
I should tell you that whenever I make this pie to bring somewhere and people ask what I’ve brought, I generally get a very subdued reaction, like they are trying very hard to be polite but the thought of cottage cheese in a pie grosses them out. However, after they taste it, I am almost always asked for the recipe! It is mildly similar to cheesecake if you need a frame of reference.
Cottage Cheese Pie
- 1 graham cracker crust
- 1 lb cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Mix all ingredients except cinnamon in a blender until smooth.
- Pour into the graham cracker crust.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes. It will still be jiggly in the center when you take it out but will set as it cools.
Old Fashioned Directions
As you can see the solids will stick to the pestle. Just scrape it down with a rubber spatula and continue until all of the cottage cheese has been pressed through into the bowl.
Stir the sugar, flour, eggs, milk, and vanilla, into the strained cottage cheese and mix until smooth.
Pour into a graham cracker crust and sprinkle with cinnamon.
I love it plain: