Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter, with pashka

Pascha / Paskha / Pasha
Paskha, 2011

When most Brits were busy buying chocolate eggs - apparently a mind-blowing 80 million chocolate eggs were to be eaten during Easter alone, then Estonians were having troubles buying chicken eggs. You see, whereas people prefer brown chicken eggs most of the time, then this week they wanted them white - so they could be painted bright and colourful for the Easter table. And white eggs were nowhere to be found.. If only the chicken knew and act accordingly!

Easter brunch / Kevadpühade brantš: Nami-Nami pasha
Paskha, 2009

In addition to colourful Easter eggs (the chicken, not the chocolate kind), another dish on Estonian tables this weekend is paskha - or "pasha" - the sweet curd cheese dessert originating in Russia. Here is my version, originally from the Finnish Pirkka-lehti, that I've adapted and tweaked a bit over the last few years. The main divergence from the original is the omission of the egg (and I can't see a difference in texture or taste), and replacing the almonds and raisins with pistachios and dried cranberries (or "craisins"). I know that orange-cranberry-pistachio work well together tastewise. But these three make the pashka so much more colourful, almost like it's been studded with ruby and emerald jewels! If you don't have access to curd cheese, then a mixture of ricotta and quark will work just as well.

Paskha, my way
(Imemaitsev lihavõttepasha)
Serves 8

Paskha, 2006

100 g of butter, softened
85 g golden caster sugar
400 gr curd cheese
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
100 ml blanched pistachios*, roughly chopped
100 g dried organic cranberries
100 g candied orange peel, chopped
200 ml whipping or double cream, whipped

For decoration:
cape gooseberries
blanched and finely chopped pistachios

Cream the soft butter with sugar until light and fluffy - best done with an electric mixer. Soften the curd cheese with a wooden spoon, then add to the butter and sugar mixture and combine.
Add the cranberries, pistachios, candied orange peel, vanilla and juiced lemon, mix to combine. Finally fold in the whipped cream.
There is a special mould for making paskha, but an ordinary colander (on the right) or coeur a la crème moulds (above) can be used as well - just line them with a moist cheesecloth/muslin beforehand. Pour the paskha mixture into the mould, cover with a suitably sized plate for an extra pressure and put onto a tray (to catch any liquid).
Put into a fridge for overnight.
To serve, flip the paskha onto a plate, remove the cheesecloth and decorate.
Serve and enjoy.

* To blanch pistachios, just cover them with boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and rub off the skins.


Anne said...

Oh, this looks great. We always made Pascha when I was little, with almonds and raisins. (And lemon, maybe? I can't remember.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, happy Easter! That does look delicious. I'm not a big fan of raisins in dessert, but ironically dried is the only way I really like cranberries, so your version sounds perfect to me! By the way, do you have a source for curd cheese in Edinburgh?

Alanna Kellogg said...

Ah, pasha! I'm so glad to see it survives -- thrives? Antti has posted one too! And I love your personalizations, modernizations! My Finnish family formed theirs in a clay flower pot lined with cheesecloth. NEXT year's Easter, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter Pille! I did not know this dessert at all! Looks very interesting!

Andrew said...

80 million chocolate eggs - and not one eaten by me :-(

Anonymous said...

Hi,Happy Easter...looks yummy & cheesy ,you do have a nice blog out here with a beautiful presentation .

Anonymous said...

What a nice presentation! Pistachios are my favorite. I'd love to have a taste! Happy Easter!


amyjames said...

That looks so beautiful. Much less sickly than the average easter egg.

Do you remember when white eggs used to cost more than brown eggs? And then it swopped around and now I find it quite hard to find white eggs anywhere. Although in the States/Canada it seems to be the other way again and white eggs are the standard issue.

Lovely blog by the way. It's nice to read about somebody in the same city making such lovely food. I often feel when reading American food blogs that we are a bit shortchanged here for finding ingredients but it's good to know that I'm not the only one seeking out unusual goodies . . .

Happy Easter . . .

Anonymous said...

I used to make pasha from a Pirkka-recipe, too! It looks a lot prettier with cranberries and pistachios - very fresh and spring-like!
Speaking of white eggs, did you ever have the Fazer Mignon eggs? A real eggshell with a lovely, solid chocolate egg on the inside, and the tiny hole sealed with white sugar? Maybe that's where all the white eggs go?! Happy late Easter!

Spinning Girl said...


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Clivia said...

Happy Easter Pille, a little afterwards... That dessert look amazing! We spent the weekend planning for a week´s summer holidays in Estonia, mostly Saaremaa and Hiumaa and then a few days in the Haapsal area as usual before returning from Tallinn. I am so looking forward to that!

Pille said...

Anne - thank you! Almonds, raisins and lemon sound about right - that's what you usually find in your pasha.

Melissa - you'll find curd cheese - tvorog - in most of the Polish shops that have popped up in Edinburgh like mushrooms after the rain! I spotted three down at the Foot of Leith alone last weekend!! I get mine from my local Polish shop, Bona Deli. I much prefer dried cranberries over raisins (which do have a place in some sweet yeast breads, for sure) in my pasha - they both taste nicer and look prettier. Good luck with finishing the PhD!!!

AK - pasha definitely thrives. My Mum was making one back home, and as you can see, many Nordic foodbloggers (not just Antti & me) were busy making and eating pasha this weekend. Hope to see you joining the club next year:)

Bea - it's a Russian Orthodox dish that has firmly established itself in mainly Lutheran Finland and Estonia. You should try it!

Andrew - me neither. Oops - I did eat a huge packet of these mini chocolate eggs, from Lindt or something. But that was a fortnight ago, so it doesn't count:)

Lera - welcome to my blog, and thank you for your nice words.

Paz - you would have been most welcome to have a bite:)

Amyjames - I don't know about the price, but when I was younger (back in Estonia), you could only find white eggs in the shops, brown eggs were rather rare. Nowadays it's the other way around.. I wasn't looking for eggs in Edinburgh this time, but a friend of mine did, and could only find brown ones, too! Thank you for your kind words about my blog. There are other two foodbloggers in Edinburgh - the American girl Melissa of the beautiful Traveler's Lunchbox, and Australian girl Shauna of Cooking with Ginger - do check these out as well!

Karin - Pirkka has loads of good recipes indeed. And I'm pretty pleased with my cranberry-pistachio twist myself:) I haven't seen Fazer Mignon eggs - will keep my eyes open next time I'm in Estonia or Sweden. Thanks for the tip!

Spinning Girl - mmmm indeed! Lovely to see you here again - it's been a while..

Daffy - I'll try my best to help a fellow sociologist, have already sent you an email.

Clivia - believe me, I'm looking forward to trips to Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Haapsalu as well! I've hardly ventured outside Tallinn during my recent trips..

Karel Baum said...

Hi Pille, I just made your 'Pashka, my way' with the emeralds and rubies (pistachios and dried cranberries) for our monthly Estonian Society meeting here in Brisbane, Australia. It was a great success - everyone was so pleased to have such a lovely traditional dish... not bad for a first timer! Thank you!

Pille said...

Karel, that's cool! Glad to hear that the recipe worked for you.

What did you use for kohupiim? Can you easily get curd cheese in Australia or did you use something else?

Anonymous said...

I’m a little late in replying! Yes, quark, ricotta and other curd cheeses are available (at least in the capital cities). I’m about to make this again and will take it way camping to share with friends.
Happy Easter! 🐣