As I mentioned in my previous post on Easter kulich, Good Thursday I was also making a paskha (пасха). It is a traditional Easter dish (‘Easter’ in Russia is also ‘Paskha’) made from cottage cheese - its white color symbolizes the purity if Christ and also the joy of the Resurrection. There is also a version that the paskha ingredients (cottage cheese, butter, sour cream) represent to Russian peasants the wonderland where there are ‘milk rivers and kissel shores’ (compare this image to the Promised Land). Paskha is a symbol of joy, life in paradise and blessed Eternity.
Paskha has a special shape of a pyramid and requires a special mold. I was not sure I would be able to buy one here in the States so I asked my Mom in Moscow to mail me one. It took just two weeks for it to get here so I was all set long in advance. If you outside Russia and can’t find one use a medium size new (!) flower pot. It has that small hole in the bottom that is essential to paskha making process. If you don’t have a flower pot use a round plastic container - just make a hole in its bottom yourself.
One thing about paskha is that it requires no heat treatment and lots of ingredients but it doesn’t make it an easy thing to make. I was worried about it but it all worked out perfect and I was very proud of myself. Paskha really makes Easter celebrations special.
Paskha / Пасха творожная
Ingridients (make 1 or two paskha depending on the size of your mold):
- 2 lb (1 kg) cottage cheese (This is the key ingredient. It must be top quality. I bought mine from the Russian store in Campbell, CA)
- 7 eggs
- 10 oz (300 g) butter
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 cups raisins
- 3 cups sugar
|Paskha and kulich ingredients with the paskha mold in the front|
1. If your cottage cheese is too grainy rub it through a bolter first. If not go to step 2.
2. In a large mixing bowl mix eggs, add sugar, cottage cheese and sour cream. Mix well.
3. Add raisins. Mix well.
4. Get together paskha mold. Line it with a big piece of moist gauze.
5. Fill in the mold with the mixture. It should be dense.
6. Place the mold in a bowl so that it won’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
7. Cover the mixture with the ends of the gauze. Press down with a heavy object (I used a small plate and a jar with water).
|Paskha sitting in the fridge|
8. Put it in the fridge (do not freeze) for 2-3 days.
9. During this time whey should stream down and your paskha will take the desired shape. You may want to watch the whey and pour it out from time to time to make sure the top of your paskha doesn’t touch it.
10. On Good Saturday (if you take your paskha to church to get blessed) or Easter day uncover the gauze, place your paskha on a big plate and turn it up.
11. Carefully unlock the mold and take away the gauze.
12. Your paskha is ready! If may want to decorate it with dried fruits or nuts. Traditional decorations are crosses and big letters “ХВ” (stand for “Христос Воскресе” - “Christ has risen”).
|Our eggs and kulichs at the blessing at St Nicolas Russian Orthodox Cathedral|
in San Francisco. Great Saturday
Great Saturday we went to St Nicolas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in California. It is one of two Orthodox churches in California that operate under Moscow Patriarchate (the other one is in San Diego) and I really wanted to go to this one. Dave was ready to drive me all the way from San Jose to San Francisco so I could have our ritual Easter meal blessed. He is a sweetheart! It is an hour drive from our house, and we also were going to the liturgy of St Basil’s the Great so it meant my paskha would be out of the fridge for about 5 hours and I didn’t want to risk it, it is also fragile and I wanted it safe for Easter. We took just the dyed eggs and kulichs and brought some church candles to stick into the paskha later.
|Me with the kids near St Nicolas Russian Orthodox Church.|
San Francisco. Great Saturday. April 23rd, 2011
Easter day we went to the Latin mess at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Oratory in Santa Clara, CA. Afterwards we headed home to celebrate Easter and get the food I gave up for Lent. I will blog about some other Easter recipes in my next posts.
|Dave with the kids near Our Mother of Perpetual Help|
Roman Catholic Oratory. Santa Clara, CA.
Easter Day. April 24th, 2011
When I put everything together - dyed eggs, kulichs, paskha - and lit the candles it did feel like back in Russia, and it smelled like my mom’s house! Perfect!
|Happy Easter! Христос Воскресе!|
It was a beautiful holiday and also very meaningful and thoughtful. Everybody enjoyed the food and events, and I was very very happy.
Easter is celebrated for 40 days until Ascension Day so Happy Easter! Христос Воскресе!