The word crepe is of French origin, and means thin pancake. It is believed that the first crepe originated in the northwestern region of France, called Brittany. Similar to the French crepe, Polish Nalesniki are thin pancakes rolled up with a filling that is either sweet or savory. For an easy crepe recipe, see two ways to make blini- Russian crepe recipe.
Our Nalesniki recipe has a cheese filling that is traditional in Poland and enjoyed across Eastern Europe in Russia and Ukraine. Typically eaten as a breakfast food, nalesniki are loved by children and adults alike.
Nalesniki are known in Hungarian cuisine as palacsinta, and palachinke in Croatian. Russian and Ukrainian blini are thin, pan sized crepes. Blintzes are considered small pancakes in the west.
What really separates nalesniki from blini or crepes, is of course, what follows the actual preparation of the crepe. The crepe is stuffed with either a sweet or savory filling and then either pan fried or cooked in the oven. This recipe, we’ll be pan frying the nalesniki.
Why pan fry crepes after they’ve been prepared? To some, this may seem like an unnecessary extra step, however it adds just the perfect amount of crispness to the nalesniki and pulls the dish together.
What You Need:
For the crepes:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Oil or butter for frying
For the cheese filling:
2 cups cottage cheese
1 8oz package cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (or oil)
Stick of butter (to apply to crepes)
Place all the crepe ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together. You may also blend all the crepe ingredients in a blender.
My mom used to make crepes often when I was a little girl. One thing she always told me was to apply the melted butter to the pan with a brush between crepes. This was literally the perfect amount of butter for each crepe, and never left the crepes oily or dry.
Brush the hot pan with the melted butter, and ladle the crepe batter into the pan. Swirl the batter to cover the entire pan. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook until the other side of the crepe is golden brown. Use a spatula to scoop the crepe out and set aside. Use a stick of butter to coat the top of each crepe so they do not stick to one another, and to prevent the edges from becoming too dry.
Now that our crepes are done, it’s time to make the cheese filling. Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature, otherwise it’ll be impossible to make it creamy. Drain the cottage cheese, and combine it with the cream cheese and sugar. It helps to use a potato masher to mash this mixture out.
Dollop the cheese mixture onto a crepe, smooth the mixture to coat the crepe, and roll it into a log. Cut the log in half and continue this with each crepe.
Now melt about 2 tbsp butter in a hot pan and sauté the nalesniki. Watch out because they can burn, so just sauté until crispy and golden.
Serve cheese- filled nalesniki alongside fresh fruit, fruit preserves, or smetana (sour cream). To garnish, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.