Heavenly little balls with matching wine

Cottage cheese dumplings and Hárslevelű

Zsófia Mautner used to work in the diplomacy, but her passion for cooking was so intense that she gave up her successful career in Brussels and devoted all her life to gastronomy. Her blog Chili & Vanilia is one of the most popular gastroblogs in Hungary, and Zsófia hosts a daily TV cooking show ont he most watched commercial television channel. Her English language book called Budapest Bite – Spicy & Sweet Hungarian Home Cooking was published by Libri in 2015, and available from Libri webshop. The following recipe is taken from this book. Cottege cheese dumplings are immensely popular in Hungary, you can find them on the menu of every restaurant from the simplest ones to the high end fine dining temples, and it is a regular dish of every home.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 700 g crumbly cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g semolina
  • 50 g icing sugar
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 150 g butter
  • 300 g breadcrumbs
  • to serve: vanilla-flavoured sor cream, berries in season

The process

  1. If necessary, drain the cottage cheese. Then press it out with the back of a fork. Mix in the two beaten eggs, the sugar, salt and the grated lemon zest. Mix everything all together thoroughly.
  2. Cover with cling film and leave it in the fridge for at least 6 hours overnight.
  3. The next day boil up some water in a large saucepan.
  4. With wet hands take lumps from the cottage cheese mix and make ping-pong sized balls (about 60 g in weight). Cook these in the water for exactly 6 minutes.
  5. Melt the butter in a frying pan and in it fry the breadcrumbs until golden brown.
  6. After they’re cooked and while they are still hot, roll the dumplings in the crunchy crumbs.
  7. Serve with vanilla-flavoured sour cream or fruit sauce.

The sommelier’s opinion

We have asked a couple of wine experts and sommeliers what to pair with cheese dumplings. The dish is moderately sweet, what’s more the cottage cheese and the sour cream gives a savoury touch to the dessert. Zoltán Sánta weinakademiker would suggest a late harvest wine with a little residual sugar. When accompanied by strawberry sauce, a rosé with a touch of residual sugar would also fit. Levente Ruck wine writer agrees with the rosé as a good choice to drink with the dumplings. Gergely Kundermann wine expert mentions a Badacsony indigenous grape, Kéknyelű in Zoltán Málik’s interpretation with 12 g residual sugar. Imre Török recommends a late harvest Furmint (TR Művek Édes 2015). Krisztián Rein from Heinemann Brothers suggests an off dry white, a semi dry or a semi sweet Hárslevelű, but as he says a Moscato or a  QBA Rheingau Riesling would do as well. Péter Blazsovszky, sommelier of Babel restaurant warns that high acidity of the wine can result a bitter sensation of the cottage cheese in the dumplings, thus instead of a semi dry wine he would prefer a late harvest, elegant sweet wine like Péter Váli “Édesnégyes” from 2015. Marianna Maszlag, sommelier of Champion Wine Vinarium & Gastroboutique joins the late harvest Hárslevelű opinion, and she also claims that a good Tokaji Szamorodni is an ideal option as well.

3 wines to go with cottage cheese dumplings

Tornai Premium Hárslevelű, Somló, 2013

The nose typically recalls linden honey with some minerality and wet stone in the background. The multi-layered complexity of the wine shows varietal typicity, creamy and honeyed fruit as well as minerality. The rich fruit concentration and the long finish are backed up by the round acidity.

Zsirai Tokaji Fordítás, Mád, Tokaj, 2008

A wine speciality made of the second maceration af the aszú berries. It has the structure and character of a 4 ‘puttonyos’ Tokaji Aszú. However it is lighter then an Aszú. Besides the fruitiness it has firm acidity in perfect balance with the residual sugar.

Grand Tokaj Szamorodni 2013

Elegant, noble botrytis notes on the nose resulting from barrel ageing with vanilla and citrus tones. Caramel creaminess, citrus freshness, refreshing, featherlight fruitiness on the palate. Vibrant, playful balance of acidity, sugar and alcohol. Great length with intensity in the finish.

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