The journey to starting Cowgirl Creamery began in 1971 in the freshman dormitory at the University of Tennessee, when Sue Conley and Peggy Smith were assigned as roommates. With a shared love of food, after graduation they bought a baby blue Chevy van and took a hippie road trip, landing in San Francisco and going on to work in some of the Bay Area’s most famous kitchens: Peggy spending 17 years at Chez Panisse, and Sue co-owning Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Berkeley.
Ready for a new challenge, in 1997 they opened their first location of Cowgirl Creamery in a renovated hay barn in Pt. Reyes Station, using milk from nearby Strauss Family Creamery to make fresh artisan cheese.
In 2013 they published Cowgirl Creamery Cooks with recipes for the variety of cheeses they have produced over the years. Their Clabbered Cottage Cheese was recently re-released after being out of production for several years, so it’s perfect timing to make a batch of their delicious Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Crème Fraiche and Strawberries – a favorite pancake recipe of Sue’s from her eleven years as a breakfast cook at Bette’s Oceanview Diner. And if you’re not up for pancakes, Clabbered Cottage Cheese makes a wonderful topping on crisps and flatbreads.
COTTAGE CHEESE PANCAKES WITH CRÈME FRAICHE AND STRAWBERRIES
Serves 4: Makes 16 to 20 (3-inch) pancakes
1 pt Strawberries, halved
½ cup Sugar
6 Eggs, separated
½ cup Whole Milk
1 ½ cups Cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
½ cup All-purpose flour
½ tsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp Sugar
Vegetable oil, for the griddle
4 tbsp Melted unsalted butter
Crème fraiche, for accompaniment
In a medium pan, toss the berries and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick. Add the milk and beat for another 30 seconds. Gently fold in the cottage cheese.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar and pour into the cheese mixture, stirring lightly.
With an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are stiff but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the batter, just until combined.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Ladle ¼ cup of the batter onto the hot griddle for each pancake, leaving space between pancakes. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes, then flip.
When done, spoon on berries and crème fraiche and serve.
Photography by Hirsheimer & Hamilton