Though I prefer the term lazy dumpling,  thank you.

I’ve earned the name by being a devout consumer of papanași, a Romanian breakfast sweet that has no easy equivalent in English. The dictionary calls papanași a cheese pancake, though papanași are usually round. In Russian they’re called lazy/mock dumplings, because they are not wrapped like varenyki. So these are lenivye vareniki. They’re also a bit like arancini, the Italian round balls of cheesy goodness.

It’s not hard to find a recipe for papanași, though ultimately you always have to go by feel. It’s one of those recipes with few ingredients, but many variables. You need to use farmer’s cheese, which comes more or less moist and more or less fat. Draining gets rid of the extra liquid, but I am still figuring out how a fattier cheese affects the end result. To the farmers’ cheese you add eggs and semolina, then a bit of sugar, followed by vanilla and lemon zest. It comes together very easily, but you really have to develop a feel for the dough so that it’s not too sticky or too moist, nor too hard.

Here are the steps:

1) Set a medium pot of water to boil. Make sure to salt the water.

2) Mix farmer’s cheese, eggs, semolina, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until you have a mixture that is not too sticky.

2) Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls.

3) Drop the balls in the salted boiling water, and turn the flame down to medium.

4) Let the balls rise to the surface, then boil them gently for ten more minutes.

5) Meanwhile, warm a bit of butter in a pan, add some bread crumbs. Toast, then add sugar and ground nuts, giving it another minute or so until it becomes fragrant.

6)  Drain the papanași one by one and nestle them in the bread crumbs mixture. Add more sugar if you like.

Bon appétit!

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