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Shavuot – a good time to make blintzes

  • Blintzes
If you’ve never made homemade blintzes before, Shavuot is the perfect time to try it. Blintzes can be savoury or sweet, stuffed with fillings as wide ranging as potatoes and mushrooms, stewed fruit or even cooked spinach. But for Shavuot, it’s the curd-to-crepe blintz that’ll be the highlight of your meal.
by LIZ ALPERN | May 25, 2017

There are so many explanations for why we eat dairy on Shavuot, and the seasonal explanation is one that will strike a chord with Ashkenazi Jews in particular. In Eastern Europe, Jews ate dairy as a springtime treat, since cows would produce milk after the long, cold winter, just in time for the holiday.

When making blintzes, be sure to start with farmers’ cheese from scratch. It’s a process that’s much easier than you probably ever imagined and it results in fresh creamy farmers’ cheese you’ll want to eat warm right from the pot.

As Shavuot arrives and the seasons change, I can’t help but think about family. Both of my grandmothers were well known for their blintzes. And even though they lived hundreds of kilometres away from each other, they had similar recipes to one another, and both had learned to make blintzes from their own mothers, who had come to the US from Poland.

Unfortunately, by the time I was born, my grandmothers had stopped making blintzes from scratch and I was stuck with the frozen ones from a box! Now that I make my own blintzes, using a recipe close to my great-grandmothers’, I think about carrying on the tradition of the many generations of blintz-makers that came before me.

Now you can try it too.

Sweet or savoury blintzes to die for

I was only privy to homemade blintzes once in a blue moon when Grandma Ruth decided to make them. Hers were never too sweet and they revealed their contents on the sides since she delicately sliced off the edges of each blintz, leaving the scraps for the children as a special treat.

I feel every parent has to make at least one dish with ends to slice off for kids. It’s not fair to make them wait until everything is finished. Blintz ends are a pretty solid way to go.

If necessary, you can make the blintzes in advance and store them in the refrigerator or freezer until later. Just be sure to bring them up to room temperature before reheating so the insides don’t remain cold.

Note that the yield in this recipe is based on a 20,3 cm diameter frying pan. If you have a different size pan, the yield will differ. The crepe recipe is adapted from Mitchell Davis’ The Mensch Chef and works well with both our sweet cheese filling and savoury mushroom-potato filling.

Makes 16 blintzes 

For the crepes:
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for frying
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup cold water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the sweet cheese filling:
3 cups farmer’s cheese (about 1½ pounds or ,68 kg), store-bought or homemade
½ cup cream cheese (4 ounces, about 113 grams), softened, store-bought or homemade
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons loosely packed lemon zest
Sour cream, store-bought or homemade, for servingFresh or macerated berries (optional), for garnish 

Directions 
1. To make the crepes: In a large bowl, food processor, or blender, mix together the melted butter, eggs, milk, cold water, salt, and sugar. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing between each addition to remove as many lumps as possible.

2. In an 8-inch (20,3 cm) nonstick pan, melt a small pat of butter over medium heat. Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter into the cenrer of the hot pan. Lift and rotate the pan immediately so batter coats the bottom entirely, then place the pan back on the heat to cook. You’ll get the hang of it after a couple of tries.

At first, each crepe will take about 1 minute, but the process speeds up as the pan gets hotter, and each crepe should take 30 to 45 seconds. When the crepe is mostly cooked, the edges will lift up. With a spatula, check to make sure the crepe has splotches of brown on the bottom.

When one side is fully cooked, flip the crepe onto a nearby plate lined with parchment paper so that the side that has not cooked is facing down. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking each crepe on top of the others. No need to butter the pan between crepes - only add more butter about every fifth crepe. Note that the first crepe never comes out well. Don’t despair.

3. To make the sweet cheese filling: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

4. To form the blintzes: Spoon about 1 cup of the filling onto the cooked side of a crepe, in the middle of the lower half. Spread out the filling from side to side in a horizontal line. Fold the bottom of the crepe up to cover the filling, and then fold each end into the centre to create a small package.

Roll up the crepe tightly to form a compact blintz. It will be about 4 inches (just over 10 cm) in length. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. At this point, you can fry them up now, or refrigerate or freeze the blintzes to eat later.

To refrigerate, wrap each blintz individually in parchment paper (so they don’t stick together) and store in an airtight plastic container for up to 5 days. To freeze, set the wrapped blintzes on a baking sheet in the freezer until they harden, then transfer to an airtight plastic container and freeze for up to 3 months.

5. If you prepared your blintzes in advance, be sure to bring them up to room temperature before frying them (so the filling doesn’t remain cold). Place a small pat of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and place the blintzes in the pan, seam side down.

If your blintz is cylindrical, flatten it slightly with a spatula for even cooking. Do not crowd the pan. Cook the blintzes until golden on the bottom, then flip to the other side and cook until golden brown and the sides are soft, 3 to 4 minutes in total. You may need to flip each blintz multiple times to avoid them getting too brown.

6. Serve the blintzes hot. Garnish with sour cream and berries. Keep just-fried blintzes warm in the oven at 250 degrees F (121 degrees C) until ready to serve.  

Excerpted from the book The Gefilte Manifesto by Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern. Copyright © 2016 by Gefilte Manifesto LLC. Photography by Lauren Volo.

  • Liz Alpern travels the globe as a cook, recipe tester, educator and entrepreneur. She was featured in Forbes’ 30 under30. She will be speaking at Limmud between 4 – 6 August in Johannesburg.

 

 

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