Cooking with KOACH: Blintzes
By Rabbi Elyse Winick
In theory, the recipe I’m about to share should appear in the Sivan issue of the KOACH E-zine. But I still have blintzes in my freezer, so I can celebrate Shavuot (known for its dairy comestibles) all year round.
My mother is a blintz queen. She’ll never order blintzes in a restaurant. How could they ever compare? Heaven forfend we’re served blintzes in someone else’s home. I’ll hear the flawed recipe deconstructed for weeks to come.
Here’s the thing, though. My mother’s blintzes are awesome. I’ve never had blintzes that were as good as hers and now that I make them in my own kitchen, I’m quite convinced I never will.
You have to start with a cast iron frying pan. You know, the kind cartoon characters whack one another on the head with. It has to be seasoned before you can use it – that means melting butter in it and caressing the interior until it glows. And you have to choose your ingredients with care, rejecting countless packages of Friendship Farmer Cheese until you find the one with just the right heft (and furthest expiration date). You need a glass measuring cup and a tiny apartment kitchen. And then, just give up. They’ll never compare.
I have fond memories of standing at my mother’s elbow as she made stacks and stacks of blintzes. Sometimes I could help mix the batter, but not overmix it! (which is a tough concept for a kid) I can hear the sizzling as the batter hits the preheated pan (but not too hot!), see it swirled around, the excess poured back into the glass measuring cup. I watch my mother, her asbestos fingers pulling the leaf gingerly out of the pan and flipping it over, so both sides will brown. She stacks them, leaf after leaf, perfect circles, on a plate, covering them with a paper towel. With another paper towel she butters the pan once more – just the right amount, not too little, not too much.
Then it was time to fold. I learned how much of a teaspoon’s worth of filling was the right amount to keep it from bursting through its seams. I learned to make an envelope of blintz and stack it to the side, waiting to be fried one more delicious, browning time.
And then, there were the magic ones. Jam-filled, long and narrow. But these were not blintzes, they were palacsinta, the Hungarian equivalent, made by my mother as she learned from her mother, who learned from her mother before her. Lots of kids had blintzes. But only we had palacsinta and that made us special.
My mother came to visit last week, to look after the kids while I was traveling. She mentioned that she had spotted a tray of blintzes in the freezer. She thought of giving them to the kids, but then figured she’d just have to make new ones to replace them. Secretly, I wish she had.
My Mother’s Blintz Recipe (but really, should you even try?)
Seltzer and water to mix
Mix flour, milk and seltzer to form a thick paste (slightly thicker than sour cream). Beat in eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mixture should have a consistency slightly thinner than a milk shake and have no lumps. (Can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated. Mix well before using)
Butter or oil an eight inch frying pan (preferably cast iron) so that it is greased but not runny. Heat evenly over a medium-high flame. Pour in two tablespoons of batter and tilt pan until it is evenly coated. When the edges start to curl, pull out of pan and set aside. Grease pan again (try wiping with a buttered paper towel) and repeat. This should make approximately 12 blintz leaves, assuming the first two are not quite right because the pan is not yet heated through.
3 packages Friendship Farmer Cheese
Milk to soften
2T sugar, or to taste
Mix cheese with sugar and vanilla and add just enough milk to moisten. The mixture should be thick and not at all runny.
Place a couple of spoonfuls of cheese mixture on the lower third of a blintz leaf. Fold bottom edge over the cheese. Fold sides over and roll blintz away from you. Set aside. When all blintzes have been rolled, melt two tablespoons of butter in the frying pan. Fry blintzes on both sides until lightly browned. If not serving immediately, place on a baking sheet to warm prior to serving.
Apricot jam and lekvar (prune filling) are also among the fillings of choice. For palacsinta, place a teaspoon of jam in the lower third of the leaf and simply roll up – the final product should be flat, not cylindrical.