I confess: my childhood lacked religious education almost altogether. My parents came from different religious backgrounds, one Catholic, one Jewish, and neither of them gave a fig about religion. They were both medical professionals, considered themselves scientists, and felt they had chosen sides, science over religion. The only time I ever went to church was to be in the choir at my best friend’s church. Loved the music; ignored the sermons.
The only religious holiday we ever celebrated (I’m not counting Christmas because, well come on, really?) was Passover. My cousin’s family and mine came together occasionally and ran through the incomprehensible ceremony, ate some great food, and drank too-sweet wine. That was it.
But where I live now, one of my best friends is Jewish in the religious sense (not just in the cultural sense as my father was), and often hosts celebrations at her house to which I am honored to be invited. So, at this late date, I’m finally getting some religious education, at least about the holidays. And holidays, in the Jewish tradition, revolve around food.
Shavuot (don’t feel bad, I had to look it up, too) commemorates when God gave the Torah was to the Jews. It used to be (still is, I’m sure, among Jewish scholars) a time to stay up all night discussing and arguing (both favorite pastimes). But, at some point, they also had to eat. And the traditional food for Shavuos (Shavuot dinner) is blintzes.
My dad was a great cook. And even though we never celebrated Shavuot, he did make blintzes. Here’s an approximation of his recipe. One of my regrets is that I never got him to write his recipes down. But this comes close.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup milk (fat level shouldn’t matter, but I use whole)
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (I swap 1/3 to 1/2 regularly with whole wheat, and did so here)
Few pinches of salt
2 cups farmer’s cheese, a thicker cottage cheese or ricotta
6 tablespoons sour cream, mascarpone, creme fraiche or softened cream cheese
2 large egg yolks or 1 large egg (a whole egg will make the filling more solid; the egg yolks make it richer.)
Make wrapper/crêpe batter:
Combine wrapper ingredients in a blender, or in a bowl with an immersion blender, or whisk by hand until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up to two days.
Cook wrappers/crêpes: Heat a medium skillet or crêpe pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, brush pan lightly with melted butter or oil. If batter has gotten too thick to pour thinly in the fridge, you can add an additional tablespoon or two of milk or water to thin it. Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons batter into skillet, just enough that it coats the bottom in an even layer when you swirl it around. Let cook, undisturbed, until the crêpe becomes a little golden underneath or at the edges. (We can cook these more pale than dessert crêpe, because we’re going to cook them again before serving.)
Cook the crêpe on the reverse side for another 20 seconds, then slide onto a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing the skillet with additional oil or butter as needed. You can stack the crêpe on top of each other even when they’re hot; they will not stick.
Either use the crêpe right away, or cover the plate with plastic wrap and use them in the next 2 days.
Make filling and fill wrappers:
Mix all filling ingredients together until smooth. Place 3 tablespoons or so filling across the center of the top wrapper/crêpe in your stack. Fold the bottom part of the wrapper up and over it; fold the sides in over the bottom and filling, then fold the pancake up to form a flat, rectangular filled pancake.
You can use these blintzes right away, or refrigerate them for up to 2 days or freeze them between layers of waxed paper for up to 2 months.
Serve the blintz: Heat a pat of butter over medium heat in a skillet. Fry blintz until browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate and serve with sour cream or a fruit sauce or jam or your choice.
I’ve always thought blintzes were always filled with cheese, but at my friends Shavuos, she filled some with sweet potato and goat cheese, some with potato and onion. Some people also like to sweeten the cheese filling a bit by adding sugar or honey. Or you could add herbs. Feel free to experiment! And, please let us know how it goes.