Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cheese Blintzes

Just like music, food has this incredible ability to conjure up old memories. Some of my favourite foods today have made it onto the favourite list simply because of nostalgia. As a child I was very lucky to have two sets of grandparents who were always there to pick my sister and I up from school, babysit us, and keep our tempers at bay by keeping us well fed. Both of my grandmothers have now made it into numerous blog posts thanks to the many delicious food memories they have provided me with. Although my Baba, my Jewish grandmother, wasn't exactly a master chef, she definitely had a slew of dishes in her repertoire that my sister and I went wild for! Luchen Kugel, hamentashen, cottage cheese and noodles (so simple, but I loved it!), sponge cake, and of course, a specialty for all Jewish grandmothers, cheese blintzes. I have so many incredibly vivid memories of sitting around my Baba and Zhada's kitchen table with my sister, and my other girl cousins Tori and Leah, devouring cheese blintzes and discussing the best ways to top them (Leah, I'll never forget that you loved yours with maple syrup!). I loved my Baba's cheese blintzes so much, I would ask for them every single time I went to her house, and sometimes, when I would get in fights with my parents I would "run away" to Baba and Zhada's house, hoping for cheese blintzes to comfort me. Of course the blintzes were delicious, but what made them even more special was how Baba would often serve them.

When not at the kitchen table, you could find my sister, cousins, and I in the living room, sitting at the small portable table that we would lug up from the basement, dressed in ether rags or Baba's old dresses and négligée's, china tea cups in our hands, enjoying a very sophisticated tea time as we ate our blintzes. Baba, a true girly girl through and through, absolutely loved seeing us all dolled up in her gowns that we were practically swimming in, hearing us talk in our idea of "lady talk" and "lady voices", while we sipped on sometimes tea, sometimes apple juice, and ate our favourite blintzes. And my sister, cousins, and I all loved it even more!

As we got older, we saw less and less of tea time, but our love of Baba's blintzes never faded. Baba would continually go through the laborious task of preparing her blintzes for us whenever we asked for them, just to see our smiling faces (the best lesson Baba ever taught me was to always smile!). Just as we got too old for tea time, my Baba eventually got too frail to make us blintzes. Refusing to let go of tradition and one of our favourite Jewish dishes, my dad and I eventually took on the task of making cheese blintzes. We had the routine down pat, he would make most of the filling, with me measuring our ingredients for him here and there, one of us would make the crepe batter, and he would fry up the crepes, two at a time, while I quickly filled and rolled them with the creamy cheese filling, a routine that has now become a whole new tradition for my dad and I.

Time sure does fly, as a few weeks ago we were celebrating Baba's 91st birthday! On the day of her birthday my dad, sister, and I took Baba out for a nice birthday lunch, where she was the one all dolled up this time, looking like a glamazon movie star! I unfortunately couldn't make it to her little shin dig that her caregivers helped plan for her on the weekend after her birthday, so to make up for it, I took on the task of making a massive double batch of cheese blintzes that she could serve to her guests. Although the cheese blintzes aren't quite like the ones Baba used to make us, I'd say they're pretty darn good, stuffed with as much filling as I could possibly fit into each crepe, extra creamy from sour cream, with just enough sweetness, and a hint of freshness thanks to the addition of lemon juice and zest. Baba, I hope that my blintzes were able to put a smile on your face just like yours always did for me! Happy birthday Baba! I love you!

Note: This recipe yields about 12 to 16 blintzes. I doubled it for Baba's party.

Tip: Save any leftover cheese blintz filling to make Stuffed French Toast!

3/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

1. Whisk or process (using a food processor) all ingredients until blended.

2. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

3. In a lightly greased crepe pan or frying pan, fry crepes approximately 30-40 seconds on one side or just until no more moisture remains on the top of the pancake. Set aside to fill.

1 1/2 Ib. dry cottage cheese (sometimes called "bakers cheese")
1 egg yolk
2 - 3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
the zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 - 3 tbsp sour cream (add more or less depending on how creamy you like your filling)

1. Add all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel knife attachment. Process until smooth. Place filling in fridge until ready to roll inside crêpes.

To Fill Crepes and Cook Blintzes:
1. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on browned side of crêpe. Fold to seal like an envelope. Repeat with the remaining crêpes and filling. Place filled crêpes in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to cook. Save any remaining filling to make stuffed french toast!

2. To cook blintzes, melt butter in a skillet at medium heat. Place blintzes in skillet, starting with seam side down, and cook on each side until golden all over. Serve immediately with yogurt, sour cream, fruit, or maple syrup.

Listening To:
Frank Ocean - White

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