27 December 2010

The Only Tradition

During the years I lived in Seattle, when cash was tight and it was hard to get time off of work,  I developed the habit of going home for Thanksgiving, but not Christmas.  To this day, I'm not interested in celebrating Christmas.  Maybe I'll return to it someday when I can find a way to  have it be peaceful, thoughtful, and actually reflect the best stuff that Jesus taught (tolerance, championing the poor and oppressed).

As it stands, the only childhood Christmas tradition I've stuck by is making blintzes on Christmas morning.  I may have this wrong, but I believe this tradition started sometime in the 1980s, when my Grandma's sister showed up on Christmas morning with a pan full of blintzes. Blueberry and strawberry and raspberry blintzes.  Sour cream and cinnamon sugar for the top. Pure joy.  Ever after, blintzes were the Christmas morning meal.



For as long as I can remember, my parents were in charge of making the blintzes for the whole extended family (15+ people).  My mom, who does not like to cook, but is really good at random tricky kitchen things like b├ęchamel sauces and gravy from scratch, made the crepes.  My dad, a brilliant cook who will not bake, made the filling.  

When I revived this tradition in my own home, I took out my recipe books and looked for blintz recipes.  I couldn't find anything that looked remotely like what I grew up eating.  Even looking on the internet, I kept finding recipes that didn't have the same main ingredients.  Whither the cottage cheese?  The fruit?  

I called home, my mom answered.  The crepes are made following a recipe in a book.  "Just find a crepe recipe in a book. Cook one side, then fill them, cooked-side-in."  

She put my dad on to tell me about the filling, "Cottage cheese, egg yolk, softened butter, vanilla, whatever fruit."    
"Any measurements for these ingredients, Dad?"  
"Two egg yolks. A few pats of butter.  Two big tubs of cottage cheese."  
"How much fruit?"
"However much you like."
"But what do you do?  Roughly the same amount as the cottage cheese?"
"Maybe a little less."
"And you're describing how to make a lot, right?  This is for like 30 blintzes?"
"For the whole family. We have a big family."
"Have you ever been interrogated by the police? You'd make an excellent hostile witness."
"I'll get your mother."
: )

Seriously, you'd think I was asking for pass-codes into their back accounts!  They are usually such a cheerful people.

Anyway, to save YOU having to call them and ask about this apparently-touchy subject, here's my version of the blintz recipe.  This makes about 15 blintzes.  In my experience, two blintzes is a meal.  You can make these the night before (except for the final fry).

Crepes:
Find a crepe recipe in a book. Cook one side.
I use the basic crepe recipe in How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
I cook them one at a time.
I use about 4TBS of batter per crepe and I cook them in a stainless steel fry pan, with canola oil sprayed in the pan for each crepe.



Filling:
Combine the following.
1.5 cups of cottage cheese (if it comes out of the tub with a lot of liquid, rest it on paper towel or in a colander for a while, you want it rather dry)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup frozen blueberries (or raspberries, or chopped strawberries)
0.5 cup raspberry pie filling (or blueberry pie filling or strawberry)  canned stuff is great, or prepare your own.

To finish the job:
Spoon the filling onto the cooked side of the crepe.
Fold the crepe around the filling.  (My parents do a full wrap, like a burrito; I do a roll, like a taco as it allows for more filling per blintz.)
Set frying pan to low/medium-low.
Melt a bit of butter in the pan.
Add blintzes to pan.  The low heat gives you time to heat the filling without burning the crepe.  Cook both sides. (Maybe 5 minutes per side)

Serve with sour cream and cinnamon sugar (a mix of white sugar and cinnamon).

Enjoy!

14 comments:

  1. Yummy!

    Before I read the post, I thought the top photo was some sort of fake chicken product. It looks like there are little drumsticks at the bottom! But blintzes sound amazing, and I'll have to add them to my list of special breakfasts :)

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  2. Yum! I've never made blintzes, they've been an only-at-restaurants treat, but this makes them look do-able.

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  3. MMMM Crepes are my favourite food, I ate my way around Paris from crepe stall to crepe stall. I was in heaven.

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  4. I can totally relate to the conversation with your parents. I just went through a similar one when I asked them what paint they used on their front door. At least you ended up with a delicious breakfast! Thanks for sharing :)

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  5. My Grandmother's butter cookie recipe is the same thing. Turns out her mother used to just toss ingredients into the bowl and so Grandmother's recipes just list the ingredients. My mom didn't know this but fortunately for us my Aunt did and had the actual amounts on her cards to share with us - oh and my sis then had them. Butter cookies where you don't know what the dough consistency is supposed to be - not a good thing to make with just a list of ingredients. But I have to admit - I now do that more and more also...its easier!

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  7. Let's try again! Ok, Rossie - you got me! This is a new one - blintzes for Christmas? An eastern European Jewish food (I never knew anybody else to serve them) it is pretty traditional to eat blitzes on Shavuot, Chanukah, or Purim.

    My mother used to make cheese blintzes for Saturday night supper, which in our house was always a dairy meal. What a treat! Served with sour cream - yum. Yours look like the ones my mother used to make.

    The best blintzes in the world were in Ratner's restaurant on the lower East Side in Manhattan. Double YUM.

    So blintzes for Christmas? Live and learn. Enjoy - and happy holidays!

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  8. Yum. We had blintzes for Christmas breakfast this year, too. My in-laws made them, so I don't know their recipe. I usually make Swedish pancakes and fill them with cottage and cream cheese with a bit of brown sugar and then top with whatever fruit is on hand.

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  9. We (well apparently it is actually only I) like blintz souffle. But we use frozen blintzes...

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  10. Yum! Definitely a tradition worth keeping. I've never made blintzes but definitely need to give a try someday.

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  11. I serve crepes for breakfast too, and often for Christmas breakfast. Mine are a bit similar excpet I fill mine with a mixture of half cottage cheese and half sour cream and top with homemade blueberry sauce or another type of fruit sauce. Mmmmmmm....now I am craving them!

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  12. I remember sitting on a chair next to the stove and watching my Jewish grandmother make blintzes, flipping each "pancake" when it was ready. What a treat--it's my only memory of her treating me "special" among the many grandchildren.Now it's time for me to make some myself. Thanks for the recipe as she did not leave hers behind!

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  13. Fabulous parental conversation! Laughing at the computer is a good thing!

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