I was that very picky child who did not like going to eat at the deli with my family. The matzah ball soup did not compare to my mother’s, and liver-and-onions always sounded like something that a wicked witch out of the Brothers Grimm would prepare, using her child prisoners as ingredients. Being raised in a family with Eastern European heritage, it was virtually impossible to escape a trip to the deli, and my parents were adamant that black-and-white cookies and rainbow cake did not constitute a full meal. So, I studied the menus and tried to be creative. The solution to my problem? Breakfast for dinner.
Blins (plural: blini) have been around forever. These thin and savory pancakes have even been popular in Eastern Europe since the time B.C., (also known as “Before the Crepe”). Blini, commonly known as blintzes, were a widespread symbolic dish eaten at ancient Slavic such as feast celebrations, and can be served plain or with a sugary filling, the most popular of which include blueberries, cherries, cinnamon-drenched apples, grated potato, or sweet cheese insides.
This blissful union, which combines the sophistication of a Parisian pancake with the heartiness of a burrito’s shape and stuffing, is usually sold in your local supermarket’s frozen food aisle. They are also a very popular choice during brunch at the neighborhood delicatessen (sigh) or house of pancakes. After noticing that the variety and availability of these blintz beauties really fluctuates due to the small amounts stocked in the supermarket, I realized how simple – and fresh – they would be, if made at home.
Get your sporks ready, because this will become one of your favorite go-to brunch (or dessert, or even dinner) menu items. Prepare to eat no more than two, maybe three, per person – they’re quite filling.
These quantities will yield 10-12 cheese blintzes.
For the pancakes:
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
A dash of salt
For the filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 8 ounce. package of Philadelphia cream cheese
1/3 cup light brown sugar
A dash of vanilla extract
The best blintzes are twice-fried, so while you are creating the pancakes, feel free to prepare the sweet cheese filling. To get the perfect pancake, thoroughly combine 4 eggs and the milk in a large bowl. Eventually fold in the flour and sugar, and carefully mix in the very small amounts of salt and vanilla extract. Place the batter to chill in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour, and make sure that it is sealed with plastic wrap.
While you wait for the batter to be ready for use, prepare the cheesy filling. Combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, sugar, 1 egg, and dash of vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Mix until mostly smooth, but accept that the filling will be lumpy until cooked inside of the pancake – and that’s perfectly okay.
Bring a large skillet, coated with a moderate layer of butter, to a low-to-medium heat, and spoon in just enough batter to create a thin, round pancake. The best method to complete this process and avoid a mess is to use a 1/4 (or even a 1/8) measuring cup to slowly pour in the batter. When the pancake begins to produce air bubbles after approximately half a minute, flip over and cook for another 10-15 seconds. Remove each pancake from the heat after thoroughly and solidly cooked.
Time to stuff the blintzes! Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the cheese filling on the lower portion of the pancake. To master the art of burrito-rolling, fold the lower third of the pancake up, and fold the two sides of the pancake in. Flip the upper third of the pancake down.
To brown the blintzes and make them crispy, return them to the skillet – make sure to coat the pan with a layer of butter once more. Place the blintzes in the sizzling pan just long enough to turn them a slight golden-brown – approximately one minute per side.
Serve with fresh fruit or preserves (raspberries and strawberries are highly recommended), and powdered sugar, if you’re feeling really fancy.
Note: Any type of flour (whole-wheat, gluten-free, white) and sugar that you desire for these blintzes may be used, but the author recommends light brown sugar for a more intense – and slightly healthier – confection.
Post, recipe, and photo by Stephanie Cohen.