Someone in one of my Facebook groups mentioned just now that her husband works at a diner in Brockton, MA that serves wonderful crepes, aka blintzes. That conjured up memories of my Nana Dora’s world-class blintzes. She’d make about six dozen at a time to give out to family members and to freeze, and I’d sit at her kitchen table mesmerized by the skill and efficiency of her process. Faster than the automated crepe-maker at the erstwhile Magic Pan, she’d flip those babies onto the kitchen table covered with tea towels to cool, and when she turned back to the stove, I’d grab one, roll it up, and eat it just hot and plain. The only thing that comes close to that wonderfulness is the interior of a freshly baked popover.
Her filling was made with farmer’s cheese – something you can barely find any more in a traditional supermarket, unless you live in a town like Brookline or a city like Brooklyn with a high population of balabustas (Yiddish word for a really good homemaker). Ricotta would make a reasonable substitute. We enjoyed them simply with a dollop of sour cream, never with fruit toppings, as a side dish for a dairy-based supper on the weekend.
I have never made authentic blintzes, but this is a challenge I will absolutely pursue now that I’ve found the perfect recipe, herewith posted from the famous Ratner’s in New York. This recipe makes about 18:
RATNER’S CHEESE BLINTZES
(reposted from ToriAvey.com)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups water
1 lb. farmer’s cheese (or ricotta)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Clarified butter or vegetable oil for frying the prepared blintzes
Sour cream, applesauce, or your favorite blintz toppings
2 mixing bowls, small nonstick skillet (7 -8 inches), large nonstick skillet (about 12 inches)
In a mixing bowl, combine together flour and salt. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and water till thoroughly blended. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet, whisking thoroughly till the batter is completely smooth with no lumps.
Grease a small nonstick skillet and heat between medium and high. The skillet is ready when a drop of water sizzles on the surface. If the water pops or jumps out of the pan, the skillet it too hot—let it cool slightly before starting. If the water sizzles,it’s at the perfect temperature.
For each blintz, pour roughly 3 tbsp of batter into the skillet, then quickly tilt the panin a circular motion till the batter coats the entire bottom of the skillet, making a verythin, crepe-like pancake. The batter needs to be added all at once, otherwise it willcook before you’ve had a chance to swirl it. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and fill it 3/4 full.
Let each blintz cook for 75-90 seconds until the bottom of the blintz is very lightly golden. You can tell it’s ready by touching the center of the pancake’s surface– itshould be completely dry to the touch. Do not flip the blintz to cook the other side, and do not let the edges get too brown or dry. Use a spatula to take the blintz out of the pan and place it on a plate.
Keep the blintzes separated by pieces of parchment paper, wax paper, or paper towels. This will help keep them from sticking together. (Or use my Nana Dora’s method of laying them out on tea towels, but make sure your cats aren’t around.)
When all of the blintzes are cooked, let them cool while you create your filling. Rinse and dry one of the mixing bowls. Combine the farmer’s cheese (or ricotta that has been very well drained in cheesecloth of excess liquid), egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in the mixing bowl, then use a fork to mix ingredients well.
Place a blintz with the lightly golden side facing down and put 2 tbsp of filling onthe lower part of the blintz, about an inch from the edge. Fold the lower edge of the blintz up over the filling. Fold the sides of the blintz inward, as though you’re folding an envelope. Roll the blintz up and over the filling like a burrito, tucking the edges in as you roll.
When the blintzes are stuffed and rolled, you are ready to fry them. Pour about 1/2 cup clarified butter or vegetable oil into a 12″ nonstick skillet and heat over medium until hot. Do not let the butter or oil turn brown or start smoking. Cook the blintzes in batches of 4 or 5–this will give you space to turn them easily in the pan. Carefully place the stuffed blintzes flap-side down into the hot oil. The blintzes should fry for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until the bottom of each blintz is golden brown and crispy.
Turn the blintzes carefully using a spatula and/or tongs, then fry for another 1-1/2- 2 minutes. Blintzes should be evenly browned on both sides. Let the fried blintzes drain on a layer of paper towels.
Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream. I am farklempt.