Last year, my brave and kitchen-savvy teenage son challenged his uber-talented Aunt Sharon to a blintz-off for our annual break-the-fast meal on Yom Kippur. It ended in a tie with Sharon’s crepes taking the lead but my son’s filling getting top nod.
In case you aren’t blintz-aware, a blintz is a cheese-filled pancake usually pan-fried in butter and served with jam and sour cream. The word blintz is derived from the yiddish word “blintze” which is derived from the Russian word “blinyet”, which means little pancake. (Thanks to the Manischewitz web site for that linguistics lesson.)
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement that comes ten days after the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, Jews fast and ask for forgiveness for their sins to start the year off with a clean slate. Come sundown, Jews across the globe scramble to the dining table to end their 24-hour hunger strike with dairy-based menus.
How the Battle Began
Two years ago, we couldn’t attend Aunt Sharon’s annual gathering and my son decided he wanted her mouth-watering blintzes anyhow. So he headed to his infinite cookbook of the 21st century, the Internet, and found Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Blintz Recipe and proceeded to cook. They came out so well, he decided to make them again last year to compare to his Aunt Sharon’s (which are quite frankly a legend in our time – they are that good!) Low and behold – he almost won the battle but the crowd called it a tie.
Battle of the Blintz – Round 2
When our annual invitation arrived this year, I checked with my son and he quickly agreed to take part in Round 2 of the Battle of the Blintz. Despite his outstanding prep technique (see below), Sharon prevailed this year. He once again attempted to oven bake (yes, you can blame me) instead of fry and with her much improved filling over last year and her thin, crispy blintz leaves pan-fried in butter, the nod went her way. But even she admitted, his filling is OMG! Yummy (meyer lemon zest and ricotta soprafina take it over the top). And the homemade strawberry jam he served with his blintzes almost elevated the outcome to a tie. (Disclosure: I made the jam – a mother will do almost anything to help her offspring – right?!) The jam was studded with a little fresh fig, vanilla, and a few splashes of a Mexican orange liqueur called 43.
The Winning Recipe
Now on to the winning recipe and some more detailed photos and videos of my son’s blintz-making technique.
I planned to retype the recipe for legibility but there’s something about the look of an older recipe, especially one entitled “A Russian Grandmother’s Cheese Blintzes” that just seems more appropos as a slightly hard-to-read scanned visual (click on it to enlarge and print).
Sharon explained that this recipe is from a series published in 1983, called Cooking with Bon Appetit, specifically the volume called “Breakfasts and Brunches.” Her mom gave her the series of books when she was first learning how to cook (must have been a dozen books, maybe more). She’s only kept two in her collection — this one, and one on breads.
She went on to explain that the person who first showed her the recipe and served it to her was her best friend’s dad. “He made them for us to eat one day when I was in St. Louis for Betsy’s wedding which, as you know, was a million years ago! I make them in large batches and freeze them. I have about 3 dozen in the freezer, which we’ll eat between now and the end of the year. I usually fry up some over Thanksgiving weekend, when we often have guests.”
(I am clearly a certified food nerd because the details and history behind the recipes fascinate me. What about you?)
If you are now yearning for blintzes (and you should want to eat blintzes, trust me), then here’s a visual how-to of my 16-year old’s blintz-making techniques:
Have you ever prepared blintzes? Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you make something similar but with a different name and cultural background? Share your stories in the comments below. And stay tuned for what promises to be a trail-blazing, hard-fought battle next year.