Battle of the Blintz Returns – Russian Grandma’s Recipe Prevails!

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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

Battle of the Blintz

Aunt Sharon and her dueling blintz buddy still smiling

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.

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

Winning blintzes frying up in the pan

The Winning Recipe

Now on to the winning recipe and some more detailed photos and videos of my son’s blintz-making technique.

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

Sharon's winning recipe from an old Bon Appetit cooking series

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:

Battle of the Blintz

Ingredients ready to go for batter

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

Blending Batter Ingredients - so easy to do!

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

The lemon zest-studded filling, blended in the Cuisinart

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

Preparing the crepes or blintz leaves

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

Blintz leaves separated by wax paper

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

Filling and rolling the blintz

Battle of the Blintz, Round 2

Several artfully-rolled blintzes ready to cook

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.

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20 Responses to Battle of the Blintz Returns – Russian Grandma’s Recipe Prevails!

  1. Sandy Corman October 12, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    OMG gregory’s blintzes look fabulous. Did he save some for his grandma & Papa? The best blintzes before yours & Gregory’s were Aunt Trudy’s and Grandma Reich’s. Man my mouth is watering at the thought.

    • omgyummy October 12, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      They were excellent, but Sharon’s were really fabulous this year – back to her true legendary form. Aunt Trudy and Grandma would have been proud of her too!

  2. Sharon Vinick October 12, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Aunt Sharon here . . . in looking at the pictures, I have a couple of comments that might be enlightening to anyone who wants to make the blintzes. First, I mix my filling by hand. I don’t know if that makes any difference. Second, I fill and fold the bilntzes as I make the crepes. This makes life easier, as you don’t have to layer the crepes with the wax paper. Here is how I do it. Make blintz. Turn cooked blintz onto clean dish cloth, cooked side up. Pour batter into pan and cook next crepe. While it cooks, fill and fold blintz. Put blintz on cookie sheet with wax paper. Freeze one sheet at a time, and then put into tupperware once it is frozen solid. Generally, I do this all by myself, but this year my kids helped with filling, and crepe making.

    • omgyummy October 12, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      OMG! Sharon – fabulous suggestions – that’s why you are the current champion – efficient and yummy. Doesn’t get any better than that :-) And the food nerd in me is just loving all of these technique details.

      And aren’t you the pillar of a good opponent, giving away all of your trade secrets for the good of the food community and your blintz-making nephew!

    • Serene October 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      Oh, thank you for the tips! I think I’ll make some in my next big freezer-cooking session. Oh, man, the thought of having blintzes whenever I want them is almost making me cry! Yay!

      • omgyummy October 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

        Oh – my readers are talking to each other and bringing each other to tears over a blintz! I think this might be my best day ever as a food blogger!

  3. Jay Mellman October 12, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    I know the post is about blintzes and I wait the entire year to have them. But what I was most taken with was the strawberry jam. For a condiment that usually ends up tasting mostly of sugar or sweetness, the jam tasted of the ripest strawberries with almost a caramel undertone. I’m still thinking about it.

    • omgyummy October 12, 2011 at 11:43 am #

      Sharon and I are still analyzing the blintzes and you are still thinking about the jam – what more could a food blogger hope for??!!

      I wrote about the basic jam recipes in this post (http://omgyummy.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/why-i-love-blogging-and-strawberry-jam/). From those two basic recipes, I have evolved a bit. I use far less sugar than they call for, tasting about half way through to check for the right sweetness. For the blintz jam, I added a teaspoon or two of vanilla and a shot of a Mexican liquer called 43 which has orange caramel flavors. I also had some fresh figs in the house and added about 3 of those.

      It’s really easy to make jam, if you’re not going through the canning process. Takes about 10 minutes to get going (have to wash and cut up the fruit, but once it’s on the stove, it’s a no-brainer. Just let the stovetop and pan do the work.

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Serene October 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Gorgeous! I recreated my aunt’s blintzes:

  5. Serene October 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Oops, tried to post the photo and failed. The link to the photo is here, and here’s a last try at posting the pic itself:

    • omgyummy October 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

      Serene – those are beautiful! “Mom food” and “grandma food” at it’s best and loveliest!

  6. Lana Watkins October 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Beth, I find a few things more heart-warming than a child of mine cooking for the family! Bravo, Gregory! Those blintzes look amazing! I make crepes often, filled with jam, ground walnuts and sugar, lemon and sugar, Nutella:) I bet my girls would love Gregory’s blintzes (especially my oldest daughter who is studying Russian).
    We are food nerds, too! I sometimes center a meal around a holiday or a dish (any culture, any nation, any meridian:) and as we eat, we tell stories (I assign each of my girls a bit of research) and we learn.
    I hope your are getting along with the demands of the school year. I am still in Serbia and I miss my family, but I should be home in a month or so.
    Greetings, my friend!

    • omgyummy October 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      Lana — so good to hear from you! Oh how I hope to join one of your “nerdy” family meals so I can learn too! I saw Ferran Adria of ElBulli fame speak in SF Monday night and he said he knows nothing of cuisine – meaning there is always so much more to learn than we can possibly know in one lifetime.

      I am really enjoying your posts from Serbia and hope you can come back with some peace of mind that you have truly done everything you can for your mom.

      I am coming to IFBC in November in Santa Monica so if you’re back – I hope to see you there! Or let me know when you are coming up to see your daughter at CAL and we’ll coordinate up here.

  7. Bibi October 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I absolutely love blintzes, but I never made them. One of the foods I look forward when visiting Vegas is breakfast buffet with blintzes.

    Stopping by from SITS. Nice to meet another food blogging sitsta

  8. Martha Kokes October 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    I must second my hubby’s comment – the strawberry jam was KILLER!

  9. Leah October 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    These look exactly like the ones my mother and grandmother made. What memories!

  10. Andrea October 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    I come from a long line of crepe makers. Which has enabled me to never have to make a crepe myself. Ironic since I love to cook. But my dad has always made them.And then my sister. So I just skipped it. But I imagine I may need to try soon because this recipe looks amazing!

  11. Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen October 19, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Yay! I’m so happy to discover your site via Eating Rules. Battle of the Blintz = amazing! So much fun. Looking forward to reading your blogs. :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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