Blintzes may seem complicated, but they are as easy to prepare as crepes. Easier, in fact, since they are cooked on one side only. They are the ideal pastry for the rolling pin-challenged.
Like strawberry shortcake and Wallis Simpson, they were meant to be rich. On the other hand, such hefty doses of butter, cream, and cheese are best enjoyed in the company of more pristine flavors, like gently treated fresh or dried fruit.
Devise your own combinations for fillings from the liveliest fruits at the market, and feel free to potchkeh with the more detailed recipes throughout the book. Cooking the fruit just long enough to bring out its natural sugars (or macerating delicate raw fruits like blueberries in hot liquids, such as reduced fruit juice) and avoiding fillers like cornstarch will keep the flavors brisk and fresh-tasting. If you find that your fruit is too wet for a filling, stir in a few tablespoons of ground blanched almonds or cream cheese to soak up the juices.
In a blender, mix
Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours at room temperature. If refrigerated, the batter should rest for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours (overnight is fine).
Stir the batter well (don’t rebeat it because you want to avoid foamy bubbles). It should have the consistency of light cream. If necessary, thin it with some of the remaining milk. You may have to add more milk if the batter thickens as it stands.
Heat a very lightly buttered
Cook just until the top of the blintz is slightly dry and the edges start to curl. The bottom should be pale gold, not brown. Do not cook the other side. Loosen the blintz with a spatula and turn it out onto wax paper or a large platter, fried side up. Repeat until all the batter is used up. Pile the finished blintz leaves on a platter, separating each with sheets of wax paper or a clean kitchen cloth, and keep the exposed leaves covered to prevent them from drying out. Brush the pan with additional butter or oil only if necessary, and remember to stir the batter periodically. To avoid tears, let the freshly prepared blintz leaves cool to room temperature before filling. (And the wax paper is easier to remove when the blintz leaves are cool.)
Blintz leaves may be prepared ahead. Let them cool to room temperature, keeping them separated by wax paper, then wrap well with foil. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 1 month, separated by the wax paper and well wrapped with heavy-duty foil or in a freezer-proof container. Bring them to room temperature before filling to prevent tearing them.
At this point, you can refrigerate the blintzes for a couple of days or freeze them for up to 1 month, if you want to, and fry them just before serving. Don’t bother to thaw frozen blintzes, but adjust cooking time accordingly.
To fry the blintzes, heat butter, a mild oil, or a combination, in a heavy skillet over medium heat until sizzling. (The best medium for frying blintzes is probably clarified butter, since its higher smoke point means it won’t easily bum; yet, it will still imbue the blintzes with that pure butter taste. While I almost never take the time to prepare clarified butter, I sometimes use ghee, the Indian equivalent, available commercially in many specialty stores with kosher certification.) Add the blintzes seam side down, without crowding the pan. Cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Adjust the heat, if necessary, and watch that the butter does not scorch.
Or you can bake them, for a slightly lighter taste. Preheat the oven to 450°F Melt a generous quantity of butter or butter mixed with a little oil on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow baking pan. Add the blintzes and turn to coat well on all sides. Arrange the blintzes (seam side down) on the sheet so their sides are not touching. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp and golden brown on both sides. I usually find it is not necessary to turn them; if they seem slow to brown on top, however, I flip them over for a few minutes. When preparing a large number of blintzes for company, it is usually easiest to bake them.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.