Shavuot Blintzes: Take Your Lactaid, Folks
Shavuot, the holiday that marks the receiving of the Torah and the annual cheesecake overload, begins on the evening of Tuesday, May 14. The holiday celebration is twofold in that we celebrate receiving the Torah, including all of the commandments, and the grain harvest, which occurs at this time of year in Israel. When the Jewish people received the Torah, which included all of the dietary laws, they would have needed time to kasher, (make fit or proper) all of their dishes, utensils and vessels. Hence, the custom of eating a dairy meal developed, as they would not have had access to kosher meat without enough time to prepare. My family has always eaten blintzes on this holiday, at times homemade and at times store-bought.
I’ll be honest–I usually dread making blintzes. I make it into a whole production. Going to the store, buying special ingredients, spending a ridiculous amount of time on making the crepe shells… well, it can be overwhelming. I decided to tackle my self-imposed blintz challenge by doing a pantry and refrigerator raid, only using ingredients I already had at home. Adding spontaneity and some fun twists made me actually look forward to making a batch of blintzes. My daughter, Logan, and I came up with six different fillings, and thought of a few more we might try in the future.
I stuck with a few traditional fillings, like potato, but prepared the fillings closer to how I regularly cook, cutting down on prep time and making the dish just a bit healthier. As a general rule of thumb, I never peel potatoes when I make mashed potatoes. I like the texture of the skins and leaving the skins on keeps the nutrients in for what would otherwise be just a starch.
The recipe for the crepe part of the blintz yields around 2 dozen blintzes, depending on the size of your sauté pan. If you don’t roll all of the crepes into blintzes, you can freeze them for later use by wrapping them with a layer of parchment paper or wax paper in between each crepe. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil and place in freezer where the package can remain flat.
Ingredients – Crepes
2 C. flour
2 tsp. salt
2 2/3 C. milk (note: you can use soymilk or almond milk to make this dish pareve)
Butter or margarine for sauté pan
1. Combine all ingredients in stand mixer. Mix at medium speed until batter is smooth.
2. Put a sliver of butter or margarine in small sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat until melted.
3. Spoon a large serving spoon sized scoop into pan and swirl around until batter is distributed.
4. Cook for approximately one minute on each side. Crepe is ready to turn when it slides easily as pan is shaken from side to side.
5. Let crepes cool before filling. I spread crepes out on a sheet pan to let them cool, and start rolling them while I’m standing at the stove cooking up the batch of crepes.
For the fillings, get creative! We made six varieties in this batch including mashed baby potatoes, cottage cheese, carrots with ginger compound butter, Nutella and banana, peanut butter / jelly / banana and fruit compote. If your cupboards are somewhat bare, think simple. A thin layer of jelly or preserves would work well, or even cream cheese mixed with a dollop of jelly.
24 oz. assorted baby potatoes, cut into chunks, or potato variety of your choice
½ C. milk (or milk substitute such as almond or soy milk)
¼ C. butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil potatoes until soft enough to mash.
2. Add milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash with potato masher. I like to leave mine somewhat lumpy.
Carrot Filling with Ginger Compound Butter
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cube Dorot frozen ginger or 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
¼ C. butter
1. Let butter soften and ginger defrost, if using frozen ginger. Mash ginger into butter with the back of a fork.
2. Steam carrots in water into soft. Strain and toss carrots in compound butter.
Summer Fruit Compote
Compote is basically cooked fruit. You can use fresh fruit that’s in season, or frozen fruit that you stock up on when it’s on sale. Make a bigger batch to have in the refrigerator as a dessert, a topping for ice cream, pancakes or waffles.
½ C. mango chunks
½ C. peach slices
½ C. blueberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cream of tartar
¼ C. water
1. Cook fruit in water over medium-high heat until soft. Add cinnamon.
2. Reduce heat to low. Add cream of tartar. Stir occasionally, cooking until liquid has thickened. Remove from heat.
Banana Nutella Filling
Spread a thin layer of Nutella on crepe. Add 3-4 slices of banana.
Peanut Butter, Jelly & Banana Filling
Spread thin layer of creamy peanut and jelly of your choice. Add 3-4 slices of banana.
Cottage Cheese Filling
Combine 1 C. cottage cheese with a dash of cinnamon. Caution – Don’t use more than a tablespoon or so of this filling in each blintz, or it will ooze out when it cooks.
Additional Filling Ideas:
- Sweet potato & carrot mash with curry powder
- Lemon curd and fresh raspberries
- Cheddar cheese and green chiles
- Ricotta cheese and sliced strawberries
- Chocolate chips and peanut butter
- Sautéed spinach and mushrooms
- Be conservative on the amount of filling you use. Using too much filling makes it hard to roll the blintzes. About a tablespoon is a good amount of filling.
- Roll the bottom of the blintz up once.
- Fold in the sides.
- Continue rolling up from the bottom. This method creates a “lock,” holding the sides in nicely.
Once blintzes are rolled, bake on sheet pan at 350º F for 10 minutes or so, until fillings are heated through. You can also make the blintzes a day or two before you need them. Refrigerate in a well-wrapped pan or glass Pyrex dish. Allow for additional heating time, or allow blintzes to come to room temperature before heating.