Chef Aaron Egan shares a Cheese Blintzes recipe from The International Jewish Cook Book, published in 1918.
There’s a tremendous collection of cookbooks in the libraries of Michigan State University, and they’ve digitized a number of them for researchers and the public alike to read and enjoy. Amongst these tomes is The International Jewish Cook Book, published in 1918.
A snapshot of Jewish foods from all corners and of all types, the recipes pay attention to kosher laws and holiday concerns, and cover everything from the idiosyncratically spelled “Gefilte Fisch” to “Kentucky Chrimsel,” inclusive of almost any dish you can imagine.
I’d like to share a recipe from the book, adapted slightly, that might well have been served 100 years ago: Cheese Blintzes.
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- ½ lb. small-curd cottage cheese or ricotta
- 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- Powdered sugar
- Oil or butter for frying
- Combine 1 beaten egg, 1 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp. of sugar and 1 cup of milk in a bowl, whisking well. Add the flour and mix until evenly combined. Don’t overmix.
- Heat an 8-inch nonstick or stainless skillet over medium-high heat and add a little oil or butter to the pan, just enough to cover. Add 2 Tbsp. of batter and tilt the pan immediately to spread the batter out thinly and evenly over the bottom of the pan. This is essentially making crepes, if you’re familiar with the process.
- Fry the pancakes until browning nicely on one side, then remove from the pan and place on a cutting board, cloth, or plates for storage and cooling, uncooked side up. Repeat with the rest of the batter; do not stack your blintzes, as they’ll stick to each other; lay them out across whatever you must to accomplish this.
- Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix well until evenly combined. Divide this mixture amongst your blintzes and spread across the bottom third of the pancake, leaving a ½-inch border without cheese on it along the edge.
- “Fold over and tuck the edges in well,” read the original directions, giving you no other idea of what you’re supposed to do; the motion is not unlike rolling up a burrito, with the goal of fully enclosing the cheese within the par-cooked pancake. Fold up the bottom edge, then the sides inward, then fold again to the top edge, and make sure that the edges are sealed nicely to the cooked side of the blintz, not hanging out loosely. The goal is to create a nice neat rectangular parcel. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the blintzes.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon, then fry again in butter or oil until golden brown and crispy; work in batches and don’t overcrowd the pan to keep the crispy exterior. Set the cooked blintzes to drain on a cooling rack over paper towels or extra brown paper bags (the best grease soaker there is.)
- Serve warm with syrup, fruit preserves, clotted cream or citrus curd as a garnish and sauce. Sprinkle with more powdered sugar and cinnamon, if you like, before serving.