Cheese blintzes

My grandma, and my brother when he was small

First Cooking Memories

When we visited my grandma in Brooklyn, she used to keep my parents up too late talking. But we kids woke up early. My grandma always let the other adults sleep, and took me and my younger brother downstairs to make cheese blintzes for everyone. Making blintzes for nine people took all morning. From when I was eight years old, my job was to stand on a chair so I could reach the stove, and make the pancakes. My brother sat at the table and folded the cheese in. By the time we were done, my mom and dad and grandpa would have slowly made their way downstairs and drunk their coffee, and we’d have the blintzes for lunch, with cantaloupe and sour cream.

Nowadays cheese blintzes are too rich for lunch for us, and we have them for dinner, and even then not too often, with so much dairy. And instead of sour cream, we have Greek yogurt, with less fat. But they’re still a big favorite with the kids, and with everybody.

How to make cheese blintzes:

First, the pancakes. In a two-cup glass measuring cup, mix one cup of flour with one cup of water, one egg, and a pinch of salt. There will be lumps in the batter; that’s okay. Melt half a tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat, and pour in about 1/8 cup of the batter. Immediately lift the pan up off the heat and swirl it around to spread the batter out as much as possible. Then replace the pan on the stove and let the pancake cook until most of the surface is dry, and only the lumps are wet. The edges will begin to curl up. Flip the pancake out of the pan on to a clean board. (My grandma covered her linoleum counter with waxed paper; I have a wooden work surface to flip on to and I skip the waxed paper). The raw surface should be down and the cooked surface up. If the pancakes stick a little, scrape off the place where they stuck with a spatula and re-grease the pan. If they keep sticking, stop and wash the frying pan and start over.

Once you’ve got the hang of the pancakes, mix up the filling. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix eight ounces of Friendship fresh farmer’s cheese with one egg, a pinch of salt, and two tablespoons of sugar. Or, make your own ricotta: heat a gallon of milk in a stainless steel saucepan until it is very hot but not quite boiling. Add a tablespoon of sour salt (citric acid) or vinegar to a quarter cup of water, swirl it around, and add it to your hot milk. Stir for a minute, then let it sit for five minutes, then pour the curds and whey into a colander lined with cloth, and squeeze out most of the whey: that’s ricotta. Eight ounces of Friendship cheese will make about 3-4 blintzes; the gallon of milk will make about a quart of cheese.

When the pancakes are cool enough to handle, place about a handful of filling near the edge of a pancake, and roll it up. Tuck the edges inside, as if you were beginning to turn the blintz inside out from both ends. Pinch a little to keep the ends tucked in.

As you run out of either batter or filling, mix up another batch. It’s nearly impossible to make them come out even; use the leftover pancakes to make crepes later 🙂

When you have made all the blintzes, add two tablespoons of butter to the frying pan and gently put the blintzes in to fry on their other side. Cook until they are browned on the bottom, a few minutes, then flip them to brown on the other side. Repeat until you have fried all the blintzes. Reheat in the microwave if necessary, and serve hot with whole milk Greek yogurt, applesauce, and/or cantaloupe. Some people eat their blintzes with jelly, but we never did.

Vegetarian or vegan

Cheese blintzes are vegetarian, but they’re not vegan.

Can I keep cheese blintzes for later?

If you can keep them from all being eaten at once, cheese blintzes are delicious cold for lunch the next day, or reheated in the microwave.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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