Blintzes Or Crepes

Blintzes are said to have been created in Persia. Virtually every culture has a similar and popular, food - in France, a crepe suzette; in Armenia, boerike; Italy, manicotti; Russia, blintchiki. Jews regard blintzes as a traditionally happy dish, and ceremonially eat them during the period of Shavuoth (harvest of the first fruits). This particular recipe is also good for Passover when gluten-eating Jews ceremonially refrain from eating anything leavened or made from any form of wheat that has not been first baked into unleavened bread - Matzoth.

A lot of people will recognize the recipe, and there are lots of variants. Some are made with considerably more egg and less flour. The filling in most of the other crepes is very much richer. This recipe is on the lean side. We don't generally put a topping on the filled crepes, but traditionally they are served with a fruit topping, jam, or sour cream.

The trick to making blintzes - or crepes for that matter - is having an 8” non-stick pan at the right temperature with just enough butter or margarine and just enough batter of the right thickness. The batter must be quite thin, the pan must be hot – but not so hot as to burn the butter instantly – and the amount of batter must just coat the bottom of the pan and not pool.

When you are ready to pour the batter from your measuring cup or blender cup into the pan, grip the handle of the pan so that you can tilt the pan. Pour in about a tablespoon of batter and tilt and turn the pan to begin coating the bottom surface. Now dribble on more batter, tilting the pan until you have a solid, but non-overlapping pancake. You can run the batter up the side of the pan a short distance if the pan is of high quality and the burner will heat the sides as well. There should not be any huge holes in your pancake for the cheese filling to escape. Small holes, particularly at the edges, are just fine.

Crepes that are too thick will be soggy and heavy and will break when folded. Gluten-free flours are no where as elastic as wheat flour, so the resulting crepe is capable of tearing and breaking more easily. But if you get the hang of it, your results will be wonderful and way better than the really tough Mother's freezer blintzes that you can no longer have if you need to be gluten-free.

This recipe makes approximately 18 filled crepes.

Start off by making all of the crepes:
Into the cup of a blender, add
2 Eggs
2 cups Milk
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 Tablespoon sugar (or Passover vanilla sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (skip this ingredient during Passover if you are observant)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (total) flour

Here are some possibilities for flour. Select one.

Into a 1 cup measure, add

  • 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour for added elasticity and handling
  • 2 Tablespoons buckwheat
  • Your favorite gluten free flour for the remainder (For this recipe, my favorite is from this bread recipe)
1 Cup rice flour (not sweet rice flour) or potato starch if you are observing Passover and do not eat rice
Carol Fenster's Sorghum-Corn flour with 1 Tablespoon of Expandex added for strength
For French crepe use 2/3 cup buckwheat flour and 1/3 cup of your favorite gluten free flour to which you add 1 Tablespoon of Expandex

Blend at high speed for 3 minutes. Blend again periodically as you make the crepes. You may have to add more milk to maintain a thin crepe. Batter should be about as thick as thick eggnog.

Add a small amount of butter to your hot 8" non-stick pan- cut a thin shaving from the butter cube. If you are in California and use the short sticks of butter (short 1/4 pound bars), 1/2 slice is enough. If you use East-coast configured butter (long 1/4 pound bars), use the whole very thin slice in your non-stick 8” frying pan. Immediately after the butter melts, add the batter. Now pour in the batter according to the directions above. Cook about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. If the crepe takes longer to cook, turn up the heat. Note – you may have to thin your batter if it is too thick and forms too thick a crepe.

Bake the crepe in the frying pan until it has just become lightly brown on the bottom. Turn out of the pan with the browned side up. Pile the rest of the crepes on top of the first one. The crepes will fall out of the pan by themselves if you prod them a bit with a plastic spatula. You will want to make 3 stacks so that the crepes do not become too compressed.

Since this is a lot of work, wrap each stack tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days before assembling the blintzes. When you fill the blintzes (next step) you will want the crepes warm or they won’t separate or be flexible. Bring them out of the refrigerator and allow to warm for an hour, or alternatively, heat the entire 3 stacks of cold crepes in the microwave for 15 seconds or until just slightly warm.

You may have some damaged crepes. These are still good to eat.

Filling:
For the filling you will want about 1 pound of dry curd cottage cheese (which is nearly impossible to find. That is why we have a substitute). A number of blintz recipes use ricotta cheese, but this is way better for manicotti than for blintzes, although the recipe ingredients are not that much different.

If you are in Northern California, try to find Sunnyside fat free cottage cheese or Trader Joe's fat free. If you can't locate it, try to find a large curd, non-fat cheese. You may need two cartons. Now dump the cheese into a bowl of cold water and wash the gunk from the curds. Two washings should be sufficient. Pour the curds into the sieve and shake the sieve until the cheese stops dripping. You should have about a cup – or slightly more – of the dry curd cheese (which is just damp).

Into the cup of a blender, add
The cheese
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 Tablespoons sugar (or vanilla sugar during Passover)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (skip this ingredient during Passover if you are observant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional but recommended. Cheese can get pretty bland.)

Blend at high speed until you have a uniform paste.

To form the blintzes, refer to the pictures at the left.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon of filling onto the browned side of the crepe. The location is the middle of the bottom 1/3 of the crepe. Now fold the bottom of the crepe up and over the cheese to cover it. Now fold over the right side and then the left sides. Now fold the remaining crepe down over the cheese package, flip the package over and place it folded side down onto a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan that has been covered with plastic wrap. You can refrigerate these or freeze them. If you want to cook them right away, put them right on the prepared cookie sheet.

When you are ready to cook the blintzes, gently place them fold side down on a cookie sheet that has been covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil. You will want to butter the foil generously, but parchment paper needs no buttering. Aluminum foil will toast the bottoms of the blintzes. Spray the tops gently with light (de-flavored) olive oil using your Misto sprayer or gently paint melted butter with a pastry brush. You may optionally dust the tops with a sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake the blintzes at 350° F in the oven until the blintzes are golden brown - about 25 minutes. Check the bottoms to ensure they are not burning. Some people fry blintzes in a pan.

If you bake them on parchment paper, the bottom of the blintzes will be more moist than you want. We cooled them on cooling racks and they were just right for us.

If you have left-over blintz filling, butter a dish, pour in the excess filling layered with raisins and cinnamon sugar, and dust top generously with cinnamon-sugar. Bake along with the blintzes.

We have tested both buckwheat and conventional blintz crepes at a party. Nobody knew they were gluten-free.