Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Comfort Food

Blintzes with Pumpkin Butter, Blueberry Jam and Sour Cream
Most children give up their blankies, teddy bears and other childhood comforts as they reach adolescence.  But they often continue to be partial to certain foods that remind them of happy times.  For some, Mashed Potatoes are their comfort food.  Others want Chicken Soup, Fried Chicken, Spaghetti Bolognese, Chocolate, Chips and Salsa, Ice Cream or, as my friend Ilene says, “A cup of hot tea with a really good cookie.”

Blintzes ring my bell.  My maternal grandmother made them, and thinking about them brings me back to a simpler time.  Back then it wasn’t my responsibility to put food on the table or worry about people’s food preferences.  I ate what was put in front of me, whether I liked it or not.  Luckily I was a fan of Blintzes, which, if you’ve never had them, are pancakes stuffed with a cottage cheese/ricotta/egg mixture and served with sour cream or jam.

Life is different today.  Parents often negotiate with their children about food, and dinner can be a battleground.  Luckily for me, Blintzes are popular at my house.  They’re one of the few dishes I make that everyone is happy to see on their plates.
Blintzes – serves 6 (makes about 40 small blintzes) 
4 large eggs 
1 1/3 cups milk or water 
1 cup flour 
2 tablespoons canola oil + more for frying 
Dash salt 
2 cups (16-ounce container) cottage cheese 
1 cup (8 ounces) ricotta 
2 large eggs 
2 tablespoons butter (to top blintzes before baking) 
Sour cream 
First make the pancakes.  Combine the eggs, milk, flour, oil and salt in a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth.  Or combine the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Don’t worry about a few small lumps.  
Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to a heavy frying pan (cast iron or non-stick, if possible) and begin heating over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, pour 2 tablespoons batter into the frying pan and, holding the pan’s handle, tip the pan at different angles to spread the liquid into a rough 5-inch circle.  It’s okay if the pancakes are different sizes.   
You need to move quickly because the frying pan is hot and the batter will begin cooking.  Fry on one side only.  The pancake will be done when the top is smooth and has a slight shine.  It may take you several tries before you master this technique.  You won’t need to add additional oil to the frying pan unless the pancakes begin to stick.   
Continue making pancakes and stacking them on a plate until you’ve used up the batter.  Set them aside while you make the filling.  

Combine the cottage cheese, ricotta and eggs in a bowl and stir thoroughly.   
Prepare your largest baking pan or 2 smaller pans.  Grease the pan(s) with a bit of canola oil and set aside.  
If you want to bake the Blintzes as soon as they are assembled, begin preheating the oven to 375 degrees.  
Place 1 pancake on a plate and add 1 or 2 tablespoons filling, depending on the size of the pancake.  Fold up the pancake into a package, making sure the filling is completely enclosed.  Place it, seam-side down, in the baking pan.  Repeat this process until you have used up all the pancakes and filling.  

Cut the butter into small pieces and top each Blintz with a piece. If you are not baking them immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready.  Bake covered for about 20-25 minutes (depending on whether they are at room or refrigerated temperature). 
Serve with sour cream or jam.
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