Friday, 19 December 2014

Happy Hanukkah!

We are currently living the eight merry days of Hanukkah - the brightest light in Jewish calendar. And fittingly, continue exploring of the Jewish cuisine. Though, for someone of North European descent, living in a country whose culinary traditions draw from the Eastern European traditions I must say they're hardly exotic treats. Pickled herring? Pickled... well, anyhing? Stuffed cabbage rolls? Been there, eaten that, went for seconds. 

Even bagels, that New York classic that has become a breakfast staple everywhere else in the world as well is nothing new to us - I inherited my own (since then sadly misplaced) recipe from my great aunts.

So, today's treat will hardly make you gasp in awe: it's blintzes. Or, stuffed pancakes.





These parcels, usually stuffed with cheese-filling are particularly popular during Hanukkah (what with all the frying in oil...) and Shavuot (when particularly Ashkenazi-traditions of Northern and Eastern European Jews feast on all sorts of dairy products). 

Etymologically more gifted ones probably already picked up on the similarity to blinis and sure enough, they are part of the same family alright.

The filling is very cheesecake-like - not too sweet then. At its simplest it consists of ricotta and cream cheese but in my version white chocolate gives it just a little bit more richness. Well, you know me by now: in my food philosophy less is never more! Much like in that rosemary and rhubarb-tart ricotta could also be substituted with soft goat cheese.

Instead of strawberries these could also be served with bluberries macerated in lemon zest, icing sugar and a pinch of cardamom. Cardamom also works wonders in the batter itself. 

It's crucial the pancakes be properly cooled before stuffing and frying as this way they hold their shape better so the pancakes themselves can be cooked already the day before. 





Blintze-batter:

2 eggs
3 dl milk
1 tsp vanilla essence/ vanilla sugar 
2,5 dl all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
pinch (appr. 1/2 tsp) salt
50 g butter, melted 

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and beat eggs with milk (and vanilla) in another. Melt butter over moderate heat.

Combine the two by adding the wet ingredients into the dry ones (this way you'll avoid any lumps) and finally pour in the butter. Let rest for about an hour. 

Cook the pancakes on a skillet using either butter or oil - but only on the other side. Pour a ladleful into the skillet, swirl the pan so it spreads into an even, thin layer and once it starts to set, remove from the pan and place on a plate or parchment sheet to wait. In case you pile the cooked pancakes on top of each other, place a parchment sheet in between each layer to prevent them from sticking. Let cool before stuffing. 

Cheese filling:

1 tub ricotta 
1 tub cream cheese
100 g white chocolate, melted
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence/ vanilla sugar
3 tbsp (icing) sugar
the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon


Melt the chocolate in Bain Marie. Beat rest of the ingredients together and finally whick in the chocolate. Let rest (and set) in the fridge until ready to use. 

Fill the blintzes. Place the pancake in front of you the cooked side up and spread about 4 tbsp of filling onto the lower half of the pancake leaving a couple of cm border. Fold the lowed half towards the centre of the pancake, then fold the sides on top of it and roll (as tightly as you like) into a parcel. You know, like you would with burritos or summer rolls (see here). 

Fry a couple of blintzes at a time golden and crisp on both sides, first the seam side down. Turn over and fry on the other side too. Serve warm. Maybe with orange-infused strawberry compote?

Strawberry compote:

500 g strawberries
the juice of 1 orange (1 dl)
1 tbsp icing sugar

Hull the strawberries. The tiny ones can be left intact but halve (or cut into quarters ) the bigger ones. Squeeze the orange juice, combine with sugar (through a sieve) and whisk until sugar has dissolved. Let macerate for a couple of hours in the fridge.






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ANYONE FOR SECONDS?



      



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