During the years I lived in Seattle, when cash was tight and it was hard to get time off of work, I developed the habit of going home for Thanksgiving, but not Christmas. To this day, I’m not interested in celebrating Christmas. Maybe I’ll return to it someday when I can find a way to have it be peaceful, thoughtful, and actually reflect the best stuff that Jesus taught (tolerance, championing the poor and oppressed).
As it stands, the only childhood Christmas tradition I’ve stuck by is making blintzes on Christmas morning. I may have this wrong, but I believe this tradition started sometime in the 1980s, when my Grandma’s sister showed up on Christmas morning with a pan full of blintzes. Blueberry and strawberry and raspberry blintzes. Sour cream and cinnamon sugar for the top. Pure joy. Ever after, blintzes were the Christmas morning meal.
For as long as I can remember, my parents were in charge of making the blintzes for the whole extended family (15+ people). My mom, who does not like to cook, but is really good at random tricky kitchen things like béchamel sauces and gravy from scratch, made the crepes. My dad, a brilliant cook who will not bake, made the filling.
When I revived this tradition in my own home, I took out my recipe books and looked for blintz recipes. I couldn’t find anything that looked remotely like what I grew up eating. Even looking on the internet, I kept finding recipes that didn’t have the same main ingredients. Whither the cottage cheese? The fruit?
I called home, my mom answered. The crepes are made following a recipe in a book. “Just find a crepe recipe in a book. Cook one side, then fill them, cooked-side-in.”
She put my dad on to tell me about the filling, “Cottage cheese, egg yolk, softened butter, vanilla, whatever fruit.”
“Any measurements for these ingredients, Dad?”
“Two egg yolks. A few pats of butter. Two big tubs of cottage cheese.”
“How much fruit?”
“However much you like.”
“But what do you do? Roughly the same amount as the cottage cheese?”
“Maybe a little less.”
“And you’re describing how to make a lot, right? This is for like 30 blintzes?”
“For the whole family. We have a big family.”
“Have you ever been interrogated by the police? You’d make an excellent hostile witness.”
“I’ll get your mother.”
Seriously, you’d think I was asking for pass-codes into their back accounts! They are usually such a cheerful people.
Anyway, to save YOU having to call them and ask about this apparently-touchy subject, here’s my version of the blintz recipe. This makes about 15 blintzes. In my experience, two blintzes is a meal. You can make these the night before (except for the final fry).
Find a crepe recipe in a book. Cook one side.
I use the basic crepe recipe in How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
I cook them one at a time.
I use about 4TBS of batter per crepe and I cook them in a stainless steel fry pan, with canola oil sprayed in the pan for each crepe.
Combine the following.
1.5 cups of cottage cheese (if it comes out of the tub with a lot of liquid, rest it on paper towel or in a colander for a while, you want it rather dry)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup frozen blueberries (or raspberries, or chopped strawberries)
0.5 cup raspberry pie filling (or blueberry pie filling or strawberry) canned stuff is great, or prepare your own.
To finish the job:
Spoon the filling onto the cooked side of the crepe.
Fold the crepe around the filling. (My parents do a full wrap, like a burrito; I do a roll, like a taco as it allows for more filling per blintz.)
Set frying pan to low/medium-low.
Melt a bit of butter in the pan.
Add blintzes to pan. The low heat gives you time to heat the filling without burning the crepe. Cook both sides. (Maybe 5 minutes per side)
Serve with sour cream and cinnamon sugar (a mix of white sugar and cinnamon).