Cheese Blintzes

Blintzes | ZoeBakes (4 of 4)

When I was a kid, in the 70s, my mom, my uncle, Jay, and I would go to a tiny Ukrainian restaurant on 2nd Ave in NYC called the Kiev. Finding a table was nearly impossible; I remember it being so crowded that we’d climb over people to get to our seats. Once we were situated, the waiter brought bread to the table. When the tower of challah came we could no longer see each other, which forced us to crane our bodies around this centerpiece to talk to one another. The crazy pile of delicious bread wasn’t even the main event. We were there for the cheese blintzes. The slightly sweet, farmer cheese stuffed crepes. By the time they hit the table I was stuffed with challah, but I managed to eat everything in front of me. I loved that place and the feeling of leaving full, really full.

I just googled the Kiev to see if it is still there and I am sad to report that only a glossy reproduction exist. To me it was the tight, atmosphere-free dining room, stuffed to the rafters with blintz-eating patrons that made it special. I am disappointed that I will never get to take my boys. Instead I’ll make them blintzes at home. All that’s missing is a tower of challah (I’ll save that for another day) and the slightly surly servers, but my blintzes are well loved. The key is finding fresh farmers’ cheese, not the dry crumbly version. I use a crepe recipe from my sister-in-law, Maxine, who spent her high school and college years in France. Top the creamy blintzes with whatever you like or just eat them plain with a brush of butter, and maybe some sour cream.

Cheese Blintzes

Crepe Batter:

3 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour (spoon and sweep measure)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs

3 cups milk (skim or whole)

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Melted butter for coating baking dish and for painting on the prepared blintzes

Sugar for sprinkling on blintzes

Cheese filling:

4 ounce cream cheese, softened

1 pound fresh soft farmers’ cheese (if you can’t find fresh farmers’ cheese, substitute 4 oz cream cheese plus 12 oz whole milk dry curd cottage cheese)

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons matzo meal

1 large egg

Take your pick of the following toppings:

Apple Sauce

Sour Cream

Strawberry sauce – follow the link for recipe, but after it is cooked puree the fruit.

Maple syrup

Fresh Fruit

Confectioners’ sugar

To prepare the crepes:

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the eggs and 1/2 the milk, whisk until it is all blended. Slowly add the rest of the milk, vanilla and melted butter. The batter should be the consistency of thin maple syrup, if it is too thick, add more milk. If there are large lumps, strain the batter.

Heat the crepe pan* over medium heat. Rub the surface of the pan with a tiny bit of butter, I use what is left clinging to the sides of the pan I melted the butter for the batter in.

*I own two crepe pans, a 12-Inch Copper Crepe Pan which is a serious beauty and a 7-inch Steel Crepe Pan that is all business and cranks out small, but equally wonderful crepes.

Ladle in enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of your pan. The amount will depend on the size of your pan. My larger pan takes about 1/2 cup and the smaller one is about 1/4 cup. This may take one or two crepes to perfect.

Swirl the pan around until it is evenly coating the bottom of the pan. Allow it to cook until the batter is no longer wet looking.

Use a spatula to lift the crepe up and flip it to the other side.

This is MUCH easier to do with the smaller pan, but once you get the hang of it, the large ones are no problem.

The crepes should be very pale golden and still soft, if they are getting too brown or are crispy on the edges you need to take them out of the pan sooner and/or turn down the heat. Continue to cook them and stack the finished ones up on a plate. You will get enough for about 12 large crepes or 24 smaller ones.

At this point my boys usually steal a couple and fill them with jam,

fold them, dust with powdered sugar and have a little snack.

To make the blintzes:

preheat the oven to 425°F

Butter a Square Baking Dish. (You can bake all of the blintzes at once or you can save some for another day and freeze them for up to 2 weeks. Depending on how many you are baking, you can use a larger or smaller baking dish.)

Mix together the cream cheese, farmers’ cheese, sugar, vanilla, matzo meal, and egg until it is well combined. Spoon a 2 to 4 tablespoons of the filling into the crepe, depending on the size you are working with.

Fold the crepe in half over the filling.

Then fold the two sides up and over the filling. Folding the crepe into a neat package.

Lay the crepe into the prepared baking dish. Brush the top of the crepe with the melted butter and continue with the rest of the crepes you want to bake. For those you are not baking, fill and fold them, then wrap them well with plastic wrap, placing a piece of wax paper between them.

It is okay to overlap them slightly. After you have brushed them with butter, sprinkle the tops with a bit of sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges just start to caramelize.

You can also fry the blintzes in butter on the stove for a crisp finish.

Serve the blintzes hot with any of the toppings. My favorite as a kid was apple sauce and sour cream, but I gave them to my boys with strawberry sauce and the last of the season’s fresh peaches.

41 thoughts to “Cheese Blintzes”

  1. Mmmmm, they look delicious.

    I come from a Ukrainian family and nalysnyky (aka blitntzes) were one of my favorite foods growing up. My Baba used to make around a hundred of them for us when she knew we were coming and then freeze them. That way my mom could defrost them for us when we got home to eat (my grandparents were a 12 hour drive to visit). I might just have to do a few posts on some of my favorite Ukrainian foods growing up. Unfortunately my Baba passed away before my love for food fully blossomed and I never had a chance to cook with her. It is certainly one of my only regrets in life that I never took the opportunity to learn from her.

    Thanks so much for bringing some of the warmest memories of my childhood back to life.

    1. Hi Stephan,

      Isn’t it amazing how food provokes such deep memories. It will be interesting to see which foods my boys will remember? I hope you do that series on Baba’s cooking!

      Cheers, Zoë

  2. I used to love the Kiev, sad to hear it’s gone. It was the punk diner of choice, tasy, filling food (the pierogies, too), inexpensive, and close to St. Marks Place and the Bowery in the late 70’s.

  3. Mmm. My mom still makes these occasionally when my sisters and I come over for Sunday breakfast (the best meal of the day), along with tomato sandwiches topped with a spoonful of red caviar (I know, we’re spoiled). As for the farmer’s cheese, she has her favorite brands, but I love making my own. Just stuff an unopened cardboard box of buttermilk into a large pot full of water, bring to a boil, take off the heat and leave overnight. The next day, dump everything into a colander lined with cheesecloth and drain the whey off until you’re happy. It comes out lovely and creamy and perfect for blintzes.

  4. These were called palascinta in our home as both parents were from Hungary – they were filled with a combination of pot cheese and cream cheese, made into bundles and then pan fried in butter until golden brown on each side. Sometimes my sisters and I would dust them with confectioners sugar, which they really didn’t need, and they were a sometime treat that we looked forward to.

    1. Hi Louise,

      You can absolutely pan fry these as well. In fact, after I take one or two from the freezer, I’ll pan fry them for a quick breakfast.

      Cheers! Zoë

  5. That looks awesome, beautiful, delicious and fantastic, Zoe you are amezing, also love the story!!! please download more of these great recipes!!! love you lady!!!!

  6. Kiev! Yes! I used to go there all the time back in the early 80’s, when I went with friends to see punk and goth bands down in the Village. I remember how even though we all had so little money, we could always go to Kiev and get a huge bowl of soup and some of that absolutely amazing challah bread – believe it or not (and you probably remember this) that big bowl of soup and bread was only one dollar! Sometimes we’d splash out and get a plate of pierogies or blintzes, as well.

    It’s so sad to think that Kiev is gone. I’ve not been back to New York for over ten years now (moved to Ireland), but this has brought back so many great memories for me. The food there was delicious, and the place itself had a real down-to-earth, old world vibe to it, where people would meet, eat and talk to one another…not just amongst friends, but because the place was always so packed with people, it was always so easy to start or join in with conversations with strangers.

    These blintzes look so gorgeous, Zoe, that in honour of this blog post and memories of Kiev, I’m going to make some tonight. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, and for taking me back to a special place and a special time in my life.

    1. Hi Greek Girl,

      I bet you were one of the people we climbed over back in the day! 😉 I had forgotten about the soup until you said that, and the kasha knish. How could a place so fantastic have closed???

      Enjoy the blintzes!

      Thanks! Zoë

  7. Wow, what memories this recipe brings back. I used to stand by my Mom in the kitchen when I was a little girl while she made the crepes for the blintzes, hoping that she would make a mistake that I would get to eat. I always got the last little bit also that did not quite make a whole one. How I loved (love) those crepes! Mom is 93 now and in ill health, I wish I could relay the story to her and have her understand the memories, but she would not remember anymore. 🙁 Thanks for the memory!

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for sharing your story, it is so sweet. I hope you have others in the family that you can share the memories and tradition with.

      Best, Zoë

  8. Zoe, we loved the Kiev too. There were too few places we could afford in those days. I think we used to order the borscht. I remember going in the winter and the windows were all steamy! My mother made very good blintzes, and now our 15-year-old considers them her specialty. We get our farmer’s cheese at a little Russian market in St. Paul called…the Kiev! But I’d love to try making it ourselves.

    1. Hi Laura,

      How great that the tradition is being kept alive! I’ve been to the Kiev in St.Paul, but didn’t think of it for Farmer’s Cheese. I will now!

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. I just adore blintzes. I had them for the first time at my friend Nomy´s house, in Lima. She was from Poland and loved to have this delicious dish for her friends. I will make them following your step-by-step recipe. Thank you!

  10. Hi Zoe..
    I work with Graham and just read that you had family from Kiev. I asked Graham who it was and he told me. I read the recipe you posted but just email Graham a real Kiev recipe which is about 95 years old. This was my great- great grandmothers. I would love for you to try and make them and let me know how they come out. Only thing is you need to make sure you use a folk to mix.. I also have tons of old recipes from Kiev I will ask G for your email and send them to you..

    1. Hi Vicky,

      This is absolutely amazing! I would love to see your old recipes, since none of my great grandmother’s are around.

      Thank you so much! Zoë

  11. Hi Zoe,
    I love your blintz story and the fact that a blintz can evoke such fond memories. I would like to share two blintz articles that I think you might find interesting. They contain classic and not so classic blintz recipes. I’d love to hear what you think.

    http://www.aish.com/h/sh/r/Blintzes_for_Everyone.html
    and
    http://www.koshereveryday.com/2011/06/shavuot-blintzes-sequel-grilled-hot-dog.html

    Thanks for your post! It’s great!

    Sharon

    1. Hi Jacquelyn,

      I’ve tried it with cottage cheese and didn’t get the right consistency. Do you strain it first when you make the filling?

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. Boy does this bring back memories. My grandmother would make these at Easter every year. So delicious. I’m going to add this recipe to my Christmas morning menu. Thank you so much for this post.

  13. Zoe I too grew up eating lots of challah, bagels, lox, cream cheese and smoked salmon, kreplech, kinishes, and chopped Liver. However my favorite were blintz’s. Only I preferred mine with Smetna on top with cinnamon sugar.

    These look so good and perfect. I’d love to make these for my soon to be 96 year old Mom. I know she’d love these as would the rest of my family. I can’t wait to try them. Thank you for this!

  14. When I lived in NYC back in the 90’s, you either were a Kiev or a Veselka fan. I was a fan of both! I used to always get the blintzes at Kiev and peirogi at Veselka. Thanks for the trip down memory lane

  15. I also remember my Mom making blintzes using farmers (pot) cheese. I find that a really good substitute is homemade, whole-milk ricotta. You can let it drain to any degree of dryness you want.

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