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of cheese blintzes and kreplach

16 May

 

coating the pan with batter to make the blintzes

In my home growing up, my mother and grandmother would prepare and serve dairy delicacies for our milchig meal on Shavuos.  These included Cheese Blintzes, Cheese Kreplach and Cheese Knaidlach to name a few, and an old-fashioned style cheesecake which I did not appreciate at the time.  Being the first in my family to get married, I continued the tradition of making these specialties to serve in my home on Shavuos morning.  Subsequently, two of my brother’s got married, and since my mother wanted them to enjoy these foods and could not expect their wives to make them, she started the tradition of making the blintzes and kreplach for all of us for Yom Tov.  And the cheesecake!  Being in the cheesecake business does not exclude me from getting my own pan of unbaked cheesecake, made with the traditional dough on the bottom and dough on top with a farmer’s cheese filling.  Yum!

In the past several years, my mother has been preparing these items with my help in my home, so I can appreciate how much time it takes to cook it and pack it up for the individual families.  Yesterday my mother came over and single-handedly made 80 crepes (still not enough!) and filled them.  With the help of my daughter-in-law and 10-year-old son, dough was rolled out, filled and sealed for approx 180 kreplach, after which my mother cooked them in gently boiling water, drained them and bathed them in breadcrumbs toasted in butter.  Serve with a sprinkling of confectionary sugar either as a dessert or as an entrée, perhaps accompanied by a blintz, a dollop of sour cream and a fresh strawberry.  Ahhh…..

Are you wondering what I did yesterday as everyone around me was put to work?  As a matter of fact, I was taking pictures for this blog post and I made the blintze filling, kreplach filling, and the dough for the cheesecakes.  All in all, we spent hours in the kitchen together, bonding – mothers, grandmothers, daughter and daughter-in-law, and lets not forget the sons and son-in-law – some helping and some watching and tasting.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

CHEESE BLINTZES

This recipe is from The Haimishe Kitchen, volume 1.  It makes approximately 16-18 small crepes.

Ingredients

CREPES

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil

 

stack of crepes

FILLING:

  • 1.5 lb farmer cheese
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoon vanilla sugar

    blintz filling

 

Directions

For crepes, mix together flour and eggs.  Stir until no lumps remain.  Add remaining ingredients slowly.  You may need an immersion blender to make it smooth.  Heat frying pan, brush with oil or butter.  With a ladle, pour some batter into the pan while tilting and swirling it to make a thin layer.  When the underside is brown, turn to brown the other side.  Crepes should be soft and pliable.  Pile them one of top of the other until you are done and are ready to fill them.

For the filling, mix all ingredients together.  Fill and roll blintzes.  Serve warm by reheating covered in an oven or in a single layer in a  pan with melted butter.

blintz heaven

CHEESE KREPLACH

This recipe was given to me by a customer that asked me to make them for her.  They are soft and delicious.  Do not reroll the extra dough, as it will be tough.  This recipe will yield approximately 60 kreplach.

Ingredients

DOUGH:

  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 whipped cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • dash of salt
  • 4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

FILLING:

  • 2 lbs farmer cheese
  • 1/2 tub whipped cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • vanilla sugar & sugar to taste*

TOPPING:

  • breadcrumbs
  • butter
  • drop of sugar

 *note: sugar makes the cheese soft causing a loose texture, so put in the smallest amount that it needs to taste good.  Then a bit of confectionary sugar on top should put on the finishing touch of sweetness.

Directions

Mix all ingredients together for the dough.  Let stand at room temp for 2 hours.  If  it is too soft to roll, refrigerate for 1/2 hour or more.  Heat a pot of water to a gentle boil.  Add a bit of salt to the water.  In a frying pan, melt 1/2 stick of butter.  Add breadcrumbs and a bit of sugar and toast till it’s a nice light brown color.  My mother likes to make her own breadcrumbs, so the pieces are not too fine.  I bought the panko crumbs (not the orange ones), but you can use any unflavored, store-bought breadcrumbs. 

Roll out dough to 1/16″ thickness.  Cut dough into 2 -3″ rounds with a cookie cutter.  Spoon a bit of filling in the center of each round.  Fold in half and seal with a fork or with your fingers. 

When you have several of them ready, gently drop into pot of water.  Cook for a few minutes.  Remove kreplach from the water and place in a strainer or colander. 

When drained, toss in the breadcrumb mixture.  Serve warm with a bit of conf. sugar on top.

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homemade pickles

10 Apr

Just about 2 weeks before Pesach each year, my grandmother would come over,  and together with my mother, start the yearly pickling process.  They covered the basement kitchen counters with sheets, and lined up the large square glass jars.  Some jars would be filled with beets for borscht and others with curbies for pickles.  The jars would then sit on the floor of the boiler room for a couple of weeks until they were ready. 

For some odd reason, the only person that liked the pickles was my mother.  Sometimes, we’d eat them because there were no alternative ones bought.  In retrospect, I think they kinda spoiled sitting in the boiler room.  They got overdone and were a little fizzy, if you know what I mean.  When I started making Pesach, pickles were not on my radar.  I buy them ready from the store, and although they are not as good as the all year round ones, it’s better than homemade.  Or so I thought.

Just the other day, I walked into my brothers’ house and peeked into his Pesach kitchen.  It didn’t look like the cooking had begun but there were 3 jars of beautiful looking pickles fermenting on the counter.  “Oooh, you make pickles?”, I asked him.  He said “yes, and they are wonderful”! 

Since these take about 2 weeks to be ready, if you put them up now, they will be ready for the second days of Yom Tov.

HOMEMADE PICKLES

Ingredients

  • Curbies
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • water to fill
  • jalapeno peppers
  • fresh dill

Directions

Use a glass jar with a 2 piece screw on cover.  Fill the jar with unpeeled curbies.  Add salt, jalapenos (some whole and some cut) and cover with water.  Put the fresh dill on top of the curbies.  Dip the rubber (flat) part of the cover into hot or boiling water to expand it.  Then put it on top of the pickle jar and screw on the cover.  This should make a tight seal.  Keep in a cool place for a couple of weeks until done.

ikra

22 Mar

Ever since I can remember, my long time childhood friend has been talking about her grandmothers ikra.  I had never heard of it before (or since) from anyone other than members of this prominent family.  It is essentially a caviar spread made with carp roe and whipped into a mayonnaise consistency.  It is awesome on fresh challah and equally good with matzoh on Pesach.  My friends’ mother and aunts would make it, and the tradition is continuing in the ensuing generations.  One member of the family, living in Lakewood, makes a large batch of this on a weekly basis, puts it in containers, and then into a cooler on her porch for some of her favorite cousins to pick up on Fridays.  This family is so close, that she makes it, not for her own siblings, but for first and second cousins.  So long as she does, this dish will be a part of their family tradition. 

Here is the recipe, as I received it from my friend.  The measurements for the flavoring is not exact and requires some tasting and adjusting for each batch.

IKRA

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw carp roe (from summer carp – dark green only) (roe can be frozen and thawed)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups oil
  • 1 raw onion, finely grated
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Rinse roe and pat dry. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.  Start the mixer on medium.  Slowly add oil, then onion, lemon juice and salt.  Increase mixer speed to high.  Whip for a while until the mixture becomes thick and white.  Taste to see if it needs additional salt, lemon or onion.  I find that I keep making adjustments until I am satisfied that the flavor is perfect.  First I add a little salt, then onion, then lemon, then salt, then onion, then lemon…..whatever it needs, until I love it!  Pour into containers and refrigerate.

yitzy’s adventure in the kitchen

22 Mar

Since this story is about me, my Mom said I should write it.  I am 9 years old. I found a recipe in a book, and thought I would try it out. It is a no bake recipe, called Chocolate Nests. It contains marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. I liked working by myself (even though my mother helped me a lot) . the best part is you don’t even have to bake it, and it’s great! I already packaged them to give to my friends for shalach manos.

Here’s where Mom takes over.  Since Yitzy has read all 7 Harry Potter books, and many other book series’ appropriate for his age, he is embarrassed to tell you that he found this recipe in the back of a Curious George Visits the Chocolate Factory Book.  We were at a neighbors’, and it was lying around and he chanced upon the recipe on the back page where he was checking out the Word Find.  He had a copy made and put it aside to make at this appropriate time.

CRISPY CHOCO-NESTS

Ingredients

  • 1      7oz. jar of marshmallow cream (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2      tablespoons butter or margarin, melted
  • 1      5oz. can chow mein noodles (about 3 cups ), use the thinnest you can find
  • 1      cup chocolate candies or pieces
  • 25-30 round or oval chocolates
  •      powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and butter until well blended. 
  2. Add noodles and chooped chocolate candies.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookies sheets; shape with greased fingers to form nests.  Let stand until firm.
  4. Dust bottoms of nests lightly with powdered sugar, if desired.
  5. Fill with round chocolate candies (to look like eggs) before serving.
  6. Makes 10-12 nests

coconut meringues

15 Mar

Yesterday, I received a really nice phone call from a woman who used to read my column in the Esra Magazine.  She said she was going through her stuff and had come across some of her favorite recipes, the ones that she uses repeatedly, and called to tell me that she misses my column.  

“What would Rosh Hashana be”, she said, “without your honey cake recipe? The chocolate thumbprint cookies have become a staple in my house!  And what about the delicious caramel apple tart?   Granted some of  the recipes you printed were too complicated for me, but most of them were so doable and I’ve made them over and over again!”  Where are you???

So thank you, Mrs. K., for your kind words, and I promised you a recipe on the blog, so here goes.  This ones a keeper!

COCONUT MERINGUES

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 6 cups corn flakes, crushed by hand or with a rolling-pin
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

 

  • chocolate for decoration

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Beat egg whites with electric beaters on high-speed.  Add a pinch of salt as it starts to froth.  Slowly add all of the sugar until it is thick and glossy.  Reduce speed to med-low and add the rest of the ingredients.  Use a tablespoon or melon ball size scoop to drop cookies onto the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Drizzle with melted chocolate.

*note:  Shehakol is said on these cookies

homemade granola

14 Mar

My good friend, Sarah Lasry of Tastebuds’ fame, introduced me to homemade granola as I know it today.  Before she opened her cafe in 2003, she had an intimate gathering around her dining room table for the purpose of tasting the dishes to be served at the restaurant.  I was one of a select few people chosen, whose criticism and approval she sought.  One of the items Sarah served us was this homemade granola with just enough plain yogurt on top to moisten and hold the ingredients together.  In the restaurant, it was taken to a new level with fresh sliced strawberries, fresh blueberries and perhaps a few slices of banana on top.  The granola was always in high demand in the store and was sometimes sold in gourmet bags to go.  Here is the original recipe as printed in Sarah Chases Nantucket Open House Cookbook.  Sarah Lasry printed it with a variation in her Dairy Gourmet Cookbook.

Granola is one of those things that are easy to make and a treat to have on hand for those occasions that you need a little extra something on hand.  It’ll dress up a breakfast, a shalosh seudos and even an impromptu visit by a friend for coffee.  I usually do not add the dried fruit to the granola.  I like to decide what I want to add with regard to dried or fresh fruit when I am serving it.  This recipe makes a large amount but freezes well.  I have given this for mishloach manos once or twice and received great feedback! 

HOMEMADE GRANOLA

Ingredients

  • 9 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups slivered or sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates, optional
  • Other diced fruit like apricots, figs, prunes can be added or substituted.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss oats, coconut, and nuts in a large roaster pan or cookie sheet.  Whisk honey & oil in a small bowl.  Pour over oats and mix till coated.  Bake 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, till golden.

Remove from oven and aerate by mixing several times while it’s cooling.  Add dried fruit, if desired.

Note: I’m not sure if you want this information, but at one point, I figured out the calorie content of this recipe.  I included 1 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of dates in the nutritional facts.  The results were as follows: there are 770 calories per cup of granola which translates to 48 calories per tablespoon.  The total fat per cup is 41g, sat fat 11g, carbs 90g, fiber 12g, sugars 33g, protein 17g

 

Ina Garten has a granola recipe which was inspired by the one above.  It is equally delicious and of a lesser quantity.  I also prefer the dried cherries and cranberries to the raisins, which you can switch in the above recipe as well. You can see it here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-granola-recipe/index.html

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup good honey
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced dried apricots
  • 1 cup small diced dried figs
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the apricots, figs, cherries, cranberries, and cashews. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.