Gluten-free chestnut flour crepes stuffed with fluffy cheese, fried in butter, and slathered in sour cream and cranberry applesauce – what more could you want in life?
I hope everyone survived Valentine’s Day! Jay and I were all set for a romantic date of Mission tacos and a walk through the city to attend a political activist group, but he woke up feeling under the weather. So instead I got the sweetest ever valentine and the promise of a box of the most delicious plant-based ice cream straight from Seattle. Not too shabby.
Also, there were blintzes.
Today I’m banding together with my fellow bloggers in support of immigrants and to share our own #immigrantfoodstories with a recipe that’s close to my heart: cheese blintzes, a classic Jewish treat with a few little twists. My paternal grandmother who we called Bubba used to make large batches of cheese blintzes – crepes stuffed with sweetened farmers cheese and fried in butter, which we’d cook up and eat with sour cream and applesauce.
Bubba’s parents and my maternal great-grandparents immigrated to the US from Eastern Europe around the turn of the last century in order to escape the region’s growing anti-semitism. They were refugees who were fortunate enough to escape in time, carving out lives for themselves in the U.S. Their names were changed so that they would fit in (and thank goodness, otherwise my name would be Alanna Teitelbaum-Tabatchnik – and I thought the double N in my first name was annoying to have to spell for people!)
Though my family isn’t religious, we would gather to enjoy (and choke down, in the case of gefilte fish) the foods of our culture – matzoh ball soup, rugelach, mandelbrot, and huge spreads of bagels with all the fixings. But blintzes were and still are my favorite because CHEESE.
I wish I could say that I learned my blintz technique by spending hours in my grandmother’s kitchen standing on a step stool as she taught my young hands to add just the right amount of filling, and roll up the crepe just so, starting with the bottom, then the sides, and finally the top to form a little egg roll. Instead, I probably watched TV as poor, tireless Bubba slaved away in the kitchen. Trust me, I’ve been kicking myself for my lazy ways since she passed away 23 years ago.
So I learned to make blintzes the way god intended: from the internet, specifically from Deb (her sweet potato version is to die for). Blintzes are a bit of a labor of love, but well worth the effort. And they’re easy to make gluten-free since the batter contains a large amount of egg. The version in my book features earthy buckwheat flour crepes stuffed with cheese and huckleberries or wild blueberries. For a winter version, I swapped out the buckwheat flour for chestnut flour, having been inspired by Sarah’s chestnut crepes with brie and burnt honey (which was her first post after Zoella was born, almost exactly 1 year ago!), left out the berries, and added a tangy applesauce laced with cranberries and softened with vanilla bean.
Chewy crepes kissed with sweet chestnut flour give way to a pillow of gooey, tangy-sweet cheese, their richness offset with tart cranberry applesauce and a dab of sour cream. Enjoy these for a leisurely brunch, or make them ahead and reheat for a quickly nourishing breakfast.
Our country is a beautiful blend of countless cultures – rich with diversity and complex with music, art, and food from all over the world. I stand in solidarity with immigrants who have come here seeking a better life, just as my family did. To stand with us, peruse the #immigrantfoodstories movement started by my dear friend Kimberley, join in with your own stories, or donate to the ACLU.
Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.
- 1 ½ pounds apples (4 large), peeled, cored, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup (more to taste)
- ½ cup (120 ml) water
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
- ½ cup (55 g) fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- 1½ cups (355 ml) whole milk
- 6 large eggs
- 1 ½ tablespoons (15 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (120 g) chestnut flour
- ¾ cup (105 g) sweet white rice flour
- 1 ½ tablespoons (14 g) melted butter
- 1 pound (450 g) farmer cheese or fromage blanc (or use whole milk ricotta cheese or quark)
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) melted butter
- In a large saucepan, combine the apples, maple syrup, water, lemon juice, cranberries, and vanilla pod and scrapings. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and starting to fall apart, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the excess moisture has evaporated, another 5 minutes or so. Mash if you prefer a smoother sauce, or leave it chunky; add more maple syrup if you like, to taste. Cool the applesauce, and chill until needed, up to 1 week. Remove the vanilla pod when serving.
- In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, salt, chestnut flour, and sweet rice flour. Blend on low to combine, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice. With the motor running, blend in the melted butter. Pour the batter into a measuring pitcher or bowl; thin with a little more milk if the batter is too thick. Have a large plate by the stove on which to stack the cooked crepes.
- To make the filling, in a medium bowl, stir together the cheese, sugar, egg yolk and salt. Quickly stir in the melted butter. Chill until needed.
- To fry the crepes, heat an 8-inch (20-cm) crepe pan or skillet over medium heat, and use a scrunched-up paper towel to swipe it with a bit of ghee or butter. (Too much butter will cause the batter to slip as you swirl it to coat the pan.)
- Pour a scant 1⁄4 cup (59 ml) of batter onto the crepe pan, tilting, swirling and shuffling to coat it evenly with a thin layer of batter. Cook the crepe until just barely set on top, 30–60 seconds. Use a thin, metal spatula to ease the edges of the crepe up off the pan, then slide (or drag) the crepe onto the plate, cooked side down. It should be barely colored on the bottom.
- Continue cooking the crepes, swiping the pan with a bit of butter between crepes, and adjusting the heat so that the pan doesn’t burn but the crepes cook in 30–60 seconds each.
- To fill the blintzes, place 2 1⁄2 tablespoons (38 g) of cheese filling on the lower third of a crepe and fold the bottom up over the cheese. Fold the sides in so that they just touch, then roll the blintz up from the filled end up to form a parcel—it should look something like an egg roll. Stack the filled blintzes on a plate.
- When the blintzes have all been filled, melt some butter or ghee in your crepe pan over medium-low heat (or use another large skillet if you like). Fry the blintzes until they are golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes, then flip and brown on the second side, another 2 minutes. Have the heat low enough so that the filling heats through without the bottoms burning.
- Serve the warm blintzes with the applesauce, maple syrup, and a dollop of sour cream.
- Extra blintzes keep brilliantly, fried or unfried, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.