Desperate times call for desperate measures. In this blog I will give out my recipe for blintzes, and even some instruction for making them. This is not complicated, but it’s not that easy, either, and requires some finesse and practice.
What the Russians call blitzes, the French call crepes — a super-thin, delicate pancake. They are versatile, require few ingredients and, once mastered, could be easily and quickly made. This recipe calls for some sugar, but that part could be omitted, and the blintz can be filled with savory ingredients. However, I prefer to either eat my blintzes by themselves, or roll them up with some fresh strawberries in them or just a bit of strawberry jam. I like them with a hint of sweetness. My kids like to eat them with nice schmear of sour cream rolled up inside. The fillings are only limited by your imagination . . . and, I guess the ability of the blintz to contain them. My mom, whose recipe this is, likes to fill them with home-made cottage cheese (with or without golden raisins) or with ground meat, cooked up with sautéed onions. Then she folds up the blintz around the filling, creating a small rectangular pillow, and fries them very quickly in a bit of butter, mostly to seal them closed.
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make delicious blintzes:
3 cups of flour
1 cup water
About 4 to 5 cups of milk
teaspoon of sugar
pinch of salt
Canola oil or vegetable oil
First, take a large bowl and crack an egg into it. Then add the first cup of water. Grab a whisk and whisk until frothy. Now begin adding flour, and whisking, one cup at a time.
You might have noticed that I did not include the exact amount exact of milk you need. That is because this depends on the thinness of the blintz. After you add the second cup of flour, you’ll see that the paste you’re making is too thick and lumpy. Go ahead and add a cup of milk at this point, and mix and whisk until you’ve thinned it. Now add the last cup of flour and more milk until the mixture becomes about twice as thin — much thinner than something you’d use for a pancake. Please add that teaspoon of sugar, a pinch or two of salt and pour in about a third of a cup of oil. Now mix that in, and keep on adding milk until the mixture is thin and quite liquid, as well as smooth — no lumps, please. This should be about the thickness of quality buttermilk.
Usually, at this point, I have a little bowl half filled with canola oil, and a folded paper towel. Heat up a medium to large-ish non-stick skillet. Before each blintz made, I do a quick swipe of the hot pan with an oiled paper towel, then pour in batter for the next blitz. However, at the current state of the world, paper products are too precious. Maybe let’s forgo those and we will call the amount of oil a small splash.
Make sure that the pan has some oil in it, and is hot. Now take a large ladle and picking up the hot pan pour the thin batter into it. As you are pouring, tilt and rotate the pan, so that the mixture covers the entire bottom surface of the pan. If you need a little more, add some more. If you find that the batter is not spreading well, add just a touch more milk, until it is more liquid — so that it can spread out as you tilt and rotate the pan.
Make sure that the heat is on medium hot. And do not walk away. Because the first side will take a few minutes to cook up (you’ll see the edges become crispy and begin to curl a bit). Then, with your fingers, gently grab the edge of the blintz and slide a spatula underneath, then flip. Once you have flipped your blintz, the second side takes much less time.
A quick warning. The first blintz almost never comes out perfectly. There is even a Russian expression that states that. It is usually an experimental blintz, to make sure your batter will change to become thinner, or thicker (just add flour if that is the case). Do not become discouraged. Know that even professional chefs have trouble making the thin batter just the right consistency, but once you figure out the ratio and how to twirl the pan just so, you will always have this knowledge.
I like to use a large spatula, but it’s not a necessity — you will figure out how to lift the edge off the pan so you can check the doneness on the bottom and slip in that spatula.
Before you pour in the mixture for the second blintz, add a splash of oil into the pan — shimmying the pan back and forth, so the beads of oil spread across the pan. Do this between all blintzes, because you do not want to work with a dry pan.
The real secret that my mother taught me is this: The only way to get your blintzes to turn out just right is to keep making them over and over until you know by sight and consistency and color that you got it right. Do not be fooled by the ease of the few ingredients, and always be vigilant so you do not burn them — they are done when each side has achieved a very light golden color. And, when you make them correctly, they are indeed, gold.