Say what you will about the most iconic Jewish foods — bagels, matzo soup, brisket, Shabbos chicken. Cheese blintzes are the reason I am proud to write about Jewish food. When made well, they are delicate little pillows of crepe stuffed with warm, sweet, freshly made cheese and topped with a fruit compote. They are in essence, a dessert that is socially acceptable to eat at the dinner or breakfast table.
Today, it’s time to correct one of the greatest oversights of the last 7.5 years on this website… we’re going to talk about cheese blintzes. I mean, really, what have I been waiting for? I’ve got all of the bases covered that would prequalify me for a cheese blintz proclivity: I love crêpes and Eastern European food, I’m Jewish, married to a Russian, had a deep cheese blintz addiction when I was pregnant…
Deb goes on to discuss the provenance of these treats. While the name blintz is Russian, I’ve tried them in Ukrainian restaurants and spotted them on menus in Poland and Germany.
Comprised of such near-universal foods as a thin pancake and sweet cheese filling, I imagine that cheese blintzes are one of these foods that you could connect via dotted line to dozens of others in other countries and cultures.
In Jewish homes, blintzes are usually spring-time fare, made for the dairy fest Shavuot. But, as Deb points out, they are perfect winter comfort food.
They hail from places where the snow seems to go on forever, places where our Polar Vortexes would seem comparatively weak, places that know how to fill bellies with warm to hold you over until it’s fun to go outside again.
While I haven’t had the chance to make hers yet, Deb’s recipes are as reliable as they come. So cancel your evening plans, head to the store and start cooking. Like I said, it’s perfectly fine to eat these for dinner — even your bubbe would approve.
Where can one find a good black and white cookie these days? Max Falkowitz has the answer. [Serious Eats]
How do we love hummus? Let us count the ways (and places to eat it). Here are 14 of ‘em. [Serious Eats]
Is Jewish food taking over Chicago? We can only hope. [Serious Eats]
Brisket is finally a trend! Or, atleast a trendlet. [New York Magazine]
From the looks of this round up of 2013 cookbooks, the cookbook industry is doing very well. [Eater]
There are two general camps of cookbooks: the kind that you keep on the coffee table and the kind that you keep in the kitchen. The former are big, sumptuous, glossy numbers, usually full of exotic ingredients and complicated recipes. The latter are often less pretty but functional, stained by sauce splatters and muffin batter. It’s rare to find a volume that serves both purposes, but Deb Perelman’s wonderful The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is one of them.
Perelman, who based the book on her popular website of the same name, describes herself as “an obsessive home cook,” and her recipes certainly reflect that. She tinkers, she recreates, she attempts to cajole people. Her buttered popcorn cookies, for instance — salty-sweet umami crunch-balls that should replace Rice Krispie treats in your next holiday platter — were an effort to convince a friend to see the merits of buttered popcorn. She updates old recipes, because, she admits, “my curiosity gets the better of me, and it’s usually worth the blasphemy. Her fig, olive oil, and sea salt challah for example, takes a classic and adds notes of herbaceous savoriness to the sweet and supple bread. She uses honey instead of sugar to leaven the yeast, and tucks a fig and orange zest paste into the braided dough. The result is something heavenly, and fairly simple, even if you’re not a seasoned baker. (Though, I confess, I abandoned her braiding technique in favor of a simpler one.) A dear friend of mine, asking after what I was baking, was the first to proclaim “heresy!” about the addition of salt and figs. He was also the first to ask for the recipe once he tasted it.
There is no shortage of home cooking blogs out there. But Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen, a relate-ably personal, yet eloquent blog, is one of the lucky few to have gained a large and loyal following. In fact, it’s her blog’s popularity — she has about 4 million unique visitors a month — that led Perelman to the holy grail of food blogs — a book deal.
And with Knopf no less. “It’s so exciting because they published Julia Child. I don’t know what they’re doing with the likes of me,” the always-humble Perelman said.
Perelman says the cookbook, which should be out in spring or fall 2012, will be a lot like her site, with stories and personal introductions to the recipes. “It’s a conversation,” she said. Perelman will often start a post on a subject that seems to have nothing to do with food (case in point: a recent post about how messy her closet is), and end it all with a fantastic dish (in this case, a dijon chicken recipe she found while clearing out said closet).