Tag Archives: Food

Maple Pecan Biscuits

30 Jul

Unless I’m working on a recipe, or baking something for a holiday, I don’t often bake at home.  But sometimes the mood hits and I want the house to fill with the aroma of something delicious baking in the oven. Generally, this means I want a simple recipe , something that’s easy enough to prepare during the week, but special enough to make for Sunday morning brunch or to enjoy with a hot mug of tea.

These Maple Pecan Biscuits are just the thing.  A really easy recipe that doesn’t require any special equipment and only takes a short time to assemble and bake.  These are on the rustic side, so don’t waste time trying to make them look perfect.  The dough shouldn’t look uniform when it’s ready to bake — you should be able to spot little pieces of butter mixed in with the chunks of pecans.  And when they’re done, eat them while hot and crumbly with a little butter and a warm drink to wash it down.

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Maple Pecan Biscuits

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk (2%)

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Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast the nuts for 5-7 minutes, or until they are just starting to brown.  Set aside until cool.  Increase the oven temperature to 400°.

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In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar together.  Add the butter and use a pastry cutter, forks or your fingertips to work the butter into the dough. You want the work the butter into pea-size or slightly smaller pieces, but not completely incorporated into the flour.
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In a measuring cup combine the maple syrup and milk and mix.  Pour into the dry ingredients and use a fork to combine.  Use your hands to bring the dough together and then turn it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pat the dough into a rectangle that has a uniform 1″ thickness.

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Cut the rectangle into 8 squares, then cut each square in half, into triangles.  Move the pieces around on the tray so that there’s room between all of them.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 16-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Serve hot out of the oven on their own or with some butter.  Though they will keep for a couple of days if they’re well wrapped, these really are best when served fresh and still warm.

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Granola

17 Jul

I’m going to be honest with you.  I love my homemade granola so much that I think I had it for breakfast every day for about six months (with some Greek yogurt and fresh berries) until I finally got sick of it and (thought I) never wanted to see it again.  Then, after going on a granola fast for a few months, I woke up one day and realized that I really missed it.

Here’s what I love about it: it’s filling and delicious and flexible.  I’m sharing a recipe with you (below), but just take it as a guide. Add or replace nuts, spices, grains or anything else you like.  Just stick with the basics — start with oats, add nuts and or coconut, spices, grains, some fat and a sweetener. You can add dried fruit, but don’t add it at the beginning.  Stir it in for the last 10 minutes of baking.  And make big batches — in a freezer bag or container this stuff can hang out in the freezer for a couple of months.

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Granola

  • 5 cups large flake oats
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups slivered, blanched almonds
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup

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Preheat your oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl, use a spoon to mix the oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, salt, cinnamon and allspice.

Add the oil, vanilla and corn syrup and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Spread the mixture out on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Switch the position of the trays around, then bake another 20 minutes and stir. Switch the trays around one more time and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown (if you’re adding dried fruit, add it after 50 minutes or total baking time — then bake another 10 minutes or until done).

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Let cool completely and package in freezer bags or an air-tight container.  Can stay on your counter for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months.

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My favorite way to have this is with some Greek yogurt and lots of fresh, ripe berries.

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Tortilla Soup

22 Feb

I love Tortilla Soup and make many different yet similar versions of it. What’s so great about Tortilla Soup (in my mind, at least) is that it’s a bowl of hot, slightly spicy (how spicy is up to you), filling soup that’s just what I want on a cold winter day,  yet the flavours take me to southern California and I can pretend I’m sitting in the sun rather than shivering in the ice and snow.

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a new obsession for me, but if you can’t get them, don’t want to use them because they’re too spicy or don’t like them, simply leave them out and add 1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder.  If you have it, add 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika as well.

The fresh, cool avocado that I add when serving the soup is something new for me.  The last couple of times I’ve made this soup I’ve added the avocado and love it.  The creamy, cool avocado is a great addition to the spicy, tart soup flavours.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium orange pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tomatillos, paper removed, cored and chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced 1/2″
  • 19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • tortilla chips
  • lime wedges
  • extra cilantro

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Over medium heat, saute the onion and orange pepper in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes, until soft.  Add the garlic, cumin, salt, black pepper and the tomatillo and cook another minute.

Add the chipotle and the adobo sauce and stir through. Add the stock and tomato juice, cover and bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken and beans and cook for 2 minutes, then add the corn.  Cook another 8-10 minutes, or until the soup just comes back to the simmer, the corn is hot and the chicken has cooked through.

Add the lime juice and cilantro, stir through and taste, checking the seasoning and adjusting if necessary.

Top each bowl with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips and extra lime wedges and chopped cilantro on the side.

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Simple Sides: Roasted Cauliflower

20 Feb

I’ve always liked cauliflower — even when I was really young, I always liked the vegetables that most kids don’t. I’m quite happy with simply steamed cauliflower, but I’ll take it in a soup, with sauces, in a stir-fry, a quiche or many other recipes.  But just like my crispy smashed potatoes, one of my absolutely favorites ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. (It also happens to be great for Passover.)

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Just like those crispy smashed potatoes, the ingredient list is small — only four items:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large cauliflower, washed well and broken down into small florets

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Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cauliflower and mix until the oil, salt and garlic are evenly distributed.  Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast for 20 minutes, then toss and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges golden brown.  Serve immediately.

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** Any leftovers are great chopped up and added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Pulled BBQ Beef

7 Feb

I  planned on posting this last week for a great Superbowl Sunday dinner idea. Though I’m not a football fan (I’d watch hockey over football any day), I thought this was a great option.  Alas, do to some technical difficulties, my blog has been down for over a week.   But it’s still a great recipe and with a very short prep time, you’re free to watch the hockey game or anything else while it slowly cooks.

This is an easy recipe.  Mix everything together and toss it in the oven or slow-cooker for several hours and you’re good to go.

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This is a hearty, filling meal. It’s fun. Finally, it’s delicious.

I’ve done this with a shoulder roast in the past, and you can, but I really prefer a chuck roast (boneless here, but you can use bone-in).

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Raw, ready to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. beef chuck roast (boneless)
  • salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. fancy molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
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After 5 hours. .

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and place in a Dutch oven or large pot with lid.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a mixing bowl and pour the sauce over the roast.  Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 5 hours, turning the roast over every 2 hours.  It’s ready when the meat breaks apart easily when you stick a fork in it.

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Shredded, mixed with sauce.

Remove the meat from the pot, placing it on a large plate or in a bowl.  Use a spoon to carefully remove as much fat as possible from the top of the sauce.  (If you’re not eating this right away, you can chill the sauce, remove the fat, then reheat it before serving.)

Use two forks to break the roast into small chunks or to shred it.  Remove any fat as you go.

Return the meat to the sauce and mix, making sure all of the beef has been coated in sauce.  Serve on a soft bun on it’s own, or try it with some coleslaw added to the sandwich.

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Makes 6-8 big sandwiches.

** If you’re using a slow cooker, cook for 10 hours on low or until the roast is fork tender and pulls apart easily when using two forks.

Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

29 Jan

It has been cold here.  I mean really, really cold. I hate to complain about the weather because there’s more to my little region of the world than the cold weather, but when temperatures are hitting -40°C it has a big impact.  By the time the work day is over and I’ve made it through the frigid temperatures back home I’m there for the night and I’m looking for something to warm me up.

One of the best ways to warm up is with a steaming bowl of soup.  Between the weather and the fact that we still have a couple of days left of National Soup Month, I decided to share a quick, simple and delicious recipe with you.  It’s based on the Coconut Sweet Potato Soup that’s in the 2nd edition of my book, Soup – A Kosher Collection with a few changes that reflected my mood and what I had on hand in my kitchen when I made it a few nights ago.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 lbs. (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 5 cups chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock to keep it parve)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute for 4-5 minutes, until the shallots are soft but not browned.  Add the garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add the sweet potatoes and chicken stock, cover and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Puree the soup — I like to use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot, but if you don’t have one, use a food processor or blender to puree the soup in small batches.  When it’s pureed and smooth, return the pot to low heat and add the coconut milk and lemon juice, heating until it just returns to the simmer.

Taste the soup and check for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.  Serve!

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Crispy Smashed Potatoes

22 Jan

imageBy special request, this is how I make my Crispy Smashed Potatoes.  They’re not difficult, and this is more of a technique than a recipe — once you’ve made them, you don’t have to worry about quantities, just follow procedure.  But if you’re a stickler for recipes, here are the quantities:

  • 2 lbs. new potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt

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Place the clean potatoes in a pot and cover with cold, salted water.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.  Drain very well.  Cool enough so that you can handle — but the warmer they are when you smash them the better.

imageWhile the potatoes are simmering, preheat your oven to  400° F on convection or 425° F if you don’t have convection.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Now, I use a heavy glass for the next step but you can use a can, mallet or anything else you might have to press each potato down until it’s smashed into a disk.  Smash/press them until they’re all the same thickness and line them up on your baking sheet in a single layer (use another baking sheet if there’s not enough room on the first one).

Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over the potatoes, making sure each potato gets some.  Sprinkle 3/4 tsp. of salt oven them and then flip them all over.  Drizzle another 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and another 3/4 tsp. of salt oven the potatoes.

Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until they’ve started to brown.  Flip them all over again and roast another 20 minutes or until they are all browned and crispy.  Serve right away (ketchup is optional).

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Meat Chili with Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

10 Jan

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I’ve never used chipotle peppers in adobo Sauce — mainly because I’ve never been able to find a kosher version before. But a while ago I spotted this product on a supplier’s list and ordered a case thinking something like “ah! now I will use these!”. Well . . about six months later, I’ve finally tried them. — and loved them!

If you’ve never used them or had them, they are smoked peppers (often jalapeno) in a delicious sauce made of vinegar, tomato and spices.  On a recent trip to California, I became addicted to a chipotle salsa I had that finally pushed me into trying to cook with them at home.

There are all sorts of things you could do with these, but I started off with a batch of chili. Note that these peppers can be quite spicy and if you don’t love spicy food, go easy on them.  My recipe calls for 2 chipotle peppers (seeds removed), but you can go down to one — or you can even leave them out and just use the adobo sauce.  On the other hand, if you love spicy food, use more of them or forgo removing the seeds.

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce add  rich, smoky and spicy flavors to this meaty chili.  I tasted it right away and liked it, but not as much as I liked it when I reheated it the next day.  I also like it on it’s own, but it was even better when I squeezed some lime juice into it and dusted the top with some chopped cilantro.   Serve on it’s own, with taco chips for scooping or over a baked potato or pasta.

Chili – serves 8

  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder (Ancho)
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 19 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 x chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (seeds removed and finely chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • fresh cilantro and limes for garnishing

Combine the cold water and ground beef in a pot, using your hands or a spoon to break up the ground beef as much as possible. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface.  Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, poblano pepper and salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  You just want to sweat the vegetables to soften them, not brown them.

Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder (I like Ancho or other single pepper chili powder) and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add the tomatoes, black beans, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce and the ground beef and water you’ve set aside.  Bring to a simmer over medium then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and check for seasoning.  Eat right away or chill or freeze for later.

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(inter)National Soup Month

7 Jan

According to daysoftheyear.com, January is National Soup Month. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this makes sense — for those of us in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, January can be a bitterly cold month and a warm bowl of soup can warm you from the inside out.

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(c) Pam Reiss

Now, I personally don’t believe you need to have a month out of the year set aside to enjoy soup. I’m an advocate of cooking soup throughout the year — there are so many different types of soups you can make that trying to cram them all into one month is impossible.  Not only that, but different growing seasons mean that some ingredients just aren’t available in January and you need to take advantage in the spring or summer of what’s readily available.

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(c) Pam Reiss

But just because I don’t like to limit soups to one month, it doesn’t mean I can’t get behind supporting and encouraging Soup Month.  I think everybody should make soup all the time.  Meat soups, dairy soups, parve soups, hot soups and cold soups.  Broths, chunky soups, chowders, pureed soups, thin soups and thick soups.  There are so many options.

This weekend I made a big pot of chicken soup.  I admit, it’s the soup I make more than any other.  First, I like to have some in the freezer to use in other recipes or just to pull out when I need a bowl of Jewish Penicillin.  But it’s more than that.  I have a strong connection to chicken soup.  It’s in my bones.  With a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove top I’m transported to my grandmother’s kitchen. The aromas coming from my pot of soup are the exact aromas that greeted me at the door every Friday night when I arrived at her house for our weekly Shabbat dinner.

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(c) Pam Reiss

It’s been many years since my grandmother was around to make a pot of chicken soup, but the memories have grown to include my own mother’s pot of simmering soup and the vats and vats of chicken soup we make at work. And having moved into a new home myself in the last year, one of the first things I did was make a huge pot of chicken soup (and meat kreplach), creating the same memory in my own kitchen that I have from my grandmother and mother’s kitchens.

I have recipes for Chicken Soup in both my cookbooks, and they’re great for learning how to make it, but once you’ve been making it for years, you can do it by sight, smell and taste.

No Quantities Chicken Soup Recipe (check cookbooks for quantities)

  • place lots and lots of chicken bones, wings and necks into a large pot, filling your pot 2/3s with chicken parts
  • cover with cold water, and place the pot over high heat
  • bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum that rises to the top
  • as soon as it’s simmering, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, continuing to skim the top until there is no more scum
  • add yellow onions (peeled, but left whole), carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks), parsnips (peeled and cut into large chunks), celery (cut into large chunks) and simmer, skimming until all of the scum is removed
  • simmer another hour
  • add fresh dill, and simmer another 30 minutes
  • taste
  • if it’s too watery, simmer longer, letting the liquid reduce, if it’s rich enough, season with salt to taste
  • use tongs to remove any large pieces of vegetable and chicken and discard (we’re not using chicken with much meat on the bones, just bones, necks and wings, so there isn’t much worth keeping)
  • use a ladle to pour the broth through cheesecloth into clean bowls or pots
  • to chill the soup quickly, the night before I make chicken soup, I fill a few small freezer bags 2/3s with water, expel any extra air, close and freeze – once the soup has been strained, carefully place the frozen bags of ice in the broth and leave for 5-10 minutes  – the soup should be cool and ready for the fridge (remove the bags before refrigerating)
  • leave the soup in the fridge for a couple of hours, then carefully remove any fat from the top of the soup with a spoon
  • reheat when ready to eat or freeze for later use

To purchase the 2nd edition of Soup a Kosher Collection (with new recipes), follow these links:

In the USA: amazon.com

In Canada: amazon.ca

Passover Cheese Blintzes

9 Apr

Every year we turn our kosher food store into a Passover kosher food store.  For over a month, from Purim through Pesach, my days are all about Passover. We pack away all of the  chometz and get tonnes and tonnes (literally) of kosher for Passover food – it takes us days to get everything unpacked and on the shelves. We even rent a 40 foot train container and park it in our parking lot for extra storage.

As soon as that first items hit the shelves (or even before that) our days are filled with customer questions – about the products we sell, about the foods we cook and about recipes and menu ideas.  Some people love cooking for Passover — they love pulling out the recipes that are traditional in there family and/or experimenting with new recipes and ideas.  Others . . . well, others feel differently.  They fear Passover and loathe matzo.  I also hear a lot of complaints about how heavy the food is.  But it doesn’t have to be.

I am firmly in the camp that likes Passover food.  Really. I actually like matzo. I hear people say they think it tastes like cardboard all the time.  I have no problem with a piece of matzo with butter and some fruit for breakfast. In fact, I’m quite happy with it. Seder meals that include soups, starters, at least two meats, several sides, and dessert can weigh you down, but those meals don’t have to, and the rest of the week can certainly focus on other, lighter things.

One of my favourite treats, something that’s good all year round but I tend to cook rarely outside of Passover is cheese blintzes. The delicate wrapper (bletlach) filled with creamy cheese and served with strawberries and a crisp salad make a great dinner — one that I enjoyed  tonight.  They were so delicious I was questioning my decision to keep them as a Passover treat — but maybe that’s part of what makes them so special.

Blintz Wrappers / Bletlach (based on a recipe from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection)

It may take a few tries to get the hang of making these, but once you do, they’re easy to make. Fill them with cheese, fruit, potatoes or meat.

4 large eggs

1/2 cup cool water

5 Tbsp. potato starch

1/4 tsp. salt

oil for the skillet

Whisk the eggs, water, potato starch and salt together in a large measuring cup and let it rest for a few minutes.  Whisk again, making sure you get rid of any potato starch lumps.  Heat an 8″ non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Lightly brush the pan with oil — I like grape seed.  Whisk the batter again and pour some into the pan — swirl the pan immediately so that the batter forms a thin layer and pour any excess batter back into the measuring cup.

Cook until the blettle (single bletlach) starts to bubble a little, the top is dry to the touch, the bottom just starts to brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan.  Loosen the edges and turn the blettle out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Continue with the rest of the batter, whisking before each blettle and brushing with oil after every 2 or 3 bletlach — you should get 12-15 bletlach from one batch.  Separate the layers of bletlach with parchment paper.

Cheese Filling

2 lbs. 1% pressed cottage cheese (or paper or baker’s cheese)

4 large eggs

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Assemble the blintzes by placing one wrapper on your work surface with the cooked-side up.

Place approximately 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture along the bottom edge of the wrapper and roll it up from the bottom so that the filling is covered with the blettle.  Fold the left and right sides in so that both ends are closed then continue to roll up from the bottom, using the whole blettle.  Continue with the rest of the bletlach and filling.

You can refrigerate or freeze them at this point or heat some butter in a skillet and brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve on their own or with strawberries and sour cream.

Blintz Strawberries

These strawberries are great with the blintzes or use to top your matzo brei for breakfast.

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced

3 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 tsp. potato starch

2 tsp. cool water

Place the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a pot over medium heat and cook until the strawberries have release some juice and the liquid comes to a simmer — this should take about 5 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk the potato starch and water together.  Add to the pot and stir through.  Cook another minute, or until the juices have thickened slightly.  Remove from heat. Serve hot of chill and serve cold.