#ChronicleBooks #LeahKoenig #LindaPugliese #LittleBookofJewishFeasts #brunch #blintzes #souffle
Leah Koenig’s flavors are amazing! Just delicious! Little Book of Jewish Feasts is just a little bigger than my hand. There are 25 main dishes in it for holidays. There are no sides in it, but she does make some recommendations. The dishes are so special and are pretty easy. Some of her techniques are unusual, but absolutely brilliant for making a dish appropriate for feeding a crowd. We’ve loved everything we’ve tried and totally recommend it!
A huge thanks to Chronicle Books for letting me share the recipe for Blintz Soufflé with you! This is one of my favorite brunch dishes, and you can make it in advance and bake it off the morning you need it. It’s absolutely fabulous! You can hug me later! 😀
Little Book of Jewish Feasts by Leah Koenig, photographs by Linda Pugliese (Chronicle Books, 2018.)
Ashkenazi Jews have a custom of serving dairy foods on the holiday of Shavuot. Aside from cheesecake, blintzes filled with soft cheese and fried in butter are perhaps the most iconically indulgent dish. Typically, blintzes are fried and served individually. But some home cooks have adapted the recipe to feed a crowd, layering the filled rolls into a casserole dish and covering them with a sweet, eggy custard. The soufflé emerges from the oven puffed and golden, the perfect dairy centerpiece for a Shavuot lunch or Yom Kippur break-fast meal. Blintz soufflé is a great make-ahead dish, as it can be assembled the night before serving, covered, and refrigerated (unbaked) overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven and bake as directed. And while nothing tops the flavor or sense of culinary accomplishment that comes with making this dish entirely from scratch, frozen cheese blintzes can be substituted for the homemade. Thaw approximately 18 blintzes enough to separate them, then arrange snugly in the baking dish, and top with the egg custard.
1 ½ cups [360 ml] milk
¼ cup [50 g] sugar
2 cups [280 g] all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Unsalted butter for frying (about 6 Tablespoons [85 g])
2 cups [480 g] ricotta cheese
4 oz [115 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups [360 g] sour cream
½ cup [100 g] sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
¼ cup [60 ml] orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries for serving
1.Make the blintz batter: Combine the milk, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt in a food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until smooth. It should be the consistency of heavy cream. Let the batter rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
2.Meanwhile, make the filling: Stir together the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl until combined; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
3.Tear or cut out 18 squares of parchment paper and set aside. (These will go between the blintz wrappers as you cook and stack them – no need to cut them precisely.) Melt approximately 1 teaspoon of butter in an 8-in [20-cm] nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour ¼ cup [60 ml] of the batter in the pan; immediately pick up the pan and swirl it in all directions to coat the bottom evenly with a thin layer of the batter. Cook until the bottom is golden and the center is just dry, about 1 minute. (Do not flip the blintz wrapper.) Remove the wrapper with a spatula and place it on a piece of parchment paper. Continue making the wrappers, adding more butter to the pan as needed and stacking the wrappers in between the sheets of parchment as you go. You should end up with about 18 wrappers.
4.Fill the wrappers: Spoon 2 heaping Tablespoons of the filling onto the lower third of each wrapper, leaving ½ in [12 mm] at the bottom uncovered. Fold that ½ in [12 mm] up over the filling, then fold in each side toward the center. Roll the blintz up and away from you, tucking the filling inside a neat package. Lay the filled blintz, seam-side down, on a plate and continue assembling blintzes with the remaining wrappers and filling.
5.Make the custard and assemble the soufflé: Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Brush the bottom of a 9-by-13-in [23-by-33-cm] baking dish with the melted butter. Arrange the filled blintzes, seam-side down, in the bottom of the dish. If necessary, squeeze them together a little to fit. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the custard over the blintzes.
6.Bake until puffed and golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm, topped with berries. Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Back to that book….
My thoughts and pics on the dishes we tried:
1) Fesenjan (Persian Chicken, Walnut, and Pomegranate Stew) – p 81. The ground, toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses make this so rich and filling. The chicken absorbs all that flavor, and the gravy is wonderfully thick. Then it gets fresh pops from parsley and pomegranate arils. I just served this over a little basmati rice.
2) Blintz Soufflé – p 23. Oh, this is just divine. You make the blintz wrappers and stack them on parchment so they don’t stick together, give them their cheese filling and roll them up. Then they go into a casserole and get smothered in a velvety, orange-kissed custard. It all puffs up and gets super fragrant in the oven. Then it gets topped with fresh berries that play so nicely with the orange and vanilla. I gave it a little dusting of powdered sugar. Such a total keeper.
3) Poppy Seed Schnitzel – p 87. This is amazing schnitzel! There’s supposed to be ¾ of a cup of poppy and sesame seeds. I was 2 tablespoons short, but I have a jar of everything bagel topping for when I make bagels, so I subbed in those 2 tablespoons with that. I might do that on purpose next time. We all loved this! My littlest yelled, “Oh my yum!” it’s so good.
4) Eggplant Kuku (Persian Frittata) – p 17. The eggplant, onion, and olive oil make this such a decadent frittata. I added the optional feta, and I’m so glad I did, because the tangy salty bits really popped.
5) Balsamic and Brown Sugar Brisket – p 99. Fantastic depth of flavor. It’s super juicy and tender.
6) T’fina Pakaila (white bean and meatball stew) – p 89. This is a tremendously rich stew. It’s beef flanken and beef meatballs, but because of the spices used (cumin, cinnamon….), my kids thought it was game. It’s super filling. Don’t fill the bowls as high as you usually do for stew!
Since it’s a small volume, I’ll list the other dishes, rather than telling you which I’ve flagged: Kousa b’Jibn (crustless zucchini quiche) – p 19 * Berkuks (sweet couscous with milk) – p 27 * Hortopita (wild greens pie) – p 31 * Mina (matzo pie with leeks and spinach) – p 35 * Mushroom Moussaka – p 37 * Seven-Vegetable Tagine – p 41 * Loubia (black-eyed pea stew) – p 45 * Fennel and Mustard Seed Gravlax – p 49 * Roasted Salmon with Lemon-Dill Sauce – p 51 * Chraime (spicy sephardi fish fillets) – p 55 * Pesce All’Ebraica (sweet and sour Jewish fish) p 57 * Chicken with Quince and Almonds – p 67 * Chicken Fricassee – p 71 * Roast Chicken with Leek, Meyer Lemon, and Parsnip – p 75 * Sofrito (braised chicken with fried potatoes – p 77 * Pollo Frito per Hanukkah (fried chicken for Hanukkah) – p 83 * Holishkes (stuffed cabbage) – p 93 * Lamb Biryani – p 105 * Mrouzia (lamb and dried fruit tagine) – p 109
*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.