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Lemony Cheese Blintzes

October  7, 2011

Lemony Cheese Blintzes

- Merrill

My relationship with blintzes has never been a close one. I'm not quite sure why, as they involve two of my very favorite things: paper-thin pancakes and fluffy soft cheese. But I'm sure I could count on one hand the total number of blintzes I'd had in my life before last week. Perhaps they're usually a bit too sweet for me? Or maybe it's that they tend to be a little anemic-looking, with soft, wan exteriors and even paler, softer insides.

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Several months ago, our office mate Avi shared his grandmother's blintz recipe with me (last spring I wrote about about her Rhubarb Strawberry Compote) and I've been wanting to make it ever since. I finally made the blintzes last week, and let's just say these are the blintzes for me. Light and lemony and not too sweet, the little pouches are browned and crisped in butter before serving, giving them color and texture. I cut back on the sugar and added lemon zest -- because I, like many of you, can't resist tweaking a recipe -- and served the blintzes with a little applesauce, as befits the season.

Lemony Cheese Blintzes

Serves 6 to 8

For the pancakes:

  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Butter for frying

For the filling:

  • Two 7 1/2-ounce packages of (Avi's grandmother recommends Friendship brand) farmer cheese, salted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Like this post? See Merrill's post from last week: Cream Cheese Cookies

Photos by James Ransom


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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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  • charlotte au chocolat
    charlotte au chocolat
  • Hockeymom
  • Renee Tomar-Levin
    Renee Tomar-Levin
  • Elle Hyson
    Elle Hyson
  • Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker)
    Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker)
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


charlotte A. October 10, 2011
These look delicious!
Hockeymom October 9, 2011
Thanks for your wonderful recipe and slide show presentation. I used to watch my mom make blintzes as a child in our small kitchen. She would swirl the batter around and make the most yummy blintzes which we ate with strawberry jam or sour cream. Mom is gone now, but I will have to make some in her honor.
Renee T. October 9, 2011
I meant to say the Friendship brand, since it is Kosher.
Renee T. October 9, 2011
Farmer cheese can be found in the Kosher refrigerated dairy section at some supermarkets.
Elle H. October 9, 2011
In our home these were called palascinta and the cheeses used were Friendship Farmer or large, curd cottage, both mixed with cream cheese - when these were fried to a golden brown, we ate them plain as no embellishment was needed.

Ordinary B. October 9, 2011
I make blintzes several times a year and my formula uses half ricotta half farmer's cheese. I like the lightness that the ricotta adds. This recipe looks lovely. I love the use of lemon zest.
roz H. October 9, 2011
Back in the 20's, 30's, in Los Angeles, the cheese came from the creamery, it was sold in bulk, a large spoon was used, and into the wax paper covered left hand, went the cheese. Also, the butter came from a hand turned churn and was, with the use of a wooden "spatula", sold bulk. One last thing, sweetened with a spoonful of apricot jam plua a dollop of cheese and some white raisins, the blintzes were folded into a rectangle, and placed into a buttered lasagna size pyrex dish and baked. The sweetness with the butter ended up carmelizing. I can still taste them.

karpenko October 9, 2011
When I make blintzes (we always have them in the late spring for the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which among other things, celebrates dairy foods), I use a mixture of farmer's cheese, sour cream, an egg yolk, some sugar, lemon zest. Sometimes a bit of vanilla extract, a bit of cinnamon and maybe also a bit of thick yogurt. I also often throw in some plumped white sultana raisins The point being to make a thickish, somewhat sweet cheesy filling. They come out very good! And I generally use my go-to crepe recipe rather than the traditional blintz batter ('though they are indeed very similar). THE best thing for frying them in is clarified butter but a mixture of butter and vegetable oil is great, too.
sboulton October 9, 2011
Yes, yes. This really brought back memories. I used to love helping my grandmother make these. She would make them by the dozens. And yes, we are a sour cream accompaniment family. Can't eat cheese blintzes without sour cream and some homemade applesauce or, rhubarb compote. All our grandmothers must have come from the same shtetl.
Bevi October 9, 2011
In my case, my grandmother started a boarding house as part of the farm she and my grandfather bought in the Poconos, and she invited all her schoolteacher colleagues from the Upper West Side to bring their kids up for the summer. (My grandfather farmed, and my grandmother commuted from the city during the school year.) Her friends paid her a very nominal fee for room and board, and the kids slept under netting on the enormous wrap around porch. Several of her friends taught her how to make blintzes. Over the years, the children and their children's children enjoyed these! We also served bowls of cottage cheese on each dining room table, so it was a total dairy fest.
flourpower October 9, 2011
This is very similar to my grandmother's recipe - always Friendship farmer cheese. She used whole eggs in the filling and no lemon but added some cinnamon. She made batches and batches of the blintzes and then wrapped each one in wax paper (sometimes two to a bundle, but always separated by a leaf of wax paper), then stored them in big containers in the freezer. When she wanted to serve the blintzes, she took them straight from the freezer and sauteed them in butter until they were brown and crispy. By then the insides were cooked through and melting. We always ate the hot blintzes with sour cream that was sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
Thanks for the memory. These will be on my table soon!
ATG117 October 9, 2011
These are almost identical to the ones my grandmother made. Hers were definitely sweet and shed put some apricot jam on some of the crepes before filling with the cheese. Always friendship. My mom makes a variation sans zest, but with a touch of lemon extract. We also don't do the crisping in butter, but I like the idea.
CookingMomTR October 8, 2011
What is farmer cheese? Is it like ricotta...or more like cottage cheese? I've never heard of Farmer cheese?
Merrill S. October 8, 2011
I think of it as somewhere between ricotta and feta. Here's a link to the Friendship brand mentioned above: http://www.friendshipdairies.com/products/farmer-cheese.html
CookingMomTR October 8, 2011
Thanks Merrill...I will use Ricotta!. And Blueberry sauce is amazing on anything lemon!
Bevi October 7, 2011
This is a walk down memory lane. We served cheese blintzes at our resort as a supper dish, with sour cream and either apple sauce or blueberry sauce. Ours were rectangles, and so very good. I don't think we were very hip to lemon zest, though. We had a huge griddle and one of my jobs was to watch over the making of the crepes.
Merrill S. October 8, 2011
Mmm, blueberry sauce...
amysarah October 7, 2011
My grandmother was Queen of Blintzes - hers were light, buttery, not too sweet. Haven't made them in a while, but your recipe is very close to hers - and I love the lemon addition (hers didn't include it; I think she learned from her mother/grandmother, and fresh citrus wasn't exactly a happening thing back on the shtetl ;-) I used to make blintzes for my father, towards the end of his life - they were his soul/comfort food. I think I'll make yours for the family breakfast on Thanksgiving. Seems fitting. (Btw, making them ahead of frying last minute works fine.)
Merrill S. October 8, 2011
What a nice history. And thanks for the tip on making ahead!
allie October 7, 2011
Merrill, thoughts on what part of this you can do in advance?
Merrill S. October 7, 2011
I would think you could make both the filling and the crepes in advance, and then wrap and brown the blintzes right before serving.
EmilyC October 7, 2011
That last step of browning the little bundles in butter sold me! I'm saving this to try over the holidays -- or hopefully sooner.
Merrill S. October 7, 2011
That clinched it for me too.
dymnyno October 7, 2011
I don't think I have ever tried a blintze. They look delicious. And, I am a cheese lover!
Merrill S. October 7, 2011
You may become a convert too...
Rivka October 7, 2011
YES! Amazing. I've been making blintzes with Friendship farmer cheese for years. It has the perfect texture. What a lovely recipe - can't wait to try it.
Merrill S. October 7, 2011
Thanks! According to Avi, Friendship is the best!