It’s almost a countdown, ensuring that this “body of work” called Kitchen Parade includes my family’s oldest and most treasured recipes. This is one. I remember my Canadian mother and grandmother and aunts making potato blintzes, pillows of soft and creamy mashed potatoes wrapped in crepes, served steaming hot, always-always with dollops of sour cream on the side.
And now I make them too! Last month when we were heading to Texas to visit my sister before Thanksgiving, there were leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge so an hour before our departure, I quick-quick made blintzes to carry along! They’re that easy!
Usually though, blintzes are “holiday” food, at Christmas for brunch or breakfast and at Easter with ham, saved for special occasions.
When does Christmas begin, really? This isn’t a calendar question but the consideration of the moment when suddenly, inside our heads, it just “feels” like Christmas and when we call out, "Merry Christmas!" we really mean it.
So what is that first Christmas moment, really?
Is it when the tree goes up? when you switch your playlist to Chrismas music? when the kids return home to the “nest”?
Is it marked by the arrival of the first Christmas card? the first batch of cookies in the oven? an annual concert? settling into It’s a Wonderful Life? finishing the gift wrapping? getting in the car to head for home?
I’d love to know what signifies the “start” of Christmas in your life …
For many years, my closest friends gathered for a Saturday-morning brunch and cookie swap, it came to signify the “start” of Christmas, those special few days before and after Christmas itself, the ones where we gather near, holding dear. We started in a crowded kitchen with tall glasses of cranberry bubbly, then moved to the dining room for a relaxed breakfast, reveling in real conversation. This seems to be a tradition that’s run its course so I’m in search of a new “start” to Christmas. I wonder, what shall it be? I can’t wait to discover!
For a holiday brunch, I often turn to a long-time family recipe for potato blintzes, just packets of mashed potato wrapped in crepes. My mother made blintzes, my aunts made blintzes, my Canadian grandmother made blintzes, served, always, with a dollop of sour cream on the side. That cold finish to the hot potatoes? Dreamy!
You can make blintzes a day or two beforehand (it takes about two hours, start to finish, not counting the oven time) and I seem to remember my mother freezing blintzes too.
OLD FAMILY RECIPE:
Time to table: about 3 hours, can be made ahead
Makes about 26 blintzes
- 6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, about 26 ounces, peeled or unpeeled, your choice
- Cold salted water
(Makes about 3 cups)
- 1 cup cooking water plus more as needed
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup (250g) low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/3 cup grated onion
- 2 large eggs
- 5 large eggs
- 2 cups (250g) flour
- 2-1/2 cups (585g) low-fat milk
- 1/3 cup (60g) vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- For the pan, a little vegetable oil
POTATO FILLING Cut the potatoes into 1-inch slices and rinse under running water. Cover with cold water plus an inch, bring to a boil and let cook until soft.
(I usually mix the Crepe Batter now, while the potatoes cook.)
Set aside about 1 – 2 cups hot cooking liquid. Drain and return the potatoes to the hot pan to cook off excess liquid. Mash the potatoes with about 1 cup cooking water, salt to taste, then add more water as needed for soft, smooth mashed potatoes. Let the potatoes cool a bit.
Whisk together the cottage cheese, onion and eggs, stir this into the potato mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning, make sure it tastes good! Set aside while making the crepes.
MIX CREPE BATTER Mix all the ingredients in a blender.
REST Let Crepe Batter rest at room temperature for 45 minutes (more is fine too, even up to a couple of hours) before cooking the crepes, give the blender a last whirl before beginning to make the crepes. Don’t skip this step, it makes all the difference!
MAKE CREPES Heat a small non-stick skillet on medium high, brush it lightly with oil, then wipe the pan with a tissue to leave just a bare film. You won’t need to oil the pan again.
Pour a scant quarter-cup batter into the skillet, swirling to cover the bottom, it should sizzle a bit. Let the crepe cook until the edges begin to brown a bit and “air bubbles” pop in the center, just a minute or two, then turn over with a spatula and cook just for 30 seconds or so. Set aside to cool, stacking the crepes as they’re done.
FILL THE CREPES Put a crepe on a work surface, the “first side cooked” down (it usually has more color). Add a dollop of Potato Filling in the center, then fold over the two sides, then the top and the bottom to form a neat package. Place in an oven-safe baking dish, it’s fine stack two or three layers deep. Finish with the remaining crepes.
BAKE Heat oven to 350F(175C). Cover crepes with foil and bake until sizzling hot, about 45 minutes.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Wrap the baking dish in foil and refrigerate for one to two days. Let come to room temperature for one to two hours, then bake at 350F(175F) for an hour.
TO SERVE Serve with sour cream.
How to Make Potato Blintzes, Extra Tips
Upper left - Mix the Crepe Batter in a blender. If you have a scale, weigh the ingredients, no need for measuring cups!
Upper right - Set up an assembly line to make the crepes: the skillet, the Crepe Batter, a plate for the measuring cup, a plate for the finished crepes.
Lower left - Cook the crepes until they're golden in color.
Lower right - Stack the crepes as they're finished, they won't stick together.
Upper left - Make the Potato Filling, mashed potatoes with onion, cottage cheese and eggs.
Upper right - Now it's time to fill the crepes to make blintzes. Think "pillows" or "packets" and they'll come together in no time! First place a crepe on a work surface, dollop some Potato Filling in the center.
Center left - Then fold the left and right sides of the crepe over the filling.
Center right - And then fold the top over.
Lower left - And then the bottom. See what a neat little pillow you've made?!
Lower right - Collect the blintzes in an oven-safe dish, it's okay to stack the blintzes, they don't stick together.
This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2012
Five-Week Bran Muffins Swiss Muesli Eggnog French Toast with Apple Cranberry Compote Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Apples & Caramelized Onions Overnight Coffeecake A Birthday Cake for Jesus: A Story
This Week, Elsewhere
Tilapia with a Buerre Blanc aux Champignon and Carrot Purée from The Crossing
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
More Recipes for Holiday Brunches & Christmas Morning
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