Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cheese Blintzes and My Empire State of Mind

There's nothing you can’t do, now you're in New York.
These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you,

Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York.

– Lyrics from Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z, Rapper and Trophy Husband

There are certain recipes that change the way you think about food – for me, cheese blintzes is one of them. I was raised on the traditional American suburban breakfast repertoire of pop-tarts, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., so when I was told these odd looking cheese-filled bundles sitting on the dark pool of fruit sauce were "breakfast," it took a few moments to register such a thing was possible.

In addition to helping me realize there was a whole new world of breakfast
options out there, cheese blintzes also fed my fascination with New York City. My father grew up in New York, but the small town in which he married my mother and started his family was about as far removed from the City as you could get.

His colorful stories (many of which were true) about growing up in New York City often included mentions of strange and exotic foods from his childhood. I loved these stories, and fell in love with New York through them.

On the occasions when I would get to taste things like knishes, lox, pastrami, and blintzes, it was more than just something to eat; it was a visceral connection to another place.

Ukrainian immigrants (John senior was half Ukrainian) brought these wonderful cheese-filled crepes to New York City, and the Big Apple is now considered the blintz capital of the world (Photo (c) Flickr user kennymatic).

As you watch this video recipe, it may seem a little complicated, but while it does have several steps, they're fairly simple and so worth the effort. This video wa
s shot for during my trip to NYC a couple months ago, so when you click on the video below, you'll be taken to the recipe page there.

Cheese blintzes are a perfect special occasion breakfast or brunch dish, and can be made up ahead of time and finished at the last minute. I hope you give them a try. Thanks Dad. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Boy, would I ever love to watch this video! Is it me or is there something amiss?

Jackie Reynolds said...


Chef John said...

bad link! just fixed!

Lucia said...

Doh!, I don't know why in the recente moths I can't watch videos.

breathingmylife said...

wow..those look yummy! would love to try them out :-/

ghanima said...

Wow, Chef! Those look fantastic. I'm going to have to try making those (hopefully, this weekend).

Anonymous said...

Two quick questions. 1. Can I use melted butter in place of the oil? 2. Can I use just ricotta and leave out the cream cheese?

Anonymous said...

someone jealous of beyonce?

Melissa said...

Those look delicious!
Thanks for a new idea for breakfast!

Do you think it would work to make these ahead of time up to the point where the cheese is rolled in the crepe, and then in the morning fry them and bake?

MeCaitlyn said...

wow, this is really fancy,
i definitely have to try this out,
great recipe!!

Anonymous said...

Coupla questions:
* What side of the crepe did you fill, first cooked side or second or does it matter?
* Is this your kitchen? (did you remodel?)
* Did you lose some weight? (don't answer if you feel this is too personal)

Luisa Vacaville

Chef John said...

if you make ahead I would fry and then bake later. The filling is loose and may leak out.

Butter is ok to fry, but all ricotta I have no idea. it would change the texture for sure.

Chef John said...

-doesn't matter what side you fill.

-was filmed in Brooklyn (explained in old posts - search "Brooklyn")

-not sure about the weight, I always think I look fantastic!

milkshake said...

Chef this is wonderful!

By the way, another even more fancy fruit sauce can be made simply by mixing one pack of frozen blueberries with one pack of frozen raspberries and about five tablespoons of cane sugar - no water - and then heat very gently and stir until everything thaws and liquifies. Do not simmer. Then strain through a coarse mesh. The sauce has to be eaten the same day because it does not store well, but finishing it all with crepes (or pancakes) is never a problem.

stira said...

Chef John, that was such a surprise to see my favorite breakfast recipe on my favorite food blog!

The recipe is exactly my mother taught me, with the exception of the fruit sauce - in the part of Ukraine I'm from we use either whipped cream or sour cream as a sauce, but I think your version is great too

Thanks for sharing this recipe with the world!

your fan from Ukraine

Anonymous said...

Chef John, I enjoy your site and visit regularly.

Why nab a NY skyline photo from somebody's Flicker account? It's not proper, even with credit.

For a buck or so you could buy a royalty free photo from dozens of sites that sell them.

The blog world is the wild west of copyright infringement. Don't do it.

Your site has SO much original content. Show us your beautiful food photos. That's plenty.

Washington, DC

Chef John said...

I didn't nab anything. There are many different Creative Commons (CC) designations on Flikr. Some, like this photo allows display as long as you attribute to the user. I assume that's why they post and share them, so people can see them. This is NOT copyright infringement. Check your facts before you accuse someone of something "not proper."

Chef John said...

If anyone want more info on CC here is the link

Anonymous said...

I apologize, and Chef John is absolutely correct.

Thank you for taking the blogger high road. I should have not assumed otherwise from you.

I've been duly smacked down.

It still added nothing to the story and it felt cheesy. (No pun intended.)

Washington, DC

Anonymous said...

Can't agree with you Jeff .Your still need a smack. A photo of the beach in Malibu would add nothing to this story, but the skyline of NY went perfectly with Chef John's story about his Dad growing up in NYC.

robyn said...

Hello my favorite chef :)

May I know whether there's a difference between regular jam and fruit preserves or are they the same?

Chef John said...

to me they are the same thing. thanks!

Anonymous said...


Chef Rick said...

What would be the best way to prep these for a restaurant?

I am thinking baking them off then refrigerating...
Then browning in a pan to reheat and finish when ordered by the customer.

Make sense?

Chef John said...

That should work!

whitterbug23 said...

These were amazing. My sister and I made two different versions (double batch of crepes). In the first version I switched the lemon zest for a little bit of maple extract (I tried using maple syrup but you could hardly taste the maple and it made the mix terribly runny). I added a little of the cream mix my sister made and a tablespoon or 2 of my maple mix. Once they were baked I topped them with maple syrup and pecans.

The second version was with rasp. pie filling and cream filling(we had run out of ricotta at this point so my sister subbed cottage cheese that she drained and mixed with a stick blender to make it less chunky). She left out the lemon and added a little vanilla extract. Then, she put pie filling inside with the cream mix and topped the blintzes with more rasp. once they were cooked.

Everyone loved both versions and all but two blintzes were devoured. Thanks for the recipe Chef John, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Sialia said...

So, it's a good filling. And, uh, I liked it. So I made a variation with no sugar/lemon, and with salt & garlic powder instead, and used it to stuff a lasagna. Super creamy and delicious. Thank you for the idea--I never thought of cutting the ricotta with cream cheese before, but this was such an improvement in the texture. Everybody loved it. Thanks Chef John!