Makes 6 to 8 servings
Quarantine Kitchen Note: Additional substitutions for farmer’s cheese: drained, pressed whole milk cottage or ricotta cheese. Substitutions for sour cream: labne or whole milk Greek yogurt. And if you just want to use frozen blintzes + souffle mixture, I won’t tell a soul.
Back in the 1960s, Cheese Blintz Soufflé was quite the thing among Jewish cooks. It was so popular, that my mother-in-law’s Temple Sisterhood cookbook offered three versions. The casserole called for frozen blintzes, but the best part was the “soufflé”—eggs, sour cream, and sugar—that turned into a puffed, golden custard in the oven. My version from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen begins with delicate, easy-to-make crepes that are layered, lasagne-style, with the familiar cheese-blintz filling and topped with the magic soufflé. It is, in fact, a kind of pashtida, the Israeli term for the noodle, egg, or dairy casseroles that are especially popular for Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that occurs in May or June. Serve with imported Italian or Hungarian preserved cherries, or other fresh or preserved fruit toppings you have on hand. At this time of year, try braising fresh cherries in leftover red wine (SJK, page 234).
The dish may be assembled the night before and baked just before brunch, supper, or dessert. The recipe can be doubled, and the crepes can be made ahead and frozen. Unlike traditional crepes for blintzes, which are browned only on one side, these crepes are browned lightly on the second side.
For the Crepes
2 eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup (180 ml) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
¾ cup (95 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (55 g) butter, melted
For The Cheese Filling
¾ pound (340 g) farmer cheese
½ cup (115 g) fromage blanc or crème fraîche
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for the baking dish
For the Custard
3 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup (150 g) sour cream
To Make the Crepe Batter:
In a blender, combine eggs, milk, water, flour, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the butter and blend until smooth, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the jar and blend again briefly. You should have 2 cups (480 ml) of batter the consistency of thin cream. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.
To Make the Crepes:
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Stir the crepe batter to re-blend. Heat a 6- or 7-inch (15- or 17-cm) crepe pan or skillet over medium-high heat. When a tiny drop of water flicked into the pan skitters immediately, you are ready to cook. Brush the pan lightly with a bit of the remaining butter. Pour in about 2 tablespoons of the batter and immediately tilt the pan to distribute the batter evenly. Cook until the edges of the crepe are lightly crisped, the top surface no longer looks wet, and the underside is light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the crepe and lightly brown the second side, about 1 minute. Flip the crepe, browner side down, onto the sheet pan.
Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with melted butter only as needed to keep the crepes from sticking, placing them in a single layer on the sheet pan. Begin stacking the second layer on the coolest crepes. You should have about 12 crepes (you will only need 9 crepes for the dish; consider the extras as insurance or a bonus). When completely cool, the crepes can be arranged in a single stack, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day. To freeze the crepes, layer them with parchment paper.
To Make the Filling:
Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to beat together the cheeses, egg, sugar, salt, and the cinnamon, if using.
To Assemble the Dish:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the 2 tablespoons melted butter over the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square flameproof baking dish. Lay 3 crepes, browner side down, in a single layer on the bottom and one third the way up the sides of the pan, generously overlapping 2 of the crepes to fit and cutting the third crepe in half to fit, so that the bottom of the baking dish and the lower third of its sides are lined. Spoon half the cheese filling over the crepes and use an offset spatula to smooth the surface. Cover with a second layer of 3 crepes, browner side down. Spoon the remaining filling over the crepes. Top with the remaining 3 crepes, browner side up. (The dish can be made to this point 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.)
To Make the Custard:
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thickened, then whisk in the sour cream until well blended. Pour evenly over the casserole.
Bake until the custard is puffed and set, about 45 minutes. Heat the broiler and place the casserole under the broiler until the custard bubbles and is browned in places, about 2 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.
Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Staci Valentine.