Being half-Russkie, im slowly researching & discovering that not all Russian cuisine involves vodka! But instead, delicious, homely & rather naughty comfort food, perfect for keeping those bellies full while frolicking around in knee-deep snow.
Cheese Blintzes are probably something we have all eaten in some shape or form, almost every European country has their own version. The Russians have a delicate crêpe that encases a jammed packed mouth-watering sweet cheese filling that is then fried in butter…yes, butter! Just go with it… Don’t fight it. Cheese blintzes are all about the cold winter comfort & this is no time for substitutions.
The typical filling would be quark or local famers cheese, but I like using ricotta with mascarpone. You can use any type of flavouring that you like, but vanilla & lemon zest are always a crowd pleaser. A dollop of sour cream is usually placed on top or a fruit syrup – black cherries is one of my favourite combinations – but I could not go past the glowing persimmons in the markets.
The combination of persimmons poached in a sugar syrup with peppercorns, black cherries, vanilla bean & star anise is to die for. As you pair a slice of the poached persimmon with the cheese blintz and place it into your mouth, you will shake your head in disgust at how good this is.
What you need
4 tablespoons softened salted butter, room temperature
1 cup full-fat milk
1 cup ‘00’ plain white flour
4 free-range organic eggs
300g full fat fresh ricotta
150g of mascarpone
1 free-range egg
1/3 cup caster sugar
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
zest of half a lemon
2 persimmons, sliced
2 cups water
1 cup caster sugar
8 black peppercorns
6 black cherries, halved & de-seeded
zest of half an orange
1 vanilla pod, seeds removed
2 star anise
Go for it…
Place all the crêpe ingredients into a blender & whiz until you have a smooth, thick consistency. Cover with plastic wrap & place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Grab a small saucepan & place on medium heat, add the sugar, water & bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down, add the peppercorns, black cherries, orange zest, vanilla bean pod (with the seeds removed & set to one side) & star anise, add sliced persimmons, pop on the lid & simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the lid on & allow the syrup to cool.
Take the batter from the fridge, if it looks too thick, add a splash more milk & stir to loosen the batter. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt a knob of butter & spread until the base of the pan is covered. Pour 4 tablespoons (about 1/3 cup batter per crêpe ) of the batter into the frying pan, enough to coat the bottom of the pan, with an even layer when you swirl it around. Leave it until the crêpe becomes crisp around the edges & golden brown. Then flip & cook for 30 seconds on the reverse side. Slide onto a plate to cool & repeat with the reaming batter – you can stack the cooked crêpes on top of each other.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients into a mixing bowl & mix with a spatula until smooth.
To assemble, lay a crêpe flat on your bench top, place 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the centre of the crêpe. Fold the top down over the filling, then the two sides, followed by the bottom. Repeat.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat with a good knob of butter & fry each side of the blintzes until golden brown. Pop on a plate, place a few slices of the poached persimmons on top with a little of the syrup, a light dusting of icing sugar & enjoy.
Fill your blintzes with the cheese filling & pop them in the fridge up to 2 days, ready for frying when ready to eat.