Yummmmm… Shavuot — a.k.a., seven weeks since Passover, a.k.a., the pilgrimage festival for grain (barley and wheat), a.k.a., the dairy holiday.
Why “the dairy holiday”? It’s traditional to eat only dairy (and pareve) foods because Shavuot commemorates the receiving of the Torah from Mount Sinai. The connection? Before we got the Torah, we didn’t know about the laws of shechita (ritual slaughter of animals) and it’s said that the meat they had prepared was not in accordance with the new laws, so they ate a simple dairy meal instead.
Today, to uphold this tradition, we eat milk-ful dishes like blintzes and cheesecake. I know — being Jewish is sooooooo rough.
There are a lot of traditions for celebrating Shavuot, including staying up all night studying and learning, confirmation services at many Reform and Conservative temples (a practice with really lovely parallels to the Jewish people receiving the Torah), and reading of Megillah Ruth. The sweet, sweet milky goodness will keep you going until morning (for which may we recommend bagels with cream cheese?).
Below is a basic blintz recipe — nothing crazy, but a solid recipe if you don’t have one of your own. The kids I teach (and pretty much everyone I know who has had them) prefer them served with some kind of fruit pie filling on top, so make sure to pick up (or make) your favorite flavor.
Even better, is that these cheesecake bites are one of the easiest recipes I know, period — not just for cheesecake in general (which can be troublesome to cook through without overheating it, or any number of other possible obstacles). Because they are so small, they don’t require a water bath or a long cook time. Pop ’em in and pop ’em out, then enjoy! Truly, the holiday — if not the land — of milk and honey. B’tayavon! (Bon Appetite! Enjoy!)
Makes: a LOT (50-80 individual items); easily multiplied for big gatherings
3 – 8oz packages of cream cheese or neufchatel
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Box of vanilla wafers (you’ll only use 1/3-1/2 the box)
Fruit (pie filling or fresh)
Foiled mini cupcake wrappers
- Put one vanilla wafer round side down into each cupcake cup; place cups on a baking sheet.
- Mix remaining ingredients together and fill cupcake cups 2/3-full.
- Bake at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for 15 – 25 minutes, until the filling is no longer jiggly.
- Add fruit/pie filling to top; refrigerate or freeze.
From What’s Cooking: Jewish by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen
Makes: 6-8 blintzes
Scant 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 C milk or half milk and half water, if necessary
3 large eggs, beaten
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted, plus extra for frying
juice of one lemon
2 C cottage cheese
3⁄4 C cream cheese, softened
3-4 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
Topping: ~15 oz fruit pie filling
- Prepare the blintzes. Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Whisk in the milk, eggs, salt, sugar, and melted butter until a smooth batter forms. Strain into a measuring pitcher, then add lemon zest. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour. Thin with milk or water if necessary.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Beat the filling ingredients together with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk until smooth and blended. Set aside.
- Heat a 7-inch crepe pan or skillet over medium heat. Brush with melted butter. Pour enough batter into the pan to just coat the bottom. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the top looks slightly dry and set and the bottom is lightly browned. Loosen the edges and carefully turn the pancake. Cook for 10 seconds. Slide onto a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the pancakes.
- Spoon 1-2 Tbsp of filling down the center of 1 pancake. Fold in the sides, covering the filling, then fold up the bottom edge and roll up.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the blintzes, seam-side down, for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Turn and cook for 2 minutes more. Continue with remaining blintzes. You may also finish blintzes in the oven by placing them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cooking for 8-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Transfer to individual plates. Spoon pie filling on top and serve.