When we moved to Scotland, we quickly discovered that there are several sets of words that are all one-removed from US words: things like fries, which here are chips, and chips, which over here are crisps; or menswear, which is a veritable landmine of words that exist in both American and British English, but have different meanings in each: American suspenders are British braces, but British suspenders are an American garter belt; an American vest is a British gilet or sometimes a waistcoat if it’s fancy, but a British vest is a American tank top and a British tank top is an American sweater vest. American pants are British trousers and British pants are American underwear. It’s best just not to try to shop for menswear in the UK, and most definitely best not to ever discuss your legwear.
Relatedly (bear with me), tomorrow is Pancake Day here in the UK, which means it’s Fat Tuesday, Lent is about to start, and it’s time to use up all those pesky ‘luxuries’ in your pantry by… making a batch of pancakes? This is a tradition over here in Europe, and although I know it persists in some parts of the US, it definitely wasn’t a tradition I was aware of before moving to Scotland. Confusingly, though, the ‘pancakes’ served on Pancake Day over here are typically served with lemon and powdered sugar, and while they’re not usually as thin as a French crepe, they’re also definitely not as thick as American pancakes… which brings me to the confusing verbiage: in the US, we use the term ‘flapjack’ and ‘pancake’ interchangeably, but here in the UK, a flapjack is thick, soft, usually oat-based insanely sweet confection that I would most liken to a homemade granola bar. (Incidentally, I hate British flapjacks.) So the pancakes you eat for Pancake Day aren’t exactly crepes and they’re not exactly pancakes and they’re most definitely not flapjacks… so where does that leave us?
As discussed last year, my go-to Pancake Day will be, probably for the rest of time, my mom’s crepes, but in the interest of keeping things new and fresh around here, this year we went with blintzes instead, and apparently this is far more likely to be a historically accurate choice for someone like Eleanor, whose heritage was almost exclusively Eastern European. ‘What’s a blintz?’ you may be asking, if you are neither Jewish nor Eastern European, which, according to my research, are the two groups of people who most deserve credit for the wonder that is the blintz.* A blintz is a yeasted pancake (as opposed to a non-yeasted French crepe), thinner than a pancake but thicker than a crepe, and traditionally eaten this time of year to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of Lent.
Basically, it’s a double-whammy of awesome: you take a pancake, and instead of just topping it with things that are delicious, you also fill it with things that are delicious (sweetened cottage cheese with just enough lemon essence to brighten the whole thing up), and then you can even eat it for dinner if you want to. Traditionally, they’re fried after being filled with delicious cheese filling, but since this recipe came from an article about tailoring ‘blintzes to your diet,’ this version is slightly healthier as they’re baked instead of fried at the end. And they’re delicious. Even my sweet-phobic husband, who hates sweet breakfast foods, was wild about these.
*This recipe definitely takes the cake for the most offensive newspaper article so far found in the box: it starts out 'You don't have to be Jewish to love blitzes [sic]. But you'd better be skinny, because blitzes [sic] are plenty fattening, prepared according to the usual Jewish-mother tradition.' So... we'll just ignore that part and focus on the recipe at hand.
5 spoons out of five. They’re the perfect balance of crisp and soft, warm and toasty without being overly heavy, and they’re delicious. We topped ours with apricot preserves, lemon curd, and cherries in kirsch syrup (just so we could test a variety of toppings, but you could equally use warmed honey, any kind of fruit pie filling, a dollop of yogurt, or warm applesauce. (My favourite, though, was apricot preserves). Make these and celebrate Pancake Day—even if you’re not celebrating Lent.
Pancake Day, Previously: Check out my favourite crepe recipe over here, perfect for celebrating Pancake Day British-style!
Combine flour and salt, then stir in milk, water, and eggs gradually.
Beat until smooth (a few very small lumps or air bubbles are okay).
Heat a nonstick skillet until warm, then drop in a tiny sliver of butter and let melt.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Use a small ladle or measuring cup to pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan, swirling the pan as you pour to distribute the batter evenly.
You should have JUST enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan and no 'extra' that would make the blintz too thick.
Cook about one minute, until top dries and bottom is lightly browned.
Without flipping over, turn blintz out onto a towel and set aside until you run out of batter.
Blend all ingredients together and beat until of uniform consistency.
Put a spoonful (or 2, depending on the size of your blintzes) of filling into the centre of each blintz, and roll them 'envelope-style.'
First, fold in sides slightly, then roll from top to bottom to make a secure pouch.
Place filled blintzes seam-side down on a cookie sheet and heat until warmed through.
Serve with apricot preserves, lemon curd, or whatever you can think of!
3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 c water
3 eggs + 1 egg white (yolk reserved for filling)
Butter for brushing the pan
3 c cottage cheese
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Zest from one lemon
1 egg yolk (reserved from blintz recipe above)
Apricot preserves (Blair's favourite)
Lemon Curd (Judson's favourite)
Cherries in Kirsch syrup (totally delicious!)