Wednesday, April 13, 2011
When I found myself with a partially used container of ricotta cheese languishing in the fridge, I decided I wanted to bake something. Anything. Well, anything sweet really, since I wasn't in the mood for stuffed shells or lasagna or other such things. It was with this in mind that I found myself browsing through the first cookbook anyone had ever gotten me, The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion.
I received this cookbook as a Christmas gift from one of my brothers while I was in college. I don't recall having as pronounced an interest in cookbooks, recipes, and cooking then as I do now, but it is safe to say that this book was probably the catalyst that sparked my current interest. It was unlike any other cookbook we as a household owned (and by we I mean Mom). Mom had a few of your typical cookbooks such as Better Homes and Garden's New Cookbook (the link is for a newer version) as well as some not so typical like the Le Leche League's Whole Foods for the Whole Family (which I'd still like a copy of and again, I think that link is for an updated version). There were a scattering of other cookbooks and magazines of cookie recipes and such, but this book was strictly for baking.
Growing up there wasn't a lot of baking happening in our house. Mom was, and still is, an incredible cook. She was able to seemingly instinctively throw together ingredients, sometimes with random leftovers, and create a delicious meal. Baking, however, didn't happen except during predictable times such as pies for Thanksgiving and cookies for Christmas. I think that having eight kids to corral kept Mom understandably otherwise occupied. Which is why a book devoted to baking held such an allure.
I have read through the book cover to cover at at least once. I like that it has short captions, suggestions, and interesting tidbits of information scattered throughout the recipes. If it were up to me, there would be a lot more pictures of the final products included but we can't have everything. This time, while I was flipping through it with intent, I came across this recipe for Cheese Blintzes with Blueberry Compote and even without an accompanying picture I knew it would be the perfect way to use up my neglected ricotta.
The filling recipe had to be modified a bit to cater to how much ricotta I had left and I cut the sugar for the compote in half (why does everything have to be so sweet?) as well as altering the cooking method a bit. The results were absolutley delicious. The tang of the blueberries were offset nicely by the delicate crepes and the smooth creamy filling. I am sure that this would grace a breakfast buffet just as easily as a dessert table. We ended up eating it as breakfast for dinner and were perfectly content.
Cheese Blintzes with Blueberry Compote
1 3/4 cup milk
5 Tablespoons melted butter or oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or vanillla (optional)
To your blender add all the ingredients and pulse until very smooth. Allow the batter to rest in the fridge for about an hour. This allows the gluten to relax (I often skip this step because I'm impatient).
Preheat a lightly greased nonstick crepe or omelet pan over medium high heat. The amount of batter you will need for each one will be determined by how large your pan is, for an 8 inch pan use about 1/4 cup of batter. Tip and tilt the pan in a swirl to allow the batter to spread into a thin coating on the surface of the pan. Cook the pan until it has set and no longer looks wet. Remove the crepe to a plate to cool and start the next one.
You may stack the crepes as long as you stack them with the "uncooked" side all facing the same direction so that they don't stick together. These can be topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, sliced fruit, Nutella, etc. if you don't want to make blintzes.
Creamy Ricotta Filling:
6 oz cream Cheese, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 egg yolk (I added the white to the crepes)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup Ricotta
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, salt and sugar together until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Combine water and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combined. Heat over a medium flame until the mixture is starting to bubble and slightly thicken. Cool to lukewarm.
Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each crepe. Fold the sides in, the top down, and then roll the crepe to enclose the filling. Place them all in a lightly greased pan and bake them in a preheated 350°F oven for about half an hour or until they are heated through. Serve them hot topped with the blueberry compote.