Friday, May 27, 2016

A Real American Breakfast by C A Jamison & Bill Jamison

Cheryl Alters Jamison & Bill Jamison write the most interesting cookbooks in my collection.  American Home Cooking and Smoke & Spice, they have gone a step higher in this tome on the American Breakfast.  A Real American Breakfast is huge collection of American breakfast recipes travels from region to region and coast to coast.  The recipes are mouth-watering to read and don't skimp on great high-quality ingredients fit for a king and queen.
Authors of the award-winning

But perhaps best of all are the many historical notes, old menus and references to cookbooks that would be in a collector's dream.  (I am a cook book collector)  Background information is included with every recipe and quotes from historic cookbooks, i. e., "Whatever else you may economize in, do not limit your family in respect to eggs.  They are nutritious, and even at four cents each are cheaper than meat."--Mary Lincoln in Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book (1884)

The chapters cover the gamut of breakfast foods:  eggs, dairy, pancakes and waffles, meats, seafood, hashes, stratas, sandwiches, cereals, fruit, potatoes, grits etc., breads, sweet treats and drinks!  Whew!!
Strewn throughout the book on sidebars are ingredient tips, technique tips and the aforementioned excerpts, menus and philosophies from historic cookbooks.  This cookbook has everything.

I have so many favorite recipes from this book that it is almost impossible to limit myself to only one or two to publish, but Cheese Blintzes with Berry Sauce has to be included.  The introduction to this recipes is interesting as a backdrop:
Blintzes and other dairy dishes such as cheesecakes are traditionally served at the Jewish Shavuot, a late spring harvest festival that celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.  Today every Jewish-American mother and grandmother seems to have a slightly different way of making the thin crepe-like pancakes with a creamy filling.  Originally stuffed in Russia and Poland with simple farmer, pot or hoop cheese, blintzes began to get richer and more extravagant as immigrants prospered in the United States.  Unfortunately--as with the bagel--the quality of the dish suffered as it gained mainstream popularity, particularly in the frozen versions now featured at breakfast buffets across the country.  Made from scratch, however, with a combination of good cheeses and a luscious fruit sauce, blintzes remain delicately sublime.  The egg in the blintz filling may not cook through entirely in the recipes brief sauteing time.  if this is of concern, you may want to prepare the baked Cheese Blintz Casserole instead.  

     2 8-oz packages farmer or pot cheese
     1/2 pound ricotta cheese (whole milk)
     1/2 pound cream cheese, softened, or sour cream
     3 Tbsp. sugar
     2 eggs
     1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
     1/4 tsp. salt

Berry Sauce:
     3 cups blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries or other berries
     1/2 cup fresh or reconstituted frozen orange juice
     2 to 4 Tbsp. sugar
     1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, optional

Blintz Batter:
     1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
     2 Tbsp. sugar
     Pinch of salt
     3 large eggs
     1 cup milk
     4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
     3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Butter for pan frying

Prepare the filling, the day before if you wish, stirring the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Cover and refrigerate if not using shortly.

Prepare the berry sauce, also the day before if you wish.  In a small saucepan, combine half the berries with 1/2 cup water, the orange juice, 2 Tbsp sugar, and the vanilla if desire.  Simmer over medium heat briefly, until the berries dissolve into the sauce.  Add the remaining berries and heat through.  Taste and add more sugar if you wish.  Keep warm if using shortly, or cool, cover and refrigerate for later use, reheating before serving.

Prepare the batter, first combining the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.  Process, then add the remaining batter ingredients and process again until smooth.

Heat an 8-inch skillet or omelet or crepe pan, preferably nonstick, until a drop of water bounces and sizzles briefly before evaporating.  Add about 1 tsp. butter and swirl it around to coat the skillet.  Quickly add 2 Tbsp. batter and swirl it around until the skillet is coated.  Cook until the batter dries on the surface, about 30 seconds.  Then flip the blintz and cook the other side for about 15 seconds, until faintly golden. (Blintzes should not brown.)  Repeat for the remaining blintzes, adding more butter as needed to prevent sticking.
We stack them on a plate with paper towels or wax paper between them, to separate them more easily, though many people don't bother with this step.

When all of the blintz batter is cooked, spoon 2 to 3 Tbsp filling on the lower third of the first blintz.  Fold up the bottom, turn in the sides, and then fold over snugly but not tightly.  Repeat with the remaining blintzes.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Arrange several blintzes at a time in the skillet, starting seam side down, and saute until faintly brown and a bit crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes total.  Repeat with the remaining blintzes and serve with the fruit sauce.

Cheese Blintz Casserole

As scrumptious as blintzes can be, they do take a little time to prepare in traditional ways.  Contemporary Jewish cooks have developed quicker casserole alternatives, such as this version modeled on one from Gloria Kaufer Greene, author of the New Jewish Holiday Cookbook (1999).  Rather than start from frozen packaged blintzes, as many recipes suggest, she tweaks the batter and cooking process.  You'll use the preceding filling and can crown the casserole with the berry sauce or with fresh strawberries or applesauce.  To make the blintz batter:  combine in a food processor 1-1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder, and /14 teaspoon salt.  Process, then add 4 large eggs, 1-1/4 cups milk, 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, 2 tablespoons sour cream and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and process again until smooth.  Measure out 1-1/2 cups batter and pour it into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Bake at 350 F. for 9 to 11 minutes, until just set.  Remove from the oven, spoon the filling over it in large dollops, and smooth the surface. Give the remaining batter a quick stir, then pour it evenly over the filling.  Return it to the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes longer, until the top is puffed and lightly colored in spots.  It may crack in a few areas.  Cool for at least 10 minutes (it will deflate), then serve with large spoonfuls of sour cream and the berry sauce.  Leftovers will keep for a couple of days but we prefer them chilled rather than reheated.  


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