Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! You might want to eat lots of healthy salads this Shabbat, because with Shavuot fast approaching, you won’t want to resist indulging in a variety of delicious dairy specialties for the holiday, such as kugel, blintzes and cheesecake.
Everyone loves kugel! Check out this video of me and Jamie Geller making Three Cheese Noodle Kugel from my best-selling cookbook, The Best Food Processor Bible (Whitecap):
Yes, there are three different cheeses (cheddar, cottage and cream cheese) in my scrumptious kugel, just in case you can’t decide which kind to use! Creamy inside, crunchy outside – it’s so dairy delicious!
Looking for more ideas? Cookbook author, Amy Kritzer, founder of the popular blog What Jew Wanna Eat, is the author of Sweet Noshings: New Twists on Traditional Jewish Desserts (Rock Point). You’ll enjoy Amy’s easy-to-follow, well-written recipes and innovative ideas for creative signature dishes, including the following recipes featured below. This Blueberry-Lemon Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust, Peach and Goat Cheese Noodle Kugel and Lavender Lemon Blintzes are perfect for Shavuot!
Amy got her start cooking tasty Jewish treats with her Bubbe Eleanor while growing up in Connecticut. Amy loved cooking and baking so much that she quit her corporate job and attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school to hone her skills, inspired by her passion for Jewish food. She loves putting her own twists on classic Jewish recipes, incorporating modern ingredients and techniques to make delicious, innovative creations.
Amy writes: “Shavuot is the holiday that recognizes the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. We tend to eat dairy on this holiday: blintzes, kugel, and cheesecake. Jewish cheesecake once contained curd cheese, and was not the light, creamy dessert we know today. Then those smart kids in New York took the traditional recipe and swapped it out for cream cheese, making it tangy, creamy, and irresistible. When I first thought about the curd cheese, lemon curd popped into my mind. And blueberries, because they’re a perfect match with lemon! Salty crunchy pretzels balance everything out perfectly.”
And just in case you thought Amy doesn’t have enough on her plate, she also has her very own, modern line of Judaica giftware, Modern Tribe.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach y’all!
BLUEBERRY-LEMON CHEESECAKE WITH PRETZEL CRUST
Prep time: 1 hour 20 minutes Inactive prep time: 8+ hours Cook time: 1 hour Makes 12 servings
2 cups crushed pretzels (measure after crushing)
1/4 cup (75 g) light brown sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 (8-oz/910 g) packages cream cheese, at room temperature and cut into chunks
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup (115 g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 tsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pint (2 cups/290 g) blueberries, washed and dried well
For lemon curd:
2 tsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 stick or 1/4 cup (55 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (73 g) blueberries, or more if needed
Zest of 1 lemon
Edible flowers (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C, and place a rack on the lower third of the oven.
- First, start by preparing the spring form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in a large piece of heavy-duty foil and fold over the sides by 1/2 inch (1 cm), making sure to secure. Repeat with another piece of foil and a third if you are crazy like me. The foil will protect your crust from the water bath, which helps the cheesecake bake gently and evenly.
- To make the crust, pulse the pretzels in a food processor until fine. If you don’t have a food processor, place them in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until pulverized. Then in a medium bowl, combine pulverized pretzels with sugar and incorporate the butter evenly with a spoon or your hands.
- Press the crust into the bottom of the pan, making sure there are not any holes. Bake for 10 minutes, let cool completely, and lower oven temperature to 325°F/170°
- To make the filling, cream the cream cheese in an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or use a hand mixer on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until very creamy. Make sure to use a spatula to scrape down the sides periodically so everything is evenly blended.
- To the same bowl, add sugar and salt and beat another 3 minutes, scraping as needed to get everything incorporated. Add sour cream and combine.
- Then add eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine after each addition. Scrape again with the spatula as needed. You want everything incorporated and whipped to perfection! Lastly, beat in lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Gently stir in blueberries.
- Put the spring form in a roasting pan with high sides, and pour the batter on top of the crust, shaking the pan a little to even out the batter. Boil water and fill the roasting pan halfway up the sides of the spring form. Place on the lower rack of the oven. (You can also pour the water in the pan after placing it in the oven, but be careful either way! Please don’t burn yourself, says Bubbe.) Bake for 60 minutes, or until cheesecake is firm but still a little jiggly. Crack the oven door slightly (secure with a large spoon if it doesn’t stay open on its own) and turn off the oven. Let the cheesecake cool this way for an hour. This will help the cake cool evenly and prevent cracks. If you get a few cracks, don’t worry; we are covering this baby with lemon curd! Cover the cooled cheesecake with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- Make the lemon curd. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together lemon zest, juice, and sugar until sugar dissolves. Get a small saucepan of simmering water ready for a double boiler.
- Whisk egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and temper in the lemon mixture by adding 1 spoonful at a time (so as to not cook the eggs) until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and return to the heatproof bowl.
- Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water over medium heat, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Cook, while stirring, until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Make sure it never reaches a boil. Remove from heat and stir in butter until fully incorporated. Let cool and refrigerate.
- When the curd is cool, pour it evenly over the cooled cheesecake, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour until set or overnight. A well-chilled cheesecake is easier to cut evenly.
- When ready to serve, carefully run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the spring form side. Garnish with blueberries, lemon zest, powdered sugar, and edible flowers, if desired.
Make a day or two before you plan to serve to give the cheesecake time to cool and set. Chilled cheesecake is much easier to cut evenly. Slice it with a large knife that you run under hot water and wipe clean between slices.
PEACH AND GOAT CHEESE NOODLE KUGEL
Prep time: 40 minutes Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes Makes: 12-16 servings
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 lb (455 g) wide egg noodles
4 large firm peaches (about 5 cups/1 kg) peeled and diced
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar, divided
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
4 eggs, at room temperature, whisked
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
8 oz (227 g) full-fat sour cream
16 oz (453 g) full-fat cottage cheese
1 stick or 1/2 cup (112 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup (61 g) rolled oats
3/4 cup (170 g) light or dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (94 g) slivered or chopped almonds, plus 1/4 cup (31 g) garnish
1/2 lb (227 g) goat cheese, softened
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180° Then butter a deep 13 x 9-inch (33 x23 cm) glass or ceramic baking dish and set aside.
- Cook noodles in a large stockpot of slated water according to package directions until al dente.
- While noodles are cooking, toss peaches in 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar (or use 5 cups of canned peaches). Set aside.
- Drain cooked noodles well, then return the noodles to the pot, add butter and gently mix, completely coating the noodles. Admire the delicious simplicity of buttered noodles.
- In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Then gently mix in sour cream and cottage cheese.
- Combine the dairy mixture with the noodles. Then mix in peaches just until combined.
- To make topping, mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl with your (clean!) hands or a spoon until combined.
- Transfer noodle mixture to the baking dish and top evenly with topping. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. If the top starts to get too brown, cover with foil.
- Garnish with more almonds and serve warm or at room temperature.
The kugel freezes well for up to three months. Serve at room temperature, or reheat covered in a 250F/120C oven until warm. Remove covering for the last few minutes to crisp up the topping.
Prep time: 1 hour Inactive prep time: 2 hours 30 minutes–12 hours Cook time: 45 minutes Makes: 7–8 blintzes
Amy shares: “I have a lot of fond memories of baking blintzes with my Bubbe. Blintzes are a little thicker than crepes and are filled with sweet or savory goodness before being folded and fried. Great for Shavuot, when we eat all the dairy, this recipe is also fun for the not-as-popular holiday of Tu B’Shvat, celebrating the importance of trees. I top these blintzes with a floral lavender cream and lots of fresh fruit and almonds.”
For lavender cream:
1 cup (235 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tsp dried food-grade lavender
2 cups (460 g) Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (57 g) powdered sugar (plus more if you like sweeter cream)
1 cup (142 g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs, at room temperature, whisked
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for cooking
4 oz (115 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (250 g) full-fat ricotta
1/4 cup (60 g) plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (57 g) powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
2 tsp lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (57 g) powdered sugar
Optional: fresh diced fruit and almonds
- Start by preparing the lavender cream. Bring cream and lavender to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes to intensify lavender flavor. Strain out lavender and refrigerate cream to chill, covered, at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Then whip infused cream with a whisk or hand mixer until you have medium peaks. Add yogurt and powdered sugar and continue whipping until thick.
- To make the blintz batter, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, and whisk to combine, then add milk, vanilla, and butter and whisk by hand or with an electric mixer until no lumps remain. It should be the consistency of a slightly runny pancake batter. Let batter rest in refrigerator, covered, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- While batter is chilling, make filling by blending together cream cheese, ricotta, Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, egg, lemon zest, and salt with an electric mixer just until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use to help it firm up.
- Now, time to assemble! Set aside 4 sheets of parchment or wax paper (each one big enough to fit two 9-inch (23 cm) blintz pancakes side by side). To make blintzes, butter a 9-inch (23 cm) nonstick pan with a thin coat of butter over medium heat. Then pour 1/3 cup (80 ml) of batter into the pan. Swirl pan to coat evenly. After about a minute you will see the edges begin to curl up and the blintz be will dry to the touch—it’s done! Do not flip. Slide blintzes, with the help of a spatula, onto parchment or wax paper to cool. Do not layer blintzes or they will stick. Repeat with remaining batter, buttering the pan after each one. You can keep cooked blintzes in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, layered between sheets of wax paper. Or freeze for up to 2 months.
- Spread 2–3 tablespoons of cheese mixture toward bottom of each blintz on the cooked side. Fold bottom of blintz up to cover filling and then fold the sides in. Roll like a little Jewish burrito. Assembled blintzes can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 2 months.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter to medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat and cook on each side until golden brown, or about 1–2 minutes per side. Top warm blintzes with lavender cream, fruit, powdered sugar and almonds, if using.
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of 12 cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org