Before I tempt you into wanting-- no, lusting, for this wonderful treat-- I want to share with you one of my closest guarded secrets. I grew up in Carmel, California. Yes, that place where Clint Eastwood was mayor-- long ago. I graduated from Carmel High School-- long ago. I'd drive my mother's 1965 Mustang and cruise along the Carmel Beach to drool at the surfers-- long ago.
Still, one of my favorite haunts is a closely guarded secret-- it's a restaurant called "The Little Swiss Cafe". This local's haunt doesn't take credit cards and there is always a wait (unless you go during the week-- except summer-- and early. I went to high school with many of the servers, who have worked there for decades. There are two menu items that are a "must have". They are their cheese blintzes and eggs benedict. When my former classmates see me, they know... 1/2 order of each. I can't decide. It's the best. I swear. I have been ruined, for life, in how I expect my cheese blintzes to taste. They have set the bar really high for the best cheese blintzes.
Oops! My secret is out. So, if you are in Carmel, California please let me know. I'll split an order with you!
Now then... I saw Muneeba, from "An Edible Symphony's" entry for Tyler Florence Friday was for Blueberry Blintzes. If you haven't checked out her blog, please do so. She gives beautiful step-by-step photos (and I appreciate those) and she's also very funny...hysterically funny. After studying how she made them, I knew I could do this. Muneeba, this is for you!
Before I launch into how I adapted the recipe (sorry Tyler, but I'm not a huge fan of blueberries...I like them, but I adore strawberries) I finally took a hard look at my authentic French crepe pan. Last July, my husband treated me to a culinary class on making peach crepes at the beautiful Culinary Institute of America (C.I.A.) in the Napa-Sonoma area. One week later, I went on a serious exercise and diet (and I lost 20 pounds), so I never made these.
There's my blonde head, paying rapt attention to the chef. It was a lot of fun!
Isn't that a cool setup? You don't want to know how much it costs to take private classes...
The Little Swiss Cafe serves their blintzes with sour cream and strawberry preserves. I had some Driscoll berries that were reaching their prime, otherwise I would never cook these! I decided to make a strawberry compote using some water, corn starch and sugar-- and a little orange zest.
I remember C.I.A. chef's comments that you should always let your crepe batter rest-- even overnight. So I made the batter and I swam for an hour in our lap pool (part of my subdivision...I'm not that rich!), showered and returned to the kitchen.
I read the instructions on how to season the pan "cook potato peels in fat or oil and then toss them away...your pan is now ready for use". Really? Like a little lamb, I followed the directions.
Now, it was time to make the filling. The little Swiss Cafe makes the BEST filling! Can I replicate it?
I wanted to add my own little touch with orange zest. In retrospect, I should have used half of this, but still I'm glad that I added it. I tasted the filling, and decided to put 2 more tablespoons of powdered sugar-- and then 1 teaspoon of vanilla. That's what makes The Little Swiss Cafe's blintzes so good-- they are sweet, but not over-the-top sweet.
My crepe pan was wiped with a paper towel, and I brushed a little melted butter. Okay, here I go... I thought, to myself, that the batter seemed little too thick. The first one came out... mangled.
I've made my share of German pancakes, so I decided to gently whisked in a little more milk...about 1/2 cup in total.
There! Much better... I was starting to bond with my crepe pan...
Getting the temperature just right took a few attempts, but medium was the way to go. (By now, my son is drooling and exclaiming how hungry he is-- he loves blintzes, too).
Just like rolling a burrito, I filled the crepe with the ricotta blend (chill it for a while).
This was getting easier (and 45 minutes had gone by...by now, my son is whimpering)
I got eleven filled crepes in all! My son's math is interesting.... 5-3-3 each. Hmmmm, who gets five of these?
I did something differently than Tyler Florence instructed. Why would I need to brown these until golden? I thought they looked fine to me! In truth, my pan was crowded and so I decided to brush the tops with some melted butter, and popped these into a 400F oven for about 7 minutes. My husband popped his head in the back door, from gardening... the pressure is on!
Time to plate...three looks good...
Dust these with powdered sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream...
The sharks are sniffing and circling in... quick! Take photos before yelling "ready"!
Add a little strawberry sauce.... husband is standing by...
These are good! (I preheat my plates, so these are also very hot!)
Look at that filling!
Are these as good as The Little Swiss Cafe? Not quite... the filling needs to be even sweeter and a lot less orange zest.
Still, they were excellent...but I think strawberry preserves would be my favorite way to enjoy these. It's on my grocery list.