November 18, 2018

Shavuot inspires dairy recipes

Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Ten Commandments and the arrival of the spring harvest. But, for food lovers, it is noted for the array of dairy foods that are served — delicious combinations of cheese, sour cream, milk and eggs. Also in abundance are “stuffed” foods, such as blintzes with cheese fillings.

For this holiday, I have experimented with dairy ingredients and come up with some unusual results.

Using my favorite recipe for Classic Blintzes, I have developed two new variations. One is a spectacular appetizer — Lox and Cream Cheese Pinwheels, garnished with salmon caviar. They’re great for entertaining at Shavuot or any time. And once you’ve tried this combination, you’ll think twice before serving simple bagels and lox.

The same blintz recipe serves as an “envelope” for a vegetable filling, symbolic of the spring harvest. The vegetables are quickly sautéed and stuffed into the crisply browned blintzes. (I make the classic cheese-filled version as well.)

Borscht is made with fresh beets and carrots, both members of the root-vegetable family, and they taste most harmonious in this rich soup. Fresh ginger offsets the sweetness, and the sour cream garnish adds mellowness with a little tang. Be sure to accompany it with a corn rye bread and sweet butter.

A flavor surprise comes with my Hearts of Lettuce Salad With Warm Cheese Dressing. Crisp, tender hearts of Bibb lettuce and romaine, well-chilled, are topped with a warm blend of brie and blue cheeses and tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Simple, but very sophisticated, too.

Cheesecake is a favorite dessert for Shavuot and so easy to prepare. A Carrot-Spice Cheesecake displays a layer of creamy cheesecake atop a crisp Vanilla-Pecan Crust. The taste is truly addictive. The secret: two kinds of ginger, spices and a smooth carrot puree on top of a crisp, nutty crust. 

In making the appetizers and the cheesecake, I like to use a pure, natural kosher cream cheese. It’s made without vegetable gum or other additives. This cheese is lighter, smoother and blends more easily with sugar, eggs and other ingredients. It may be purchased at supermarkets or health food stores.

For the salad and cheesecake recipes, please visit this article at


1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, melted

1 tablespoon brandy

Additional margarine for frying

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, melted margarine and brandy. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, beating until smooth. Strain to remove lumps if necessary. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

Heat 2 teaspoons margarine in an 8- or 9-inch frying pan; pour in 3 tablespoons of batter, rotating pan in a circular motion. Pour excess batter back into bowl. 

Cook blintzes over medium-high heat on one side only for 30 seconds, until brown around the edges. Add more margarine to the pan as needed. Turn each blintz onto a cloth towel and let cool. Stack on platter with waxed paper between blintzes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Makes about 2 dozen blintzes.


20 Classic Blintzes

6 tablespoons margarine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced turnips

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup diced mushrooms

1 cup diced tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream

Fresh basil or cilantro

Prepare Classic Blintzes; set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons margarine in a skillet. Sauté the garlic and onions until tender. Add the carrots, turnips, zucchini and mushrooms; sauté until tender. Add tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool.

Fill the browned side of each blintz with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable filling and roll, tucking ends in. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons margarine in a large skillet and brown filled blintzes on both sides until crisp. Serve with sour cream and fresh basil or cilantro.

Makes 20 blintzes.


20 Classic Blintzes

1 pound hoop or farmer cheese

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 tablespoons raisins, plumped in apple juice

1 tablespoon margarine

Sour cream

Fresh basil or cilantro

Prepare Classic Blintzes; set aside.

Mash cheese in a bowl. Blend in sugar, salt and eggs. Fold in drained raisins.

Fill the browned side of each blintz with 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese filling and roll, tucking ends in. Melt margarine in a large skillet and brown filled blintzes on both sides until crisp. Serve with sour cream and fresh basil or cilantro.

Makes 20 blintzes.


Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)

10 Classic Blintzes

1/2 pound lox (smoked salmon), thinly sliced

1 small jar (3 to 4 ounces) salmon caviar

Minced chives for garnish

Prepare Cream Cheese Filling; set aside.

Prepare Classic Blintzes, browning them on both sides. Place 1 blintz on a work board, spread with some of Cream Cheese Filling, top with another blintz, arrange slices of lox on top, then roll up, jellyroll fashion. Repeat with remaining blintzes. Transfer to a large platter, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Slice into 1-inch portions. Place on a serving plate, cut side up. Top with a spoonful of sour cream, plus a garnish of salmon caviar and a sprinkling of chives. 

Makes about 20 servings.


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, without gum

1 ounce blue cheese or goat cheese (optional)

1 tablespoon cream

Salt to taste

Few drops Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon minced parsley

In a processor or bowl, beat the cream cheese, bleu cheese and cream until well blended. Season to taste with salt and Tabasco sauce. Mix in parsley. Cover and chill. 

Makes 1 1/4 cups.


1 quart cold water

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 pound baby beets, peeled and shredded

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered

2 nickel-size pieces fresh ginger, peeled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish 

Bring the water to a boil in a 2 1/2-quart pot. Add the carrots, beets, onion and ginger. The water should just cover the vegetables. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the beets are soft when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables and ginger to a food processor or blender, and puree until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the pureed vegetables to the liquid and stir until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, ladle into heated soup bowls and garnish with sour cream.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. 


2 heads Bibb lettuce, center leaves only, torn into bite-size pieces

2 heads romaine lettuce, center leaves only, torn into bite-size pieces

3 ounces brie-type cheese, diced

3 ounces blue-type cheese, diced

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Wash lettuce leaves and dry; toss in a large bowl.

Just before serving, place cheeses on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until cheeses melt. Toss the lettuce mixture with vinegar and olive oil. Immediately spoon the melted cheese over the salad and toss again. Place on individual serving plates. 

Makes about 6 to 8 servings.


Vanilla-Pecan Crust (recipe follows)

3/4 pound carrots, boiled and pureed

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

3 tablespoons ginger preserves

2 tablespoons candied ginger

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese

4 eggs

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Prepare the Vanilla-Pecan Crust; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the carrot puree, brown sugar, ginger preserves, candied ginger, lemon juice, orange zest, cinnamon, mace and allspice until blended. Add the cream cheese and blend.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Pour into the prepared crust and sprinkle with pecans. 

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center is firm and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. 

Makes about 8 to 10 servings


2/3 cup finely ground vanilla wafers (4 ounces)

2/3 cup finely ground ginger snaps (4 ounces)

2/3 cup finely ground pecans (4 ounces)

1/3 cup sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted margarine

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer or blender, combine the vanilla wafers, ginger snaps, pecans and sugar. Add the margarine and mix until the mixture is well-blended but still crumbly. Spoon the mixture evenly into a 9-inch springform pan, and press it down firmly. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool.