If it’s Shavuot, it’s batches of blintzes

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Tamara Halle of Silver Spring and her daughter, Aliza Krasnopoler, finish making a crepe. Halle expects 150 blintz-loving guests to visit her house during Shavuot. Photo by Dan Schere.

There are seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot. That’s how much time Tamara Halle has to make enough blintzes to feed the hungry guests who drop by her house on the second day of Shavuot for what has become an annual blintz fest.

Blintzes and other dairy-cheesy foods are traditional on the holiday, which marks the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and which begins this year at sundown on May 30. What started as a small potluck in Halle’s Silver Spring neighborhood has become over a decade a spectacle, with 150 diners savoring her holiday crepes. Halle says they come from Ohr Kodesh Congregation, where her family is affiliated, and also Tifereth Israel Congregation and Woodside Synagogue Ahavas Torah.


“There’s no way I can feed all those people blintzes if I don’t make some ahead of time,” Halle says on Sunday as she prepared more blintzes.

A completed batch of blintzes.

Last year she made 28 dozen blintzes — that’s 336 blintzes. Today she has half that amount prepared.

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But she has help. As Halle mixes the ingredients, her 11-year old daughter, Aliza Krasnopoler, puts a dollop of cream cheese-based vanilla filling on a crepe and carefully folds it into a compact rectangle. Meanwhile, family friend Erica Raphael cooks the crepes.

“It’s a little ridiculous, but it’s OK. I like doing it,” Halle says. “I think people really look forward to it.”


Halle got her inspiration when she was a member of the Zoo Minyan in Washington. A couple there made blintzes on the spot during Shavuot, she says.

When she moved to Maryland, she decided to bring the aroma and flavor of blintzes with her.

Halle uses a recipe from “Spice and Spirit,” the thick, classic Lubavitch cookbook, the 1990 edition. It calls for farmer cheese as the base for the texture of the filling. She doubles the recipe so that one batch will yield two dozen blintzes instead of one dozen.

To make her blintzes she buys two crates of eggs, three big blocks of cream cheese, two containers of maple syrup, flour, sugar, milk and a large bag of lemons. From this, she makes 20 dozen.

The juice from a lemon, she points out, helps to offset the filling’s sweetness from the syrup and vanilla. Because of this, Halle manages to create a blintz that has a distinct vanilla flavor without being overwhelmingly sweet. The lemon juice also helps the taste buds appreciate the tanginess of the cream cheese.

Halle improvises as necessary.

“The recipe calls for one package of vanilla sugar, and I don’t usually have vanilla sugar packets. So what I do is I add a little bit of extra sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla,” she says.

She does everything except a final sear — making them hot — ahead of time.

To keep the blintzes fresh, she lines freezer containers with parchment paper and layers them. She then stores them in her basement freezer. When the time comes to serve the blintzes, she takes them out of the freezer and gets them to room temperature before putting them on the griddle for the final step.

Halle renovated her home four years ago so that she could expand her kitchen to accommodate the Blintz Fest.

“The doors are a little wider and we have two of them so you can get in and out,” she says.

But to accommodate so many guests, Halle counts on assistance.

“At this point we pray for good weather, and I put two canopies out in the backyard, and we have tables outside,” she says.

Halle says that the undertaking is so much work, she wouldn’t do it for a family occasion. But Aliza, whose bat mitzvah is next year, has made a special request that nothing get in the way of this tradition.

“My daughter loves it, and she would be very disappointed if we didn’t have it every year,” she says. “Her bat mitzvah is next May — and it’s literally the Shabbos before [Shavuot]. She’s already told me that we cannot not have Blintz Fest.”

Tamara Halle’s famous blintzes

Yields 12 blintzes

Ingredients

For the batter

4 eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup water

1 cup flour

¼ cup sugar

1 package vanilla sugar

Pinch of salt

For the cheese filling

½ pound farmer cheese

4 ounces cream cheese

4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 egg yolk

Directions

Make the batter

In a large mixer bowl, combine eggs, milk, water and blend well. Gradually add flour, both sugars, salt and oil.

Beat well until there are no lumps in the batter.

Make the filling

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat well.

Or, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Make the blintz

Use a greased 7-inch skillet over medium heat. Pour in 1/4 cup batter. Fry until bottom is golden brown, when there are air bubbles on the top.

Remove from pan and put on large plate. With the golden brown side facing up, put 2 tablespoons of filling near the center of the crepe. Too much filling can break the crepe, so do not overstuff.

Fold in the two sides. Roll up lengthwise like a burrito, and then finish by closing the edges. Return to frying pan, seam side down, to brown for 2 minutes on each side.

Repeat for each blintz, making sure to grease the skillet between blintzes.

Recipe from “Spice and Spirit.”

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