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With the Shavuot holiday just on the horizon, Chagigah is pleased to bring you a number of delicious, finger-licking recipes to make your holiday happier, as well as some background on the holiday itself. This week on Chagigah, we have a bunch of new tracks, artist Peri Smilow coming in to visit us in the studio, and are very excited to hear more from the ever-expanding Jewish music scene. Have a wonderful week, Chagigah listeners, and tune back in next week!
The Holiday of Shavu’ot
Shavu’ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two being Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah).
The period from Passover to Shavu’ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu’ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. See The Counting of the Omer. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu’ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu’ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu’ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day; however, Shavu’ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs fifty days after their Spring holiday.
It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday significant.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: sweet edible satisfaction! This week’s recipe is for Cheese Blintzes, a traditional Shavuot (as found on www.chabad.org).
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. oil
CHEESE FILLING I
1/2 pound farmer cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
4 Tbsps. honey or maple syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
CHEESE FILLING II
1 pound cottage cheese, strained
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsps. flour
2 Tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
USE: 7 inch skillet
YIELDS: 12 blintzes
BATTER: In a large mixer bowl combine eggs, milk, water and blend well. Gradually add flour, then both sugars, salt and oil. Beat well until there are no lumps in the batter.
FILLING I: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat well. Or combine all the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth.
FILLING II: Combine all ingredients, except raisins, in a bowl and beat well. Or all the ingredients can be combined in a blender container and blended until smooth. Then add raisins.
TO ASSEMBLE CREPES: 1. Prepare batter and filling of your choice. Using a paper towel or basting brush, apply a thin coating of oil to a 7 inch skillet. Place skillet over medium heat until skillet is hot but not smoking.
2. Ladle approximately 1/3 cup of batter into the skillet. Tilt pan to swirl the batter so it covers the bottom of the skillet.
3. Fry on one side until small air bubbles form, and top is set. Bottom should be golden brown. When done, carefully loosen edges of crepe and slip out of skillet onto a plate.
4. Repeat the above procedure until all the batter is used. Grease the skillet as needed.
5. Turn each crepe so that golden brown side is up. Place 3 tablespoons of filling on one edge in a 2 1/2 inch long by 1-inch wide mound.
6. Roll once to cover filling. Fold the sides into the center and continue rolling until completely closed.
7. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet and place each crepe seam side down in the skillet and fry 2 minutes on each side, turning once.
VARIATION: Whole wheat pastry flour can be used instead of white flour.