Blintz Casserole (Dairy)

photo taken by amygwen, on January 8, 2009, CC licensing

There are certain foods which are traditional and almost universally liked. Every cook enjoys seeing the comfort on a guest's face as an old favorite appears on the table. That gladness is multiplied a hundredfold, if their eyes widen with pleasure at the sweet surprise of a dish which is even better than they remember. The trick to this is to make variations which are small, but have a great impact on flavor and texture.

That is what I have done with this recipe. We are accustomed to having Blintzes filled with Hoop Cheese. Here, the rich smoothness of Cream Cheese is punctuated with Currants, rather than curds. The flavor boost supplied by Peach Jam makes this a sensual experience to remember. It is as though you looked at someone you know and enjoy, then suddenly recognized something new and wonderful about them. Love at second sight.

I have given some ingredient alternatives in parentheses, for those of you on diets. Do not try to use Aspartame based artificial sweetener in this; it will break down with the heat of cooking. There are Sucralose, Potassium, and Saccharine based artificial sweeteners which will do perfectly.

- 25 Frozen Ready-made Crepes, thawed

- 1/2 cup dried Currants
- 1 cup boiling Water
- 1 pound Cream Cheese, softened (Neufchatel or Fat-Free)
- 1/2 cup Peach Jam (Sugar-Free Fruit Spread)
- 2 large Eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated Orange Peel
- 1/2 teaspoon each Vanilla and Almond Extracts
- 1/4 cup Sugar (Artificial Sweetener)

- 2 large Eggs (Egg Substitute)
- 1/4 cup Sugar (Artificial Sweetener)
- 1 cup Half and Half (Fat-Free Half and Half)

Put the Currants in a small bowl and cover them with the boiling Water, then set aside to plump for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel. In a large bowl, blend the Sugar, Cream Cheese, Jam, Egg Yolks, Orange Peel, and Extracts. Stir in the Currants. Beat the Egg Whites until they are stiff but not dry. Fold the beaten Egg Whites into the Cheese mixture.

Butter a large oblong ovenproof glass baking dish. Place one of the Crepes on a plate, and spread it with 2 heaping tablespoons of the Cheese mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Roll the filled Crepe, cut it in half, and place in the baking dish. Repeat until all the Crepes and Cheese mixture are used

In a small bowl, whisk together the Eggs, Sugar, and Half and Half. Pour the Custard mixture over the Crepes. Let rest for 15 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, or until puffed and the custard is set.

Sephardic or Askhenazi