Shavuot: Buckwheat Blintz with Creamy Rainbow Chard and Gruyere
By Danielle Crittenden Frum
Buckwheat is a nod to the blintz's Russian origins that, when dealing with a savory filling, gives the whole thing an earthy heft. Fresh rainbow Swiss chard appeared in my framer's market this past weekend. I felt the Dairy and Shavuot planets were in alignment for a creamy, cheesy marriage between the crepe and fresh seasonal ingredients.
Makes 10-12 crepes.
Buckwheat Crepe Batter:
1-2 large pinches of salt
4 cups milk
3 cups buckwheat flour
2 oz (4 tbs) unsalted butter
Olive oil (for frying the crepes)
In a large bowl, add eggs, salt and one cup of milk. Sift in some of the flour and whisk until smooth. Add another cup of milk and some more flour and repeat until all flour and milk is added. (I used the whisk attachment on my immersion blender, which worked well.)
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Keep it on the heat until it foams and big bubbles start to form. Take it off the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes. It will continue to brown.
While whisking, slowly add the butter to the batter. Continue to whisk until well mixed. Let rest in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, or overnight. Stir well before using.
When ready to make the crepes, heat a crepe pan, or 9-11-inch cast-iron nonstick skillet, over medium heat until nice and hot (I found a true medium, over a gas flame, was the perfect temperature for the crepes. You may have to experiment a little: the crepes should neither scorch quickly nor be too slow to brown.)
Take a clean dischloth, roll it up, and then tie an elastic or piece of string a couple of inches from one end, creating a puffy applicator with which to spread the oil on the hot pan. When the pan is ready, pour in a tablespoon or so of the olive oil, and then use the cloth to spread the oil evenly around on the surface.
Ladle the batter onto the pan and swirl it quickly so it evenly coats the pan, or use a spreader (depending on the size of the pan, you will need 1-2 ladles of batter -- again this is something you will need to experiment with. Just be prepared to write off the first few crepes. Your dog will be happy). It doesn't have to be a perfect circle.
Check the edges as they brown and, using a thin spatula or the wooden crepe turner, carefully lift the crepe to see if it is evenly brown. If so, turn it over. The crepes aren't as delicate as you think, and when cooked on one side they are amenable to being flipped. When the other side is spottily brown it's ready for filling. (For reasons I couldn't understand, the first side always looked better than the second, so when you fill it, use the spotty side for the interior.)
For the filling:
2 large bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems cut into 2” lengths, leaves torn into 2” pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1-2 tablespoons for baking
2 medium shallots, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup grated Gruyere
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook chard leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 1 minute. Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and squeeze well in a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and chard ribs and stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until tender, 5–8 minutes. Add cream; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add chard leaves and cook, stirring, until warmed through and coated with cream sauce. Add zest, 1/2 cup of the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon about 2 tbs of filling onto the bottom third of a crepe. You're going to turn this, basically, into a big burrito: Fold the bottom over the filling, fold int the two sides, and then fold down the top and make it all snug. Continue to do with the other crepes until the filling is gone.
Arrange the blintzes in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dot with butter. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove, separate and serve immediately.