We’ve been looking forward to checking out Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray’s first cookbook since we first learned about the project last year. Now the collection of more than 125 recipes, The New Jewish Table: Modern Recipes for Traditional Dishes, is set for a March release, but you don’t have to wait that long for one of the tastiest-sounding dishes: blintzes made with sweet port wine and dried figs, perfect for your Hanukkah table.
Like others in the book, the recipe marries Todd’s seasonal approach to cooking that has been Equinox’s signature over the years with a love for Judaic cooking—discovered when he met and married Ellen, who comes from a Jewish background. You won’t find fresh figs in season at local markets, but as Todd notes in the book’s introduction to the recipe, that isn’t a bad thing.
From the book: “The recipe calls for dried figs (black mission, but Turkish browns are fine, too), because of their concentrated flavor,” says Todd. “Moreover, fresh figs might make the filling too wet, causing a soggy blintz. Another advantage of using dried figs is that they make the recipe suitable for any time of the year. When fresh figs are available, though, I garnish lavishly with them—they certainly add an extra dimension.”
Fig and Port Wine Blintzes
Makes 10 to 12 blintzes (6 servings)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
Cold unsalted butter for greasing sauté pan
2 cups dried black mission figs
1½ cups water
1 cup port wine
1½ cups cream cheese (12 ounces), softened
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Confectioners’ sugar and 4 finely diced fresh figs for serving
Prepare the batter: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter; let cool slightly. Whisk together the milk and eggs in a small bowl; then whisk in the flour until well combined. Pour the batter through a mesh strainer into another small bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Prepare the figs for the filling: Place the dried figs, water, and port in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat; lower the heat to low and cook until the figs absorb the liquid—about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mixture is lukewarm. Then transfer the mixture to a chopping board and finely chop—it should turn into a pulp.
Mix the filling. Using a wooden spoon, blend the cream cheese and ricotta cheese in a medium bowl. Stir in the fig pulp, honey, salt, and pepper until well combined.
Cook the crepes. Line a 10-inch plate with paper towels. Heat an 8-inch nonstick crepe pan or skillet over medium heat. Rub the pan with cold butter and immediately add ¼ cup crepe batter. Cook until the crepe is slightly caramelized on the bottom—about 2 minutes. Using a pancake turner, turn the crepe over and cook the second side until slightly caramelized—about 2 minutes more. Transfer the crepe the paper-towel lined plate. Repeat this process until all the batter has been used; place additional paper towels between the cooked crepes.
Fill the crepes. Spoon a dollop of filling onto each crepe, covering about a third of the area nearest to you but leaving an empty margin at the sides. Fold the margin at each side up and over the filling, then roll up the crepe—like a cylindrical envelope. Turn “flap down” until ready to cook.
Cook the blintzes. In a skillet large enough to hold all the blintzes, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and then pan-fry the blintzes until they are golden-brown on both sides—about 4 minutes per side. To serve, arrange the blintzes on individual plates, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and top with a spoonful of the diced fresh figs.