Shavuot is cheesiest holiday of them all in the best way

Say cheese: Shavuot is coming.  Beginning at sundown Tuesday, June 7, this holiday occurs exactly seven weeks after Passover and commemorates two events: bringing offerings to the Temple and giving the Torah to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

Shavuot has no particular foods associated with it, but it is customary to eat a dairy meal at least once during the holiday. Opinions on the origins of this custom vary. Some say it is a reminder of the promise regarding the Land of Israel, a land flowing with “milk and honey.” According to another view, it is because our ancestors had just received the Torah (and the dietary laws therein), and they did not have separate meat and dairy dishes available. Kosher meat might not have been an option, but dairy had no restrictions and was plentiful.

A third explanation, my favorite, is that by the time the Jews returned to their tents after receiving the Torah, the milk had curdled into cheese.

In Israel, Shavuot is referred to as the cheesecake holiday and is considered the most delicious holiday of the year.


Smoked Trout Spread


Makes about 2 cups

8 oz. skinless, boneless smoked trout, flaked

3 Tbs. mayonnaise

3 Tbs. crème fraîche

2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbs. rinsed capers

1 Tbs. prepared white horseradish (or to taste)

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Blintzes with Berry Sauce


Serves 8


2 eggs

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1 cup water

1 cup all-purpose flour

butter or oil for frying


8 oz. whole milk or low-fat

cottage cheese, drained

8 oz. cream cheese

pinch salt

1⁄4 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

1⁄2 cup diced strawberries

1⁄2 cup cooked rhubarb

Berry sauce:

1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved

1⁄4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar

For blintzes:

Whisk together eggs, salt and water until well blended. Whisk in flour, a little at a time, until batter is smooth. Let stand about 30 minutes.

Heat a small amount of butter or oil in a well-seasoned or nonstick 6- or 7-inch skillet. Make sure pan is very hot. Pour about 3 Tbs. batter into pan, tilting it so that batter covers bottom of pan evenly. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes. Uncooked side will lose its shine and look dull when ready. Remove and repeat process until all the batter is used. Stack blintz rounds one on top of another. You should have at least 12.

For filling:

With electric beater, combine cottage and cream cheese with salt, sugar, egg yolk and lemon zest. Combine strawberries and rhubarb and fold mixture in by hand.

Place about 2 Tbs. filling in center of cooked side of blintz. Fold 2 opposite sides over filling, then overlap the other 2 sides. Repeat with remaining blintzes and filling.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat butter or oil. Place filled blintzes in pan, seam side down. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

For berry sauce:

Purée ingredients in a blender or food processor. Makes about 11⁄2 cups.

Serve 1 to 2 blintzes per person with a spoonful of berry sauce poured over each.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].