Submitted by Bruce Miller
Harold “Groucho” Miller, my grandfather and founder of Groucho’s Deli, was the son of Russian immigrants who arrived in America by 1899. One recipe that never made it to Groucho’s Deli menu was learned by Groucho Miller during a stint as a Vaudeville emcee in Philadelphia (1920s). He befriended a Russian/Jewish comedian who taught him one of his favorite recipes -- Russian blintzes! Blintzes are a time-consuming and labor-intensive recipe. They were available for sale at Miller’s Deli on opening day in 1940 (a year later the name was changed to Groucho’s Deli), for a very limited time. They had to be made at my grandparents house in Shandon (because of the cooking process). You can see the blintzes in the refrigerated display case in this opening day picture. Although it was a classic Jewish/Russian delicacy, it was a tough sell in Columbia, South Carolina. It was soon discontinued in Miller’s, but was always savored at their house on Shabbat.
To learn more about Bruce’s grandparents, Groucho and Ethel Miller, and parents, Ivan and Faye Miller, click here and here. For more history about Groucho's, please see this entry in the CJHI web-based tour and Groucho's website.
Sour cream to pass around
2 teaspoons cinnamon to sprinkle on (optional)
Zest of 1 and 1/2 lemons
1/2 cup or more sugar, to taste
1 lb curd cheese
1/2 lb cream cheese
2-3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Confectioners' sugar to sprinkle on (optional)
3/4 cup currants or raisins soaked in a little rum for 1/2 hour (optional)
A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
3 egg yolks
1/2 Tablespoon oil plus more for greasing the pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cups milk
Add the milk and water to the flour gradually, beating vigorously. Add the egg, salt and oil. Beat the batter until smooth. Leave to rest for 1-2 hours.
Heat a nonstick frying pan–with a bottom not wider than 8 inches (20 cm)–and grease very lightly with oil. Pour about half a ladleful of batter into the frying pan and move the pan around so the entire surface is covered with batter. The batter and the resulting pancake should be thin. As soon as the pancake is slightly browned and detached, turn it over with a spatula and cook a moment only on the other side. Continue until all the batter is used and put the pancakes in a pile.
For the filling, blend the curd and cream cheese with the sugar, lemon zest, egg yolks, and vanilla, if you like, in a food processor. Then stir in the raisins, if using.
Take each pancake, 1 at a time, put 2 heaping tablespoons of filling on the bottom half, fold the edge of the pancake over the filling, tuck in the sides so that it is trapped, and roll up into a slim roll. Place the rolls side by side in a greased oven dish. Sprinkle with butter and bake in a preheated 375 F (190 C) oven for 20 minutes.
Serve hot, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon, if you like, and pass the sour cream for people to help themselves.