It's Pancake Day tomorrow and what better way to celebrate it (and Valentines Day the day after) than with these delicate little buckwheat blinis served with sour cream, chives and crab or caviar? Learn how to master a classic blini and you'll never want to buy them again. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
Blinis are thin pancakes or crepes, typically made from buckwheat flour and often served with various toppings such as caviar, sour cream or smoked salmon. The exact origin of blinis is difficult to pinpoint exactly, but they are believed to have originated in Russia where they have been a staple in the cuisine for a very long time. The word "blin" itself is derived from Old Slavic meaning "to roast" or "to fry." Blinis were traditionally prepared during the week-long celebration of Maslenitsa, a pre-Lenten festival that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere which is on 11th March – Sunday 17th March this year. I must admit that I loved the alternative names for Maslenitsa: "Butter Lady, Butter Week, Crepe week or Cheesefare Week". Just call me Butter Lady ;)
Traditionally blinis were made with buckwheat flour, which was more readily available in the northern regions of Russia. These served as a nutritious and hearty food source for the Russian population. Over time as blini recipes evolved wheat flour became a common ingredient in addition to or in place of buckwheat.
Tips For Making Blinis
1 - This Blini recipe uses a mixture of buckwheat flour and plain wheat flour which to me gives it a perfect combination of softness with the flavour of buckwheat.
2 - Some blini recipes call for the whole egg to be whisked into the batter. This is easier but folding in whisked egg whites creates a lighter blini than one beaten in that is dense. Also the batter is quite liquid and unless you have a blini or pikelet frying pan, you may end up with non round shapes. Again that is fine for most people but if you want perfectly round blini, the whisked egg whites make the batter a bit fluffier and stiffer.
3 - I like cooking blinis on low heat if you're doing a lot at once (otherwise it's easy to let some burn while you attend to others). Once bubbles start appearing then it is time to look at flipping them over. Just gently pry the edge away from the pan and peek under to see if they are ready.
4 - Blini can be frozen for up to 3 months. Separate with parchment and place in an airtight box. They can also be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
5 - Serving suggestions for blini: sour cream and caviar, smoked salmon, prawns or jam and sour cream are also delicious! I was inspired by the blini at Bennelong where they serve them with yabbies, cultured cream and lemon jam. I used some of my lemon jam and paired it with sour cream, chives and crab.
6 - ETA A few of you have asked about my pancake pan so here is a link to it Pancake Pan. It's a cast iron pan that is sturdy and the pancakes around just over 6cms/2.4inches in diameter. The pan needs seasoning before its first use (which is easy) and it produced the most perfectly round pancakes!
Over the last week I've made about 6 batches of blinis trying to get that perfect light texture and delicious flavour. Mr NQN isn't a big fan of buckwheat so I used some white flour in these but I think this is a delicious compromise. Mostly these days a mixture of the two flours is used just to lighten it up and make them a bit softer. Sometimes blini are made with yeast but baking powder is quicker and good if you don't particularly like the flavour or aroma of yeast. I became so besotted with finding the right blini recipe that I bought a blini/pikelet pan as I have OCD and I wanted them perfectly round.
I love the versatility of blinis - they can be casual or fancy and they are served at room temperature and they can be sweet or savoury. Because I had made so many batches I had lots to bring to parties. I brought a big box of them to the Elliott birthday family picnic the other day and they disappeared so quickly I wish I had brought two boxes of them.
When I put up some pictures of the picnic on Instagram stories I put up one of Mr NQN's brother. Manu used to work on television and movie sets in the crew but after a few years, decided that the extremely long hours were not worth his health so he quit. Since then he has worked jobs like Uber eats driver but his passion is caving which he does every moment that he can. He is no longer a staunch vegan and is more a vegetarian that may eat meat. He has had some digestive issues that he thought may be fixed by veganism but it seems eating a wider, balanced diet has proved better for him.
We hadn't seen him since Christmas so when he turned up at the picnic, I was surprised at his appearance. "Have you got a new job?" I asked him. He was wearing work safety gear and looked just like one of those people that work on the roads holding up signs asking people to slow down. I explained on the pic that it was Manu's safety measure although a lot of people asked about the safety in question. I just answered that he rides a bike but he's also a unique guy that does things his way (much like their father Roger). When you compare Mr NQN to his brother Manu Mr NQN is much more conventional and would never do that!
So tell me Dear Reader, would you say that you march to the beat of your own drum?
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