Make your own blinis with party-style toppings – vegan and fish, and one just for the kids. Delicious, easy-to-make and freezable. For parties, celebrations, breakfast and snacks.
Here we are in the no-man’s land between Christmas and New Years’ Eve, lighter of wallet and fuller of belly. Those of us not back to work are perhaps eeking out the days in a sofa-slumped haze of movie watching and internet-bargain buying.
We have certainly been couch critics of a fair few Christmas movies. Our favourite so far has to be the 1954 Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (see below for the trailer). We all had a little tear towards the end. Have you seen this extravaganza of dancing and singing?
Other than discovering old Christmas movies I have also been whiling away time making bouncy, fluffy stacks of blinis for holiday get-togethers, and for the freezer- buckwheat ones, rye ones and spelt ones. These are what we have every Christmas while we open presents. We also have them on New Year’s Eve. Yes, we rather like blinis!
Blini are of course Russian. Whisked up and flipped on griddle pans over the past 1000 years or so, the toppings of old were caviar, wild honey, berries and smetana (the soured dairy cream, not the composer).
Today there is no typical blini topping and, like tortillas and other warmed flat breads, pretty much anything goes, so feel free to pop whatever you like on top. They are utterly delicious – very light, but sturdy enough to hold a hefty topping.
How to make blinis
Blini are of course little pancakes. Russian ones. But they are no ordinary pancakes: blinis are to pancakes, what Maserati are to cars. A huge leap forward. But unlike a Maserati anyone can enjoy a blini. And make one. Or preferably a whole stack, covered in tangy crème fraîche and best organic smoked salmon. The key with blini is a little patience. Not a degree in chemistry or a cupboard of fancy ingredients. Just patience.
All you need for blini are:
Flour – plain is fine but a mix of plain and either buckwheat or rye will be even better
Milk – full-fat please
An egg – divided. The yolk enriches the batter and the white can be whisked to make the little pancakes even lighter. If you are vegan, perhaps try this recipe recipe from Ania at Lazy Cat Kitchen.
Yeast – the ready to mix straight in kind
A heavy bottom pan, a slick of oil and a spatula, too
And all you do is:
Warm the milk to blood temperature and whisk in the egg yolk and a pinch of salt.
Pour the wet ingredients into dry-whisked flour and yeast, and mix until any lumps disappear. Now cover the batter and leave to bubble up over an hour – and up to 4 if it’s in a cold room. After this time you can whisk the egg white separately and fold it into the batter. If I’m juggling too many tasks I sometimes forget this step and they are always fine. So don’t stress if you forget too.
Then it is just a case of heating a skillet with a little oil and pouring in small amounts of batter. Do a couple of experimental ones to get the hang of the temp and timing. Gas hobs are easier to control than electric, so those with the latter might need to adjust a bit more. Cooks’ perks are what these ones are called. 🙂
You will see in one of the images that the batter is piped rather than spooned. Do whichever suits. I ladled the bubbly batter into a plastic food bag and snipped the end so that we could (Rachel and I) do controlled tight spirals of batter. But usually I just spoon batter in and quickly shape to a rough circle. Cook on one side for about one and a half minutes before flipping and cooking for a further minute. If you won’t be reheating them do cook them a shade longer. To reheat them for a party, pop them on a baking tray to warm through in the oven.
Blini toppings for everyone
New Year’s Eve Classic – crème fraîche spiked with lemon or grated horseradish + smoked salmon, dill sprig, teeny-tiny lemon wedge
Vegan Caviar – cooked Beluga lentils + balsamic vinegar + lemon juice + olive oil + dried ground seaweed + pepper (method in recipe card)
Brie and cranberry sauce
Smoked mackerel or brined herring with tiny-dice marinated beetroot and crème fraîche
Homemade jam or lemon curd (with or without nut butter)
Yogurt, chopped boiled egg and red onion (much, much better than it sounds!)
Chocolate spread/salted caramel/Nutella and sliced banana
Kimchi and chopped egg with sesame
Pureed roasted pepper topped with antipasti artichoke heart pieces
Molasses, treacle, maple syrup or golden syrup
Crème fraîche and homemade jam berries
However you decide to make yours, prepare a batch for now and one for the freezer. Not only do that make brilliant finger foods for parties, they are fab for quick, handheld breakfast and snack pancakes, too.
Remember to follow me on Pinterest and, if you make my Blinis, click on the pin below the recipe card and leave a photo of your make with a comment telling me what you think, or any awesome changes that you made. Similarly, any Instagram posts tagged @food_to_glow using my recipes will go on my Story if I see them. I’m always so proud when you share my recipes with the world. Yay!!!
How will you top yours?
Blinis with Beluga Lentil Caviar + 2 More Toppings
Make your own blinis with party-style toppings - vegan and fish, and one just for the kids. Delicious, easy-to-make and freezable. For parties, celebrations, breakfast and snacks.
- 100 g plain flour
- 125 g buckwheat flour or rye, wholewheat, spelt
- 3/4 tsp fine salt
- 5 g dried quick yeast
- 300 ml milk full-fat or semi-skimmed
- 1 medium egg yolk & white separated
- neutral oil for frying - about 2 tsp
Beluga Lentil Caviar
- 100 g Beluga lentils cooked
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp seaweed dried & ground - optional
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/8 red onion finely chopped - optional
Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraîche
- 50 g smoked salmon torn or cut into ribbons
- 100 g crème fraîche or soured cream
- 1 tsp grated horseradish or creamed horseradish
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 slices lemon cut into tiny wedge slices
- fresh dill enough to garnish
- 100 g crème fraîche
- Lemon slices to serve
Gently warm the milk to just above blood temperature, about 100F. Any hotter than 110F, and you will kill the yeast. Whisk in the egg yolk.
Sift or whisk together the flours, salt and yeast. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk/egg mixture, whisking until smooth. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for at least one hour, until risen and bubbly on the surface. Leave for up to four hours if you can – the bubblier, the better. You can even do this step overnight in the refrigerator.
Once the batter is bubbly and ready for blini-making, whisk up the egg white until stiff. Gently but thoroughly fold in one-third of the egg white to loosen the mix before folding in the rest.. If you can cover it and leave it for half an hour it will bubble up even more (I do this step), but isn’t absolutely necessary; they’ll still be fantastic without this extra rise/ferment.
Brush a heavy, non-stick pan or flat griddle pan with a little oil and heat over a medium heat. Drop a small amount of the batter in the pan; if it sizzles, it's ready. Now, dollop in tablespoons of batter – about 4 to a pan. You don’t want to over-crowd the pan as it makes the blini more difficult to flip. Spread each dollop with your finger or spoon if you need to. Fry the blini gently for about 1 ½ - 2 minutes, until the tops have dried out and are freckled with small holes. Flip and keep frying for a further minute.
Continue with the rest of the batter, adding the merest hint of oil as needed. Eat warm, with sweet or savoury toppings. These also reheat well in a low oven. And you can freeze them, too: defrost and warm in the oven.
Mix the lentil mix ingredients and leave 10 minutes for the flavours to develop. Spoon crème fraîche over half of the blinis and top with the lentils and chopped red onion, if using.
Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Cream
Mix the grated horseradish or creamed horseradish into the crème fraîche, along with the lemon juice and pepper. Dollop onto blinis and top with smoked salmon pieces, a mini sprig of dill, a squeeze of lemon and mini lemon slice. Add some chopped red onion if you wish.
The cooked blini freeze very well. Freeze on an open baking tray lined with baking parchment for 45 minutes. Tip the partially frozen blini into a labelled bag and store flat in the freezer. Use within one month for best result. Reheat in a warm oven until heated through.
I also top most savoury toppings with my own special pepper blend. I add black peppercorns to an empty (or half empty) pepper grinder about halfway full. Then I top up with coriander seeds and finish with the seeds from about 30 green cardamom pods. It's my go-to spice blend and keeps me from reaching for the salt shaker.
RIPE FOR PINNING!