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blinisIt is my ‘bad’ luck that I am posting two pancake recipes in a row. Bad is obviously in inverted commas because of course how can any reference to pancakes be bad? Dropping a whole pile of them on the floor – that would be bad. But devoting two posts to nearly the easiest thing you can do with flour? Surely not. But in case you were thinking this is a redux of the last post, save for some fancy stuff on top, you would be mistaken.

blinisBlini are pancakes – Russian ones. However, they are the Rolls Royce edition. With chauffeur and drinks cabinet.

This recipe is a yeasted batter, with little friendly bacteria beetling away under humid cover to produce a fluffy, risen cake. On account of the heavier-than-wheat rye (or buckwheat) flour, I include a stiffly-whisked egg white for extra lift. This is entirely optional.

Blini do take a little time – they have to rest, bless them – but it is all straight forward enough. They are also eminently freezable, thus any slight, infinitesimal effort on your part is discounted by having a ‘free’ breakfast or a few fancy, high-falutin’ snacks when you so desire.

You may of course use pre-made blini from the grocery store or deli. I do that sometimes as the ones we get here in the UK are pretty passable when anointed with decent toppings (if you ignore the label – stabilisers and some other weird stuff). But special occasions call for special effort. At least sometimes. And these really aren’t any effort, just requiring a bit of time. Time you can use to sort some sublime toppings.

Below I give you three complementarily seasoned ideas. In my original blini post from 2011 I offer other ideas, too. The classic versions are probably unsurpassable – soured cream/smetana with caviar or smoked salmon. Blini with lightly smoked Scottish salmon and fresh horseradish crème fraîche is always going to be my favourite. But we will be mixing it up on New Year’s Eve with these slightly Eastern, a little bit Moroccan ickle pancakes. Join us, won’t you?

Truthfully, if the blini are homemade or of good pedigree (eg not all white flour) almost anything you put on a blin will sing. {Get me with the proper grammar – blin is singular for blini.} In fact, one of the finest ways to enjoy a blin is to gild with a soupçon of French Lescure butter, or pincée of goat’s milk butter such as the Canadian Liberté. Vegans, I apologise. Earth Balance. Dripping-on-your-best-trousers good.

I’ll return in a day or two with not another pancake recipe but – hurrah – THE best hangover cure this side of a greasy fry-up. We like it for breakfast, sans tap-dancing noggin, but all the ingredients are thought to quash a queasy stomach. Until then, be safe, be warm and enjoy yourself this New Year’s Eve.

What are your New Year’s Eve plans? Are you going to party like it’s 1999? Or are you going to ring it in with an eye mask and ear plugs? Something in between perhaps?

blinisA Trio of Blinis for New Year’s Eve

Miso-Lime Grilled Aubergines on Honey-Glazed Blini

Toasted Sesame-Soy Tofu and Spinach Cream

Sweet Potato, Almond and Smoked Paprika 

Whether a cosy fireside party for two, or a big shindig with fireworks and stiltwalkers, any or all of these easily-made blink – along with more traditional crème fraiche and smoked salmon or caviar blini – would be the perfect appetiser. 

Keep your stress levels at a low peep by making the blini and toppings ahead of time, putting them together just before you need them. Good quality bought blini are a time-saving option of course, but these blini – with the tang from rye flour and a quick fermentation – are a step above. Make more than you need and freeze them too, for a quick snack or fancy breakfast. See my original blini post for more topping suggestions and the blini recipe. The toppings below are really loose recipes, so interpret and adjust as you like. All recipes will make 10-12 blini, and maybe a little extra. 

auberginesMiso-Lime Grilled Aubergines on Honey-Glazed Blinis

Aubergine/Eggplant – 1 medium or 4-5 small aubergines (that’s what I used)

Neutral Oil, to lightly fry (I used rapeseed)

White/Yellow Miso – 3 tbsp

Honey or Date Syrup – ½ tbsp + extra for blini glaze

Soy Sauce/Shoyu Sauce – 2 tsp

Gingerroot – 1 heaped tsp, grated (more to taste)

White pepper – dash

Lime Juice – to taste (I used half a lime)

10-12 cocktail-sized blini

Garnish suggestions: shreds of toasted nori seaweed, crushed wasabi peas, toasted sesame seeds or a leaf of coriander

Slice the aubergines into ½ inch thick rounds. You will probably be using a larger aubergine. To fit on the blinis,  it is best to cut the slices into quarters at this stage as they will be very soft after frying. I scored a grid onto each slice as this allows the marinade to be more readily absorbed, but isn’t strictly necessary as the pieces are thin anyway. In traditional nasu dengaku you would do this as you are marinating halves of aubergine, then grilling.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan – about 1 tbsp and when medium hot add the slices of aubergine and fry on both sides until just starting to colour. Remove and place on a paper towel.

Mix the remaining ingredients and adjust to taste. Spread a little on each aubergine and pop under a hot grill until just starting to bubble, but not get too brown. I put a sheet of foil on my grill rack to keep it from sticking. Remove to cool a little then take each room temperature blini and dab on a little honey, add a few aubergine pieces, then top with your garnish.

spinach-tofu-pureeToasted Sesame-Soy Tofu and Fresh Spinach Cream

Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves – 25g (1 packed cup) + one nice small leaf for each blini

Japanese Tofu (in a carton in the ambient section of the store) – 50g (1 cup)

Toasted Sesame Oil – 1 ½ tsp

Soy Sauce/Shoyu Sauce – 2 tsp

White Pepper – to taste (about ¼ tsp)

Fresh Coriander Leaves/Cilantro – 1 tbsp finely chopped + extra leaves for garnish

Garlic Cloves – ½ clove minced and 3 ½ , sliced thinly (divided use)

Fresh Lemon Juice – as needed for your own taste or not at all

10-12 cocktail-sized blini

Garnish: toasted sesame seeds and caramelised garlic

Roughly chop the spinach and add it to a small blender/food processor bowl along with the tofu, oil, soy sauce, pepper, chopped coriander and the ½ minced garlic clove, and a dash of lemon if you want that zing. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed.

Caramelised garlic: in a small saucepan, heat enough oil on medium high to cover the bottom of the pan and a little extra. Add the garlic slices. Cook – gently shaking the pan to prevent the slices sticking together – until lightly golden. Drain on a paper towel.

To assemble: place a small spinach leaf on each blini and add a teaspoon of  puree and top with a caramelised garlic slice, a coriander leaf and some sesame seeds.

sweet potato and almond pureeSweet Potato, Almond Butter and Smoked Paprika Puree

Sweet Potato, 1 small – peeled and chopped

Almond Butter – 2 tbsp OR handful of almonds blended

Garlic Clove – ½ – 1, chopped (I used the smaller amount)

Smoked Paprika – ¼ tsp

Lemon or Lime Juice – a squeeze of either

Salt, to taste

10-12 cocktail-sized blini

Garnish: Crème fraiche, sour cream or vegan equivalent (eg almond cream) with harissa, or other good chilli paste, mixed in to taste. I didn’t add this, but a smoked almond on top would be a great crunchy contrast.

Steam the potatoes for 8 minutes (or boil and drain) and cool a bit.  Add the potato and the remaining ingredients to the small bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until blended, adding a touch of oil or water if necessary. Take each blini and smear a little of the puree on each and top with a little of the harissa cream and a splodge of pure harissa. Top with a smoked almond if you like.

Grain-free? For the miso-aubergines, what about a chia-flax cracker bottom, or sliced, pan-fried baby potato? Or, if it is gluten that is your bête noire, what about a seaweed rice cracker? For the spinach and tofu one, a bottom of crisscrossed baby spinach leaves would be perfect. And for the sweet potato topping you could do a lot worse than stir up a batch of silver dollar-sized soccas. I’ve got a great recipe for these nifty chickpea flour pancakes: just leave out the herbs, and let them cook until a bit crispy and topping-sturdy. These are also good to have in the freezer. ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS?

Vegan? These three toppings are vegan or easily vegan, but I only found one lone vegan blini recipe – from stayclassyfit. Leave out the maple syrup though. It would be easy to make my (or your) blini recipe vegan by mixing 1 tbsp of flax meal or chia meal with 3 tbsp of water and let it sit for 10 minutes, adding as you would egg. I’ve not tried it this way, but if you have, let me know how it worked out. Thanks. 😀

35 thoughts on “A Trio of Blinis for New Year’s Eve

  1. Ooh, I love blinis and your miso-lime aubergine topping sounds amazing. I could see this as a wonderful crepe filling too. The busyness of the holidays has not slowed you down at all, fortunately for all of us readers. 🙂 We are arriving home the morning of New Year’s Eve but are planning to enjoy an evening at our friend’s new house! Wishing you a wonderful start to the new year!

    1. The miso-lime aubergine was the biggest hit with my family when testing these. My husband’s eyes widened and he muttered an incredulous “What?!” and polished off the plate. It sounds like you are partying like it’s 1999!

      1. I grilled the eggplants and layered on top the miso-lime sauce for lunch today to put inside crepes. The sauce was delicious and a nice fresh update for the palate after so many holiday meals. I am happy it made leftovers for tomorrow! Thanks Kellie!

      2. Great to hear that you liked these aubergines. Thanks so much for letting me know, Katie 😀

  2. lizzygoodthings says:

    Absolutely yummy! Happy new year my friend xox

  3. As usual, so much deliciousness to choose from!! Our new years celebrations are currently up in the air….either a small, intimate party at home {with games and perhaps a little dancing}, or crashing a shindig that our friends invited us to. What about you??? Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy 2014!

    1. Why not both? Party and dancing at home then sneak out to the shindig? We are the evening’s teenage taxi so it will be blinis, mocktails (and Scottish Highland Spring sparkling water) and watching the Edinburgh Castle “Hogmanay” (our word for New Year’s Eve) fireworks, either from our car or on the telly. Old skool entertainment. Woo hop! Have fun whatever you do x

  4. riadlinda says:

    Thank you for the yummy recipe Kellie & a very Happy New Year to you too.

  5. Nazima says:

    love this trio Kellie. Planning to make blinis myself. Do love how you describe them! Have a wonderful celebration and happy new year. xx

  6. We will celebrate at home with much merriment! I adore the idea of making as much of the celebration food ahead of the gathering so the “cook” can also enjoy the merry making. And a trio of scrumptious blinis would make a marvelous party foe all!

  7. Reblogged this on Local Sprouts and commented:
    These look fabulous! A nice change from caviar or smoked salmon!

  8. foodbod says:

    You are forgiven for your second pancake recipe in a row – because they’ve both looked SO GOOD!!!!! I love the toppings on these blinis too ☺️ My NYE will be the same as always, nicely quiet with my lovely boys 😍 have a great one Kellie xx

    1. You too. I like a cosy family time during the holidays. Not much of a party girl these days. I’m too deaf!

  9. Reblogged this on Suvi Sutrisno and commented:
    Food Receipe #ReBlog

  10. PJ Sassifras says:

    Delish! I never thought to freeze blinis. What a great idea! They’d be so much better than crackers to serve when unexpected company arrives (especially this time of year).

  11. narf77 says:

    Short of eating flour straight from the bag with a spoon (which I DON’T recommend on personal experience…) pancakes are, indeed, almost the easiest thing to make out of flour. I would bypass the egg and would use non-dairy yoghurt to lighten these babies up. Never apologise for using good quality ingredients ;). I would bypass the Earth Balance (never tried the stuff, not even sure you can buy it here in Australia) and would go straight for the gorgeous veggie toppings, choosing to anoint my blini (as “blin” in the singular would NEVER be enough 😉 ) with these lovely spicy, creamy unguents. You certainly nailed this brief 🙂

  12. These are the cutest little things! For some reason I have never heard of Blinis, but now that I have I intend on letting everyone (okay, at least my family) know. The idea of taking a pancake and turning it into something so much more is wonderful to me! This is coming from the girl who is planning to have all breakfast foods at her wedding! Thank you for this wonderful idea and recipe!

  13. I would love to go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) the fireworks display is amazing, the whole city lights up with activities.

    1. It is great to be near a big city that does spectacular displays. Here in Edinburgh – allegedly the home of New Years Eve (Hogmanay/Auld Lang Syne) celebrations and certainly the daddy of all UK celebrations – the Edinburgh Castle is the focal point. With fireworks in the sky (obviously), but also pyrotechnics tumbling down the castle ramparts (it is on a stone hill) and many outdoor concerts ranged around the city centre in view of it all. It is supposed to be a dry night so it should be extra enjoyable. Have a wonderful time, wherever you end up!

  14. Amanda says:

    These are stunning. I love blini. I like blinchiki, which are the pancakes without the yeast, like crepes. But your 3 versions of these are so flavorful. I’m definitely going to try them. I’m on a pancake kick of late.

    1. Ooh, blinchiki. I have heard of them but no more than that. Little crepes then. Cool. I hope one of these little ‘global’ toppings makes the grade with you 😀

  15. These look beautiful , thanks for sharing .

  16. rileyvollmer says:

    Hello! we are about to start posting recipes on our blog and hope to really expand on food. Any tips for how to get this amazing creation by cutting the time?

    1. Hi there. Use bought blinis! If don’t these toppings then not really any shortcuts I suppose, but you could top with sourcream mixes with horseradish and/or lemon and top with strips of smoked salmon or finely shredded and stir-fried seasoned winter vegetables. Best wishes with your blog.

    2. I thought I responded to this earlier (on my Kindle) but it doesn’t appear here so I will try again! I would use bought blinis and that will certainly cut the time. Otherwise, the toppings are kind of straightforward but take a little time. I don’t know of anyway to shorten the time except to use different toppings, maybe hummus and fried onions, sour creme and smoked salmon, bought baba ganoush and stir in some harissa or similar. Hope that helps, and good luck with your blog’s new direction.

      1. rileyvollmer says:

        Thanks so much for your input your work is wonderful and so fresh!

  17. Irina says:

    Hi,
    your dish is adorable, but I think it’s more “oladii” than blini. I’m Russian, live in Moscow and here we call think pancakes as blini, but the thick ones, as on photo, are oladii 🙂

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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