These traditional Russian pancakes are made with a mixture of plain flour, buckwheat flour and yeast. Seasoned with chives and pan-fried in butter, the savoury base pairs perfectly with smoked salmon and avocado mousse. A Russian friend of mine taught me how to make a very simple and delicious garnish of boiled onions, olive oil and chopped dill – spoon a bit of that underneath the smoked salmon and it adds another dimension of flavour and texture. Jewish immigrants in American popularized a similar version called blintzes – these were rolled up around the savoury item and contained a whole egg instead of just the egg whites – the recipe here is a sort of cross between the two – it’s open-faced like a blini but uses a whole egg. The making of these is still considered a communal act in the official Soviet recipe: the dough must be stirred by everyone present during the process in order to demonstrate camaraderie – perhaps not the most efficient recipe, but too many cooks never spoiled this broth.
Buckwheat Blinis with Chives
1/2 cup/65 g flour
1/3 cup/ 40 g buckwheat flour
4 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup/ 8 oz milk
2 tbl butter, cut into cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
onions with dill – sliced thinly, boiled for 20 min, drain and season with roughly chopped dill, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Whisk together the flours, sugar, dry yeast and salt in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter with the milk, whisk into the flour mixture and cover with saran wrap. Let stand in a warm draft-free area for about 1-2 hours (until doubled in volume).
- Whisk to deflate, add in the egg and chill for another 30 minutes. Re-whisk before using
- Heat some butter in a large skillet and drop tablespoon measurements of the dough, leaving some space between the rounds. Cook until bubbles begin to form (approx 1-2 min), and turn over. Cook for a further 1-2 min on the other side. Remove from heat and place in a warm oven until needed.
- When ready to serve, place the blinis on a plate and spoon some of the onion and dill on top. Roll small pieces of smoked salmon and place them over the onion and dill, then garnish with a quenelle of the avocado mousse.