Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blini'd By the Light

Having blithely skipped over Valentine's Day this year, I decided to return to last year's celebration of Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) as Pancake Day. After all, the weather continues to be cold, making me want starchy comfort foods, and pancakes for dinner are always a treat.

I've been wanting to try buckwheat blini for a few years now and have had the recipe bookmarked in my copy of The Vegetarian Hearth, just waiting for the opportunity. And since I milled some of my home-grown buckwheat a couple of weeks ago, I figured there was no better time to pull out the recipe and give it a whirl.


According to the book, blini are "solar symbols... especially enjoyed during Butter Week" (the week leading up to Ash Wednesday) in Russia as the pale light of winter gives way to the growing sun of the coming spring. With the gray weather we've had around here lately, this sounded like the perfect dish to conjure up a little more sunshine. And with a batter loaded with eggs, butter, milk, and cream, even if the sun delayed its appearance I'd still be happy.

I whisked together the full recipe but had to cut short the rising times (it does include yeast) as I had started it later in the day than planned. The Renaissance Man came by for the feast, and I heated up the cast iron skillet to cook these little pancakes.

Since I could only cook three or four at a time, I turned the oven on to warm and set each batch onto a warm pie plate before continuing with the next batch. Still, I stopped about halfway through the batter so that we could actually get down to the business of eating these treats:


For the first round, I had soaked dried shiitake mushrooms, dried kale, and dried onions together earlier in the afternoon. After draining them, I gave them a quick saute with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. We topped our first blini with that mixture, adorned by plain yogurt. Savory and delicious!


For round two, we pulled out fresh pea shoots and topped those with more yogurt -- and enjoyed some just with yogurt (in place of sour cream). Mmmmm....


By the time round three rolled around, I wanted just one more, spread with some delicious blackberry jelly from The Archivist (many thanks!). What a wonderful dessert!

After that, I used up the rest of the batter and tucked the remaining blini into the refrigerator to enjoy later. The RM agreed that this made a very satisfying dinner and looked forward to sampling some of the leftovers at a later date.

We never did get around to the traditional serving method of dipping the blini into melted butter, though that would have been delightful.

But even so, I feel a little more hopeful about the return of spring sunlight!

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