Russian blini were originally small crumbly pancakes with the strong flavor of buckwheat. They have evolved into a much more sophisticated and subtly savory treat. Serving them with caviar and the traditional accompaniments like egg and onion probably originated in Europe a long time ago to mask taste of rancid or poor quality caviar. Today it is no longer necessary to go to these extremes, but the accompaniments are a good way to stretch your caviar and create an interesting palate of flavors.
- 1¼ cup milk
- 1½ teaspoon yeast
- ¼ cup lukewarm water
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- .75 cup buckwheat flour, plus a little more if necessary
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- 4 hard boiled eggs, yolks and whites separated and chopped
- 1 small red onion, minced
- 1½ ounce caviar, per person
- 1 cup sour cream
Scald 1 cup of milk in a sauce pan set over medium heat, do not let it boil. Remove from heat and allow it to cool somewhat. Mix the yeast with the warm water, setting it aside for 5 minutes until it gets foamy.
Sift the flours and salt together in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the pile and pour the yeast water and milk into that well. Gradually mix the flour into the liquid. Beat until smooth. Cover the bowl with a towel and set in a warm place for 2 or 3 hours until quite bubbly.
Melt ½ of the butter, then let it cool somewhat. Add the melted butter, an additional ¼ cup of milk, 2 egg yolks and the heavy cream, stirring to combine. The end result should have a consistency of heavy cream, you may need to add more milk to achieve this.
Whisk the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, trying to keep the mixture fluffy.
Heat the remaining butter on a large non-stick skillet or griddle. Wipe out the extra with a paper towel so that the skillet is coated with butter. Pour the batter into small rounds about 2‑inches in diameter. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes until golden brown, flip the blini and cook an additional minute or so. Serve warm or at room temperature topped with caviar, hard-boiled eggs, red onion, and sour cream