It’s time to move that chip and dip aside. No, really! Step up your game plan this festive season and usher out a tray of these elegant and slightly avant-garde canapés. Luminous pink beetroot pâté, topped with translucent salmon ribbons and seaweed caviart. Think Nordic thoughts, mixed with Liberace, all dressed up 80’s neon style. This is a taste sensation you should try before the ball drops on 2014.
Blinis are traditionally made with a yeasted buckwheat batter, but these are so much easier and slightly milder in flavour. Buckwheat has a distinctive nutty, almost salty taste, so I’ve used a combination of all-purpose and buckwheat flour to mellow it out. By replacing the yeast with baking powder, no proving time is necessary and so the whole process is much simpler. Adding buttermilk makes the blinis light and fluffy. The lactic acid in the buttermilk also neutralises the sharp, bitter after-taste of baking powder, so it’s essential in this recipe.
Admittedly, the combination is quite unusual, but trust me, it works. The silky-smooth beetroot has a subtle earthiness with the feta providing saltiness to balance the sweetness. Oily, smoked salmon ribbons and glossy caviart beads round off the powerhouse of flavours. Caviart (no, this is not a spelling error), is made from seaweed and is a vegetarian alternative to caviar. It has a beautiful glossy sheen and a concentrated salty taste. Caviart comes in two colours – red and black and is available from Woolworths.
This blini recipe also works equally well with sweet toppings for breakfast or as dessert. Drizzle with maple syrup or served with berry compote and a spoonful of Greek yoghurt. So good!
Buckwheat blinis with feta pâté and smoked salmon
For the blinis
1/3 cup all purpose cake flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
25 g melted butter, cooled
Into a mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and egg. With a small balloon whisk, beat together until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Pour in the melted butter and stir through.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and add a drop of vegetable oil to coat the surface. Be careful not to add too much as any excess oil will start to smoke. No further oil is required after the first batch, as the pan will now be seasoned. Add a level tablespoon of batter to the pan. Cook on a medium to high heat and only turn over, once tiny little bubbles form on the surface. Cook through for a further minute and then set aside on kitchen roll while you finish off the remaining batter.
For the beetroot and feta pâté
100g cooked beetroot,
80g full fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup
1 teaspoon olive oil
a spritz of lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth, silky and very pink.
8og smoked salmon trimmings
caviart or caviar
Spoon the beetroot cream into a piping bag fitted with a small, round nozzle. Pipe a generous amount onto each of the cooled blinis. Roll a slither of salmon into a rosette and press lightly onto the beetroot. Top with dill and a few pearls of caviat. Serve with a well chilled Chenin blanc or a glass of Champagne.