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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Smoked Trout Blinis with Crème Fraîche and Dill

Smoked Trout Blinis with Crème Fraîche and Dill

Smoked Trout Blinis with Crème Fraîche and Dill
by Victoria Challancin

These tasty morsels couldn't be easier to make.  Tiny pancakes, smoked trout, a dollop of crème fraîche, and a sprig of dill.  How simple it that?  Of course, the perfectionist in me longed for buckwheat flour and my dear Swedish friend, Berit, who loved them, added that a bit of horseradish wouldn't go amiss--but other than that, these hors d'oeuvres, which disappeared quickly, were a hit.
Smoked Trout Blinis with Crème Fraîche and Dill

A Little History of Blinis

The website provides us with a fascinating history of blini, those popular thin pancakes beloved in Russian zakuski, apparently celebrated their 1000th anniversary recently.  Deriving from its ancestor that was made from oat jelly, when a distracted and hungry traveler left his oat jelly too long over the fire, thus creating the first blin.  OK.  Maybe.  But I am willing to give the Russians credit for this and why not?  It is as reasonable as other culinary claims that just might not be able to be substantiated today.

In pagan times blini were made by early Slavic peoples as a part of a celebration known as Maslenitsa, which was also called "Butter Week, Pancake Week, and Cheese Fare Week," as a part of a sun festival which celebrated the welcome end of winter and the coming of spring.  Round and golden, blini symbolized the sun itself. Legend has it that if a woman prepared delicious pancakes during this week, then spring and summer would bring rich harvests, good health, and success.  

The Orthodox church adopted this tradition, which is carried on to the present day.  Jewish immigrants to the United States also popularized the tradition with their blintz, which are now known all over the U.S., not just in New York.

Blini in Russia featured in rituals throughout the lives of every individual.  Given to women after childbirth to bring luck to the newborn, celebrated as a part of the annual sun festival, and provided at funeral feasts, blini take on symbolic meaning in the lives of everyday people and the rich as well.  During Lent in Lithuania, blini or blintzes are a traditional meal.

Like pancakes everywhere, blini can be eaten with countless fillings or toppings:  mushrooms, meats, fruits, sour cream, onions and potatoes, fish, honey, jams, caviar, various cheeses, and more.  The batter itself can be made from from from all kinds of flour, with our without yeast.  Various additions to the batter could be potato or apple and raisins.  

According to russiapedia, many traditions are associated with blini:  the first pancakes, usually the poorest in form and texture, were set on windowsills for the poor.  Special races were held in ancient Russia as well, where people had to run while jolting blini high into the air from the handleless, cast-iron griddle used to make them.  Russian writers, including Chekhov, Pushkin, and Gogol have written about them and even have dedicated stories to them.

Beloved throughout history, blini still are beloved in Russia. And lucky for most of us, all over the world in one form or another.

Smoked Trout Blinis with Crème Fraîche and Dill

Cook's Notes:  As I mentioned above, I would have loved to have made these with buckwheat flour, but don't have it available to me here in San Miguel.  Yet.  I also would probably take Berit's advice and add a bit of horseradish.  Capers and radishes could also figure into the sour cream itself, or the topping.  Because Mexican crema ácida, or sour cream, is so similar to the French crème fraîche, of course I used that.  For the trout I used smoked rainbow trout from Costco--delicious.  These were made in a cooking class I taught to Mexican cooks, who giggled throughout the making of them at how our pancakes bore little resemblance to a round, golden sun!

Recipe:  Smoked Trout Blinis with Crème Fraîche and Dill
(Recipe from Saveur Magazine)
Makes about 30 blinis

2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 lb boneless smoked trout, flaked into 12/-inch chunks
Crème Fraîche (or Mexican sour cream), cayenne pepper or paprika, and fresh dill sprigs, for garnish

Whisk eggs in a bowl, then whisk in sour cream; set aside.  In another bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add dry ingredients to egg mixture; whisk until smooth.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with oil.  Working in batches, spoon 1 tablespoon amounts batter into pan (Note:  I made them a bit smaller) to form 1 1/2- to 2-inch rounds.  Cook, flipping once, until golden, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to serving platter, and repeat with remaining batter.  Top each blini with smoked trout, a dollop of crème fraîche, a sprinkle of cayenne or paprika, and a dill sprig.

Smoked Trout Blinis with Crème Fraîche and Dill

 Parting Shot:  

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Recipes are meant to be shared, but my photos and text are always my own.  Please ask permission before using.  Thanks!


Eha said...

Victoria: you have left me totally frustrated. Sunday morning, have just lost our Summer Daylight Time which has led to somewhat of a temporary blue feeling and now you present such a wonderful platter of food I grew up with!! No way to get smoked trout for a few days or creme fraiche and even my dill has finished! Only one thing left to do: share this on and hope others are in a better state as far as ingredients go :)! And Vicki: these are Mother's milk in Estonia too!!!

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

Nice to hear this tickled your fancy and appealed to your roots! They were good--and easy, though next time I will strive harder for round sun shapes in keeping with their symbolism.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

This looks divine Victoria! Blinis are one of those items that I am unable to resist. In fact if I were greeted with that plate, I would promptly eat the whole thing I am sure! :D

Joan Nova said...

That would be the first thing I'd gravitate to at a cocktail party. I could eat the whole plate!

Hotly Spiced said...

Your Blinis look very good. I can imagine these disappearing very quickly at a party. And the parting shot of the orange flower against that very pretty blue is very cheery xx

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

One of my favorite appetizers. Wish I had a couple of yours right now. said...

I have a strange addiction to blinis. I make them, buy them and go to restaurants that serve them toopped with caviar, etc. This combination can become another favorite...

Nancy said...

Oh yum!! I love smoked fish and all types of pancakes. We have something similar to blinis here in CZ but they are called something else. Your appetizer looks scrumptious, and now I'm craving them. Thanks for sharing Victoria!

Nagi@RecipeTinEats said...

This is divine! The perfect appetizer for a party! And it's something that I can't really resist.