Monday, March 2, 2009

Tahitian Blinis

Tahitian blinis -- it's a contradiction in and of itself. Blinis, also known as blin or blintzes, are a traditional Russian food often seen in Jewish cooking as well. Pineapple and vanilla don't need an explanation, but when combined they create a taste that is way beyond the sum of its parts. I like to put a little vanilla extract in the syrup pineapple comes stored in, it adds a hint of luxuriousness to an otherwise simple and sunny fruit. Blinis are often filled with everything from meat and cream cheese to various regional fruits.

This recipe took a bit of practice; without going into detail I'll just say that the initial first attempt at the filling was an utter failure. The blinis themselves took some handling but I got the hang of it by the second or third one. The batter is supposed to be very thin, and a large nonstick skillet without tapered sides is your best bet (i.e. the flat portion at the bottom of the skillet is large versus curving inward like a wok). This gives the batter plenty of surface area to spread out and create the characteristic thinness. You could also use a crepe maker, as the dishes are quite similar. This recipe makes around 20 blin, but they store very well in a freezer bag in the fridge for a couple of days. I found them much easier to work with the second day.

Ingredients for blinis:

4 eggs
1 1/2c whole milk
1 1/2c flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Add the salt and sugar and continue to whisk. Finally, add the flour and whisk until the batter is smooth. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, I used a tiny bit of butter before each blin to make them easier to handle after cooking. Using a 1/4c measuring cup, put one scoop of batter in the skillet. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the sides begin to curl up and you can shimmy a spatula under the blin. Flip and allow the other side to cook for about 30 seconds, then take the pan and flip the blin onto a plate. Do this until you're out of batter.


*This makes enough filling for all the blinis, adjust accordingly if you're making fewer and don't want leftovers. This goes nicely on bagels as well.*

1 1/2c finely chopped and shredded pineapple (if you're getting it from a can, strain all the syrup out first and reduce the sugar by 2-3 tsp)
12 oz cream cheese
8 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Let the cream cheese soften to room temperature and cream it with the sugar and vanilla extract. Mix in the pineapple until the consistency is about even and there are no chunks of cream cheese left.

Taking the blini, put a tablespoon or two of filling into the center. The way you roll these is very similar to the egg roll method; bring the right edge over, tuck the top edge down and the bottom edge up and roll from the folded side. Once all of these are done you can either serve them as is or fry them.

Some people choose to fry these, especially on Hanukkah when frying is a religious observance. To do this, heat about an inch of vegetable oil over medium heat in a skillet. Very carefully place the blinis seam side up in the pan; you will probably have to hover by them and use a spatula or tongs to keep the seams from falling apart. After a few minutes flip to the other side with tongs. Allow to brown for another minute or so and transfer to a paper towel. Do the same with the rest of the blinis; fit as many as you can into the pan without crowding them and giving yourself ample space for flipping. Serve and enjoy!

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