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Monday, February 20, 2012

Russian Blini for Celebrating Maslenitsa.

5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures: Russian Blini for Celebrating Maslenitsa: "Russian Blini for Celebrating Maslenitsa"

Russian Blini for Celebrating Maslenitsa.
Recipe tested by Brian.


Joan Nova of FOODalogue has been hosting a special Culinary Tour Around the World where she and other foodies get to explore the wonderful cuisine of different cultures around the world. I was invited to visit Russia today to celebrate the last day of Maslenitsa.

Maslenitsa, also known as Butter Week or Pancake Week, is an ancient Russian holiday that began as a tradition of celebrating the upcoming end of winter. In modern times this festival became a pre-Lental holiday similar to Mardi Gras or Carnival. This “festival of the sun” usually takes place in the last week of February or the first week of March and involves masquerades, sledding, games in the snow, and sleigh rides.

The traditional food with which to celebrate Maslenitsa is Russian Blini. These pancakes are thought to resemble the sun because of their round shape and golden color. Blini are consumed in great quantities with caviar, sour cream, jam and plenty of butter. Blini is one of my favorite comfort foods and I make them using this authentic family recipe.

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons yeast
1 cup Buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sweet butter

Additional butter

Directions:

Warm 1/2 cup of milk. Add sugar and yeast and mix to blend. Let the yeast mixture stand for about 10 minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, mix the flours, sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the rest of milk and mix well until the batter is smooth. Cover and put in a warm place for 1-2 hours to allow the dough to rise.

Melt butter and let it cool down to room temperature. Whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the eggs and butter to the Blini batter to deflate the bubbles and mix well.

Heat 1 teaspoon of butter in an 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Pour a scoop of batter (1/3 of a ladle or a full ice-cream scoop) into pan and turn the pan gently to spread the batter around the whole pan. Cook until edge of the pancake turns light brown, about 1 minute. Loosen edges gently with spatula and turn the pancake over. Cook until bottom begins to brown in spots, about 30 seconds. Transfer to plate and cover with foil. Repeat with remaining batter, adding melted butter as needed and keeping the Blini warm.

We prepared special fillings for the Blini, including caviar, crème fraîche with chives, and smoked salmon sprinkled with dill. We put these fillings inside the Blini and rolled them up at the table. We enjoyed a Ukrainian vodka with honey and pepper.

During this feast, I remembered a song for Maslenitsa about three white horses carrying away the three winter months, and the coming of Spring.


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