Saturday 20 February 2010

Shrove Tuesday Blinis

It’s lovely and quiet in our house right now – husband, baby and cat are all asleep. We are going out for lunch in a couple of hours but I am loathe to wake them yet. I should do some cleaning but I want some time to tell you about what we have been eating this week, especially the blinis I made on Shrove Tuesday.

It seems I have missed my chance to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday on the last few years. Hence this year I decided that despite my new eating plan, I would make pancakes on Tuesday come hell or high water! (After all the idea of a plan is only to inspire not to restrict!) The main question was what sort of pancakes should I make. So many wonderful recipes.

After some searching of the net and my cookbooks and swithering between sweet and savoury, I settled on a recipe I recently found on Ms Marmitelover’s quirky blog The English Can Cook run by the host of an underground restaurant. I loved the sound of her blini with buckwheat and crème fraiche (and now I want to make her oven baked cider galettes). It was no surprise to find that the recipe came from Delia. They both served them with salmon, crème fraiche and dill but I decided they would look pretty with crème fraiche and beetroot chutney.

On Tuesday I was at Clifton Hill and while it seems we might have lost Sylvia’s loved clip-on pram toy, Jethro, we did find crème fraiche, which is not so common in these parts of the world. It cost three times as much as sour cream, which I had planned to use, but I couldn’t resist the real thing. I got home in time to let the batter rise for an hour, twice. What an achievement!

I haven’t made yeasted pancakes before but I loved the spongy nature of the batter when I stirred it after it had risen. Despite flat egg whites due to my botched job of separating the eggs, the blini were lovely and light. I loved the crème fraiche and chutney on them.

I also really enjoyed the side dish I made with onions, corn and pumpkin. I fried sliced onions for quite some time til they were soft and caramelly. I cooked the corn and pumpkin in the microwave and added them, a pinch of salt and some chives a few minutes before serving. Delicious. Sylvia had a taste of the blini and liked it but she preferred the steamed broccolini.

It has been another good week for Sylvia with eating. She has tried lots more new things like vegie sausages and eggplant parmagana but I was really pleased to see her enjoying foods she has tasted in the past and not really taken to. When I first gave her steamed broccoli she didn’t like it but it was hard to keep her hands off it on Tuesday. She had a leftover blini for breakfast, vegies in pastry for lunch and falafel for dinner this week. I made more muffins that I will post about soon and she was loving sourdough bread.

When I first gave her sourdough she screwed up her face. This week I went to CERES café with Yaz and to Animal Orchestra with Jenny. Sylvia is now too active to sit in the pram but will play about at my feet, though I have to watch she doesn’t get underfoot. She sat on Yaz’s knee and had some of my buttered sourdough toast and even enjoyed a taste of the marinated smoked tofu. The red lanerns were up for Chinese New Year at CERES. At Animal Orchestra Sylvia had some more sourdough bread that I got with my sweet potato and pear soup.

As for E and me, we ate well this week too. I made a lovely tomato and cabbage stew on Sunday with leftover vegetables. Sylvia had a version with less seasoning than us and we all had a few nights meals out of this. I had to find some inspiration to use up my feta. I made scones with it and then last night we had a Spinach, Feta and Fig Salad. It had spinach, yellow capsicum and spring onion with a lemon and honey vinaigrette which I made with too much lemon and not enough honey. The grilled figs, toasted walnuts and crumbled feta on top really made it quite substantial. If I make it again and get the quantities right for me I might post about it.

I loved the blinis (and so did E – well sort of). They didn’t taste as yeasty as I expected but were very good. I would probably just buy sour cream next time and maybe serve them as a stack rather than spreading them over the plate. They can be sweet or savoury. I had some leftover ones with maple syrup and then, for old times sake, sugar and lemon juice. They do need a little time so are not the sort of pancakes to get up and make for a quick breakfast unless you can leave them to rise in the fridge overnight (I think this might be possible). I am sending them to Susan for her weekly Yeast Spotting round up of all things yeasty on food blogs.

As for my peace and quiet, of course it couldn’t last. E is up and having his breakfast while reading the morning papers – we have stopped getting the Sunday Age and now are getting the Age and Weekend Australian on Saturday, so there are plenty of newspapers about this morning. Sylvia has had a lovely sleep and is now up and having fun with a cardboard box and some door draft excluders or clutching at my legs. So I will leave you with the recipe and start getting ready to go our for lunch.


From The English Can Cook and
Makes about 16-20

Mix flours, salt and yeast together. Heat crème fraiche and milk until it is lukewarm (if it is too warm it will kill off the yeast). Add the egg yolks and mix. (Actually Ms Marmitelover just seemed to add the eggs together rather than separating them. I think I will do this next time.) Cover with a clean teatowel (mine was dry) and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour. (In Australia in summer any place is a warm place.) Beat egg white till they form stiff peaks (or not) and mix in with mixture. Cover and leave to rise for another hour.

Heat a heavy based non stick frypan over medium heat and use a silicone brush or some kitchen paper to brush lightly with butter. Drop 2 dessertspoonfuls into the frypan – I got three at a time in my frypan – and cook for about 40 seconds on one side and 30 on the second – according to Delia. In reality I got distracted with some of my batches and they were fine to be on the pan longer – they were a bit darker coloured but tasted good. They can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a low oven

On the Stereo:
The Crane Wife:


  1. There truly is something comforting about sugar and lemon juice on pancakes, isn't there? Though I do love that Sylvia preferred broccolini - fabulous!

  2. now that's a savoury pancake I could handle. looks delicious

  3. This is such a lovely dish, Johanna! I wish I had these on a Tuesday.

  4. Thanks Hannah - I was never a big fan of lemons but I do love the nostalgia of sugar and lemons

    Thanks Nic - oh definitely

    Thanks Anh - there is always next year

  5. Those look fabulous! I am quite smitten with the idea of the beetroot chutney too.

  6. I've always found blini fascinating--must be the yeast--and these look terrific. The airiness is nicely indicated by the rounds of white against the browned blini. Bet they were delicious! And glad to hear that Sylvia's appetite for new foods is still expanding. :)

  7. Thanks Lisa - I am sure you would love the chutney - so many uses for it

    Thanks Ricki - blini are still a mystery to me but it is nice to have started unravelling it


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