I think I'm going to start a Sunday brunch series. Not only is a wonderful brunch a great way to start the week, it is also one of the only times I have the opportunity to make use of natural light to photography food! Seriously - a little sun makes all the difference! Last week I had Salmon & "Eggs"Scramble. Today? Buckwheat blini, baby. Gluten-free blini. Sprouted, even. With smoked salmon. And pumpkin seed cream. Yum.
It seems appropriate to follow up my Russian Salad from the other day with blini, another Russian culinary contribution. These little blini may not be as light and fluffy and magical as "real" blini, but for a blini made without yeast, gluten, eggs, or dairy, I think they are pretty darn good. I like using the same basic soaked and sprouted blended grain technique I used for my waffles as I do for making pancakes and blini. They are soft and moist, not too heavy, and have a lovely, light buckwheat flavor that isn't too strong. I love buckwheat, but it can be a little overwhelming sometimes; I cut the buckwheat with some quinoa for a milder flavor. I think I will probably continue to tweak this blini recipe some as time goes on (as we cooks do) but here is the first published version. I have a couple other tricks up my sleeve I think could help make these a wee bit fluffier.
Next time I plan to serve this with a little hijiki caviar. There are many recipes like this one floating around online. I have made it using a recipe from Myra Kornfield's The Voluptuous Vegan on a number of occasions, and adore it. Sadly, my seaweed stash is running a little low at the moment, so no "caviar" for me this morning. That's okay though, because I had some tasty pumpkin seed cream (my substitute for craime fraiche), sliced cucumber, and a lovely greens salad with azuki miso & mustard vinaigrette to go with it.
Vegan? Omit the salmon! Try substituting with thin slices of your favorite lentil or bean loaf, or if you tolerate soy, roasted tempeh or tofu steaks. Or, just serve with cream and a batch of that tasty caviar.
Perfect for breakfasts and brunches, or for the perennial favorite of breakfast-for-dinner, this is a healthy, delicious meal you can feel good about. And it is easy too!
So, again, I'll say it:
Приятного аппетита (prijatnogo appetita)!
Gluten-Free Sprouted Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, and Pumpkin Seed Cream
Make it: buckwheat blini, pumpkin seed cream
Buy it: smoked salmon, thinly sliced cucumber, capers, fresh dill sprigs or dry dill, freshly cracked pepper
To serve as a breakfast or brunch, arrange individual portions of each ingredients on plates, allowing each person to make their own blini stacks. If desired, serve with a greens salad.
To use as an appetizer, make appetizer-size blini variation (see recipe below). Stack one cucumber slice, a bit of smoked salmon, a dollop of cream, a caper, and a bit of dill on top. If desired, sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper and fleur de sel. Arrange on a tray, and serve. Bite size blini beauty!
BLINI (GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN)
yield 20-22 4" blini
3/4 cup whole buckwheat groats
3/4 cup whole quinoa grains
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (or water)
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp flax meal
2 Tbsp light olive oil, grapeseed oil, or melted ghee
2 Tbsp buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
optional: 5 drops stevia liquid (I like SweetLeaf)
Rinse quinoa and buckwheat grains, and place in a large bowl. Cover with 4 cups of water, and let soak for up to 12 hours. Drain and rinse well, rubbing grains together.
Place soaked grains in a blender, and level off. Pour in just enough water to cover grains, and blend until grains are almost completely chopped up (if using a Vita-Mix or some other high powered blender, do not use the High setting, go only as high as highest setting in Low). Add 3/4 cup milk/water, oil, flax, salt, flour, and stevia, and blend until totally smooth. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Heat a non-stick griddle over medium-low heat until a drop of batter sizzles. Spoon about 2-3 Tbsp of batter per pancake onto griddle, and cook until surface bubbles, edges peel away from pan, and top is set, about 3-4 minutes. Flip, and cook again for 4-6 minutes, until golden and slightly crisp (cooking time may depend on your griddle and heat setting, use your best judgement). Transfer to a parchment lined pan in a 150º F oven as you remove them from the griddle. Let blini warm oven for 15-20 minutes before serving - it will help set up the blini so they aren't mushy in the middle, and will soften the crisp edges so they become pliable. It is worth the wait, I promise!
Remove from oven, and let cool slightly. Serve with salmon, or serve as desired. Leftovers freeze very well.
Appetizer Size Variation (2-inch)
Spoon 1 Tbsp of batter onto griddle, and cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 2-3, then place in oven. Yields LOTS and LOTS of little blini, at least 45 of them.
PUMPKIN SEED CREAM (GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN)
yield 1 cup
Pumpkin seeds have a very strong flavor. If you find the taste of pumpkin seeds do not agree with you, substitute all or part of the seeds with cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds for a milder flavor.
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (or water)
1/2 tsp dry dill weed
1/4 tsp dry ground mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp vitamin C crystals, to taste
3 drops stevia liquid (I like SweetLeaf) - the stevia helps cut the bitterness of the pumpkin seeds
Place 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds and all other ingredients in a blender, pulse a few times, then blend. With blender running add remaining pumpkin seeds. Stop blender and scrape sides as necessary, and blend on high until smooth. Store leftovers in refrigerator.