Mushroom Caviar with Buckwheat Blini

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No worries, no fish eggs here. (Mike looked horrified when I said I was making mushroom caviar). It’s just a simple mushroom spread — a little something I made for zakuski.

Don’t know what zakuski is? Neither did I until a few weeks ago when Nikki at Art & Lemons chose zakuski as the theme for October’s Monthly Mingle. Zakuski is a Russian tradition that I’ve seen likened to meze or antipasto. It’s a spread of hot and cold foods put out for guests before the main meal is served. And there’s vodka. I don’t think it counts as zakuski without vodka.

I found many dish suggestions: vegetable dips, pickles, bean salads, and hearty bread. But mushroom caviar came up multiple times, and my love for mushrooms won out.

Of course, I needed something to spoon the mushrooms over. Blini are frequently referred to as Russian pancakes. They’re traditionally yeasted and made with buckwheat flour. I’ve seen large blini, made of very wet batter, that are thin like crepes. I’ve also seen them made small and thicker, like pancakes. Mine fall in the latter category. They’re 2-3 inches across and sturdy enough to hold toppings.

Mushroom Caviar

  • 1 pound mushrooms, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Heat a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter. Once butter is melted, add the onion. Cook about 5 minutes, until just starting to turn golden.
  2. Add the mushrooms, a couple large pinches of salt, and a few cranks of pepper. Cook for a few minutes until mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the white wine and increase heat to medium-high. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has cooked off.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes. Stir in the dill, sour cream, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Buckwheat Blini

  • 1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted plus more to grease pan
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 cup buttermilk

  1. Mix the buckwheat flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Stir in the warm milk. Cover, and set in a warm place to rise for around 1 hour.
  2. Stir in the butter, egg yolk, and buttermilk. Whip the egg white into soft peaks and gently fold into the batter. Cover and allow to sit 30 minutes more.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Film the pan with butter. Once melted, drop in spoonfuls of batter, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Blini are ready to be flipped when the batter forms bubbles, one minute or so. Cook another half-minute to a minute, then remove from pan. Repeat with remaining batter, greasing the pan every few batches, until all the batter has been used.

There are two serving options. Serve “family style” by placing mushroom caviar in a bowl with blini nearby and allow people to spoon their own topping (and maybe keep some extra sour cream nearby). Or spoon mushrooms over blini so individual bites are ready to be munched.

(Serves 4 as a main, 8-10 as an appetizer)

Mike and I ate these at room temperature. (Pictures had to be taken first.) But, if you wanted to serve these warm, I would turn the oven on low — around 200 degrees Fahrenheit — and keep the blini in there, then work on the mushrooms. Or make it a two person job.

I suppose there’s also the option to skip the blini entirely and pull out some crackers or flatbread.

Before you add the buttermilk, the blini batter will be very dry. It will increase in size when you let it rest. Once it’s been rested, it should be springy when touched. Once everything is mixed, the batter can be kept in the refrigerator overnight, if you want to get a head-start the night before. In fact, many recipes encourage you to let the batter sit overnight.

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Comments

  1. i love the look of these. i really want to make a vegan version. thanks for such an inspired recipe!

  2. I love the little blinis, I made something similar in the spring with different toppings and they were delicious. The mushroom Caviar turned out beautifully. The pictures make me want to reach into the screen. Really lovely job.

  3. I am so impressed with your amazing recipes! So impressed, in fact, that I featured one of them in my latest blog post. I featured your super creative (and yummy) avocado pie: http://infectiousoptimism.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-to-eat-wednesday-healthy-holiday.html

    Happy early Holidays. :)

  4. @Caitlin: The mushrooms part would be pretty easy. You could try to use a non-dairy substitute for the sour cream, but the mushrooms were fine without the sour cream if you just wanted to leave that part out and switch the butter out for oil.

    I actually used soymilk for the milk part of the blini because that’s what we normally keep. The buttermilk was largely because I had buttermilk for another recipe, and of course you can only buy it in quarts, so I have a ton leftover that needed to be used. Maybe do the “add lemon juice or vinegar to milk to make sour milk trick.”

    Now I’m less sure about what to use to replace the egg. I’ll leave that to the vegan expert. ;) Do let me know if you try it though.

    @France: Thanks. Every now and then I get lucky, and the lighting works out just right. (I know I’m supposed to be able to control whatever light I have available, but I’m not quite there yet.)

    @Candice: Wow, thanks so much for including me. It’s a great looking roundup.

  5. Thanks for being part of the monthly mingle zakuski party. Your post and photos are just lovely and the recipe is perfect for the theme and season! Can’t wait to try it…

  6. Totally inspired to make the buckwheat blini – they look incredibly tasty.

  7. This looks yummy and delightful. I will have to try making some!

    -Sea

  8. @Art and Lemons: Thanks for the challenge.

    @Sally: Well, they certainly taste like buckwheat. Heh. They were great with a smear of jam too.

    @Sea: Hope you get the chance. I’m partial to the mushrooms. But I’m generally partial to mushrooms.

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