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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.