It’s that time of year again. A new school year, a new round of ‘getting to know each other’ potlucks to bake for.
The Minx goes to Seattle’s French American school, which means that the potlucks are of a deliciously high standard as everyone tries to keep up with the French parents, but which also means that it is not at all the done thing just to bring a pot of bought hummus and some lunchbox carrot sticks.
I’ve had a lot of success at potlucks recently bringing buckwheat blinis, smoked salmon and creme fraiche, courtesy of a recipe from dear old Delia. They take a little bit of time to prepare as they’re yeast-based, but they’re fun to make, really easy, and are very happy to sit about waiting for festivities to kick off, though they never last very long when the cling-film is finally removed.
3/4 cup/175g strong white flour
1/4 cup/50g buckwheat or wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
1 sachet easy blend dried yeast
1 cup/220 ml creme fraiche
1 cup/225 ml whole milk
2 large eggs
Melted butter for cooking
Making the batter
Sift the flours and salt together into a large bowl and then sprinkle in the yeast. Heat the creme fraiche and milk together in a small saucepan until slightly warm, (too hot and you’ll kill the yeast).
Separate the eggs, reserve the whites and add the yolks to the milk mixture. Break it all up with a fork and pour the eggy milk into the flour and yeast. Stir to make a thick batter, then cover with a damp cloth and leave into a warm place for about an hour until spongy and bubbly.
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold them into the batter. Cover with the damp cloth again and leave them for another hour.
Cooking the blinis
Heat a flat griddle pan or heavy-bottomed frying pan (I have a cast iron crepe pan which is AMAZING) and then keep it on a medium heat.
Melt a large knob of butter in a small saucepan and brush a little butter on the pan.
Then add spoonfuls of batter – I use a teaspoon of batter to make mini-blinis ideal for gatherings, but you could use a tablespoon to make bigger starter or snack-sized offering.
The batter will start to set the minute it hits the pan and will look light and puffy.
After about 40 seconds, when the edges are starting to dry out, flip the blinis over (I have a little cookie spatula which is perfect for this) and then cook for about 30 seconds on the other side.
When they’re ready, cool on a wire rack and repeat the process, brushing the pan with butter each time. This mixture should give you about 50 mini-blinis.
Serve the blinis with a little smoked salmon, a blob of creme fraiche and a spring of dill (I usually put blinis, salmon, creme fraiche and dill on a plate and let people get on with it).
Blinis also freeze beautifully, and leftovers are delicious and dangerously moreish with prosciutto or butter and honey or jam. Don’t ask me how I know.