Thursday, January 19, 2012

Potato Blinis + Beluga Lentils & Créme Fraiche

Like the Oyster Mushroom Rockefeller, I thought it would be fun to continue the play on words. Here beluga lentils stand in for beluga caviar in this classic Russian dish. My blini are tender and light, so they make a great canvas for the other flavors. 
The beluga lentils are flavored with kombu, which is dried seaweed. It seems like a strange ingredient, but it's available at Whole Foods. It tastes like the sea. That along with the sea salt is fairly convincing.In fact, all of the ingredients are available at Whole Foods including the beluga lentils. If you can't get them, green lentils will work just fine.  
This is a great dish for your holiday party -- or just serve it along with a salad for a light meal.
Potato Blinis + Beluga Lentils & Créme Fraiche:
 2 dozen Potato Blini (recipe follows)
1/2 cup créme fraiche
Beluga lentils (recipe follows)
fresh dill for garnish
black pepper
To assemble the dish, top each blini with about a teaspoon of créme fraiche followed by the same amount of beluga lentils. Garnish each with fresh dill and black pepper.
Potato Blini:
(makes two dozen blini)
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped potato (about 1 medium one)
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2  cup all-purpose flour
1 pkg rapid-rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
canola oil
Cover the mixture and set aside for thirty minutes to allow it to rise. Adjust the thickness as needed using up to 1/4 cup of water. You want it to be as thick as, well, pancake batter.
Place potato, water, and butter in a covered, microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for six minutes. In the meantime, mix flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Also in a small mixing bowl, mix the egg and buttermilk. Run the potato through a ricer and into the large mixing bowl with the flour. Now, using a whisk, mix the wet ingredients with the dry. 
In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add batter a tablespoon at a time to form small pancakes. (You will fit about five pancakes in the pan at a time.) Allow blini to cook for 2 minutes per side. Cook in batches, adding a tablespoon of oil to the pan if it looks dry.
Beluga lentils:

2 cups water
2 pieces kombu (dried seaweed)
1/2 cup black beluga lentils
tablespoon of sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Add water, kombu, lentils, and salt to a saucepan. Bring it up to a boil, and then allow it to simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Allow the lentils to cool in the liquid. Remove kombu and discard. Drain lentils and then add the olive oil. Serve at room temperature.


  1. Lynda may try these next week...anyone else up for it?

  2. I will try it! It looks fancy :) I've never done blini before

  3. They are just tiny pancakes. easy! it just looks fancy.

  4. Blinis rock! Wow, they were amaaazing!!

    I was uncertain about the lentils-I was afraid they'd end up bland with only seaweed and salt, but they were delicious and sea-tasting. Neither Eric or I have ever had actual caviar, but we both thought the lentils were great. I have no alterations to suggest for this recipe :)