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An easy appetizer that is delicious during the holidays, but full of fresh flavors that are also wonderful at other times of the year. While blinis are typically made with white or buckwheat flour, these blinis call for blue corn flour for a more Texan flair.
Make sure you use the best quality lump crabmeat you can find.
Adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen Christmas: Big-Hearted Holiday Entertaining, Texas Style.”
For the blinis:
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm (110–115 degrees) water
- ½ cup blue cornmeal flour
- 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the crema:
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 8 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell pieces
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- Pico de Gallo
For the blinis:
Preheat a griddle to 350 degrees or set a griddle or large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
Stir the yeast into the water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flours and salt. Add the milk, yeast mixture, and butter, whisking to combine after each addition. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Coat the preheated griddle or skillet with cooking spray. Use 1 tablespoon of batter per blini and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until crisp around the edges and golden brown. Set aside and keep warm.
For the crema:
Pulse the avocado in a food processor until smooth. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, Tabasco, and salt and process until smooth. Spoon into a squeeze bottle* and refrigerate until ready to use. The crema can be made one day in advance.
In a small bowl, break the crabmeat into small chunks and stir in the lime juice to coat.
Squeeze about ¼ teaspoon of crema on each blini and top with about 1 teaspoon of the crabmeat mixture. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of pico de gallo on top of the crabmeat and top it off with an artful squiggle of crema. Serve immediately.
*Note: If you don’t have a squeeze bottle on hand to dispense the crema, use a small sandwich-sized plastic bag. Fill it no more than two-thirds full and snip a tiny bit off the bag’s corner with sharp scissors. Squeeze lightly to push the desired amount of crema onto the blinis.
If you haven’t thought about blini lately, please may we have your full attention?
Let’s say you have some caviar, and let’s say that caviar is not triple O beluga or something just as good. (If you are the head of a studio or an international star, we are not addressing you.) Nothing is going to enhance your enjoyment of said caviar like a dollop of creme fraiche and warm blini, just spongy enough to absorb and add to the flavor of the roe.
Sure, you could use a toast point. But where’s the fun there? Where’s the elan?
Blini (singular: blin) are round, beige, airy, porous little pancakes that you put things on top of. Or you gently wrap things in. If you’re in a sweet mood, take out your best marmalade and slather it on. Perhaps some blackberry jam that a friend made for you. Or honey from Apulia or Crete.
Darra Goldstein, a Russian scholar and a professor at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., says these versatile pancakes were created by ancient pagan tribes that worshipped the sun and created blini in its image. They are a fitting tribute.
When faced with a plate of smoked wild salmon, a tub of creme fraiche and a few snips of fresh dill, a world without the possibility of blini would be as bleak as a morning without sunlight. Make up a cunning hors d’oeuvre, give it a little squeeze of Meyer lemon, and you’ll see what we mean.
Fresh blini are like good background singers they never shift focus from the star of the evening. Russians like mushrooms in blini. Try sauteeing chanterelles or other wild mushrooms in butter till they give up their liquid, stir in some creme fraiche, put that on a blin blanket, scatter snipped chives or parsley and wrap it up. Repeat 10 or 15 times, and invite the neighbors over.
You’ve got some herring in a jar, perhaps? Mix it with sour cream, plop it on the blini and garnish with minced red onion.
Feeling elegant? Slice up that foie gras burning a hole in your fridge, quickly sear the slices, position them strategically on blini, and drizzle on your best aged balsamico.
Blini bring out the creativity in chefs (but what neutral food does not?). Lee Hefter of Spago makes four kinds: buckwheat, sweet corn, pumpernickel-rye and lemon herb (with lemon zest, thyme, chives and parsley). He likes to top them with lobster mousse, smoked trout mousse or hamachi tartare. His favorite topping for the topping: one part sour cream, one part creme fraiche with lemon juice, chopped shallot, chopped dill, salt and pepper. Other chefs top blini with crab or quail.
Traditionally, blini are made with buckwheat flour. They’re only slightly trickier to execute than pancakes.
Here’s what you do: Make a sponge from all-purpose and buckwheat flours, milk and yeast. Let it rise for about an hour it will double in volume. Punch it down and mix it with egg yolks, melted butter and sour cream. Then fold in beaten egg whites. The batter will be light and airy.
Cook the pancakes three or four at a time in a nonstick skillet brushed with clarified butter. You’ll probably want to have a couple pans going at the same time.
Blini are best served warm. But you can make them ahead and refrigerate or freeze them until you’re ready to use them. Just reheat them in the oven.
The Russians say the first blin is always a little lumpy. But progress is immediate. It’s a little like riding a bike. Or any other activity you can think of at which humans improve exponentially each time they do it.
Pagan rituals often placed blini at the gravesite -- sometimes even in the grave -- as an offering for the dead. Some things it’s really hard to say goodbye to.
Fresh Corn and Avocado Salsa
I dropped by the Lodge yesterday afternoon and discovered, to both my horror and excitement, that our friend Dave from Indiana left us even more fresh corn than I originally thought. This basically means that I have fresh corn coming out of my ears and that I now have more corn than I ever thought existed on this planet. And that it will last me until Kingdom Come, whenever that is.
And nobody knows when that is, by the way. Don&rsquot let anyone tell you different.
I had plenty of directions to head, fresh corn recipe-wise, but wound up getting sidetracked by man and beast yesterday, which left me approximately 17 minutes to cook. So I grabbed whatever I could find in my fridge and made a delicious corn salsa&mdashomitting tomatoes and instead using delicious diced avocado.
Avocado and me. We go way back.
I started by scraping the kernels off of three to four ears of corn. My kids had magically shucked them when I wasn&rsquot looking, because they like hunting for treasure and shucking corn is the next best thing.
I&rsquom not a huge fan of shucking. It&rsquos boring and I get tired of the strings. So if my punks want to do it instead, that&rsquoll be fine by me forever.
My husband (1 of 3 men in the room) and I went to the class last night… and I left my camera at home. Central Market *really* packed us in to that room. The class was a lot of fun. And tasty! My favorite dish was the blue corn blinis with peach salsa, crab, and avocado crema. My husband’s favorite dish was the pork loin with peach-pecan chutney.
All of the recipes are in her books, except the pop tarts. If the recipe wasn’t a “peach recipe” to start, it was tweaked to use peaches. If you want the recipes as cooked in class, let me know and I’ll forward them to you. Some notable things/fun facts mentioned last night:
– Rebecca is currently working on a PBS documentary (this further explains the cameraman in the Austin class) called “Texas Olive Trails.” She is wrapping work on the associated cookbook next month and the book will be out in December along with the Texas release of the film. It goes “national” in March 2011.
– She is traveling a lot and hasn’t been able to blog. She has been selling a lot of pop tarts at the bakery, served with ice cream for dessert. She’s really excited about the recipe. She wants to blog them but won’t have time so she asked me to do it.
– She experimented with half shortening/half butter in her 4th of July Fried Pies this year (she made 750 of them) and liked the added flakiness of the crust.
– She makes her own chili powder – grinds up guajillos and anchos so she knows exactly what’s going into her dishes.
– She isn’t “that exact” when cooking/baking: she only weighs flour when making bread, she puts 2-3 times the amount of vanilla than most recipes in the book state, and she never levels off a measuring cup/spoon.
After class, we talked about Project Pastry Queen – she was thrilled about the group! She also wants us to keep in touch on the group’s progress. If you get the chance to attend one of her classes, go for it. It’s a good time!
How to Make Gordon Ramsay Crab Cakes Recipe
Step 1. over medium-low heat with a sauté pan, start sweating garlic and the shallots with butter and Old Bay spice until garlic is aromatic and shallots clear (translucent). Make certain not to burn the garlic.
Step 2. After cooking, take off from heat and leave to cool. With a large mixing bowl, combine the shallots and garlic to the crab meat blend of lump and backfin. Now add the rest of the ingredients and very gently fold and blend.
Step 3. You now add season to taste and then shape crab mix into 3-ounce patties.
Step 4. Bread each crab cake with Frist flour, Egg then into panko breadcrumbs till completely coated each crab cake on all side
Step 5. Now over medium heat in a sauté pan, you add some oil and begin searing crab cakes evenly on both sides and then finish in a 400-degree oven until heated through.
Make Creamed Corn
Step 1. Over medium heat with a large pan, sauté sweet corn kernels with onions with butter. Then lower the heat down to medium-low, now add heavy cream, allow the cream to reduce down.
Step 2. Remove from heat once the corn has softened. With a blender or an immersion blender, you need to puree the corn, utilizing the heavy cream to loosen the wanted texture.
Step 3. Add season to your taste.
Prepare the Asparagus
Step 1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Set up a bowl of well-salted ice water for shocking.
Step 2. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until tender but still have some bite, 5 to 7 minutes. Strain and immediately transfer the asparagus to the salted ice water. Once cool, strain and set aside until ready to use.
Step 3. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and set over medium-high heat. When the garlic becomes golden and very aromatic, remove it and discard it. It’s fulfilled its garlic destiny.
Step 4. Add the asparagus to the pan and sauté until hot and coated with oil. Transfer the asparagus to a serving bowl, season with salt, and plate with crab cakes right away.
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ¾ pound beef stew meat
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions, diced
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Whisk milk, 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour, eggs, and sugar together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup melted butter whisk well. Let batter sit, 15 to 20 minutes.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add beef cook until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain. Chop the boiled beef finely until even in texture.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, while stirring, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add the chopped beef, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir filling until flavors combine, about 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter into the skillet and quickly rotate the skillet to spread batter out in a thin layer. Cook until edges are brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Run a spatula around the edge of the skillet to loosen blini flip and cook until the other side has turned light brown, about 1 minute more. Repeat with remaining batter.
Spread 2 tablespoons beef filling on 1 side of each blini. Fold edges over filling and roll blini up. Repeat with remaining filling and blini.
Smoked salmon blinis
1. For the blinis, place the flour and a pinch of sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg and add 1 tablespoon of oil, then beat into the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk until you’ve got a lovely, smooth batter.
2. Put a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and add 1 small knob of butter.
3. Once hot and the butter’s melted, add tablespoons of batter to the pan to make your blinis. Cook for 1 minute on each side, flipping over when they turn golden on the bottom and get little bubbles on top.
4. The first batch always helps you figure out your temperature control, so adjust it up or down if needed.
5. Transfer the cooked blinis to a plate, and continue with the remaining batter until it’s all used up. Top with your favourite combos, season to perfection and enjoy.
TEAM WAVES OF QUALITY SMOKED SALMON WITH . . .
* Cucumber speed-peeled into ribbons, placed proudly on top of a little cream cheese with a fine grating of lemon zest.
* Peeled and finely shaved raw baby beets, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of fresh tarragon.
* Vac-packed beets blitzed with cream cheese until smooth, topped with a fine grating of fresh horseradish root.
* Cream cheese loosened with a little lemon juice, and a sprinkling of salmon caviar to add an extra pop of flavour.
* A dollop of soured cream and a sprinkling of chopped fresh chives and finely sliced tender asparagus.
* Puréed avocado and a little jarred jalapeño, a dollop of soured cream and a few freshly picked coriander leaves.
Get ahead – make the batter the night before, then simply leave covered in the fridge until needed, whisking up well before use.
50 Things to Make with Avocado
1. Egg-in-a-Hole Avocado Toast Cut a 2-inch hole out of a slice of lightly toasted bread. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat add the bread and crack 1 egg into the hole. Cook until the bottom of the egg starts to set, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake at 375 degrees F until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny, 4 to 5 minutes. Mash 1/2 avocado and season with hot sauce, salt and pepper spread on the toast around the egg. Top with chopped chives and cilantro.
2. Avocado Breakfast Sandwich Spread 1 toasted whole-grain roll with chipotle mayonnaise on one side and warmed refried beans on the other side. Fill with a fried egg, 1/2 sliced avocado and some shredded lettuce and chopped pickled jalapenos.
3. Chili-Avocado Savory Pancakes Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour with 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon each chili powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 1/4cups milk with 1/4 cup avocado oil, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest whisk into the flour mixture. Cook 1/4 cupfuls in a hot buttered nonstick skillet, sprinkling with diced avocado before flipping. Serve with sour cream and hot sauce. (Makes about 12.)
4. Banana-Avocado Muffins Beat 1 ripe banana, 1 avocado and 3/4 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Sift in 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt beat until combined. Add 1 cup buttermilk beat until smooth. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pecans. Divide the batter among 12 lined and greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Avocado-Mango Smoothies Puree 1 chopped small avocado, 1 frozen sliced banana, 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 cup baby spinach, 1/2 cup each frozen mango and ice and 2 teaspoons agave syrup in a blender until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses.
Maryland Blue Crab Tacos with Fresh Salsa
I may not have been born and raised in Baltimore, but there is one thing that I have definitely embraced wholeheartedly in the six years I've lived here-- Maryland blue crabs. Steamed crabs, crab pretzels, crab cakes, crab dip, and even crab sushi are just a few things that I've been able to enjoy. There was even one week when I had crab four days in a row. It's just delicious! I might even venture to say that during the summer months, the only thing that might come to a close second to my beloved tacos would be crab. So when Paige suggested a taco party, my recipe of choice was obvious-- crabs plus tacos equals crab tacos. The end.
Maryland Blue Crab Tacos with Fresh Salsa
- 3 vine ripened tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- the juice of one lime
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt
- 1/2 sliced green onions
- 1 glove garlic
- 1 large jalepeno, seeded and diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- half a pound of jumbo lump crab meat
- 1 avocado
- romaine lettuce
- shredded colby jack cheese
Combine tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, green onions, 3/4 of the jalepeno, and salt and pepper to taste. This is your fresh salsa. I like to prepare this ahead of time so that flavors can soak in while I prepare the rest of my meal.
Saute the remainder of the jalepeno with the diced onion with a small drizzle of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes. Add the crab meat to the saute pan and continue to cook over low heat for a few minutes until the crab is warmed through. Be sure to be gentle when stirring the crab so that you don't break the lump crab up too much. We want nice juicy pieces!
Serve the crab on warmed flour or corn tortillas. Top each taco with the shredded cheese, fresh salsa, some chopped romaine lettuce and a couple slices of avocado. Enjoy!
Want some more taco recipes? Be sure to check out the other recipes from Paige's taco party!
More crab recipes
Crunchy and peppery radishes give this radish and crab salad a much-needed kick
Add some Thai-inspired flavours to your Christmas party with these simple mini crab cakes, served with a tangy lime and sweet chilli sauce. Totally dairy- and gluten-free, these use tinned crab loaded with chilli, ginger and coriander for a quick canapé.
This colourful noodle salad recipe with crab and crisp vegetables is the ultimate speedy dinner idea for two
These generous crab rolls are a true taste of the seaside. Sweet crab is the star of the show in a creamy mayo dressing, stuffed into buttery brioche rolls with crisp lettuce for the ultimate picnic or summer lunch treat.
This quick and easy crab gnocchi recipe feels incredibly indulgent but only needs six ingredients to make and is ready in just 15 minutes.
Sweet crab meat pairs perfectly with crisp corn and fiery chilli sauce, all wrapped in a smoky, griddled tortilla. These easy tostadas offer a great way to enjoy seasonal sweetcorn, and make a more-ish, healthy lunch or snack
A crisp coastal vegetable that tastes of the sea, samphire makes this sophisticated salad the perfect light lunch or seasonal starter. The salty flavour works beautifully with the sweet crab meat and vibrant summer beans
Shellfish and lemon is a marriage made in heaven – these crab cakes are wonderfully fluffy thanks to perfectly mashed potato and are flavoured with fragrant basil. This easy dinner idea for two pairs them with a zingy lemon mayo and takes just half an hour
This seafood recipe is super speedy! You can be sitting down to a bowlful of steaming hot seafood pasta in just 12 minutes. It's a great way to use crab meat and makes the most of a classic flavour combination
This impressive starter of crab and chilli topped blinis will make your Sunday meal super-special
These gluten-free crab cakes are packed full of flavour and are so easy to make, the whole family will love them
Creamy avocado is the ideal vessel for lush white crab and a pungent paprika mayonnaise in this starter. The fact it uses tinned crab meat as opposed to fresh removes any difficults and means you can rustle this up in just 10 minutes.
A delicious seafood starter for a springtime weekend lunch. Satisfying and fresh, these crispy sourdough bruschettas are made with thinly sliced fennel, sweet crab, lemon and olive oil. Top tip: if you haven't any dill, use the fennel fronds instead.
A fabulous starter for special occasions, this terrine is a real show-stopper that will keep your guests coming back for more
This delicious risotto recipe just oozes with summer goodness. Delicate crab and sweet pea are a natural flavour match with the fragrant basil and the tang of lemon. If you don't have wine or don't drink it, use a little extra stock instead.
This 10-minute recipe for Asian-inspired crab noodles is a simple midweek meal that even the most novice of cooks can make with ease. Easy ginger and easy chilli are what make the dish so fragrant while roasted peanuts tie it together with a textural crunch.
Make delicious sweet crabmeat go even further with these zingy, spicy crabcakes, ready in moments with cooked peppers, spring onions, chilli, coriander and ginger. Serve with a few dressed salad leaves as for a moreish family starter or light lunch.
Simmer together this Chinese-inspired crab and sweetcorn soup for a quick and easy dinner. Easy tinned shortcuts for the crab and sweetcorn mean this light dinner can be ready in just 20 mins.
Avocado on toast just got even better with this summery, lunch idea, which has definite Mexican vibes. Slices of baguette are toasted before being topped with the crab, avocado, tomato and lime mix. A great option for canapés, too.
Fresh crab is one of life's great luxuries and this salad carries its gorgeous taste even further. Made with zingy lime, capers, tabasco and soft avocado, it's dip-like texture is perfect for scooping up in little gem lettuce leaves.
Make a tin of crab go further with this beautiful summery starter or main course: sweet-tasting white or brown crabmeat with finely sliced apple, crunchy celery, rocket and a honey, red wine and shallot dressing.
Great for a weekend lunch or evening meal with family or friends, this simple dish is easy to make and will be on the table in 25 minutes. Fresh and light, every bite is full of flavour. Serve with a chilled white wine.
Using ready-made pastry means these elegant crab and saffron tarts are super quick and easy to make. Try them as a stylish starter, Valentine’s Day dish or light summer lunch.
Sunshine on a plate and full of amazing flavours: crab, mango and avocado marry perfectly with mint, lime and red chilli for a Mexican-style meal. What's more, it only takes 15 minutes to prepare and is a healthy choice to boot.
These crab cakes are luxurious yet surprisingly easy to prepare: dressed crab is mixed with mashed potato, flavoured with chilli, pepper, parsley and spring onions, then coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Serve with mayonnaise and a green salad for a delicious starter or light main course.