Did you know that today, Epiphany Eve, is Twelfth Night? It's all very complicated and historical- and in part, I think, to do with the Old and New Calenders (the Russian Orthodox Chrismas is on January 7th); although I reckon it was also the day when the Magi (ie the Three Wise Men) finally arrived at the manger.
So what better, than to have a look at Russian food? I love blinis. They're small pancakes, and you top them up with goodies like caviar, and smoked salmon. Fresh caviar has recently been banned, because of the decline in sturgeon stocks- so make do with smoked herring roe, or that delicious Japanese stuff- which looks like caviar, but is bright orange in colour.
Blinis are reasonably easy to make. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to find a small blini pan at that Parisian temple to Mammon, Fauchon. They also used to sell ready made Blini mixture in jars. Maybe they still sell them? Next time I'm in Paris I'll stock up.
Otherwise, this is how it goes: Dissolve a tablespoon of active dry yeast in four tablespoons of lukewarm milk. Next, stir in one teaspoon of sugar, and a half a pint of the milk. Add 4oz (120g) of buckwheat flour, and stir like mad, until you get rid of the lumps. You've done all this in a bowl. Cover it with a cloth, and leave it to rise (you hope!) for about an hour.
Melt some butter, and mix it with three egg yolks, and four tablespoons of sour cream. Add this to the risen flour mixture, along with a quarter of a pint of milk, a teaspoon of salt, and 6oz (170g) plain flour. Beat it again, to get rid of the lumps, and leave covered for two hours. It should rise even more.
Finally, beat up a quarter of a pint of double cream until stiff. Beat three egg whites (hopefully, you've got them left over from the yolks), and fold them into the double cream. Fold this mixture into the batter, and let it rest for thirty minutes. If it's too thick, add some warmed milk. See why it's easier to buy the Fauchon ready-mixed blini powder?
But let's carry on. Heat up a cast iron pan, and spread it with oil and butter. Take a dollop of the blini mix, and spread it around the pan. Cook it for a few minutes, and then flip it over. And remember the old Russian saying: "Pervyni blin komom": the first blini's a lump! Blini nos. 2, 3, & 4 should be much better. Stack them up on a plate, and serve with caviar, mock caviar, or smoked salmon with sour cream. Neat vodka (kept in the 'fridge until it goes thick), would be a good plan, too.