I have a deep undying love for the Olympic Games. Each and every sport, the more obscure and small and unfamiliar, the better. I will DVR everything, set my alarm to watch Curling at 4am and delight in the unfamiliar combination events like Nordic Combined and the Biathlon. I’m not sure in what life situation you’ll need to jump and cross-country ski but I’m glad there are incredibly gifted people out there that can jump really far and ski really fast over great distances. They tend to be from very cold Nordic countries and just crush it but the network always decides which sports will dominate prime time coverage – figure skating usually. They don’t hold my interest as much as someone that hurls themselves down an ice shoot headfirst at 100 miles an hour. I’ll take a short track, moguls course or the nuance of a finger wave when you’re hurtling down a jump shoot over a triple toe loop every time.
Every two years for what seems like forever, I’ve hosted an Opening Ceremonies Party for a small group of like-minded fan-friends. I’ll make some location-appropriate hors d’oeuvres and we’ll watch the festivities, ooh and aah appropriately and then inevitably turn the Parade of Athletes into a drinking game where we guess the number of athletes versus officials, country population, national GNP and decide who has the best uniforms. We’ll rejoice in the heartfelt stories of flag bearers and giggle when a country is represented by a team of 10: 1 athlete, 5 coaches and 4 officials. A few of us will sit there with our Sports Illustrated Olympic Preview issues, pointing out medal favorites and cite facts, trivia and Olympic records to the others who politely feign interest and pour another round. It is one of our favorite time-honored traditions. Except for the last one. London – what the hell was that?? The National Health Service? Really? Ugh. That one was awful. And we were understandably drunk by the end. It seemed to make more sense that way.
This year I’m working with a Russian theme, of course. There will be borscht, and it will be delicious. I’ll also make tiny, beautiful bite-sized blini topped with sour cream and a choice of smoked salmon or caviar. I’ll have plenty of chilled champagne and icy cold vodka on hand because we’re fancy. I’ll probably make khachapuri, as well, a cheese-stuffed bread that I adore from the Georgian state.
If you can make pancakes, you can make blini. They’re that easy. The ideal, in my opinion, are made with buckwheat flour, which adds a nice depth of flavor that offsets the richness of the sour cream and salmon so nicely. Bob’s Red Mill makes a very nice buckwheat flour and is easily found in most grocery stores and certainly places like Whole Foods. Mix up the simple batter and cook small spoonfuls in a hot, oiled skilled. I like them rather small – the size of a silver dollar – for the perfect, elegant bite. Top them with whatever you like – sour cream with salmon or caviar is classic but anything you like is fine.
So Friday night, pull on your big fur hat and wave your mini American flags, pour the champagne, have the vodka on ice, pass a beautiful platter of salmon or caviar topped blini and guess how many winter athletes the African nations are sending this year. It’s great fun.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: Ура! (Google Translate tells me that means Cheers! I sure hope so.) There’s just something so festive, so elegant … so fancy about blini and champagne. I mean, if you’re going to go to the trouble of finding and buying good salmon or caviar, shouldn’t you take the time to serve them properly? I think so. Making a few tiny perfect pancakes is not all that difficult and you look like one amazing hostess. So hell yeah, Ура!
Other great recipes from this blog for watching massive amounts of Olympic coverage:
- Khachapuri – Georgian Cheese Bread, VERY Olympic appropriate!
- Potato Pizza – Russian Vodka is made from potatoes, right?
- Pimento Cheese – it isn’t Russian but it’s good party food
- Queso Fundito con Chorizo – Mexico has got to have at least one winter athlete, right?
- Baked Cheddar Olives – I’m sure these fit somehow. Very retro. Conjure up the Cold War.
- Cheese Straws! Every good hostess serves cheese straws!
- Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese – don’t like borscht? Make this.
- Stovetop Smoked Salmon – the perfect topper for your blini!
- Bacon Wrapped Dates – always a favorite. I just added this to the menu.
- Steel Cut Oats On the Go – if you’re watching Curling at 4am, you’ll need some fortification
On this blog four years ago: Marmalade Yogurt Cake
On this blog three years ago: Mexican Hot Chocolate
On this blog two years ago: Double Chocolate Alfajores
On this blog one year ago: Chocolate Pear Clafouti
BUCKWHEAT BLINI WITH SMOKED SALMON – adapted slightly from this recipe
Makes about 40 bite-sized blini
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup buckwheat flour
1 large egg
1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup seltzer or club soda, more as needed
canola oil for the pan
smoked salmon, cut into bite sized pieces
fresh dill or chives
- In a food processor, combine the buttermilk, flour, buckwheat flour, egg, melted butter, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda (all ingredients except seltzer and oil).
- Scrape the batter into a medium bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Whisk a scant ¼ cup seltzer into the batter; it should have the consistency of pancake batter; add a bit more if the batter is too thick.
- Over medium, heat a nonstick skillet until hot then brush lightly with the oil.
- Spoon tablespoon-size mounds of batter into the hot skillet and cook until bubbles form on the surface and the blini are browned on the bottom, about 1 minute.
- Flip the blini and cook for 30 seconds longer.
- Transfer the blini to a parchment lined sheet pan.
- Brush the skillet with oil as needed and repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat if necessary, layering the cooked blini on the sheet pan. Serve the blini warm or at room temperature.
- Make ahead: The blini can be stored in an airtight container overnight; serve warm or at room temperature.
- To serve: Top each blini with a small dollop of sour cream, a bit of fresh dill or chopped chives and a piece of smoked salmon. Serve immediately good friends with chilled champagne and icy cold vodka.