Sunday, November 06, 2005

I dream of Blini

Welcome to a romantic dinner, Nigella style.

Not that you necessarily need to make this with lurve in mind. You could just as easily, in my opinion, make it for a friend or family member - anyone you're trying to impress, I suppose. I think it translates sucessfully to non-romantic situations as well.

Nigella's actual seduction dinner, her "perfect, dream dinner" (from the One & Two chapter, if you're interested) consists of blini, roast chicken and zabaione.

However, remembering Nigella's words of wisdom from the Valentine's Day chapter in Feast...

“You don’t want a meal so huge that you’re both left in a torpor of post-prandial bloat”...

... I decided to forgo the roast chicken and focus on the blini. They are the most fiddly, expensive, and impressive element of the menu, after all. I also decided to forgo the zabaione. Zabaione, unfortunately, has to be made at the last minute, and necessitates standing at the stove for 15 minutes with an electric handheld mixer. Not gonna happen! Nigella, however, concedes this point - "Celestial though it is, it is not suitable for a seduction dinner. You don't want to have to stand up and start whirring away at a double boiler on the stove for a quarter of an hour at the end of dinner". For such situations, I felt that something smooth, creamy and individually portioned in pretty glasses would be the best dessert... and flicking through the Fast Food chapter, I found exactly what I was looking for - mascarpone, rum and lime cream. Nigella says it has the "creamy tartness, the taste, of cheesecake, but with the whipped lightness of mousse". Could that be anything less than perfection?

170. Blini
171. Mascarpone, Rum and Lime Cream

I did as much pre-preparation as I could in the morning, at my house. Then in the afternoon, I carefully packed and ferried the food across town to my friend's house and finished the cooking there.

Blini are like mini pancakes, made from a yeasted batter. On Nigella's advice, I made the batter in the morning and let it rise in the fridge. To steal Nigella's words again, "It rose beautifully; they were the best blini ever". The batter actually is quite easy to make - and this is coming from a girl who is petrified of cooking with yeast! You just stir everything together and leave it in the fridge.

Not yet risen.

Then I made the mascarpone, rum and lime cream. This one's even easier. It's just a case of mixing, whisking, stirring and decanting into glasses. One thing about this recipe though, the quantities are ginormous! The recipe was supposed to make enough for 4 people, but I found that it made 5 generous servings! See the wine glasses below? They're really big! Normally I put mousses into those wide, flat, "Marie Antoinette's boobs" champagne glasses, which are about half the size.

Rum Mascarpone and Lime cream

Well, at least there were heaps of leftovers for my family. By the way, here's the verdict from my dad, sent to me via text message later that night...

Hi. Mum n i r having ur dessert. It is so yummy. Luv dad


I took two of the glasses and carefully covered the tops in gladwrap in order to transport them safely across town. I carried those in my hands, whilst in a shopping bag I had dill, caviar, smoked salmon, sour cream, an egg flip, a whisk, a blini pan and some biscuits. The blini batter sat in the jug, on my lap.

And at 8pm on Saturday night...

The batter was well risen and aerated! Thank God! I was so petrified nothing would happen. Before frying, you have to whisk up an eggwhite and fold it in.

Nigella says to use an American 1/4 cup to measure out the batter, which I did, but now that I have my How to Eat in front of me, I also see that she said to only fill it up halfway each time. Last night I filled the cup the whole way. WHOOPS. I didn't have my book on me last night... no wonder we ended up with only 8 blini. And they were thick too. But not to worry, they tasted amazing. When the yeasted batter hits the hot pan, the smell is incredible!


Blini pan!

2 blini - topped with sour cream, smoked salmon and caviar. (Only $6 for that small tub, pretty good value, I think).

Cooking - on the right we have the un-topped blini.

Blini & Champagne!

There was so much blini, we were so stuffed! But still managed to find room for dessert...

Speaking of dessert, do you know what happened? After my careful and stressful transport of the wine glasses, and their safe arrival at my friend's fridge - the little fuckers broke on me! I'd put them in the fridge door shelf when I arrived, and when I went to open the fridge later, they toppled out and the smashed on the floor! ARGH!!!!!!!!!! Luckily though, it was only the stems that had broken off the glasses, whilst the mousse was still safely contained inside the cups (good thing I'd cunningly gladwrapped them in the morning, hey?). So I tipped them out into slightly-less-glamorous bowls and they were saved.

Rum Mascarpone & Lime Cream – saved

We ate them with fabulous store-bought langue de chat biscuits. But you know what, these supermarket langue de chat were so much better than the ones I made! When I made them, they were all thin and airy and slightly soggy (which I blame purely on my ineptitude - perhaps I shall have another go at making them later on), but these ones were crunchy and cakey and just perfect.

However, a word or warning. If you were, purely theoretically, making the blini and mascarpone cream for a romantic and/or seduction dinner, be aware of the huge quantities and the potential for turgid post-prandial bloat... which is kinda what happened to us. I'd recommend only cooking three quarters of the blini batter, and putting the mousse in much smaller glasses - go for the Marie Antoinette boob glasses, they're the right size for a romantic meal. You could probably get 8 servings out of it.

So, there it is, I've warned you. Don't blame me if you and your partner descend into a carb-induced stupor and fall asleep on the couch.


domesticgoddess said...

well, despite post-prandial bloat i'm sure a meal of that calibre achieves the desired effect ;)

D'my love don't cost a thing[well maybe some caviar can do the trick]'G xxxx

domesticgoddess said...

forgot to add- love the blog title!!! i adore 'i dream of jeannie' :)

Lushlife said...

I love the smell of yeast baking as well - the house smells so wholesome. I do think though these blini sound like some effort than the blini/pikelets I have made but will have to give them a whirl one day. Such a shame the glasses were smashed I thought they looked gorgeous.
Love yr blog