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BREAKFAST AND BRUNCH

SMOKED SALMON CAVIAR & SPINACH BLINI STACK

Serves 8 - 12

This Christmas Brunch Blini Stack will clearly demonstrate just how much you love feeding the people you love! And it’s EASY. Basically you’re making four pancakes and layering them with mascarpone, pickles, smoked salmon and a drizzle of caviar. It’s that simple!    

I love feeding my whānau extra special creations at Christmas and looking back I realise it was always Dad at the passionate culinary helm on Christmas morning. He’d whip up piles of his signature white bait fritters cooked to perfection on the BBQ followed by lashings of fresh oysters and insist we wash it all down with gallons of bubbly. Although he’s been sadly absent from our Christmas table for nearly 20 years, we still raise our glasses to his love of us, of celebration and of Christmas brunch, with his favourite toast “To good health and absent friends.” We carry on the legacy of your love for Christmas Brunch, Dad, and this year we’ll be toasting you and starting the day with this creation. I know you would love it!

I have fallen in love with Southern Foods Smoked Wakame Salmon slices. The salmon is cold smoked over mānuka then finished with a hint of seaweed, sesame and chilli, and it tastes AMAZING. Neither over oily or rich, the fresh silky texture, heavenly seasoning and vibrant colour all come together to create the perfect taste experience. And my Christmas Brunch challenge this year? What to pair with this incredible ingredient?

What feels like a life-time ago as a young chef in London, guided by our very own Peter Gordon, I had one of my first culinary AHA! moments. Blini and smoked salmon was all the rage and we served them up by the thousands - dripping with Baluga Caviar - to the rich and famous. Forever one to experiment, I remember the moment I dared to add some pureed spinach to the blini mix. Oh! The vibrant green paired up with the glorious pink/orange salmon and glistening black caviar! My excitement was such, some may have thought I had just revealed the mystery of an atom! It’s been a couple of decades since I’ve made spinach blini and I shouldn’t have left it so long. They are simply delicious, and my Dad loved them.

THE FARRO SHOPPING LIST

400 g Southern Seafood Cold Smoked Wakame Salmon
200 g McClures Spicy Pickles
500 g Zany Zuess Mascarpone
1 x jar ŌRA KING King Salmon Caviar

THE BLINI

1 t yeast
25 ml warm milk
1 T white flour
½ t sugar
⅓ cooked, squeezed dry fresh spinach and kale or frozen spinach
175 ml warm milk
2 eggs, separated
3 T very soft butter, plus extra for frying
150 g white flour
1 t salt

THE FILLINGS

400 g Southern Seafoods Wakame Smoked Salmon
200 g McClures Spicy Pickles
1 jar ŌRA KING King Salmon Caviar
4 large radishes finely sliced
Pickled onions 
1 large red onion finely sliced
2 T very finely zested beetroot
2 T white vinegar/lemon juice
Salt to taste

MASCARPONE CREAM

500 g Zany Zeus mascarpone
1 large fennel bulb, diced
6 large anchovies, finely chopped
4 T capers, drained and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1 large lemon
Large handful mint, finely chopped
Fennel fronds, finely chopped
Salt to taste 

THE BLINI

Sprinkle the yeast, 1 T flour and sugar on top of the 25 ml warm milk and set aside to activate the yeast for 10 mins in a warm place.

Lightly steam the spinach and kale, then squeeze dry. Or if you are using frozen make sure you defrost it well and squeeze out any excess moisture.

Pop drained spinach, butter and warm milk into your Nutribullet, or blender, and blend until it’s smooth and there are no lumps of green matter! Specks are ok! Lumps are not.

Mix flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the centre and whisk in the warm green spinach mixture then beat well.

Set aside, covered, in a warm place for an hour until it’s doubled in size.

Whilst the blini mix rises prepare the fillings...

Toss the red onion in grated beetroot, vinegar and salt and leave to macerate whilst you get everything else ready (a microplane works best for grating the beetroot). Once you're ready to assemble the stack, squeeze the red onions in a tea towel so they are quite dry to the touch. This way the red beet colouring won’t bleed through the mascarpone cream and turn it pink!

Gently fold all mascarpone cream ingredients together. Don’t over mix. Pop it in the fridge to let the flavours infuse.

When the blini mix has risen, beat the two egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold gently into the blini mix until the egg white is well incorporated. You are now going to make 4 large blini. There might be a little mix left over to make a chef sized taster!

Heat your Legacy pan over a medium heat until a blob of butter sizzles but doesn’t burn when it hits the pan.

Pour ¾ cup blini mix into the middle of the pan then swiftly, using both hands, swirl the pan to allow the mixture to spread evenly, leaving about an inch around the sides. Don’t worry if it’s not quite a perfect circle. It will taste perfect no matter the shape!

When bubbles have formed all over the top of the blini, flip and fry for another minute.

Transfer cooked blini to a paper towel whilst you repeat the process three times popping a paper towel between each blini in case they stick together. Don’t forget to add another blob of butter before you pour in the next lot of blini mix.

The Blini Stack stores well in the fridge. Make and assemble the whole thing - except the caviar - the day before, then pop it in the fridge overnight and bring to room temperature before serving. Or make the Blini and the fillings the day before and assemble just before serving. Left overs - though I doubt there will be any - can be stored for another day in the fridge no problem! As long as you keep everything cool as you are assembling it.  

ASSEMBLY

Lay a blini on your serving platter.

Lightly spread ¼ of the mascarpone cream over the blini.

On top of this evenly arrange layers of ⅓ of the onion mix, ⅓ of the pickles and ⅓ of the sliced radishes.

Lay 100 g smoked salmon on top.

Repeat 2 more times.

For the final layer, use up the last of the mascarpone cream, salmon and cover with lashings of caviar. A sprinkle of micro greens looks quite pretty to finish! And admire your work! Can you believe you just made that?!  

Now call your loved ones from their slumber! Christmas 2021 has officially begun!   

Serve with gallons of bubbly and use a serrated edge knife to cut.

From our whānau to yours. Happy Christmas Brunch everyone!   

Love Felicity.

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