Servings: 28 appetizers
2 Yukon Gold potatoes
1-½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 ounces fromage blanc (see tips)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ cup crème fraîche (or sour cream), as needed
1 (2-inch) piece leek (green part only), thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup tapenade
(check the link for the recipe)
3 slices smoked salmon, cut into 1"-pieces
2 tablespoons fresh dill
Making "fake" caviar: (this can be prepared a day in advance)
In a bowl, combine the tapenade, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the quinoa. Adjust seasoning.
Plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble.
Making potato blini:
Peel the potatoes. Wash them. Place them in a large saucepan filled with water and, boil them for 20-22 minutes until tender.
The potatoes should be fork-tender. Remove from the saucepan and drain; allow the potatoes to cool a little.
Coarsely grate the potatoes using a cheese grater. Using food service disposable gloves, mash the shredded potatoes with the flour and turmeric powder.
Separate the eggs in 2 separate bowls, yolks in one and whites in the other.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg yolks with sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. Add cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the egg mixture and fromage blanc to the potato mixture. The consistency of the blini batter should be similar to pancake batter.
For the egg-whites, add salt and whisk with a clean handheld-blender until you get stiff peaks (don't over-mix or it will become grainy). The egg whites should stick right up.
Add one-third of the egg whites to the potato mixture and stir with a spatula to make sure the batter is uniform. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Place a hot, flat, non-stick griddle pan (or any flat pan such as a cast iron griddle) over medium heat. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the leeks and cook until fragrant. Transfer the leeks with the oil to a small bowl. Let the leeks cool a little and transfer to the blini batter.
Using the same griddle pan, brush with more oil if necessary, add a little mound (about 1 tablespoon of the batter into the pan. Try to make a round shape. Using the back of the spoon, even out the thickness of the pancake. Lower the heat to medium-low. Leave it alone for about 1-2 minutes. When you see the edges start to dry and get firm, take a small flat spatula and lift around the edges: it should be golden. Flip it over and cook for another 2 minutes until golden. Cook 6-7 blini at a time (depending on how much space you have). Transfer to a cooling rack.
Repeat the same procedure until all the batter is used.
Even out the edges of the blini using a (2"-diameter) circle cutter. (This step can be made with your children if you want to get them involved in the kitchen. Plus they can have fun and eat the remnants).
On a serving platter, place the potato blini. Place a little mound of the tapenade quinoa, using the quenelle method. Using 2 teaspoons, gather one portion of the quinoa mixture in one spoon. Scrape the loose mixture from the sides using the other spoon. Repeat until the quinoa is tightly packed, playing with the 2 spoons. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche. Garnish with a piece of smoked salmon and dill.
Don't add too much turmeric. We use it as a natural food coloring that makes the potatoes look more vibrant.
I buy fromage blanc at a local market, called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, California. If you don't have any, you could substitute low-fat cream cheese for the fromage blanc.
Tapenade is an olive spread made of olives, garlic and oil.