Hors d’oeuvres are tough, especially if you want something a little more than store-bought hummus and some pre-cut vegetables. Not that we haven’t all done that and been ok with it. It’s just that some hors d’oeuvres are better for watching a football game than to be served on Christmas or a New Year’s Eve party. So what I have for you here is meant for the latter, an elegant, but doable hors d’oeuvre that is tasty and light AND tastes phenomenal with champagne. Just saying.
Let’s break this down – you’re looking at a more sophisticated bagel, lox and cream cheese, which most people love. Instead of a bagel, this is a tiny buckwheat pancake. It’s earthy, gluten-free, high-fiber and I love the color. Feel free to make your own pancake batter, just cut out the sweetener. Cut circles out of challah and toast them if that suits you better.
Next is the lox. Try to find wild lox if you can. Whole Foods and Costco has really good options, as do most Jewish delis. You can use more than I did in these pictures, but you don’t want to use too much because these should be easy to eat.
Last is the creme fraiche. This cuts the strong flavor of the lox and helps the lox stick to the pancake. The lemon zest is KEY for a bright, fresh flavor, so don’t skip it. You can use lots of creamy foods here instead like Greek yogurt, sour cream or even cream cheese whipped with a little cream. For a dairy-free version, take almond milk cream cheese or your dairy-free cream cheese of choice, and whip it with a tiny touch of almond milk to loosen it up a bit. Don’t forget the lemon zest! 😉
Make the pancakes (or toast), lemon creme fraiche and chop up the lox two days in advance and then all you have to do is assemble right before your guests arrive. “Assemble” is my favorite word when I am entertaining. Add some chives or dill for garnish, because a little green makes everything prettier and people think we are pros.
I’ve served these bites many times and they always are a huge hit. If you are vegetarian, try a roasted quartered artichoke heart and some capers instead of the salmon. Or you can forgo the blini and do a roasted slice of potato. How great would that be?
Since I’m on vacation right now, my attitude is Do Whatever You Want. Do whatever is easier. Your friends just want to be with you and hang out. Everyone loves being invited over to a friend’s house and the food is so secondary. I love food and I couldn’t care less if you served me a tuna sandwich or tuna tartare. That said, I do find pleasure in trying new recipes and serving my friends (and me) healthful, delicious foods if I can do it without stressing myself out. It’s a busy time of year and we already have busy lives, so do what makes you happy!
- 1 cup buckwheat flour (or half buckwheat flour and half whole wheat pastry flour)
- ¼ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large egg, separated
- 1 cup whole milk or plain, unsweetened hemp milk
- Unrefined olive oil for brushing griddle
- 5 ounces of crème fraiche (or sour cream or Greek yogurt)
- Zest of one small lemon
- Pinch of sea salt
- ½ pound smoked wild salmon, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives or fresh dill
- Preheat griddle over medium heat.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- Beat egg yolk and milk together and stir into flour mixture. Combine until smooth.
- Beat the egg white until soft peaks form and fold into the buckwheat batter.
- Brush the griddle with oil and drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter onto the griddle. Cook until the sides of the blini are slightly dry and small bubbles appear on the surface, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the underside is slightly browned. Brush griddle with oil in between batches. Cool blini before topping with crème friache and salmon.
- In a small bowl, combine crème fraiche, lemon zest and a pinch of sea salt.
- Top each blini with a teaspoon of the crème fraiche mixture and a pinch of smoked salmon. Assemble all the topped blini on a platter and sprinkle with chives. Blini can be assembled up to 30 minutes before serving.