The blini feast

I love blini!

Last week, Russians celebrated the end of the winter with a festival called Maslenitsa. All around Moscow there were events featuring music, traditional food and the Maslenitsa doll, which is made of straw and is burned on the last day of Maslenitsa. The traditional food of this celebration is blini, Russian pancakes with all sorts of fillings. You can get savory ones with meat, fish, caviar, mushrooms, cheese and sour cream, or sweet ones with honey, fruits and whipped cream – everyone can find a kind of blini they like. My favorite blini stuffing is salmon and sour cream, and I usually get it from Teremok, a blini fast food chain. Blini on Maslenitsa are supposed to represent the sun and warmth that is rising again after the long winter. However, right now I am still freezing in Moscow with temperatures below zero — which makes it hard to believe the winter is over.

On Maslenitsa the choice is mine. Around the city, booths offer freshly made blini. Restaurants and cafes offer special Maslenitsa menus, with a great variety of blini creations. In my favorite coffeehouse, I notice a table-post with their Maslenitsa special, a very delicious and convincing photo of blini with strawberry and cream. Even though tempted to order it, I decide instead of wait for the evening. Our neighbors invited us to a blini dinner, with the promise to teach me how to make good homemade blinis.

When I came home, I could smell the blinis already in the hallway. Luckily I made it just in time to actually see how the blinis were made and to try them directly out of the pan. These soft and fluffy, non-greasy blinis were the most delicious ones I have ever had in my life. My neighbor Tanya, a girl from the Komi region in Russia prepared so many blini I thought we would have to share them with the entire building, so they wouldn’t go to waste. But it’s Maslenitsa, and on Maslenitsa you stuff up on blini before the Lenten fast begins. We stuffed them with a mixture of cabbage and pieces of eggs, meat and topped it of course with sour cream. For dessert, we stuffed them with marmalade, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

We used different wrapping styles, for example the meat ones looked very much like little burritos, the cabbage ones we folded into quarters. It seems that everyone has his own idea of a perfectly wrapped blini. Accompanied by Russian vodka for the two guys and champagne for the girls, we tried to beat the big pile of blini. We all really overstuffed ourselves with blini and even took some home for another day. Anyway I still love blinis and simply can’t get enough of them!

Blini - How we made them:
Mix 4 eggs with 2 heaped table sppons of sugar and ½ table spoon of salt 1 min (with a mixer on low stage). Add 4 table spoons of oil (we used olive oil) to the mass and mix further. Add 1 liter milk and mix for some seconds. Then take a tea spoon of baking soda and drizzle with some drops of vinegar so make it foam, mix the baking soda with the pancake mass. Add 400g of flour and mix on high stage for about 1 minute with a mixer.

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