Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blini-fest 2011

My seventh dinner accomplished a pretty awesome milestone: with knocking out like six recipes in one meal, I am over one-third through the book.  And one third is almost half, and half means 'its all downhill from here' and... and (its a slippery slope, counting percentages.  Just like 'adjusting your budget' for kitchen remodeling)

The starter, blini-fest 2011!  Three recipes in one!  And all were actually pretty easy.

First up, Blini with Bottarga de-something-or-the-other and Confit of Tomato.  Not only was this amazingly delicious for something that was fairly easy to do, it was the first time i've really REALLY been sad about my tomato allergy/temped to eat it and suffer the consequences in years.

Tomatoes, pre-confit:

After blanching and peeling those beautiful tomatoes, I cut them into "petals," sprinkled with olive oil, salt, and put a thyme sprig on each, and stuck them in the oven for a bit.
I did not take pictures when they came out.... but they were peerrrty.  And smelled like all kinds of awesome.

After making roasted tomatoes, I made the real confit - basically, the chopped up tomatoes with some stock, a little more spices, and some more oil.

Chopped finely, it turned into the tastiest confit ever.

Oh, and with the inside pulp from the tomatoes, I rinsed it, squished it, chopped it into pieces, and spread on a cookie sheet.  I set the oven for its very lowest temperature - 175 - and propped the door open....
And after 4 attempts at this (each one ending up in severely burnt tomato, instead of "gently dehydrated tomato") - I had tomato powder!

Eggplant "Caviar" and Roasted Peppers
So, the tomato confit was easy... but I think the roasted peppers were even easier!

Chopped in half, spread a little olive oil:

And... that was pretty much it.  Except that I peeled the peppers after they came out of the oven, which was cake.

To make the actual "roasted peppers" part of the topping: 
Chopped red peppers, more stock, salt, and I was done!  (I don't know why the chives are there, I might have just had them sitting around)

Eggplant "caviar" was also pretty simple - just score some eggplant, sprinkle with salt:

Squish to get the icky juices out:

Roasted and scraped (at which point I realized I had way way less eggplant than I was supposed to).

This "drained" again overnight, except I got like 5 drops of bitter nastiness juice stuff out.  Possibly the fault of teacloth instead of cheesecake?

After this drained overnight, I threw it into the food processor:

So, remember how I said I didn't have enough eggplant?  I didn't.  AND THEN, knowing/forgetting this, I kept the other proportions (on mustard, oil, garlic) the same.  The eggplant was more like 'garlic' caviar.  Not that I minded this (no one else complained either).  But i'm fairly sure it wasn't quite the right texture.  Fail one for blini-fest. 

Blini: Obviously, the big missing part is the actual vessel for scooping the yummy sauces into your mouth!

I started by boiling some potatoes...

Then scraping them through a tamis.

To make the actual batter, I added some eggs, flour, creme fraiche, and those potatoes

And "whisked" them together.  I don't know how many people have tried to whisk potatoes... but i'm telling you: Chef Keller must have uncommon, superman strength.  Because my arms were killing me after like 2 minutes.

After surgery to reattach my arms, little spoonfuls of potato mix led to blini!

The final product:

Roasted Peppers with Eggplant Caviar

Confit (below the blini) with grated fish-stuff.

The tomato one was the hands-down favorite, even with the weird grated fishy stuff. I really really really wanted to eat the confit, but I wisely abstained. Everyone else enjoyed it immensely. All in all, this was a time-consuming canape in that you had to be around (since I won't leave my house with my stove on), but it didn't really take a lot of actual time. The blini are very "sensitive" to temperature, so it doesn't seem like something that would hold well. Because of this, I don't see it making it into a permanent repertoire list. But... I still have a few canapes left to make, so we'll see!

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