We three brothers are proud of our country upbringing and origins but with both parents chefs and living on a vineyard, there was a fair degree of decadence in the kitchen. We can also stake claim to having a Russian grandmother and although she departed a long time ago, the legacy of Blini, smoked salmon, caviar and Champagne is difficult to quit.
We are of course loyal to the English sparkling wine we make ourselves at Nutbourne but Richard has proposed a couple of alternative wine pairings to give you choices to pair with this perfect New Year’s Eve canapé.
Of course you can buy them ready-made these days but they are never quite the same. And it’s a shame to buy them when they are such a simple but sophisticated dish to master at home.
We are making the Blini bitesize to serve as a canapé but you can easily serve larger ones as a starter — just double up the quantities. Make more blinis than you think you need — they always seem to disappear, especially when all three Gladwin Brothers are around.
Makes: approx. 20
3 ½ oz plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 oz caster sugar
pinch of salt
5 fl oz milk
2 tsp freshly chopped dill, plus 20 sprigs to garnish
a little oil, for frying
For the topping:
1lb smoked salmon
8 ½ fl oz crème fraiche
Small jar of black caviar
- In a bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, sugar and salt together
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg and milk. Add to the dry ingredients and blend together. Add the chopped dill
- Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. When the oil is hot, wipe it off with some kitchen paper. Using a teaspoon, drop individual rounds of mixture into the pan. The rounds will spread a little
- After a minute or so bubbles will form and then burst. As they burst, flip the blinis over using a palette knife and cook the other side. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool on a wire rack
- Spread a little crème fraiche on each blini and place a neatly folded strip of smoked salmon on top
- Add a small dollop of crème fraiche, a few caviar eggs from the jar and a tiny sprig of dill to decorate each blini
- Arrange on a platter and store in the fridge until ready to serve with oodles of Champagne
Richard’s wine recommendations
To quote Madame Lily Bollinger:
‘I drink it when I am happy, and when I am sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry, and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it — unless I am thirsty.’
Here are three sparkling options to wash down the Blinis:
Nutty Vintage 2016
From our own family vineyard in West Sussex. A tradition method, sparkling wine that can compete anywhere in the world — beautifully balanced, white gold in color, with a natural richness and floral bouquet. Made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. This wine is matured in oak barrels then aged for 36 months in our underground cave before hand disgorge and finishing.
La Marca Prosecco Doc Treviso extra dry
Although the winemaking method means Prosecco doesn’t have the lasting nutty character and freshness you find in traditional method fizz, good quality versions deliver something else: softer bubbles, fresh, aromatic peach, pear and lime zest flavors, and creamy texture.
Bollinger RD 2004
James Bond’s very own tipple. Great maturity combined with vibrant freshness. Brioche aroma, candied peel and toasted nuts. What a way to celebrate Christmas.
This article was originally published on Spectator Life.