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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Blini for Maslenitsa

Mas’lenitsa is a Russian food holiday happening the week before Lent, so about seven weeks before Orthodox Easter. In modern times, its religious origins are not emphasized much. Instead, it means eating blini, blini, and more blini. Or anything with butter, cheese, meat, eggs– the week focuses on these ingredients– the things that will soon be forbidden in the weeks leading up to Easter. The shapes of the thin pancakes are round and golden, celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

In a nod to my children’s past, as well as a concerted effort to go off of my diet, I made blin’chiki. On our busy travel schedule, I should have known it would become complicated (i.e., disastrous), but never let it be said that I didn’t try.

Like everything in life, we have a clear division of labor: Benedetto makes the pancakes and I make the filling. We never use recipes, naturally, which could be part of the problem. That’s how I ended up making the cheese mixture, and then we got too busy to use it.

Cream cheese, a little butter, cottage cheese, some sugar. Who knew that I needed to brush up on my chemistry notes to know that the filling, now stored in a tub in the refrigerator, would start to break down due to the sugar?

It’s a couple of days later, we brought the filling to our second city, and Benedetto is making his blini: 1 cup of flour, a little salt, a little sugar, two Tablespoons of vegetable oil and enough water added step by step to keep the batter nice and runny (much thinner than traditional pancake batter). Using a non-stick pan, he doesn’t exactly fry them since there’s no oil involved in preparing the pan. He just ladles the batter onto a nice, hot pan and cooks them.

Some come out okay. The first couple he tosses out. With three pans going, he presents me with a stack of pancakes in five minutes’ flat. The King of Crepes, he’s not.

“What’s with all of the little bubbles and holes?” I ask.

“I don’t know, maybe too much water in some of them. There’s no problem,” he goes back to flipping more.

“How will I fill them? The mixture will ooze out of the holes,” I complain, but I had problems all my own. “The filling has turned watery. What happened?”  I open the plastic tub, the cheese consistency now the consistency of the blini batter.

Well, at least the consistency was consistent. Must have been the sugar breaking down the atomic structure and destroying the entire periodic table in one fell swoop.

“There’s no way I can fill the blinchiki with this.”  My spoon lets the mixture drop in a steady, thin stream rather than the necessary cookie-dough glop. Not good. “Do you think I can add some flour to it?”

“Mmmm… I wouldn’t.”

“What would you suggest?”

“Mmmm… I don’t know.”

Houston, I’m on my own here and it’s five minutes till lunch. Blinchiki are going to play a large part in this meal consisting of them, and fruit cups. In goes the flour. Followed by sugar. Followed by smetana (sour cream).

Not bad. Not great. It’ll do.

The dogs press inbetween my feet and the kitchen counter, plaintive eyes pleading for a little bit to drop.

On to the stuffing: glop it on, fold the sides, fold the tops. Of course, you can fold it however you want, but if the whole thing springs open while heating them in butter, don’t blame me.

Put the little tolsteekee’ (fat ones) in some sizzling butter in a pan. Well, make that simmering, instead of sizzling. When one side is heated, turn them to the other side. Pop them out, plate them up, use a fork and knife, and you’re good to go. Yum!

The caloric content indicates why this happens only about once a year. Doesn’t matter, I walked out of the kitchen for other late-breaking business, and when I returned they were all gone. ALL. Yep. There’s always next year.

So how do you make nice crepes with no holes?


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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    ?????? ???? ????????!

    It’s a rule, with its own Russian saying!

    I think the holes may mean that the griddle / pan was too hot. One or two holes, no problem. Emmenthaler => leaking blintzes! (I love blintzes, which is what my Jewish ‘family’ calls blini with sour cream / cream cheese / sugar / lemon filling.)

  2. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Whoops! so, you can’t do CYRILLIC on this site?

    Pervyj blin ispochen!

    • avatar admin says:

      Yes, well, I wasn’t there counting, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it wasn’t just the first blin that bit the dust…lol! I’ll tell Benedetto to turn down the heat. (Isn’t there a saying about if you can’t take the heat in the kitchen…? I don’t think he’d ever say it to me, lest I leave the kitchen forever, hah.)

      I’m sure you could do Cyrillic on this site (if you tried really hard, and rubbed your little ruby slippers together). But you’d have to have some understanding of computers, which unfortunately, Alexandra spends her days and nights solving world problems, so I don’t have time to learn… sigh…. I think I did once write about my big-little Scottie baby (Misha), who, I kid you not, stepped on my laptop on the bed, and everything turned to Cyrillic. He’s a genius, I tell you. I could put you in touch…. 🙂

  3. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    I think I spelled ‘isporchen’ correctly in Cyrillic… all those question marks at the beginning of my first post. LOL.

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