Tag Archive for appetizer

Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar (Vegetarian, Gluten-free)

The busy holiday season of parties and social events is upon us!

I usually get invited to a ton of parties, many of which I can’t go to, just because of time, and I also sometimes have people over during the holidays.

Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar I wanted to create, this year, an elegant hors d’oeuvre recipe that was also vegetarian and gluten-free.

This recipe takes its inspiration from caviar. Now, I don’t really eat caviar. Yes, I do sometimes eat salmon roe if it’s on my sushi, but caviar is generally not sustainable (one exception: Northern Devine Sturgeon Caviar), and well beyond my pocketbook, anyways.

I was shopping at Fruticana recently, and was pretty gobsmacked by the awesome assortment of different kinds of legumes they had, including beans and lentils. I’d been on the lookout for beluga lentils for a while, but hadn’t seen them. Fruticana was selling them, so I immediately snatched them up.

Black, or Beluga Lentils, are named for their colour, and their resemblance to Beluga Caviar. Unlike Beluga Caviar, they are sustainable (and probably grown in Canada, as we are now the biggest exporters of lentils in the world), cheap, and packed with Iron, protein and fibre.

The challenge is, they are kinda bland. They don’t really taste like much. You can, however, infuse them with flavour, which is what I’ve done for this recipe.

A Blini (sometimes also called Blintz) is a little Russian pancake, and traditionally, it would be served with a dollop of creme frache or sour cream, and a dollop of caviar. So that’s what I’ve done. I finish this dish off with a bit of Truffle Salt. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way, and it’s a great way to give your hors d’oeuvre that decadent, “I’m eating Caviar” kind of feeling.

Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar

Blini with Beluga Lentil Caviar (Vegetarian, Gluten-free)

For the Lentils: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup beluga lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 onion, rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh, woody herbs, like rosemary or sage

Method:

  1. I made mine in my slow cooker, but you could also make these on top of the stove.
  2. Wash the lentils and drain them well.
  3. Place the lentils, the water, and all the aromatics in your slow cooker, and cook on high for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. You want the lentils to be tender, but not mushy and falling apart, so watch them carefully that they do not overcook. If need be, you can drain out the extra liquor if they do not absorb all of it.
  4. Drain the lentils well, and pull out all the aromatics, garlic and onion. Place aside for later.

For the Blintzes (recipe from Mind Body Green):

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (or a mixture of buckwheat and rice flours)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Method: 

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a blender, and blend well.
  2. Heat a flat, non-stick pan up to medium-high heat, and brush with oil (I like coconut). Drop about 1 tablespoon of the pancake batter onto the griddle, and allow it to form bubbles in the centre before you flip it. Repeat until you have cooked all the pancakes.

To assemble the Blini:

Ingredients:

  • Blini pancakes
  • Beluga Lentils
  • Sour Cream or Creme Frache
  • Microgreens like tiny baby herbs, radish sprouts or baby argula
  • Truffle salt

Method: 

On a large serving plate, place the pancakes. On each pancake, place a dollop of sour cream. Next, top with a spoonful of beluga lentils. Carefully place a few microgreens on each Blini. Finally dust everything with Truffle salt to give it that luxurious, expensive-feeling finish.

 

Yum on a Papadum

For many people, cooking a food that belongs to a particular country or ethnicity can be really intimidating.

Latin, Asian, French, Spanish, Italian, German… they all have specific ingredients and methods of cooking. Can you find the ingredients? Where? Is it a trek across town, or is it a special aisle at your grocery store? And once you have the ingredients, what do you do with them? Do you need special equipment or cooking methods?

yum on a papadum

I love the challenge, and I love to cook other culture’s foods (although, to be fair, my British background isn’t one of the most exciting cuisines in the world). I love wondering through spice shops sniffing the brightly-coloured bins and imagining what I could make with the contents.

I’m lucky enough to have a very close family member who comes from a South Asian background, so she’s on speed dial every time I have a yen to cook some Indian food (aloo gobi is my fave). But if you, like me, still find this particular cuisine a bit intimidating, then help is at hand.

I recently got to try out a line of Indian shortcut sauces. Sharwood’s has been cooking up Indian sauces for over 100 years, so I’m going to assume they know what they’re doing.

This is a quick and easy appetizer idea you could whip up for a party, or as the beginning of a meal. It’s a play on a chutney–a simple, slightly spicy, flavourful dip that you can serve alongside papadums. If you’re not familiar with them, papadums are thin, crispy flatbreads, chip-like, usually made from lentil or chickpea flour. They’re great for scooping up this dip. Bonus–they are gluten free!

Instead of using some of the more traditional Indian spices in this recipe, like garam masala, cardamom, coriander, tamarind, chilis or fresh ginger, I took a shortcut and used a couple tablespoons of Sharwood’s Madras Cooking sauce. You can add more or less based on the amount of heat you want in your dip.

Yum on a Papadum

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste
  • 2 tbsps Sharwood’s Madras Cooking Sauce
  • 2 tbsps lime juice
  • papadums
  • fresh coriander or chives

Method: 

  1. Cut the onion in half, length-wise, and then slice in thin half-rounds. You could use a mandolin for this. In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over low heat, and then add the onions. Cook them slowly for about 15 minutes over low heat, until they are caramelized. They will release liquid as they cook, but if you get worried about the pot getting too dry, you can add a tablespoon of white wine.
  2. While the onions are caramelizing, deseed and chop up the bell pepper in to 1/2″ chunks. When the onions are soft, fragrant and golden, add the garlic and stir well. Then add the bell pepper. Stir well, and cook down for about another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomato paste and the madras sauce, stir well, and cook another 5 minutes. Lastly, add the lime juice, stir well, and cook for about a minute. Pour into a bowl, and garnish with chopped, fresh herbs.
  4. To make papadum: remove from package, and place in your microwave on a paper towel. Microwave for one minute, or until the papadum is puffed and crispy. Break into pieces and serve with the dip.

h/t to Eschelle for naming this one!

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