Saturday, July 2, 2011

Russian Blini

My favorite food on our recent trip were the blini we had in Russia. Blini (or blintzes) is plural for blin or blintz. Our Moscow guide referred to them as blini and pointed out a restaurant a few blocks from our hotel that only served blini and suggested it as a place for us to buy good, authentic, cheap Russian food. After a day of touring, we visited that restaurant along with about eight other people from our tour. 
We liked it so much we went back the next evening. Later, outside St. Petersburg at the Peterhof Palace, I had another blintz as I was rushing back to our bus. It was so good that I was extremely disappointed I did not have time to go back for more as Judy and I gobbled down the one I had ordered. It far surpassed the food we had later that day for a late lunch as part of our tour. The word "blin" comes from Old Slavic in pre-Christian days when the round blini were a symbol for the sun. They were traditionally prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the sun and the tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church. Today blini are served at wakes to commemorate the recently deceased. Russian blini are made with batter with yeast in it which rises and then is diluted with water or milk. They differ from French crepes which do not use yeast. They can be made from many kinds of flour, including buckwheat, oatmeal and millet, but wheat is most popular. At the blini restaurant in Moscow we had a blintz filled with pork, cheese and mushroom, 
my favorite (cut in half, below), 
which I had again the next day, one filled with goose liver and pickles, 
the most unusual one we tried, salmon, and a number of dessert blini, including chocolate and banana, 
(cut in half)
and sweetened condensed milk. The blintz was moist, spongey and had a very pleasing texture. I got pictures of them making my triple cheese blintz (which was amazing) in St. Petersburg. Batter is poured on a round, hot griddle. 
It is spread by a "t" shaped instrument and allowed to cook on one side. A long spatula is used to flip it over 
and then the filling is added on the cooked side. 
The blintz is then folded, put on a plate and served (the triple cheese, wrapped differently than those we had in Moscow). 
A nice thing about them is that they can be both the main meal and dessert. We liked them so much that we are investigating buying a griddle for them so that we can make them at home. 


  1. These were amazing. They reminded me a bit of the German "pancakes" that Oma used to make that were thicker than French crepes. We used to spread them with jam and roll them up like taquitos. The blini's square shape, however, allows it to hold more substantial filling. Yum.

  2. The Blini can be compared to either pancakes or crepes, and they can be eaten as is, or filled or smeared. I'd prefer it plain, though, with maybe some grated potato as an added carbohydrate.