Monday, October 19, 2015

Mexican Blini

Why is it that buttermilk only seems to come in quarts? Most recipes call for a cup, maybe two, of the stuff, but there are four cups in a quart. What to do with the leftover buttermilk?

I happened to be thumbing through one of my many cookbooks, Vegetarian Planet, and found a recipe for masa cakes that require 1 2/3 cups buttermilk, plus masa, corn kernels, and a few other ingredients we already had on hand.

I don't know why I don't use that book more often. It's terrific.

We also had various other oddments in the fridge. A bit of smoked trout. Some leftover tomatillo salsa. Pomegranate arils. Rather than serve the masa cakes as a straight-up sort of Latino thing, I topped them with smoked trout and sour cream and made them blini-ish. Of course, they were nowhere near as delicate as a properly made blini, but they sure did taste good. And isn't that all that really matters?

Mexican Blini (adapted from Vegetarian Planet)

2 eggs
1 2/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted, cooled, unsalted butter (divided use)
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
Tomatillo salsa (recipe follows)
Sour cream
Smoked trout (optional)
Pomegranate seeds
Chopped parsley or cilantro

Beat the eggs and add the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Gradually stir in the masa, flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Stir well until the mixture forms a mass. Stir in the corn.

Add the remaining tablespoon of melted butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Make small patties with the masa dough, about 3" in diameter, and place in the hot pan. (If you have too many patties to fit without crowding, make them in two batches.) Cook until the undersides of the cakes are browned, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook 4 minutes on the other side.

To serve: puddle some of the tomatillo salsa on a plate. Top with 2-3 masa cakes. On each masa cake, place a dollop of sour cream, a bit of smoked trout, and garnish with the pomegranate seeds and parsley or cilantro.

Tomatillo Salsa

4-5 tomatillos
2 jalapeno peppers
3 scallions
Handful fresh cilantro
1 small clove garlic
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
Pinch cumin
Salt, to taste

Remove husks from tomatillos, rinse them and cut into quarters. Stem and deseed the jalapenos (leave some seeds in, if you want more heat). Remove root end from scallions and chop remainder into 1" pieces.

Put tomatillos, jalapenos, scallions, cilantro, and garlic into a blender and puree. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the brown sugar, cumin, and salt. Cook about 5 minutes, until mixture darkens. Taste for seasoning, adding more sugar or salt if you think it needs it. It should mostly be tart, but not sour.

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