Blini are those smallish Russian pancakes made from buckwheat flour, often topped off with a cap of sour cream and a spoonful of caviar. In a recent article in the L.A. Times about corn, Russ Parsons fiddled with a recipe from Jeremiah Tower for cornmeal blini, adding fresh corn and jalapeno peppers. They were to be finished off with a spoonful of Mexican crema and a cilantro leaf. Now, to me, not much else can beat the repulsiveness of cilantro. I believe someone somewhere is doing a study on how some of us are missing the cilantro enzyme in our mouths, rendering the flavor of a leaf of it akin to, oh, say, a chemical meant to kill us all off in a few minutes or less. So I tend to avoid all recipes that include cilantro. In this case, I figured I could easily leave out the garnish and so would also remove the jalapeno from the batter (these two go together like peas in a pod, so what's one without the other?). To make up for this omission, and because I had two cobs in the fridge, not one, I doubled the amount of fresh corn in the recipe.
Don't attempt to make these blini any larger than the two tablespoons or so that are recommended in the recipe. The batter is thin, and the blini will rip apart if they are too big to be flipped easily. They are pretty salty, so the sour cream or creme fraiche is essential to smoothing out the taste a bit. I'd sprinkle some minced chives on top for an elegant, crunchy little appetizer. I can imagine getting creative with the toppings: slivers of smoked fish, a few tiny cubes of tomatoes soaked in basil oil, or perhaps even a tangle of caramelized onions. In total, the blini were not bad, though I do think that plain old buckwheat blini are somewhat easier to make (no pesky corn kernels flying through the kitchen), and that wonderful buckwheat texture really can't be beat.
First, I whisked together cornmeal, salt, sugar and some boiling water to create a thickish batter.
After this cooled off, I beat in two eggs, some milk, sifted flour and a bit of melted butter. The batter becomes very thin.
I added in the cooked corn kernels and let the batter rest in the fridge for a while.
After melting butter in a pan (I don't use nonstick, but the recipe instructs you to), I poured in five or six little puddles of batter.
I cooked them a few minutes on each side, then turned them out onto a plate. Keep the plate warm in the oven until you're ready to serve.