I spent a large part of last weekend in front of my MacBook, watching "The Delicious Miss Dahl", the wonderful cooking show that Sophie Dahl produced for the BBC. All the episodes are lovingly designed around themes like melancholy, nostalgia, escapism or romance, and are peppered with Sophie's favourite poems and anecdotes from her life.
She is just as you imagine her from her cookbooks. Plain lovely, floating around her beautifully decorated kitchen (though it isn't actually hers, but someone elses. I forget who), oozing contentedness, joy and a boundless love for food, revelling in abundance and keeping everything quite simple at the same time, smiling big Julia-Robertsy smiles, and finding more joy in shopping for cheese than in picking out a new dress. I can't help it, I just want to hug her.
In one episode, I think it was the one called "Romance", she made a fabulous blini dish, a variation of which I had already been (excuse the choice of words) salivating over while reading her second cookbook.
So I was sitting at home this afternoon, clicking my way through the bookmarked recipes in my browser, when I came across the blinis again. Sophie's version has scrambled eggs on top and smoked salmon on the side, but I didn't feel much like eggs and I didn't have any salmon, so here's what I came up with:
Spelt blinis with a mediterranean tomato filling
(Blini recipe adapted from Sophie Dahl, filling inspired by the contents of my fridge)
185 g/3 oz spelt flour (Sophie uses buckwheat but it works with any kind of flour)
1 tsp baking powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
145 ml/5 fl oz milk
1 tsp mustard
75 g/2.5 oz cheese, grated (I used emmentaler because I didn't have anything else but I imagine it would be even better with crumbled feta or goat's cheese)
2 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
A knob of unsalted butter
A handful of cherry tomatoes
A few branches of fresh rosemary
3 or 4 tsp curd
1 pinch of salt
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl, then add the mustard and the milk to make a smooth batter. Add the grated cheese.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Carefully fold them into the batter.
Heat the oven to 200° C/390° F. Mince the rosemary. Combine oil, half of the rosemary and salt in a small bowl, add the tomatoes and toss until completely coated. Pop them into the oven until they start to crack (roughly 10 minutes).
In the meantime, heat the butter in a frying pan (a very small one would be best since it enables you to keep the blinis neat and tidy). When the butter is hot, add several spoonfuls of batter and smoothe it down. The blinis should be nice and round and about 1-1.5 cm/0.5 inches thick. Fry until the surface starts to bubble and/or the edges start to set, then flip over and fry for another few minutes. Continue until you've used up all the batter (I got two normal-sized and one small blini out of it).
Take the tomatoes out of the oven, put them back into the bowl and smash them with a fork. Add the curd and the remaining rosemary, combine and season to taste.
Put one blini on a plate, spread the tomato curd on top and cover with the second blini.
I had this for high tea with a cup of Yorkshire but it would also make a good supper with a nice glass of red wine, or even a breakfast (without the wine, of course).