With a long bank holiday weekend coming up in the UK, I cannot resist posting a brunch recipe - if it was after me, I would make breakfast the longest meal of the day, although don't think for a moment that I would make an effort to get up early... I do need my beauty sleep (as my recently taken passport picture shows all too clearly, and not in a good way).
Over the last few years I have been growing more and more infatuated with blinis, savoury pancakes and things of the like, although a bit more work than just toasting a bagel or slice of bread, they just lift the whole breakfast experience up a notch... if only because you feel someone's actually made an effort in the kitchen!
I particularly like these blinis - I guess I am calling them blinis because they're savoury, but they're not made with the usual buckwheat flour. Instead, they use finely riced cooked potatoes and buttermilk, resulting in the fluffiest, creamiest "pancakes" you could wish for - topped with some smoked salmon, horseradish cream and caviar, they're a wonderful weekend treat - top it off with a poached egg and you've got a breakfast fit for an emperor!
Potato pancakes with salmon, caviar & poached egg
(serves 6 with an appetite)
450 g floury potatoes
150 ml buttermilk
3 eggs (separated)
100 g flour
ghee or butter for frying
250 g sour cream
1-2 tbsp freshly grated horseradish (alternatively use a good quality jar variety, though not the creamed version. English Provender do an acceptable one in the UK)
6 large eggs
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
300 g smoked salmon
1 small jar of fake caviar
a drizzle of lemon juice
dill sprigs to decorate
Boil the potatoes in their skin until soft, but not disintegrating. Peel while still warm and put through a fine potato ricer - alternatively, mash grate on the fine side of a grater - it is essential that the potato stays light and fluffy, as so will the pancakes.
Combine the potato with the egg yolks and the buttermilk, then slowly fold in the flour. Season. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, fold into the potato mixture. Do not overbeat at this point, you want to conserve the airiness of the egg whites as much as possible.
Heat some ghee in a non-stick frying pan, drop in about two tbsp of the dough, if necessary, flatten out to about half a centimeter in height and fry until the underside and edges are crisping up - about 3 minutes. Flip over and cook on the other side for about the same amount of time.
Mix the horseradish and the sour cream together, season with salt and pepper.
Assemble by topping the pancake with a dollop of sour cream, a slice of smoked salmon and some caviar.
To poach the eggs, heat some water with the vinegar in a pot. I have some dressing rings that I use to poach a number of eggs at the same time, if you don't want to fork out on that, I suggest you keep some tuna cans, take off the top and the bottom and use those as rings instead. I place the rings in the hot water and crack one egg into each of them - this not only keeps them in their place, it also sort of shapes them.
The cooking time should not exceed 3 minutes, remove eggs with a slotted spoon and dip into ice-cold water to refresh and prevent further cooking. Lift out on the slotted spoon, drain completely and place on the assembled dish, drizzle with lemon and decorate with a dill sprig to finish off.