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During a recent daytrip to Boulder, I found myself sitting at Blackbelly Market’s bar for a quick bite before hitting the road back to Denver. A new item on the menu seemed to have been made just for me: house cured salmon atop a sweet potato blini with salmon caviar, capers, and Meyer lemon crème fraîche. That combo includes several of my very favorite foods, from seafood to pancakes to Meyer lemons. Clearly, I had to order it, and I’m so glad that I did. The tender, savory pancake with its salty, silky, creamy toppings was like an elevated twist on a bagel with lox (another favorite).
The dish is so tasty, and the chef, Hosea Rosenberg, is such a good teacher, I asked him if he’d share the recipe for the blini and even—pretty please?—go on Facebook Live with me to show 5280 viewers how to replicate it at home. And so we did! (See the Facebook Live below. There were some technical difficulties, so the video is split into two.)
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The recipe below is lengthy, but there are ways to streamline the process: roast the sweet potatoes and make the purée ahead; make the Meyer lemon creme fraiche ahead; make the blini in advance, freeze them, and reheat to serve; or, simpler still, take a quick ride to Blackbelly Market and eat the real thing at the source. 1606 Conestoga St., #3, Boulder, 303-247-1000
Sweet Potato Blini with Cured Salmon, Meyer Lemon Creme Fraiche, and Chives
For the Meyer Lemon Creme Fraiche
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
12 Meyer lemons, washed
For the Sweet Potatoes
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium)
Pinch of smoked paprika
Pinch of ground cayenne
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Blini
1½ cups (6¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons fresh parlsey, chopped
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) melted unsalted butter, at room temperature; plus more butter for the griddle
Meyer lemon creme fraiche (see above)
Thinly sliced cold-smoked salmon
Grated hard-cooked egg yolk
Sliced fresh chives
Diced red onion
Make the Meyer lemon creme fraiche
In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Immediately remove from the heat and let cool while you segment the lemons.
Using a small paring or serrated knife, remove the peel and pith from the lemon flesh. Then cut away the white pith from the yellow lemon rind; reserve the rinds. Cut the rinds into a small dice.
Place the diced rind into a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring just to a boil and then immediately strain. Repeat this process 3 times. After the third blanching, return the rinds to the saucepan.
Juice all of the lemon flesh and strain the juice. Add the juice to the pan with the rinds.
Add the simple syrup to pan; bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Cook at a simmer, uncovered, until the rinds are semi-translucent and soft and the mixture is thickened.
Cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Cook the Sweet Potatoes
Heat the oven to 425°F. Wash the sweet potatoes, then poke two of the potatoes a few times with a fork or paring knife; set the other potato aside. Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the flesh is very tender when pierced with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°.
When cool enough to handle, make a cut along the top of each potato, push on the ends to pry it partially open, and scrape out the flesh with a fork, transferring the flesh to the bowl of a food processor. Add the paprika, cayenne, sugar, ½ tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper; purée until smooth. Taste and add more salt or pepper, if necessary; you should have about 1 cup of purée. Let cool to room temperature.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil; season with 1 tablespoon of salt. Peel and finely dice the remaining sweet potato. Add the potato pieces to the water and cook at a simmer until tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain, pat dry, and set aside.
Make the Blini
Heat a griddle, nonstick skillet, or blini pan over medium heat. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and cream until combined. Add the potato puree, diced potato, and parsley; whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring to combine; don’t over mix. Gently stir in the melted butter, then fold in the egg whites until just combined with no streaks remaining.
Lightly butter the griddle. Working in batches, pour 1/3 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each blini, spacing them about 1 inch apart; you want about a 3½-inch diameter blini. Let cook undisturbed until bubbles rise to the surface and the edges look dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Check the underside of each blini to make sure it’s nicely browned; then flip. Cook until the second side is nicely browned, about 1 minute more. Transfer the blini to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you repeat with the remaining batter. You should have about 14 blini.
Garnish each blini with a dollop of the Meyer lemon creme fraiche, a few capers, slices of salmon, egg yolk, chives, red onion, and salmon caviar. Serve immediately and enjoy!
—Photo by Rachel Adams