Hiya guys~! Has it already been two weeks? For some reason, it seems like someone has hit the cosmic fast-forward button recently – as usual when there’s an absolutely wonderful vacation involved. The last two weeks have been an absolutely delightful mixture of showstopping views, runner’s-high-causing hikes through seven different microclimates crammed onto one little island and seriously good food amongst a lot of other things – I would run out of superlatives describing them all.
Hubby and I found ourselves sitting on the balcony of our hotel room in the company of a bottle of red wine, listening to the eternal song of the Atlantic, summing up the day with “Perfect day.” several times during these last two weeks. To sum it up: I love Madeira. But, like all vacations, our trip had to end at some point and, with a generous to-go serving of happiness, contentment, inspiration and fresh energy in the mental compartments of our luggage, we’re back on solid ground, ready to tackle the world~! I’ve also brought back a ton of new recipe-ideas, but those are stories for a different time~
Now, before I talk myself into a serious case of the backwards-version of homesickness, I’ll better get to today’s little recipe. It’s not exactly a Madeira-inspired one, but loosely connected to a part the trip – our arrival back home, to be precise. While taking a late plane back home might be the obvious thing to do, especially when you’re not all that happy about your vacation coming to an end, returning home with an empty stomach way past the time any store, delivery service or restaurant might provide something edible is a horrible way for the “real life” to kick back into gear. Of course, I emptied out the fridge before we left to avoid being faced with a case study in Darwinism upon return, so all that greeted me when I opened the silly thing late Sunday night was… an imaginary cricket trying to chirp over he desperate growls our tummies were giving off. My tiny freezer, however, held a couple of true life-savers: a baggie of frozen, ready-prepped river crab and two polenta bricks just waiting to be griddled. A jar of preserved Williams pears and about 10 mins later, we were digging into the impromptu-version of one of my signature summery fingerfood bites. While the frozen and preserved ingredients worked kinda-sorta-well for our tummies at the time, the whole thing wasn’t up to its usual standard, so I decided to give it a proper do-over the next day and share the “real” recipe with you guys~
While the topping, with a couple of green leaves added to the mix, works perfectly as a stand-alone main-dish salad for two, serving it on small blinis will net you a fingerfood-serving platter of 20-24 bites, depending on the size of your blinis.
The Thyme & Pear Blinis
12,5g fresh Yeast
30g Pear, whizzed into a fine Purée
120g Plain Flour
½ Tsp Sugar
1 generous Pinch of dried Thyme
1 Generous Pinch each of Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
1 good scrape of Nutmeg
A bit of Olive Oil for the pan
1) Pour the milk into a small pot and set it onto low heat. Let it sit there for just a couple of minutes until it reaches the upper end of lukewarm – you need it at lukewarm to tickle the yeast into doing it’s thing. Should the milk be too cold, the yeast wouldn’t be comfy enough to start multiplying. Should the milky environment be too hot, at an almost-simmer, the yeast would simply die.
2) So, take the pot off the stove once the milk hit’s the mark, move it into a mixing bowl and crumble in the yeast. Add the sugar and give the lot a good stir to help them dissolve into the milk.
3) Once the yeast crumbles and sugar grains are gone, allow them to settle down for 2-3 mins.
4) Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat them to break up the yolks.
5) Stir the beaten eggs into the milk-mixture once the time’s up and add the pear pureé and thyme while you’re at it as well.
6) Once all of the ingredients are well incorporated, sift in the flour, sprinkle in the spices and continue stirring the dough until it turns out smooth and even.
7) Cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel and leave it to rest in a warm spot of your kitchen for about an hour – this would be the perfect time to move on to the topping since it, too, needs roundabout 60 mins to rest and marinade into yumminess. Taking the time you’ll need to fry up the blinis into account, both will be ready to serve at the same time.
8) When the dough has served it’s time, set a large, heavy-based pan onto medium heat and generously brush it with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil.
9) Working in batches of 4-5 proto-blinis at a time, fry tablespoon-sized amounts of your dough until they turn a delicious golden-brown on both sides – this takes about 2-3 mins per side.
10) Take them out of the pan and stack them onto a plate lined with paper towels until you’ve worked your way through all of the dough. Top off the stack with another paper towel for the time being and, assuming your topping is ready as well, get ready to serve.
The River Crab & Pear Topping
100g River Crab Meat
1 Williams Pear, finely diced
1 Lemon, Juice and the Zest of ½ the Lemon
40g freshly grated Horseradish – a small, high-quality preserve works too, but make extra sure it’s pure horseradish without any trace of cream in the picture.
1 Tbsp Natural Yoghurt
1 Tsp Honey
1 Shallot, finely diced
1 Tbsp Fennel, finely diced
1 Tsp fresh Thyme leaves
Salt and frshly cracked Pepper to taste
Fennel greens to decorate
1) Add the diced pear, shallot and fennel to a mixing bowl and gently fold in the crab meat and the thyme leaves.
2) Place the horseradish, yoghurt, honey, lemon zest and a generous dash of salt and pepper in a second, smaller mixing bowl and stir the mixture into a smooth and glossy dressing while adding the lemon juice in a slow and steady trickle.
3) Once a quick taste-test tells you the honey has dissolved completely, pour the dressing into the bowl holding your diced solids.
4) Gently combine the two components with the help of a rubber spatula – to avoid turning the crab meat into a mousse unintentionally – until the yoghurt-horseradish dressing is evenly distributed throughout the blend.
5) Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place it in your fridge for about an hour to give the aromas of the mix to develop properly.
6) As yum’o’clock approaches, have a test-bite of the blend and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning.
7) Assuming you went with the fingerfood-idea, spread out your blinis on serving platters and top them off with a generous teaspoonful of the river crab mixture before decorating each bite with a pretty fluff of fennel greens.
8) If you’re taking the salady route, line two plates with a couple of greens – lamb’s lettuce works deliciously well in this scenario – and distribute the crab & pear mix on top.
9) And all that’s left to do… serve up, lean back and…