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|Alternative names||Blin, blini, blintchik|
|Cookbook: Blintz Media: Blintz|
Blins or blini were symbolically considered by early Slavic people in pre-Christian times as a symbol of the sun, due to their round form. They were traditionally prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Butter Week, or Maslenitsa, also called "pancake week"). This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church and is carried on to the present day. Blini were also served at wakes to commemorate the recently deceased.
Traditional Russian blini are made with yeasted batter, which is left to rise and then diluted with cold or boiling water or milk. When diluted with boiling water, they are referred to as zavarniye blini. Traditionally, blini are baked in a Russian oven. The process of cooking blini is still referred to as baking in Russian, even though these days they are universally pan-fried, like pancakes. French crêpes made from unyeasted batter (usually made of flour, milk, and eggs) are also common in Russia. All kinds of flour may be used for making blini: from wheat and buckwheat to oatmeal and millet, although wheat is currently the most popular.
Blini were popularized in the United States by Eastern European Jewish immigrants who used them in Jewish cuisine. While not part of any specific religious rite in Judaism, blini that are stuffed with a cheese filling and then fried in oil are served on holidays such as Chanukah (as oil played a pivotal role in the miracle of the Chanukah story) and Shavuot (when dairy dishes are traditionally served within the Ashkenazi minhag). Blini are called "blinchiki" in Russian, and are ordinarily stuffed before frying a second time. Fillings include chocolate, mushrooms, meat, rice, mashed potatoes, and cheese.
Some ways blintzes/blini are prepared and served include:
- The batter may contain various additions, such as grated potato or apple and raisins. These blini are quite common in Eastern Europe and Central Europe, and are more solidly filled than the spongy pancakes usually eaten in North America.
- They may be covered with butter, sour cream, jam, honey, or caviar (whitefish, salmon, or traditional sturgeon caviar) and then they might be folded or rolled into a tube. In rolled form, they are similar to French crêpes. The caviar filling is popular during Russian-style cocktail parties.
- A filling such as jam, fruit, potato, quark, cottage cheese or farmer cheese, cooked ground meat, cooked chicken, and even chopped mushrooms, bean sprouts, cabbage, and onions (for a Chinese eggroll-type blintz) is rolled or enveloped into a pre-fried blintz and then the blintz is lightly re-fried, sautéed, or baked. Such blintzes are also called nalysnyky (Ukrainian: налисники) or blinchiki (Russian: блинчики).
Buckwheat blini are part of traditional Russian cuisine. They are also widespread in Ukraine, where they are sometimes known as hrechanyky (Ukrainian: гречаники), and Lithuania's Dzūkija region, the only region in the country where buckwheat is grown, where they are called Grikių blynai.
- Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Wiley. pp. 56–58. Retrieved April 18, 2012. ISBN 9780470391303
- Этимологический словарь русского языка. — М.: Прогресс. М. Р. Фасмер. 1964—1973 (Russian)
- Kidd, Sue (March 21, 2012). "Blintzapalooza: It’s more than just blintzes". The News Tribune. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
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- Blintz recipe (with detailed photos) (Russian)