Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Russian Blini for Two

I am being perfectly honest with you all when I say that this month’s GFRR was hard. I’m not sure it had to do with my mindset, or if it truly was the multiple crepe recipes that weren’t working out. Now, with the final recipe written and posted, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons I’d like to share.

I try really hard not to use this blog as my place to rant about whatever grievance may come my way, as I did my first few months of blogging. And whenever I do talk about things that are less than rays of sunshine, I do what I can to not come off as some whiny, self-centered princess. Every time I do the GFRR with the other amazing participants, I am always humbled by the journey I took to get to that winning (or not so winning) recipe, and also by the recipes the others made.

For this particular challenge, I focused too much in the beginning of what kind of crepe I wanted to make and not at all on making a simple batch successfully. And I do this outside the kitchen all the time: daydreaming the details, doing what I can to making it exotic and outlandish, and not even thinking about mastering the basics first.

As I said, I’ve made crepes before. And yes, this implies I did so successfully. I've made them in a (gasp!) non-stick skillet and recently in a cast iron griddle pan. I expected victory, demanded triumph. What I got was a smack of humility and the Universe telling me to chill the crepe out. If you want to make something as temperamental as crepes, you have to have a cool head, patience, and remain optimistic even when you mess up a crepe (or, you know, half the batch… twice in a row).

Michael Ruhlman called crepes a “vehicle” (Ratio p. 81). I know he meant literally, as in “a vehicle for foods and flavors.” But for me, food is just as figurative as it is literal. Figuratively, the crepe is a vehicle for introspection and perspective. You know where you are in life when you make crepes. If all goes well, and you have a batch of freshly made crepes on a plate just waiting to be devoured, you start thinking how wonderful your life is and how wonderful you are. And if it doesn’t, if the crepes stick to the pan, break apart when you’re getting ready to flip them, are too thick or too thin or too something else, a storm cloud forms above your parade and you start grumbling “Oh, crepe!” like it was an expletive.

To be fair, even the not so pretty crepes in the batch tasted just fine, so I don’t think it had anything to do with the ingredients. It was the execution of making said crepes: not a hot enough pan, not a thin enough spatula, not a balanced enough stovetop, not patient enough, not a positive enough mentality… the list could go on if I let it.

While making crepes, I struggled to remain optimistic as my spatula pierced through yet another one in my flipping attempts. I started thinking of the uncontrollables and uncertainties I tried to keep from surfacing. As I said before, I don’t like to talk about myself when I’m feeling less than awesome. When things are less than kosher, I become introverted and do what I can to fix it myself so I don’t worry people.

The truth of the matter, my dear friends, is this: health isn’t always a sunny pasture with organic fruits and veggies on rolling hills as far as the eyes can see. While making crepes, I was upset, though upon asking I wouldn’t know what to say. I don’t really talk about my hypothyroidism very much on this blog (as of yet), nor about my adrenals or my internal health. I talk about disordered eating and fitness and my trials with both. I philosophize about food and life and love. The things I don’t talk about are only mentioned in passing, simply because I don’t know much about them except by how they make me feel. And throughout the entire month of February, I was frustrated and upset. Frustrated and upset, because I didn’t know why I was frustrated and upset. Was it a hormonal imbalance? Am I taking too much or too little Armour Thyroid? Why do my hands still have that slight yellowish hue from time to time, and what do my nails say about my overall health? Have I developed hyperthyroidism in my attempts to remedy my hypothyroidism? (These are ask-the-doctor questions, I know.)

I can always tell something’s wrong whenever I begin nitpicking at myself. It usually comes in the form of criticizing my body, and then wondering why my exercising and my eating habits weren’t transforming me into a shorter version of Wonder Woman in a matter of twenty-four hours.

Sometimes the conditions for making amazing crepes don’t happen. Sometimes you don’t understand what’s going on with your body or why your day was laced with moments where all you could say was “Oh, crepe!” Sometimes less than pleasant things happen, like crepes looking like badly formed discs of dough or falling twenty feet from a rock climbing wall and your chin painfully colliding with your chest.

These things happen, and the best thing you can do is brush off the hand chalk on your shorts after climbing or the splatter of crepe batter on your apron.

February and the start of March was a challenge in every right, and T.R. from No One Likes Crumbly Cookies picked the ratio that embodied it perfectly.

The concept for the crepe ratio is simple enough: 1-1-1/2, or one part egg, one part liquid, and half parts flour. (I focused on how much the eggs weighed and went from there.) But when it comes to the science of bringing them ingredients together… that’s where it gets iffy.

Some say to make sure the ingredients are at room temperature before blending, while others don’t even mention it. Some say refrigerate to let the batter “bloom” up to an hour or overnight, while others use it immediately. They vary in the use of a crepe pan, a non-stick skillet, or a cast iron griddle pan. And on what heat I ask you, medium or medium-high?

I tried different liquids, the most notable being the batches I made with sparkling water and goat milk. I tried different fillings for different kinds of crepe dishes, like the ricotta-cream cheese combination for a blueberry blintz recipe. The recipe that I am using for this month’s GFRR was originally going to be little fluffy canapés with random toppings, both sweet and savory. But as time went on, it ended up a little different than I expected. They have a taste of Russia in them complete with sour cream, a cornichon pickle, and chia “caviar”.
So, without further ado
I give you Russian blini… for two.

Russian Blini

2 (119 g) Large eggs
60 ml Goat milk
59 ml Lukewarm water (about 110ºF)
5 g Active dry yeast
3 g Creamed honey
30 g Buckwheat flour
30 g Garbanzo bean flour
1/4 – 1/3 tsp. Sea salt

Coconut oil or butter, for greasing the pan

Pour the eggs and goat milk into the blender and set aside to get to room temperature (at least an hour).
Combine the flours and salt into a bowl to be used later.
In another bowl, bloom the yeast with the water, honey, and at least 10 g of the dry ingredients for twenty minutes.
Add the flour and yeast mixture in the blender and pulse on low until just combined, and allow it to rest on the counter for another hour (you can then make the crepes or put it in the fridge overnight).
Heat your pan over medium heat.
Pour just enough batter to coat the bottom as you tip and tilt the pan.
Allow it to cook untouched until it’s set, at least a minute or so, and then gently turn the crepe and briefly cook the other side.
Remove the crepes to a rack as you make more to be used immediately or allowed to cool.

Makes 6 – 8 crepes. Serves 2.

Want to see what the others of the GFRR made this month? Well, scroll on down and click on their links!

Thank you, T.R. We couldn’t have had a better host for crepes.

Adina | Gluten Free Travelette     Breakfast Crepes Three Ways
Caitlin | {Gluten-Free} Nom Nom Nom     Buckwheat Crepes
Caleigh | Gluten Free[k]      Banana Cinnamon Crepes
Charissa | Zest Bakery     Black Pepper Crepes with Chicken Tikka Masala
Erin | The Sensitive Epicure     Socca with Za'atar & Sumac (Garbanzo Flour Crepes)
Ginger | Fresh Ginger     Sweet 'n Savory
gretchen | kumquat     nutella crepe cake
Heather | Discovering the Extraordinary     "Southwestern" Crepes
Karen | Cooking Gluten-Free!     Gluten Free Crepes Savory or Sweet
Mary Fran | FrannyCakes     Gluten-free Peanut Butter Crepe Cake
Mary Fran | FrannyCakes     Gluten-Free Vanilla Bean Crêpes Sucrées
Morri (me!) | Meals with Morri     Russian Blini for Two
Pete and Kelli | No Gluten, No Problem     Key Lime Crepes
Shauna | gluten-free girl     Gluten Free Buckwheat Crepes
*T.R. | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies     Brownie Crepes with Strawberry Wine sauce
*T.R. | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies     Basil Tomato and Feta Crepes
*T.R. | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies     Fresh Fruit Crepe
Tara | A Baking Life     Breakfast Crepes with Eggs and Kale
Jonathan | The Canary Files     Vegan Crepes for Filipino Spring Rolls
Rachel | The Crispy Cook     Raspberries and Cream Crepes
Mrs. R | Honey From Flinty Rocks     Crepes - Spinach & Dessert


  1. Ha I am so going to use "Oh crêpe!" next time I need an expletive.... glad you hung in there with your technique, because they look quite tasty! Really interesting addition with the yeast, will definitely try that some time :)

  2. Me too, Jenn - I like the "Oh crepe!" expression, lol! They really look fantastic, Morri, and I have no doubt they were as delicious as they look. Hang in there, and great job persevering! Hope you get your thyroid/hormone stuff figured out. I've been going through some similar stuff lately combined with chronic active EBV (mono). Nothing like that is fun!

  3. I like your philosophizing and your sense of humor in this post. Oh yeah, and those down home Russian blini look pretty fab too!

  4. Looks like your perseverance paid off well! Your crepe looks perfect!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing, Morri. I went through a similar rollercoaster last time out with the Rally and my popovers/unders. And just like you said - it wasn't necessarily anything I was doing wrong with the ingredients or the was my mindset and getting too far ahead of myself. I'm glad you stuck it out; your crepes look lovely and your post will be beyond helpful to so many people out there. :)