So first, a bit of back-story to this Valentine's Day event that I did. At my 'day job,' we are required when we are first year newbies to run Friday afternoon social events, which is basically food + beer + equally-attractive-non-alcoholic-beverages. Everyone goes through it, and it's sort of a hazing ritual of "how good can you do a Social?" When I was a first year, we were particularly competitive about it, and our Friday afternoon social events began to get more and more intense and involved and finally culminated in an eleven course gourmet dinner, served entirely in miniature at the end of the year. I think that clearly established my year as the undisputed Social champions for quite some time to come.
Being the proud winner that I am, I find it necessary (and, I admit, a tad bit egotistical) to remind everyone of our dominance once every year. And so on the Friday social of Valentine's Day every year, I step in and show them how it's done.
This year's menu included:
Chocolate-dipped tuxedo strawberries
Apricot+goat cheese open-faced sandwiches
Red pepper hummus + pita bread
Smoked salmon, avocado cream, and sweet potato blinis
And, I love the tag-holders that I found! Aren't they brilliant? :-D
The event went really well, I think! though my kitchen still hasn't quite recovered from it all. But, hey--as a one person job, I think I'm allowed some bit of mess in the kitchen.
Some of the things that I made were old favorites, like chocolate covered tuxedo strawberries and apricot goat cheese open-faced sandwiches:
Others, like icing shots, were new ideas that I was really itching to try out. (They were popular, too!)
And, of course, you always need savory things to balance out the sweet, which is where platters like the red bell pepper hummus came in.
By far, one of the favorites this time around was a new savory dish: Sweet potato brown butter blinis, with smoked salmon, avocado sour cream, and chives. It was a runaway HIT. This is most definitely a dessert blog, but because these blinis were so good, I have to post the recipe for you all! The blinis themselves have such a smooth, dense, earthy texture from the caramelized sweet potato and brown butter. The fresh avocado sour cream adds a freshness to it all. Top with the smoky saltiness of the salmon and the garlicky bit of chive, and you get one delicious bite of, well, delicious. These work great as an appetizer and finger food, but they're so yummy that I could just sit down to a whole meal of them!
Finally with this post, we can bid adieu to all of the Valentine's Day festivities from this year! Moving on to spring!!!
Ah, and one last thing that I learned from this whole experience: I desperately need to invest in an off-camera flash so that I can get decent on-site photos of food and events!
Read on for recipe...
Smoked salmon + Sweet potato/brown butter blinis, with avocado sour cream
makes ~20-25 silver dollar blinis
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, about 8 oz. total
8 oz. whole milk
2 oz. (1/2 stick) brown butter, melted (for directions on making brown butter, see here.)
8 oz. flour
2 tspn baking powder
1 1/2 tspn salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half, until they release caramelized juices and are soft when poked with a fork.
3. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool.
4. Discard the skins from the potatoes and mash the insides until a paste forms. You should have about 8 oz. of sweet potato paste. If more, set aside the extra for later use.
5. Add the sweet potato mash, milk, eggs, and melted brown butter to a bowl and whisk thoroughly.
6. Add the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. (If the batter is too thick, thin it with a little splash of milk.)
7. Oil lightly a medium hot skillet and cook the blinis.
If you are waiting to serve the blinis, cool the blinis by spreading them out in a single layer. Then, pack them away carefully, layering each layer of blinis with parchment paper in between in an airtight container. Otherwise, the blinis will get too soggy! These are best enjoyed day-of, so for best results, make them as close to serving time as possible and do not refrigerate them.
for avocado sour cream:
16 oz. sour cream
1 ripe large avocado
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1. In a bowl, mash up the avocado with the sour cream until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
chives, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1. To serve, pipe a generous dollop of the avocado sour cream on top of each blini.
2. Top with a piece of smoked salmon and 2-3 pieces of chives.