Olivia Potts

Smoked salmon blinis: bitesize luxury for New Year’s Eve

For minimal effort (and cost), fresh blinis are worth making

  • From Spectator Life
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I tend to hunker down on New Year’s Eve, eschewing parties for my own home. Even when I was young, the prospect of sleeping on someone else’s floor or braving the night bus home in the early hours of the morning didn’t really appeal. But sometimes I worry that that can lead to the night being a damp squib. The way to fix this is a little bit of luxury. Perfect bitesize tastes of luxury. And for me, that means blinis topped with the fanciest, most delicious morsels I can lay my hands on. Drink them with something cold and sparkly, and you won’t regret staying in for one moment.

If you are more sociable than I am, these also make the most impressive party snacks – and ones that suggest far more preparation and skill than they actually require. For the minimal effort (and much more acceptable price tag), fresh blinis are worth your time. Puffed and soft inside, crisp and salty from the butter on the outside, they are a world away from the sad, rubbery ones you often find in the shops. You can make the batter in advance and leave it to rest, and then cook them when you’re ready so that they’re fresh, and just a little warm.


Blinis are Russian pancakes. Sometimes they are made with buckwheat, and they can be yeasted or leavened with a raising agent. Here I’ve used self-raising flour, simply because it’s quicker and more stable. And if there’s an easy option that still tastes great, you better believe I’m going to take it around this time of year.

These are perfect little pancakes that you can pile all sorts of delights on. Serve with crème fraîche or soured cream and smoked salmon, salmon roe, or, if you’re feeling really fancy, caviar. If you’re feel so inclined, you could even cure your own salmon.

Makes 24 blinis

Takes 5 minutes

Bakes 10 minutes

What you need

150g self-raising flour

1 egg

200ml whole milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

30g salted butter, for frying

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients apart from the butter until the batter is smooth.

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Olivia Potts
Written by
Olivia Potts
Olivia Potts is a former criminal barrister who retrained as a pastry chef. She co-hosts The Spectator’s Table Talk podcast and writes Spectator Life's The Vintage Chef column. A chef and food writer, she was winner of the Fortnum and Mason's debut food book award in 2020 for her memoir A Half Baked Idea.

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