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Blini with Caviar June 29, 2019

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Appetizers, Classic Eastern European Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Blini with Caviar

We recently went to a friend’s house to have cocktails on his terrace overlooking a small lake. We were surprised to find champagne, ice cold vodka and homemade blini with caviar. Blini, which is the plural of blin, are small, rich pancakes similar to French crépes. We decided to try to repeat the experience when some special friends came over for drinks this week, and it was a real hit.

Blini are a traditional Russian and Ukrainian dish which have been eaten in those countries for over 2,500 years, as documented in old coins and medals. Although they are eaten throughout the year, they are most commonly enjoyed just before the beginning of Lent to celebrate the end of winter. They are always served with sour cream or crème fraiche, caviar, and finely chopped onions and hard boiled eggs. The egg yolk and white are always separated. Don’t ask why, that is simply the way it’s done.

In Russia and the Ukraine, the traditional liquid refreshment is always ice cold vodka. However, as a curtsy to modern tastes, especially among the ladies, champagne is also an excellent choice.

Perfect Blini

Not surprisingly, the proper way to assemble and eat a blini can be confusing. The best way is to take the blini, add a dollup of sour cream, put caviar on top of the sour cream and then add onion and egg as you wish. The proper way to eat a blini is to fold it in half like a taco, get near your plate so you don’t spill and enjoy. Finish with a nice taste of vodka or champagne and you will understand why this dish is so popular.

Proper Eating Technique

You have to be careful if the champagne is too good. Women tend to swoon.

In Danger of Swooning

Here is what you need for a party of up to eight people:

For the blini: (this recipe is based on the one found in Joy of Cooking with some modifications)

Makes 24 blini


  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat or buckwheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. dry yeast
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1-1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 3 eggs


  1. Heat the milk over medium heat; add the butter cut into pats and stir until the butter has just barely melted. Do not get the milk too hot; it should feel hot but not scalding to your pinky. If not, let it cool.
  2. Sprinkle the dry yeast over the milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. (BTW, the reason you don’t want the milk too hot is because it will kill the yeast if the temperature is over about 120 degrees F. If the milk is too cold, less than 100 degrees F, the yeast will not “bloom”.)
  3. Mix the dry ingredients – flour, salt and sugar.
  4. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Lightly beat the yolks with a fork.
  5. Add the buttery milk and the egg yolks to the dry ingredients and whisk gently.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and let the batter sit for 1-2 hours.
  7. When the batter is ready, beat the whites until they have small peaks and fold into the batter.
  8. Add a pat of butter to a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add two tablespoons of batter for each of the blini. Flip when you see browned edges and bubbles on the top. Add additional pats of butter as needed.
  9. Keep the blini warm in a glass dish covered with a dish towel or in an oven at 200 degrees F.
Cooking the Blini
The Finished Product

For the accompaniments:

  • 4 oz. caviar
  • 1-1/2 cups of crème fraiche or sour cream, diluted with 3 tbsp. of heavy cream. Crème fraiche is not readily available and sour cream diluted with a little heavy cream works very well.
  • 1 Spanish red onion – finely diced
  • 3 eggs – hard boiled and finely diced with the yolks and the whites separated
  • 2 bottles of good champagne (try the great American champagne from New Mexico – Gruet
  • 1 bottle of cold vodka (store it in the freezer)

The only issue with the accompaniments is hardware. You need to find some dainty bowls and small spoons for the onion, eggs and caviar. It is best to set the caviar bowl into a larger bowl which has ice to keep it chilled. (There are caviar bowls you can buy on Amazon) The vodka and champagne also need ice buckets. Improvise as needed.


Latvian Piragi February 8, 2019

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Most cuisines have dishes which encase meat and/or vegetables in a dough made of wheat or rice.  Many Latin American countries have “empanadas” and the English-speaking Caribbean has curry spiced “roti”.  The British have their “pasties”, the French have their “crepes” and the Chinese have their “dumplings”.  I am probably missing a lot more. 


KISS Ribs June 3, 2018

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Summertime is upon us – women look better, beer tastes colder and, for some reason, we’re drawn like a magnet to the outside grill. In past posts, we’ve talked about some great grilling ideas, such as

  • Argentinean flank steak
  • Six-Pack Chicken
  • Smoked Brisket
  • Tacos de Carne Asada (Grilled Beef Tacos)

This summer, let’s talk about ribs on the grill.  They are inexpensive, healthier than you think, and easy to prepare, especially with our KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) recipe.


Hangtown Fries April 28, 2017

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Hangtown Fries served with Homemade Corned Beef Hash

A friend of mine, who also happens to be a Federal Judge, invited me to breakfast last week and served Hangtown Fries.  This exceptional dish is basically bacon, eggs and fried oysters, and it has a very interesting history. (more…)

The Green Smoothie Movement November 25, 2016

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.


There are lot of things that confuse me – reality TV, presidential elections, why I always stuff myself at Thanksgiving, to mention a few. But now there is something new – Green Smoothies, and my daughter tells me it is very, very important that I start consuming these concoctions.  Change is sometimes so overwhelming. It reminds me of the famous line from the Marvin Gaye songbook; “Mercy, mercy me, things ain’t what they used to be”. (more…)

A Country Dinner in the UK July 6, 2014

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Green Curry, Naan, Basmati Rice and Spicy Cabbage Salad

Britain is a very livable place, especially outside the big cities. I have always loved wandering the towns and villages. The English, Welsh and Scottish countrysides are unbelievable, especially in summertime. All the rain and the very temperate climate creates a green that you see nowhere else (except maybe in Wisconsin in the Spring). (more…)

Memorial Day Super Soirée June 2, 2014

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Joe ready for action

Joe ready for action

A number of family members got together in Atlanta over Memorial Day Weekend.  Joe Reid, my mother’s husband of 47 years flew in from San Diego. My mother died last year and he has been hit hard so it was good to see him out and about.

Joe is definitely a foodie and insisted on organizing a fancy dinner party. I was assigned the sous-chef role, which, needless to say, is not my usual position, but whatever. He came with the recipes in hand and did a fantastic job. This is definitely a Super Soirée that all of you should try. Here’s how it went: (more…)

The Wandering Foodie in the UK – The George Inn – A Country Pub March 16, 2014

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.

The George Inn - Coleorton

The George Inn – Coleorton

We are in the UK for about 10 days helping a friend on some business issues.  We are staying in a stately country home in the East Midlands that has been converted into condominiums  – think a small Downton Abbey with a dozen condo units, all sharing the brilliant grounds.

The East Midlands is about 100 miles NE of London.  The nearest villages to us are Ashby, Swannington, and Coleorton.  This is a wonderful part of England, dotted with small villages that still have a strong rural feel.  It is also the home of many country inns and pubs.  A great one, “The George Inn”, is located 1.5 miles down the road from us.  We adapted it as “our local” upon arrival. (more…)

Marcella Hazan – Death of a Star September 30, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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imagesWe’ve spoken about the great Marcella Hazan in the past.  She is the author  of  “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”, one of the three best cookbooks ever written – in our humble opinion and in the opinion of many others – see our post The Three Best Cookbooks.   As you read her wonderful book, you quickly feel her passion for her native cuisine.

Marcella died last Sunday at age 89 in her later day home in Florida.  Most of her life was spent in New York City.  Below is the link to the New York Times article about this great and colorful lady.  I encourage you to read it.


A Last Fling from Umbria – Tortellini al Tartufo July 26, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Italian Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie.

I Due Cuoci e Degustatori di Vini

Stewart and Bill: I Due Cuoci e Degustatori di Vini

This is my final post from Italy.  You can see my friend and Bravado chef, Stewart, enjoying a glass of wine with me outside the villa.  Note the beautiful hills in the background.  Rural Umbria is a real kick.

I convinced the owner of Ristorante Fontana in our village of Macerino to give me the recipe for Tortellini al Tartufo.  This was one of my favorites dishes in Italy, so I figured we better learn to make it.  It is a very easy recipe and will be a big hit. (more…)

Our Big Night in Umbria – Veal Saltimboca and more July 7, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Italian Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie, Recipes.
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Buongiorno di Macerino

Buongiorno di Macerino

On our last night in the mountains of Umbria at the Palazzo Mazzuricci in Macerino (look it up on Google maps), we did our own version of “The Big Night” (I assume everyone has seen that movie – if not, go to Amazon NOW and stream it.)

To get you in the mood, here is a brief slideshow on our place in Umbria. (more…)

The Italians Have It So Right June 24, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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La Gelateria

La Gelateria just before the doors open for the day


Is it the food in Italy or the women clad in incredibly short shorts?  Between the two, I may never leave.  On the food front, which is the only thing I’m allowed to discuss by my long legged traveling companion (aka wife of 48 years), the Italians seem have it right.  You look at the stores and you want to cook.  Enjoy these shots and click on them for a close-up view: (more…)

Cooking Lessons in Umbria June 22, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.

Tossing the Pasta

Chef Jean Luca Tossing the Pasta

Well, we are still in Umbria enjoying our friends’ villa in the remote hilltop town of Macerino.  I didn’t think there was any way to top the experience we had in Ristorante Fontana here in the village or at Ristorante Pizzeria Savour in nearby Todi, but it happened.  We ran into a husband and wife team who own an organic restaurant in Spoleto in Umbria.  They agreed to come to our place in Macerino and demonstrate Umbrian cooking. (more…)

A Feast in Umbria June 16, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.



We are staying in a remote Medieval hilltop village in rural Umbria called Macerino.  To reach this beautiful spot, you exit the A45 expressway and then travel up winding single land roads – sometimes paved, sometimes not – for 30 minutes.  A friend rented the Palazzo Mazzurucci in the village and invited us to stay with them.  Since it has seven bedroom suites, there was plenty of room.  Our suite has four rooms and is more than 2,000 sq.ft.  It even has its own sauna. (more…)

The Wandering Foodie in Umbria – Ristorante Pizzeria Cavour -Todi June 13, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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The beautiful hilltop town of Todi in Umbria

Umbria is a region in Italy located between Rome and Florence, just south of Tuscany.  It is filled with mountainous hills which rise up over 1,000 meters.  Many of the hilltops have towns and villages on them which date from pre-Roman times.  The hilltop towns provided very strong defense while allowing the residents to down into the valleys during the day to tend their fields.  The Romans conquered all of the area and made these towns bigger and stronger, building temples to their gods and adding many public buildings.  In the Middle Ages during the era of cathedral building, the last remnants of Roman ruins were cleared away and many beautiful churches and cathedrals were built in these towns.  The Renaissance brought even further enhancement.  There are probably over 50 of these hilltop towns dotting the Umbrian countryside and they are very cool. (more…)


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