Recipes: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | Photography: Ashlee De Caires

Mention Bellini and I instantly flash back to my London days; I was assistant manager of the Notting Hill Brasserie and we served them by the truckload! This was a swanky crowd where we served Dom Perignon by the glass, so it was not unheard of for us to add a dash of peach puree to mere Bollinger to make a Bellini.

Known for our Bellini prowess, we were once given a range of exquisite fruit purees to experiment with making Bellinis beyond the traditional peach (something my flatmates all thought needed to be repeated a few times to ensure we got things just right).

The Bellini is traditionally made with Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) mixed with a dash of peach puree. As we discovered in London, this perfect concoction can be varied. I particularly like mango, apricot or raspberry in the summer months.

Puree

Vetro Tauranga and La Cave in Hamilton sell a beautiful pink peach puree from France which makes the perfect blush pink Bellini. Although you can make your own very easily. When in season, roast the peaches to intensify their flavour then puree in a blender, sweetening to taste.

Fresh mangoes can be pureed raw, while berries like raspberries are best made into a coulis (cooked in a pot then sieved to remove all pips). And if found unprepared, you can always puree tinned fruit.

Blinis

These tiny morsels are the perfect vessel for all manner of moreish toppings. Originating from Russia, these traditional pancakes are over a thousand years old. While we now associate them with cocktail parties, topped with sour cream and caviar or slivers of smoked salmon, they were originally a very humble dish served with jam or honey.

The beauty of these baby pancakes is they can be topped with so many things while making the perfect 1–2 bite hors d’oeuvre. Unlike the pancakes or pikelets we are used to, blinis use yeast to get a light texture. The addition of buckwheat flour is common and adds a lovely nuttiness to them.

1 cup milk, warmed
1 cup flour
¾ cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp instant active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
15g butter

In a small pot add the milk and butter and gently heat until the butter has melted. Allow to cool slightly.

Mix the flours, yeast and salt in a bowl before whisking in the warmed milk and butter and eggs. Cover the bowl and allow it to rest in a warm place for around two hours or alternatively in the fridge overnight.

Cook the blinis in a pan with a little butter over a medium heat. A tablespoon of the batter per blini makes the perfect bite-sized pancake.

Once cooled, the blinis are ready to be topped and enjoyed, or at this stage can be frozen.

Top them off

Savoury

Salmon Gravlax with dill cream cheese
Sour cream and caviar
Pesto and cherry tomato
Clevedon buffalo tartine and cucumber ribbons
Blue cheese and candied walnuts
Artichoke puree and prosciutto

Sweet

Vanilla mascarpone and fresh berries
Caramel, fresh banana and chocolate shavings
Chocolate mousse and strawberries
Jam and cream

Looking for inspiration? Head to Vetro Tauranga or La Cave in Hamilton for everything from Prosecco to pate, pesto to artichokes, luxury jams to cheese and so much more.

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