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The Perfect Cocktail Party Appetizer: Buckwheat Blinis with House Smoked Trout and Sour Cream

We are smack in the middle of San Francisco’s Cocktail Week! Presented by the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail, and in its third year, SF Cocktail Week is prided as the World’s First Cocktail Week. Cocktail fans and aficionados can attend various special events such as classes on cocktails, booze-related educational seminars, a cocktail crawl, distillery tour, and cocktail cookout! Check out the full schedule of events here.

Of course, this week is also choc full of cocktail parties. But why should the fun end after this week? Throw your own cocktail party, and keep the fun going until those Holiday parties take over! Keep in mind, guests need to eat. Solution: an appetizer of Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Trout and Sour Cream. Trust me, they are AMAZING, and are sure to be a hit with co-workers, friends, and family! Be sure to save this recipe, because Buckwheat Blinis transition seamlessly from Fall to Winter Holiday parties.

Buckwheat Blinis with House Smoked Trout and Sour Cream
This Parties That Cook recipe can also be found here.


Trout Brine and Smoke Mixture
1 cup kosher salt
2 quarts of water
2 whole fresh trout (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup raw rice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
4 large strips of orange rind

Buckwheat Blinis
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup milk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup crème fraîche
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Chive tips for garnish


Brine: Dissolve salt in water in a large bowl. Place the fish in brine. Let the fish soak in the brine for 20 minutes. Remove from brine, pat dry.

Smoke Trout: Line a 12-14 inch wok with aluminum foil, allowing 4 inches of overhang to seal around lid. Put rice, brown sugar cinnamon and orange peel in the bottom of the foil lined wok. Set a round cake rack or pan about 3 inches above the smoking mixture (you may need to make a ring from foil to support the rack). Cover the rack with a piece of foil and place the trout on the foil in a single layer. Place the cover on the wok, crimp the overhanging foil around the lid to completely seal the wok and to prevent steam from escaping. Turn the heat to high, smoke for 10 minutes then turn off the heat and leave for another 5 minutes. Remove trout from smoker and remove skin from the trout. Gently pull the flesh off the bone and break the meat into small pieces. Set aside.

Blini Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk and melted butter. Pour into flour mixture, whisk just to combine. Set aside.

Beat Egg Whites: Using a hand or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Do not over mix. Some egg white can still be visible.

Cook Blinis: Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into skillet for each blini.(Make the blinis the size of a silver dollar).  Cook until blinis are covered with holes and have set, 1 to 2 minutes.  Flip; cook until brown, about 1 minute more.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Keep finished blinis warm by covering loosely with foil.

Garnish: With a fork, mix together the crème fraîche, lemon juice and salt.  Adjust seasoning if necessary. Pour into a squeeze bottle.

Serve: Top blinis with a piece of smoked trout  and squeeze a dollop of crème fraîche on top. Feel free to try fun designs, too!  Garnish with two sprigs of chive.

Makes about 32 blinis.

Check out more great cocktail party and Holiday party appetizers in our Appetizer Recipes Library!

Funky Fresh Tomato, Eggplant, and Mozzarella Stacks

With all the talk about Lady Gaga’s meat dress at the MTV Video Music Awards, I found myself craving something a little… vegetarian. Excuses aside, there is no better way to take advantage of late summer produce than these Heirloom Tomato, Eggplant and Fresh Mozzarella Stacks! The light and tangy Arugula Salsa Verde is a great accessory to this fresh and funky salad.

Heirloom Tomato, Eggplant, and Fresh Mozzarella Stacks
This recipe can also be found in our Soups, Salads, and Pasta Recipes Section!



2 medium eggplants (2 lbs.) cut crosswise into 16 slices
3 Tablespoons kosher salt (or rock salt)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 16 slices
1 1/2 lbs. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 24 thin slices
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Arugula Salsa Verde:
1 teaspoon marjoram or oregano leaves
1/2 cup arugula
1/2 cup basil
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1 salt-packed anchovy, bones removed, soaked in 3 Tablespoons of milk for 10 minutes
1 Tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 lemon for juicing
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Roast Eggplant: Lay the eggplant on a cooling rack over a sheet pan that is covered with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and allow the slices to drain for 30 minutes to eliminate the bitterness. Turn over the eggplant and salt the other side and let sit for 15 minutes. Brush off the salt, pat dry. Brush the eggplant generously on both sides with olive oil. Lay eggplant on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet pan. Roast the eggplant until tender and lightly browned, 15-20 minutes.

Prep Tomatoes and Cheese: Slice tomatoes and place on a plate and same for the cheese. Sprinkle cheese and tomatoes with salt. Set aside.

Make Salsa Verde: Put marjoram, arugula, mint, parsley, garlic, anchovy, capers, lemon zest and juice in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and pepper and pulse until smooth.

Assemble Stacks: Put a cooked eggplant slice on a sheet pan. Drizzle 1 teaspoon salsa verde on the eggplant. Then place a mozzarella slice on top of the eggplant. Drizzle 1 teaspoon salsa verde on top of the cheese. Then place a tomato slice on top of the cheese. Drizzle 1 teaspoon salsa verde on the tomato. Then place a mozzarella slice on top of the eggplant. Drizzle 1 teaspoon salsa verde on top of the cheese. Then place a tomato slice on top of the cheese. Drizzle 1 teaspoon salsa verde on the tomato. Top the tomato with a slice of mozzarella. Repeat until you have 8 stacks. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and the tomatoes and eggplant are heated through.

Serve: Transfer the stacks to small salad plates and drizzle a circle of salsa verde around the stack and a little on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint or parsley and serve.

Serves 8

Check out our Soups, Salads, and Pasta recipes section for more great light meal ideas!