Ingredients

FOR THE CARROTS
2 cups rock salt
3 tablespoons Lapsang Souchong tea
4 medium-large carrots
juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried dill
FOR THE 'CAVIAR'
10-15g seaweed, such as kombu or wakame but not nori
¼ cup tapioca pearls
½ teaspoon activated charcoal, (3 gel capsules, emptied)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon plain oil
FOR THE BLINIS
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup self-raising flour
½ teaspoon salt
200ml water
4 tablespoons chickpea aquafaba
olive oil to fry
TO SERVE
3 baby cucumbers
200g vegan or regular cream cheese
dill sprigs
I wanted these to be just like the smoked-salmon blini that people love, only all plant based. If you can, it is best to make the 'caviar' a few days in advance so the charcoal dissolves completely. If the pearls get too stuck together, pour over a little boiling water and separate with a fork.

NOTE This recipe will give you leftover chickpeas and smoked carrot. These are great additions to soups or fritters. I like to make a smoked carrot and chickpea chowder by frying up finely chopped onions, leek and celery, then adding the chopped smoked carrot and drained chickpeas along with some diced potato, sprigs of thyme, a tin of chopped tomatoes and some vegetable stock and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Season with salt, pepper and some hot chilli sauce if liked.

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Instructions

1.FOR THE CARROTS
2.Heat the oven to 220°C.
3.Combine the salt and tea in a bowl then sprinkle some over the bottom of a small roasting dish to cover.
4.Nestle the carrots into the mix, sprinkling the rest over the top.
5.Roast for 40-45 minutes until just tender when pierced with a knife.
6.Start testing at about 35 minutes; you want the carrots just tender, not too soft. If they get too cooked you may find it hard to make ribbons but it’s still OK, you can just thinly slice the carrots instead. Set aside to cool.
7.Brush off the salt and slice a thin strip off the length of the carrot with a sharp knife. Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel ribbons of carrot into a dish. You won’t be able to slice all the carrot into ribbons, but you can chop the remainder to use in other recipes (see NOTE).
8.Add the lemon juice, olive oil and dill to the ribbons and gently mix.
9.Refrigerate until needed. Can be kept for 1 week.
10.FOR THE 'CAVIAR'
11.Bring 3 cups of water to the boil with the seaweed.
12.Add the tapioca and boil for 15 minutes.
13.Drain and rinse then put in a small bowl and add the activated charcoal, soy sauce and oil and set aside.
14.You can make these a day in advance and keep in a container in the fridge.
15.FOR THE BLINIS
16.In a bowl, combine the flours and salt then whisk in the water and leave to sit for 10 minutes.
17.Whisk the aquafaba to soft peaks then stir a little into the batter to loosen it, then fold in the rest.
18.Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook spoonfuls of the batter for about 30 seconds on each side until golden then transfer to a tray while you cook the rest.
19.Store covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.
20.TO SERVE
21.Cut the cucumbers into ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
22.Spread each blini with cream cheese and top with carrot and cucumber.
23.Finish with a little 'caviar' and dill.

Recipes and food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Fraser Chatham / Fiona Lascelles

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