Blinis make for an excellent nibble before dinner; the yeasty mini pancakes can cradle just about anything from cheeses to jams to luxe caviar. A sliver of smoked salmon and a dollop of mascarpone cheese may be at the very top of that list. Add roasted beets, star anise, and pomegranate seeds as Yvette van Boven does in Home Made Winter, and you'll have a gem of a dish on your table. These pancakes are no quick fix, however. The salmon must be marinated, the beets roasted, and the blini batter risen. Yet these earthy, sweet bites are worth every bit of effort.
Why I picked this recipe: Beets bring earthiness and bright color to a standard blini recipe, but the star anise salmon is truly what sets this recipe apart.
What worked: Everything here was stellar.
What didn't: Not a thing.
Suggested tweaks: The salmon portion of the recipe works with pre-sliced smoked salmon as well. Cut back on the marinating time to a few hours.