Monday, October 31, 2011


It was cold, it was windy, it was distinctly knishy. More to come shortly.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Knishening - Delayed by a Day

I was happy to have the last of about 165 potato knishes in the oven when this email comes through the wire:
Dear HSF Vendors:

We regretfully announce that because of the worsening weather conditions we will have to cancel tomorrow's fair.  Given that it was to be our last day of the season we really wanted to keep the fair open but because of the combination of wind, rain, snow, we felt it could not be helped.

Apologies for any inconveniences.
So what's a guy with 500+ knishes supposed to do? Does he throw down his dough? Cry into his seltzer? NO: The show must go his own L.E.S. backyard!

Please join Knishery NYC for an early afternoon FREE tasting. Menu to include:
  • Potato, Broccoli Cheddar, Spinach and Pumpkin for the savory team
  • Apple Cheese and Chocolate Hazelnut for the sweet team
Come one, come all. Take a doggy bag for a loved one! Sunday, October 30th from 12 to 3pm. Map and directions below.

Thanks and hope to see, and feed, you on Sunday.

View The Knishening, Sunday October 30th in a larger map

The Park behind 500 Grand Street, entrance on Grand between Willett and Columbia Streets. Take 14A bus to Grand & Columbia, or 14D to Delancey and Columbia. F/J/M/Z at Delancey/Essex or B/D to Grand Street.

I'm just an innocent, newly born potato knish. Please find a home for me....IN YO BELLY!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Knishening is Two Days Away

Spinach & Roasted Garlic, on the way back from Brown Town
It's getting closer. Day after tomorrow Knishery NYC shall fling some knishes on the proverbial wall, and hopefully some will stick. I suspect the pumpkins will stick rather well, though the kashas are a bit dense for that kinda thing.

Yesterday was a catch-up day: in the morning finished baking pumpkin donuts, made a huge amount of dough (12x bigger than I've made before) then had to take off to school, a high school where I teach culinary once a week -- I could drop almost all of my obligations this week, but a regular class is not one of them.

Today, half the day was dedicated to broccoli cheddar and the other half to spinach & roasted garlic. How much garlic, you ask? This much!
Acquired from the Grand Street CSA.
 That's a whole lotta garlic, but made mellow, smooth and creamy by roasting it in a closed pouch with a little olive oil and salt. After a 12 hour cooking session, the task was done. Timing myself while peeling a five pound bag of potatoes, I found it took 8 minutes. That might not be remarkable to some, but on Monday when I timed it, I was at 12 minutes. The Knishening is Quickening.

While the pic on top looks mighty sexy, how would you like to see them.....nikkit?!

Why, hello. Didn't anyone teach you to knock?
 Tomorrow is the last day of production, where we saved the biggie for last: straight up potato knishes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Four more days until Knishnageddon

It's nice to be able rush out of your apartment at 9pm to your local supermarket in desperate need of kasha, then having to select from not one, not two, not even three but four different variations of said grain. (It comes in whole, course, medium and fine, referring to the level of grind the grain went under. Whole tends to fall apart to easy in a knish-application, and fine goes mushy. I got course.) I tragically underestimated the amount of kasha I'd need during the day, and ended up making a second batch during the evening's assembly/baking.

Today we popped out a whole mess of kasha and several dozen pumpkin knishes. The pumpkin filling was supplemented with butternut squash, eggs, salt and shortening -- I was tempted to go crazy with the spices, but it's simple pumpkininess stayed my hand.

Other than fillings, I cooked the 45 lbs of onions for about 10 hours during the day. The three white stinky trays at the begining of the day became one golden mahogany brown tray by time it was ready for assembly...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Five days until.....The Knishening

So for the first day of production, started with those that'll keep best in the fridge. Knocked out dough, filling, assembly and baking of a whole mess of apple-cheese and chocolate-hazelnut knishes. I had picked up a can of fancy hazelnut praline paste to experiment with, but decided against it because why risk ruining a very large batch with an x-factor. Maybe next time.
Ever wonder what 45 lbs of diced onions look like?
Oh caramelization, take me away!

I wore goggles, but still got a runny, stingy nose and a scratchy throat from breathing in the onion. Such are the daily dangers in the life of a knishnaut.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Do these 150 lbs of potatoes and onions make my (bike's) behind look fat?

Conversation in my elevator, while bringing up the groceries:
Him: "That's a lotta potato & onions."
Me: "Yep."
Him: "Latkes?"
Me: "Knishes"
Him: "Cool."
Yes, I live on the Lower East Side.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No Knishitty!

To paraphrase Blackstreet, "You gotta bag it up -- no knishitty!" One week until our Hester Street Fair debut!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fruity Cheesy Knishy Experiments

At some point you have to stop tweaking and go into production, but not today. Today was my last chance to experiment with some knish making. Dessert-centric cheese knishes could be an afterthought, which is good in two ways -- no one expects much, and the definition of what a 'sweet cheese' knish must be isn't as codified as the savory potato.

I was not that thrilled with the apple-cheese knishes from last week, so for inspiration (and to dispose of 12+ lbs of CSA apples) over the weekend, I baked off 5 apple pies & crumbles. The essence of the pie is the flavorful liquid of the fruit that cooks out and becomes a thick, sweet jam-like substance. How that happens is simple -- the fruit is tossed in with flour, sugar, and a little salt, and between the gluten of the flour and the pectin of the fruit, when the juices cook out it becomes that wonderful goo. I don't want to make pocket pies, but I want some of the wonderful goo in my fruit-cheese knishes.

So I scavenged around the kitchen and got myself a line up o' fruit. For the fresh team, we had
  • banana
  • apple
  • pear
for the frozen team:
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • mangoes
I did up a mise-bowl of equal parts flour, sugar, and salt, and dredged the fruit handful by handful before inserting them into the open mouths of plain and chocolate knishes. Everything except bananas I paired with the plain sweet cheese, threw the bananas into the chocolate.

I tweaked the recipes as I went. The main change was doubling the sugar in the plain cheese, as it just wasn't sweet enough before. This made the batter noticeably looser, which reminded me of what I was taught in c-school: sugar is always considered a wet ingredient, not a dry. Now I appreciate that more -- it dissolves or gets slushy in the presence of wet, adding to wet's mass and gluten-developing powers.

Upon baking, it came clear that for the wetter fruit (everything but the banana), the fruit sweated enough to make a slight to large amount of gooey goodness on top of the cheese layer. As for the banana layer, the jury is still out, it may need some more thought.

Another thought is that the chocolate-hazelnut is not hazelnutty enough. I'm depending on nutella, but amping it with dutch cocoa powder. I may go full on cocoa powder and hazelnut butter for production....

Friday, October 14, 2011

Our first press!

The NY Times is to NYC as the Lo-Down is to the Lower East Side.

Apple on Top

Up until this point, the sweet knishes I've made were an afterthought, using left over dough. This time, it was all about the cheese knishes.

Instead of using the tougher, potato-based dough that has been my go-to for the savory, I consulted a book I plucked off of Amazon recently, Love & Knishes, long out of print, my edition from 1958. There were two dough recipes, one with and one without baking powder -- I chose the latter, hoping for a flakier, lighter lift. 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp "salad oil" (I assumed vegetable oil)1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt. The recipe warned that it could may be too dry to come together, and to add water. It did not come together, but water would just develop gluten without adding I threw in a 3rd egg and all was copacetic.

For the fillings, I did a second attempt at chocolate hazelnut and a first attempt at apple. For the first one, used 1 pack of farmer's cheese, half a container of nutella, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 flour, 1 tbsp cocoa powder (dutched), 1 egg, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla. For the apple's cheese filling, the same, with nutella swapped out for sour cream. I peeled, cored, sliced, and fried three apples in butter with a little cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and brown sugar until firm (but still a bit soft). I made a slurry with 1 tsp of both corn starch and water, and added it to the pan once off the fire just to give the juices a little body, and prevent them from watering down the cheese mix.

Used a cupcake pan again. After panning most of them, decided 4" square is enough dough for these pastries. For the apple, some I put the apples on the bottom, some on the top, but once they came out of the oven (300 degrees instead of the brown-inducing 425 for the savories, 20 minutes instead of savory 30-45), clearly the apple-on-top just looks more appetizing. Two hot ones went into my mouth with lunch and they were good, but the real test is when they are cold. The apple cheese didn't taste sweet enough (the apples were REALLY tart), but cold always makes things sweeter.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Knish 4.0: Knishnaut

Well, THAT was educational! I paid closer attention to each one, each step of the way, and here's what I discovered:
  • Potato: This is the first time I used russets rather than Eastern. Easterns are good because they're potentially local, but they're like the AP flour of potato -- good for most things, but not if you're making pastries or hearty bread. Russets milled a lot lighter and flakier, but developed a nice smoothness when worked in with the other ingredients. For the basic potato, it was caramelized onions, eggs, some vegetable shortening, several grinds of black pepper, and salt -- nothing more. Had to go back and add salt and taste a few times before it started singing.
  • Sweet Potato: This was supposed be sweet potato curry, but realized at the last minute I threw out my curry powder last week because it didn't smell fresh. Since the sweet potato mash alone is very moist, I mixed about 2/3 sweet potato with 1/3 plain potato to get it firm, along with onion, egg, a little vegetable shortening, and salt. For this round, instead of curry, I added a bit of cayenne (not so much for spice as to round out the flavor). Due to moisture, they spread a little more than others.
  • Broccoli Cheddar: This is like the little twerp you think will be a drain on your baseball team but, in order to be fair, have no choice but to include...only to watch him turn out to be a strong member. Broccoli, shredded mild cheddar, potato, egg, and pepper (no shortening or salt needed due to the cheese). They baked up nice and firm, no problems.
  • Spinach: As with the sweet potato, added about 1/3 plain potato to the garlic-soaked spinach for firmness, along with some egg. No need for shortening as the spinach was already cooked in it, salt to make it hollah like yo momma.
  • Kasha: Problematic. I was hoping I might make this a "vegan" entry to the menu but the grain was just too....grainy, crumbly, loose. So egg and potato had to go in to firm it up, along with some shortening plus a bigger black pepper grind than the others. I had to trash a few with the original mix because they would just flop open when sealed.
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Cheese: Interesting. This is essentially V 1.0 of this knish. Lined cupcake tin with dough, scooped in the filling, folded flaps over the tops. They came out goonish, the filling expanded and burst, the bottoms burned. Despite these setbacks, the filling was firm, sweet, chocolate-cheesy in just the right balancce. Needs some cocoa powder, maybe some hazelnut extract, lower temp, less filling to account for expansion...but a solid first step.
  • Misc: Found out that adding scraps of dough to fill out the square pieces cut out of round sheets works well without harming quality -- good efficiency saving. Oven ran at 425 convection mode. First round I did the cupcake tray on the bottom, elevated by another cupcake tray which was fine, but on the second round put knishes on a broiler pan on top of tray; they burned. I added another protective pan and that did the trick. But! Doing so prevented the two trays above from browning. If I'm going to run three sheets per batch in my home oven instead of the standard two, I gotta figure this out.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Knishery NYC Debut: Saturday October 29th at the Hester Street Fair!

It's a date! KNISHERY NYC will have a booth at the Hester Street Fair on Saturday, October 29th! For more information, visit their website. For now, the menu will include about a half-dozen varieties. Standard notions, such as potato and broccoli-cheddar, to be expected. Any special requests? Please let us know what's on your Knish Wish List and we'll see what we can do. Thanks!