Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Knishes: Thank you!

A hot steaming pile of pumpkin.
My wife has a friend who once insisted that it was not possible to make a pumpkin pie from anything other than canned pumpkin. And that may be true, but I don't want my knish to taste like pie!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who ordered knishes -- we cooked close to our 1 day capacity, and everyone either came to HQ to pick up or were where they said they were going to be when I delivered in the afternoon and early evening.

Pumpkin knishes in search of yo turkey n' gravy.
So far all the feedback I received from the front lines of people's Thanksgiving tables have been good vibes -- if you had our pumpkin knishes, feel free to gimme a shout and give me a piece of your mind.

Until we start selling at some fairs in the Spring, the mind ponders....what holiday knishes can we sling next?....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pre-order Pumpkin Knishes for Thanksgiving!

You can't keep a good knish down! It's savory (not sweet), full of big pumpkin flavor and spicing, and held together with the thin crisp/chewy/potato-y knish crust that'll make your Thanksgiving folk kvell!

So I recently got some feedback from a customer who sampled the pumpkin knishes at our Knishening event; she wants to serve those same knishes at her Thanksgiving table. It's hard to say no to someone who's excited about one's own product, so I decided to warm up the oven and make the following announcement:

Knishery NYC is baking pumpkin knishes for Thanksgiving this weekend! Place your order by Friday, November 18th, and you will be able to either pick them up on Sunday, between 11 am to 12pm, on the Lower East Side or have them delivered to your door Sunday afternoon and early evening.*
  • 1-9 pumpkin knishes: $3 each + tax
  • 10-19 pumpkin knishes $2.50 each + tax
  • 20+ pumpkin knishes: $2 each + tax
Cash only at point of pick up/delivery. They will arrive cold, and will hold up in the refrigerator quite well until Thanksgiving. [Reheat in oven at 300 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.]

To order, email knisherynyc(at); you will receive a confirmation email. We have limited capacity; orders placed will be filled first come, first serve.
Pumpkin knishes are vegetarian and dairy-free, not vegan (due to eggs) or gluten-free (due to wheat.) Depending on availability, they are 50 to 95% made with organic ingredients.
*Delivery zone limited to anywhere in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Deliveries to be made via the knisher's own cargo bicycle. So here is your chance to meet KnisheryNYC in 3-D! Rough delivery times assigned the day before delivery. In case of scheduling issues, limited deliveries can be made on Monday. No extra charge for delivery. So be nice, not a nudgenik!

Explorations in Kasha

Kasha, all the way
With the left over dough from the last round, I decided to play with some kasha. Don't really have a formal recipe yet, so here goes:
  • 1 box of course granulation kasha (13 oz), cooked to directions, plus 2 extra egg yolks in the toasting stage (yield about 8 cups cooked)
  • 4 cups chopped caramelized onions
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 8 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • Eggwash (whole egg and water) to coat
Which all looks like:

What a whole box of kasha wrought
400 degrees in the oven, convection setting, for 40 minutes. They came out pleasingly golden. I tasted the mix for salt before moving forward, but the baking changes things -- the eggs firms it up, the fat gets absorbed by the grain, the mouthful is mixed with the crust. Upon eating one the next day, was very happy to find the final product pleasingly fluffy and savory, the opposite of the dense, grainy, crumbly kasha knishes I've had in the past. Still had that buckwheat flavor, but...elevated. Hmmmm. I wonder what other people will think.

Wanna here something nasty? You just wanna hear about that nasty Ham & Swiss thing at the top. You're all the same. I had enough dough and space in the oven after using up the kasha for two more knishes. No chocolate in the house thanks to a very pregnant wife, and the mac n' cheese in the fridge is kid-friendly knish-repellent Kraft dinner.

But looking at the supplies on hand for my kid, I have some freshly sliced cold cuts and cheeses for variety on her dinner plate. Thin-sliced Swiss cheese and thin-sliced country ham. Hmmmm. Ham & Swiss in a pressed sandwich, panini or croque monsieur is an obvious. The rough n' tumble potato dough might be a good match. So to each standard sized knish dough, I crumpled two slices of ham, 2 halves of a Swiss slice, and a dollop of caramelized onion. And....
Ham & Swiss Knish...nikkit!!
As you can see by the top pic, it came out looking nice. I would have maybe reduced cooking time by 5 to 10, but the only thing that actually burned was a little onion peeking out the top, and it actually gave a very mature, smokey overtone to the whole mess. I really enjoyed it much more than I should have, but I think it needs work. My ideas:
  • Cubed precooked meat (turkey, pastrami, something a little less trief)
  • Cubed cheese (Swiss is a gimme, gotta explore eastern European cheeses more)
  • In the interest of respecting Jewish custom, maybe some hashbrown-styled cubed potato for instead of cheese.
  • Onion as condiment is a winner. There is a certain umami that could do some of the heavy lifting cheese usually does.Maybe pre-mustardize the insides, too.
And the money shot:
You can call me Ms. Jackson.
I had dinner with my Knish Rabbi last week, who was not amused by this very nontraditional mix. It's not that she's particularly against trief things or doesn't find a warm n' gooey ham & cheese unappealing, it's that it kind of dilutes the Jewish identity of what a knish is. I'm not kosher myself, and I don't plan to immediately court of the kosher marketplace, but she does have a very good point that I can't help but feel has something crucial to it. More thought and study is required.

This post was written last week, but was delayed in posting due to the appearance of one particular, peculiar, and distinctly piping fresh knish:

Baby Knish, limited edition of 1. Much rarer than the McRib.
 All is well, and knish baking to resume sooner than, uh, my wife realizes....

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Knishnaut: Peanut Butter Chocolate

    Person 1: "Hey! You got PB& chocolate in my knish!" Person 2: "Hey! You got knish in my PB & chocolate!"
     Having fully recovered from the Knishening this past weekend, the main thing on the to-do list was....make more knishes. A full quart of left over potato filling needed attending to, and with the help of a bag o' the green stuff, I popped out a couple dozen potato and spinach/roasted garlic samples to get off to various people who might be able to help KNYC in the spring. However, there was the vexing question of enough filling for 24 knishes but enough dough for 25....

    They're so innocent and full of potential when they're young.

    I'm not about to cook a whole batch of some filling prevent the waste of one little scrap of dough, so I go hunting - bubbe style: I search for left overs. The mac n' cheese made from scratch on Wednesday have already been devoured by certain unnamed members of my family, so I was gonna have to go deeper. I did have a handful of chocolate chips.... but not enough to fill a knish.

    Peanut butter goes well with chocolate, and when I have limited amounts of chocolate, PB is a good extender. I took out a work bowl, threw down one heaping table spoon of natural peanut butter. To it, a teaspoon of shortening, a teaspoon of sugar, one egg yolk, a pinch of salt, and a double pinch of flour. Tossed in the chips, rolled it into a ball, wrapped it in knish dough like it wasn't an unwelcome guest to the party, and into the oven after the egg wash.

    That's the way this knish crumbles.
     The ingredients I laid down, in different proportions, could be three things: peanut butter chocolate pie, peanut butter chocolate cookie, or peanut butter chocolate fudge. What came out was somewhere between pie and cookie -- surprisingly light, moist, delicate, rich but not overwhelming. The glutenous potato-based dough wasn't a great match for it, but the flakier sweet knish dough I use would probably work fine. But it got me thinking:

    I'm not a huge fan of fudge, its most common occurrence is in poor quality at tourist traps. But fresh fudge made with the right ingredients can be delightful, except for its form factor: it comes in ungainly cubical blocks that have to be held with paper, or fudgy shmears are guaranteed on your fingers. If said fudge were contained on 2 or 3 sides by a nice thin sweet knish THAT could be like Mr. Nathan introducing hot dog to bun! Well, maybe not, but a knishman can dream....

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    The Knishening -- What We Learned

    C'mon ev'rybody! Let's put on a show!
    1.  I enjoy baking knishes en masse.
    2. The heaviest October snowfall in recorded history will mess up a start-up knishery's debut.
    3. People like free knishes. Many were generous with donations after tasting.
    4. People really like chocolate hazelnut knishes.
    5. Hell will freeze over when I bake 568 knishes in my home kitchen again. Or, Spring -- whichever comes first.
    6. Realized that if I don't do a proper debut in the spring, the Empenadas/Perogies/Shumai/Borekas/(insert ethnic dumpling here) will have won. That ain't right.
    7. The Lo Down has got my back. And rep is built one knish at a time.
    8. A friend will store two trays of knishes in her fridge, and when she getS stuck in her building's elevator with them for two hours, she will only eat two.  (I don't know whether to be happy, sad, horrified, or relieved she didn't eat more....)
    9. My wife. My wife!!:
    The Power Behind the Knish
    Imagine having your partner baking and making a mess 12 to 14 hours a day for 5 days straight, after a weekend of piling up potatoes, onions and other bulk goods all over your kitchen. Imagine that while working full time. Imagine that while looking after a rambunctious toddler. And now imagine that while NINE AND A HALF MONTHS PREGNANT. And now on top of that, imagine STILL being happy with your life, STILL pitching in as much as possible with your partner's knish fantasies, STILL picking up the slack no matter what happens. I don't have to imagine it, fortunately, I married that tough dame!

    So in the immediate future, a baby is popping in on us (names that come to mind: Potato, Lil' Spinachy, Knenny, and of course, in honor of the town from whence our dumpling came, Knyszyn. Who needs vowels when you got love?) Expect to see:
    • a Kickstarter campaign before 2012, 
    • a few top secret Knishery NYC plans for the winter, 
    • continued recipe experimentation recorded on this site,
    • and a proper, non-snowed out Knishery NYC debut in the Spring!
    Rumor has it that we'll be opening up a proper store in the new year. I think I might have said that because I was cold standing in the park with my knishes, thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to serve knishes right out of a hot, radiant hearth. Because love don't come out of no microwave!

    Thanks and good knishing,

    Noah Wildman
    That Guy, Knishery NYC