Monday, November 14, 2011

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....

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