Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vanilla, "Great Art", and New Knishes for Sale

That ain't dirt, son,  that is real grown-@ss vanilla bean! 

Spent a day making knishes for sale at Malt & Mold. Starting today (Tuesday 5/22), on tap will be potato onion, spinach-roasted garlic and three flavors new to M&M: Kasha, vanilla sweet cheese, and chocolate hazelnut cheese.  Rather than use an alcohol-laced vanilla extract, I always scrape whole vanilla beans for a bigger, purer flavor. Go get 'im!

They were out of stock over the weekend, but we're learning and hopefully there will be no more interruptions in the supply chain.

I  popped in on the Hester Street Fair and sampled a few items from Pie Corps. I had two savories, one was potato curry, the other was beet-horseradish. They strongly reminded me of Cornish pasties I used to eat on a regular basis when I lived in England (most common flavor - potato cheddar with lots of onion), which are the root pie for Jamaican beef patties, if you want to start tracing hand pies across the globe....but I think that' a different blog.

I first had the curry potato, cubes of potato slow cooked, nice texture, mild spice, very British with the brown flaky crust. The second was quite surprising. I asked the woman behind the table which savory she would recommend. She said she was a vegetarian (to which I wanted to say, so I guess you're NOT the proprietor?) and steered me to the one I wanted least, the beet-horseradish. I just don't like beets, even when I made them  in culinary school in a variety of ways -- they just taste like metal and dirt.

I'm familiar with beet-flavor horseradish from the purple horseradish served with gefilte fish at the passover table. The sweetness of the beet cuts the heat of the horseradish, and the sharpness of the horseradish takes away the dirt metallicness of the beets. Same thing happened in this delicious pocket pie. Chunky cooked pieces of beet in a thickened beet juice matched with fresh white horseradish to make a perfect sweet-spicey chord, with the crust bringing it together and calming/amplifying it with a fatty flake.
"Good artists borrow -- great artists steal." 
I am so developing a beet-horseradish knish!

Amazing how 30 lbs of onions cook down into less than 10 lbs of caramelized goodness. If pizza is just a vehicle for cheese delivery, then a proper knish is just a vehicle for caramelized onion delivery.

Vanilla is a culinary passion of mine. "Vanilla" means plain and boring, but REAL vanilla...oh my. The problem with even the best vanilla extract is that the more you use, the more your product...will be altered by the alcohol and water you are pumping into it. If you use more and more real vanilla bean pod-paste, your product will get....just more and more vanilla-y. (FYI, I save all my scraped beans and put some in a nest of sugar to develop vanilla sugar, and the others I put in a jar of grain alcohol, and when it's full, I blend it, strain it and cut it with 50% water to create quadruple strength extract for personal use in things like smoothies and wot-not. Vanilla is MAD expensive, I've seen it at two pods for $10 at Wholefoods, but you can get a pound for $20 here -- pennies on the bean, well worth it if you want a more delicious kitchen...or sweet knish.

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