Monday, October 22, 2012

We(were) here, we're qunishy, get used to It!

Top row: Jorge, Fredricka, Fat Bob, Arturo. Bottom row: Spike, Ruby and Lil' Punchy
Well, we spent both Saturday and Sunday takin' it to the street (fairs), and by any measure, it was a success. I could credit the perfect weather, or the organizers for running class operations, or my wife for propping up the home front while I did the dip, or the friends for coming out and giving moral support, or the Crowleys for giving up their refrigerator to hold the stock, or the Rodens for lending me their toaster oven, or La Crepe C'est Si Bon for generously sharing their space with me, or....but I won't! All the credit goes all to me to all the customers and new friends and who purchased knishes through out the weekend!
Mrs. Plotting and Mr. Scheming
A special thank you to the Gefilteria massive. While we were all in a daze early in the morning, we made arrangements for everyone who purchased their "Old World Platter" were directed a few booths down the way to KnisheryNYC for a couple of complimentary minis. I guess I shouldn't say anything, as its obvious evidence of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world Grub Street.

All kidding aside, we had a great weekend, blew out of almost all of our 600+ pieces, and feel good about the future. I still feel a little punch-drunk, but check back this space next week for an announcement of our next few moves!

Looks like all the noise we made on social media and the two events raised some awareness: we're less than half-way through the funding period, but more than half funded on kickstarter! So, Kickstarter!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hester is History, Grub St is Upon Us

Buy two dozen knishes, get a free toddler!
Today went pretty smoothly, met some cool people, saw some good friends, sold a few knishes, enough to about break even and have a good number left to sell tomorrow at the Grub St event. The film crew was there to catch me setting up and selling some 'nishes, and my knish guru Laura Silver came by to show some support and give some good knish juju.

For the record:

  • One request for kosher knishes
  • Two requests for vegan knishes
  • One request for dairy free knishes (which these were!)
  • One request for gluten-free knish
  • One confession that someone actually reads this blog-thing.
  • One little old lady stood in front of me and ate her 3 minis in silence, looked up, and stated flatly while looking pensive, "I haven't had a knish in years. These are better than those then." Only when I told her that I would quote her on that, did she give me the whisper of a grin.

One wonder what a kosher, vegan, gluten-free would taste like....and would it be better than those then. Deep knishy thoughts....

Hope to see y'all tomorrow at Grub St, I'll be at table 28 sharing a booth with La Crepe C'est Si Bon, but if you get lost, eat some yums at Gefilteria, and they'll direct you over my way....

And kickstarter!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hester Tomorrow, Grub the day after

Replace cake with knishes. Now make her a dude. Now shmear him with potato and flour. THAT'S ME!
Today was a bit of bizarre blur. Rolled out of bed and knocked out the spinach-roasted garlic. I was peeling potatoes when the film crew came in to film me making the pastrami knishes from boiling potatoes to getting them in the oven. When they left, my best friend who moved to Portland, OR happened to be in town for the weekend and stopped by to hang out. It was quite a change from the last few days of listening to NPR's infernal fund-raising spiel!

Today's production:

  • 72 Spinach & Roasted Garlic
  • 215 Spinach minis
  • 72 Pastrami
  • 143 Pastrami minis

I was going to go bigger on the pastrami minis, but I found that since I cut the meat large for a big satisfying taste in the full-sized, I was at risk at having only one or no pieces in the standard mini size. So i made them bigger, which resulted in fewer made. The more ya know...

Spent the evening running around picking up a toaster oven for Sunday (thanks Rodenfolk!), some grill-lighters for the sternos, etc etc. It is now 10pm, the knishes are in the fridge, the equipment check list has been checked, and I'm tired. Gotta go beddy so I can move some of these 'nishes tomorrow.

Heads up: Since KnisheryNYC is such a late add to Grub Street, we will not be on the "map" at the entrance of the fair. We're at table 28, with La Crepe C'est Si Bon, on the left towards the rear when you come in. If you can't find us, just find out friends at Gelfiteria, they'll point you our way!

And kickstarter!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2 Days to Hester, 3 Day to Grub

 So the cooking begins. First out of the gate was kasha & pumpkin, which presented a few technical problems. Without a mashed tuber or gourd to act as a binder, even the extra eggs I added wouldn't make them that tight. After baking, they were a bit too open for my taste, but their actual taste was fine and should make it to the weekend. However, rolling them into mini-form was a crumbly fumble, so I moved on.

From the trickiest to the most dependable, the potato & onion. However, another bump in the road: if you peel 25 lbs of potatoes, put them in a large pot full of acidulated water, store them in a dark closet for two days, forget to change the water, then take them out, you will have

  1. smelly, mushy but very white potatoes
  2. the precursor to vodka production
  3. the main ingredient to "kombucha-flavored knishes"
  4. a lot more last-minute peeling to do.

So rather than cry over spoiled potatoes, I peeled on, mixed it up, and got those knishes done. Today's production:

  • 59 kasha & pumpkin knishes
  • 72 potato knishes
  • 208 mini potato knishes

I missed my goal of 72 kasha, and scrapped the mini-effort, but now I have the measurements for next time...  Nine to 9, actually that's a pretty reasonable day by food-service standards. Tomorrow, spinach & roasted garlic, pastrami, and a film crew to make me all self-conscious.

And kickstarter!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Three days to Hester St AND four days to Grub St!

Today was a stutter-step, a day away from the kitchen to take meetings, teach my weekly culinary class at a high school in Brooklyn, and steel myself for the next 3 days living in a cloud of dough, potato, onion, fillings, baking, storing, worrying, kvetching, etc. Well, those three days just gave birth to a fourth!

KnisheryNYC is teaming up with La Crepe c'est si bon to share a table on Sunday at the massive Grub Street Food Festival! La Crepe is a local shop on Eldridge St in the heart of the Lower East Side, and I guess their way of big-upping the 'hood is reaching out to little fish like KNYC to see if we'd like to hang out for a day. I'm excited, flattered, a bit nervous and greatly looking forward to two days of back-to-back feeding y'all some 'nishes.

Tomorrow, food-porny knish shots from the first round of baking.

And kickstarter!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

4 Days to Hester: Pumpkins, Kasha & Spinach

Another day of prep, can't bake knishes today as I don't want to be serving not-so-fresh knishes on Saturday. Working by myself with a baby nipping at my heels and pushing everything through pots, pans and ovens sized for home-cooking definitely makes a few days of prep necessary to make a few days of knish making possible.

So what went down at KnisheryNYC HQ today? Due to limits of the kitchen, we had to outsource the making of the pastrami. We took a whole side of the meat from Katz's home and had our way with it.
Many moons ago I tried a pastrami knish and it was just a tube of mashed potatoes with little slivers of deli-sliced pastrami scattered in. KnisheryNYC's knishes will have thick nubbins of hand carved pastrami studded all through out. And freshly ground coriander. Oh yes.

We went into our fields and harvested a few bushels of kasha just for you. And then we, uh, put them in a box, took them out of a box, tossed them with some egg and quickly sauteed them....
Out of the caste-iron and into seasoned boiling water for a quick simmer. Sauteing with egg before simmering guarantees the kasha will have some definition, and not just be an odd groaty tasting mush.

To lighten up the kasha and get all seasonal wit' it, we chopped up some pumpkin (and some butternut squash), baked it in the oven, then mixed it in with the kasha.
I've never done this before in this style -- I could have chosen to mash the squashes and use them as a binder, but I think soft cubes of pumpkin will give a nice punch of flavor.

And then there was the spinach, chopped, tossed with oil and salt and baked for 30 minutes. Tossed again with the mashed roasted garlic from last night, and it's ready to go.

Finished up ahead of schedule, so I peeled 15 lbs of potatoes while feeding an amusing the gremlin that was dogging me all morning:
Yes, I peeled potatoes 48 hours before I need to use them. But have no fear, this will not hurt the potatoes. Once peeled in a pot covered with water for about 30 minutes, I changed the water, dropped a tiny capful of vinegar in with fresh water to cover, covered the pot, and into the cool, dark closet until I need them Thursday. I would usually put them in the fridge at this point, but it's getting just too jammed up.

Tomorrow, I'm out with other work and teaching a culinary class. However, I'm taking a meeting in regards to the knishing in the morning and may have an interesting announcement to make tomorrow evening. Stay tuned!

And kickstarter!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

5 Days to Hester Street: Dough n' Onions

If knishes were the Enterprise, these would be dilithium crystals.
Hopefully this will be the last time I'll be cooking in quantity from my home kitchen, so I thought I'd sit down and document it a little, create a little time capsule to look back at when I'm in charge of a multi-national knish konglomerate.

Including this past day, it is five production days to the Hester Street Fair. (And Wednesday I'm taking a meeting for my other work stuff, and teaching culinary at a high school in the evening.) Thing is, if you make a knish more than 2 or 3 days in advance and don't freeze them, they start losing maximum flavor. So Thursday and Friday are the big baking days, but there is plenty to do before then.

Today was two major components: caramelized onions and dough. All my savory knishes, regardless of flavor, have a healthy dose of properly caramelized onions. Forty pounds of onions, minced, tossed with some fat and some salt, then slow-baked for about 8 hours. Cooled, drained, stored.
Balls of knish dough, rare imported giant slugs, or black market butt-implants: you be the judge.
My dough is potato based, so thirty pounds of potatoes were peeled, boiled and sent through a food mill. Due to lack of a commercial-sized mixer, I had to do ten batches. Eggs, fat and salt beaten, then potatoes added and beaten some more. Flour added and mechanically kneaded until it comes together, wrapped and stored. Too busy for grammar.

I found I shorted my potato pile, and needed to turn a couple of bagged potatoes into mashed potatoes in the shortest amount of time possible, as I had to leave time to clean up, feed my 1 year old, shower and go pick up my toddler from school. So I did what every great chef does: I googled a video.
And it worked! The potatoes came out wetter than I like, but for the purpose of potatoes for dough, it was more than acceptable.

In the evening, after Mrs. Knishy took over child care after a long day of work of her own, I roasted a pile of garlic heads, which will cool over night and be ready to be processed into a spinach filling tomorrow...

The house smelled like wonderful onions this morning. Smells like round roasted garlic this evening. So tired. So knishy. And it's only day 1!

And Kickstarter!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thanks / Hester Street This Saturday

Wow! Thanks to everyone who kicked in to our Kickstarter so far, we're 25% of the way there. Please keep on passing on the word -- to help, here is an outtake from the video where Mrs. Knish felt compelled to jump in and give you a piece of her mind. It's not for the faint of heart!

Knish-production is starting at the HQ, caramelizing buckets of onions and putting together dough. This coming Saturday, unless there is another freak storm, we'll finally be debuting at the Hester Street Fair from 10am to 6pm. Though subject to change, this is the menu:

  • Potato & Caramelized Onion
  • Spinach & Roasted Garlic
  • Pastrami & Coriander
  • Kasha & Pumpkin

In addition, we'll be doing a sampler of one mini each. Well, I gotta get back to cooking before Baby Knish wakes up and demands my attention. Thanks again!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Giving birth to a knish start-up and a establishing a new baby boy around the same time are not two great tastes that go great together. It'll make you mix your metaphors! Anyway, after a lot of build up, here is the big news, in four parts. Two biggies, two....not so biggies.
  1. KICKSTARTER: We gone dun it, now! It starts today, ends in 30 days. See video above for the basics, and visit the page for the full story, the goodies you can get for contributing, and more!
  2. HESTER STREET FAIR: After our debut was smooshed by the cold hand of a freakishly snowy late October day last year, we're debuting...again. Saturday, October 20th, at the Hester Street Fair. Come meet your knishmaker, and have a nosh.
  3. MALT & MOLD IS ON FIRE: Well, not literally, more like electrically glowing with heat, because they just got an electric oven-thingy that can heat your knishes up to a toasty temp if you want to eat them on the spot.
  4. KNYC ON YOUR SCREENS: A network-affiliated film crew will be filming Knishery NYC baking for the Hester St Fair, then filming at the fair itself. Details TBA.
Phew! This is a short post, but long-gestating. That's it for now, expect updates leading up to the 20th and the end of the Kickstarter campaign. Thanks!!