Friday, November 5, 2010


I get obsessed with certain foods occasionally. A recent example is knishes. Two weeks ago, I made several batches of knishes. Honestly I think it’s part of a larger dumpling obsession (conspiracy?), because I’ve got ravioli, pot stickers and tamales on the brain as well. But the only one of these things that I’ve done so far is the knishes. Yesterday the knish jones hit again and I foolishly decided that knishes were easy enough to do on a weeknight. My wife baked the potatoes so they were done when I got home. I thought it would be a snap. But alas fate intervened in the form of incredibly sharp onions that made me tear up, made me close my eyes while chopping and subsequently made me put a large whack into my thumb with the chef’s knife (a total rookie mistake by the way – I always keep my fingers curved but somehow my thumb was sticking out).

Kathy decided it would be a good idea to get take out at that point. But, after the bleeding stopped, I was more determined than ever. So I moved ahead with the knishes: half a batch of potato and onion and half a batch as potato, onion and spinach. Luckily they turned out well, so the war wound seemed worthwhile.

A couple weeks ago I tried different variations of knish dough, because in addition to being vegan, I’m also try to eat low fat. A lot of knish recipes are relatively high in fat (some older, really traditional recipes are incredibly high in fat – no wonder they always seemed so good). I started with the recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance which uses two tablespoons of olive oil to 3 cups of flour. I tried half that and honestly 2 tablespoons of oil is about as low as you can go and still get a supple dough that doesn’t dry out. I subbed canola oil for olive oil because I wanted a more neutral flavor. I also bumped the baking powder up a little bit, but otherwise it’s the same dough recipe.

Knishes are a personal thing. Everyone has their idea of the perfect knish and mine has a fair amount of onion in it. You can cut back on the onions if you don’t want them to be so dominant. But they’ve got be well caramelized. Cook them until they get a deep color. You want that sugary goodness. If a spinach knish offends your traditional view of knishes, don’t use it. I may be from NY but I’m a goy, so what do I know for knishes?

Makes 15-18 depending on the size

For the dough:
1 baked russet potato, cooled
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt (to taste)
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
¾ cup of water
3 cups of unbleached white flour

For the stuffing:
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 teaspoons of oil, divided
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
5 baked Russet potatoes, cooled
6 oz. spinach, blanched, cooled, and finely chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start the onions first because you can make the dough while they cook. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 2-3 teaspoons of the oil. Add the onions and salt and cook, stirring now and then, until the onions begin to brown. If they seem to be drying out and need more oil, add the remaining oil.
2. While the onions cook, make the dough. Scoop the flesh out of one potato and mash it in a bowl with the oil and then add the water. Mix thoroughly. Add the flour, salt and baking powder and work it into a ball. Knead on a floured board until it comes together and gets elastic (about 5-8 minutes). Let it rest in a bowl covered with a damp cloth and finish making the stuffing.
3. Scoop the flesh out of the remaining five potatoes and mash them roughly in a bowl (I just break them up by hand). Add the onions (which should be done by now). Mix thoroughly. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
4. Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll one piece out to a rectangle (about 12 x 6 inches but don’t get hung up about size). The dough should be about ¼ inch thick or less. I cut the dough into smaller rectangles about 3 inches wide and about 6 inches long. If you only get three, don’t worry you can use the scraps to make a fourth one. If you not anal retentive about then shape just cut the rectangle to into four more or less even pieces. Add some potato stuffing to one end of the dough. Fold the other end over and pinch it shut. You can add a little water to the edges if you want, but it’s you don’t have to. Place each finished knish on an oiled sheet pan. Don’t over stuff them or they’ll burst when you bake them. Repeat with second piece of dough. You should have 8 knishes.
5. Add the chopped spinach to the remaining stuffing (you should have about half left). Mix so it’s distributed evenly.
6. Roll out the remaining two pieces of dough as above. You should end up with 8 knishes that are potato and onion and 8 that have spinach added as well.
7. Spray the knishes with spray oil (or brush with oil) and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes until well browned. (The coating of oil really does help the color and texture.) Take them out and let them cool somewhat before eating. Serve with spicy brown mustard.

1 comment:

  1. I love knishes and yours sound great! I've never had them with mustard and now I am curious.