Wednesday, May 20, 2009


After Molly's birthday party, I had a considerable amount of mashed potatoes leftover.  I decided to give them new life as knishes.  This is a fairly recent addition to my rotation of recipes and I've only made them a few times.  Half of the work had already been done since I didn't have to cook the potatoes.  It can still be pretty time consuming work.  I'm sure it's much easier if you have a bigger kitchen!

I have limited counter space and since I'm somewhat of a foodie, I have LOTS of ingredients and gadgets so it's a constant struggle to maintain order.  I don't always win but at least I can function in there so I don't sweat it.  

The first time I had a knish was not long ago.  I'd never heard of it until I started learning more about New York City.  It was cold and blustery in the lower east side in December of 2007.  The day was grey and drizzly but nothing that kept me from wandering around.  Chris was playing guitar with a friend who lives right across the water from the city so I was on my own.  It was the first time I'd ever gone to NYC by myself.  It was early afternoon and since I hadn't had lunch yet, I started looking around on Houston.  I remembered seeing all of these hole in the wall places while passing through on previous visits and one in particular had caught my eye because of the delectable looking things they had in their window.  I went in and the place was tiny and run down but it was still inviting.  A knish looks like a giant biscuit with some sort of filling, usually potatoes along with another veggie or meat and cheese.  There were so many different kinds at this place that they looked like they could revolt at any given moment and take over the tiny restaurant.  After some making some difficult decisions as to which one to try, I placed my order.  I don't remember what the adorable purse made of dough contained anymore but I'll never forget how good it was.  It conquered my chills and eased me into a carb fueled rhapsody.  I recalled similar incarnations of bread and potatoes that I'd experienced in the past.  This combination of familiar southern delights felt so right.

I thought about that knish for months.  It didn't seem like it would be rocket science to put one together.  I had a gift card from Barnes&Noble and I had been eyeing one cookbook in particular to splurge on.  When I saw that there was a recipe for potato and leek knishes, it was an instant sale.  The knishes that you see in the picture below didn't follow the recipe exactly.  I didn't have any of the flour that I normally use on hand so this was a multigrain baking mix.  I prefer the taste and texture that comes from whole wheat pastry flour.  I also skipped out on the tofu.  I would advise you to go with the book.  It has never let me down and although the resulting knish is a healthier version of what I had in the city, it is still fantastic.  They also make excellent leftovers!

Veggie Knish (from The Hippy Gourmet's Quick and Simple Cookbook for Heathy Eating)

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 pinch of salt
1 cup of Spectrum or Earth Balance spread
1 cup of ice water (I usually just stick a cup of water in the freezer and let it chill)

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.  I use my hands to mix in the margarine until the flour takes on a crumby texture.  Slowly mix in the water.  Roll into a smooth ball and cut into 8 slices, like you would a pie.  Place them on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge while you complete the next few steps.

2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced.

Slice and steam potatoes for 15 minutes or until fork tender.  I leave the skins on mine but it's a personal preference.   I usually can't be bothered with peeling. 

1 Tbsp of olive oil
2 leeks (white part only)
1 clove of chopped garlic
salt + pepper to taste 
1 14-16 oz block of tofu (use firm or extra firm, not silken)
Juice from 1 lemon
A small amount of soymilk (1/4-1/2 cup)

Saute leeks and garlic in the olive oil for about five minutes.  Add the potatoes, the tofu (it helps to drain it in advance) and the lemon juice.  Mash everything together.  If you need to, use the soymilk for even consistency.  I cannot recall ever having to do this part.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly grease a baking sheet.  Leaving the plastic on your dough, flatten each piece with a rolling pin.  Remove the plastic and fill the center of the dough with a scoop of the filling then fold up the bottom and the top.  Pinch it to seal.  After you finish forming all of your knishes, place them in the oven and bake until they are golden brown and slightly cracked on the surface.  

You're welcome.

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