Thursday, July 10, 2008

reruns no. 3 — return of the knish

quite a while ago, i posted a recipe for basic potato knishes in which the dough i used was more of a softer (somewhat) bread-like one — and not the more calorie-laden flaky pastry type casing. while there is nothing wrong with the former knish dough used in the original posting, most people want one which is almost pastry-like.

for those unfamiliar with these typically jewish appetizers or snacks, knishes can be formed from doughs of several types: a flaky pastry one, a puff pastry one, a short crusted one (mock puff pastry), a paper thin strudel type one, or as i posted a more bread-y type.

for this 'recipe rerun', and as requested by several people, i am posting two additional recipes. both are great, quite easy to make and result with fantastic finished knishes. the recipes come from the prolific and well known jewish cookbook author, norene gilletz — a fellow canadian. check out her site and recipes :)

the recipe for potato-onion filling can be found in the original post i did. you can use whatever fillings you like as long as they do not "run" while baking. popular fillings are potato, buckwheat (kasha), mushroom, various vegetable and even meat ones.

flaky pastry dough for knishes
aka flaky ginger ale pastry

this is a very easy-to-put-together and always successful dough, especially if done in a food processor. it can be frozen for later use. its success is in the use of a carbonated liquid for the 'wet' ingredient. see the recipe for options.

makes enough for 12 knishes (recipe can be doubled)

dough ingredients:

1 c plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 c frozen margarine* (1 stick), cut in 8 pieces
1/4 c cold carbonated beverage** — ginger ale or 7 UP or carbonated water
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar

*margarine is used in order to adhere to jewish dietary laws as these are often served at meals with meat; you can try butter but i can't guarantee results as i've never tried it.
**do NOT use regular water or diet drinks

filling ingredients:

see here


before starting, take note that you will not (most likely) need ALL of the wet ingredients, so do not be overzealous and add all of it at once or you'll have a mess and a ruined recipe. you've been forewarned! :)

if you cut the margarine into 8 pieces and put them on a plastic wrap lined plate, they freeze within an hour or so. if you freeze the whole block, it takes much longer.

in a food processor or bowl, combine the flour with the frozen margarine.

process it with pulses or use a pastry cutter in the bowl to make a crumbly mixture. you don't want any chunks.

in a small pyrex, combine the carbonated drink with the vinegar.

slowly add the wet to the dry a tablespoon at a time until you get a somewhat (rounded) ball of dough. if using the food processor, turn it on and steadily add the liquid and process until it JUST starts to make the ball.

discard the remaining wet ingredients.

take the dough and divide it equally in half on a floured board.

make two discs and wrap them in waxed paper or plastic wrap. you can do this directly on them.

refrigerate the dough discs or freeze them. if refrigerating, wait a good 2 1/2 to 3 hours for it to fully chill to make rolling easy. you can leave them overnight.

defrost, if frozen, until pliable and still cold.

forming your knishes:

for this dough, make an 8" x 12" rectangle only. it doesn't sound quite big enough but it is.

make sure your counter is well floured and don't be too rough with it. flouring the dough is essential to success here. i also find rolling it out between two pieces of parchment or wax paper the easiest and cleanest method; your dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin.

if you cannot get an exact rectangle that is 8 x 12, use your hands to shape the borders.

take the appropriate amount of filling (it should measure about 1.5 to 2 inches in width and run the length of the piece of dough) and place it evenly along the long side of the dough, leaving about a 1/2" border or so just before the filling. leave about a 1/2 inch border on either side also.

carefully roll it up fairly tightly. use the wax paper as a guide and tool as such:

grab the bottom edge of the waxed paper and pull it up and over to cover the filling.

continue rolling using the paper to guide the direction and correct the tension.

use the wax paper to tighten the roll as necessary. continue rolling until you get to the top edge.

why use wax paper and not just roll it without? the dough is delicate when rolled thinly. it makes rolling very easy and lowers the risk for screw-ups.

seal the edges lightly!

the finished roll .....

preheat your oven to 350F.

now the fun part: cutting the dough. traditionally, this is done with the side of your hand and NOT a knife. it is done in a sawing motion back and forth. this serves to seal the knishes.

as you do this, you will fuse the edges.

cut the knishes with your hand equally into 6 pieces per disc of dough. make a rough "guess-timate" with your eye before going ahead and making them too large.

place the cut knishes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. you can seal up the tops and press them in slightly.

bake the knishes (no egg wash) for about 40 minutes or until nicely golden. keep an eye on them.

golden brown and completely delicious! :))

* * * * * * *

warm water knish dough

makes enough for 24 knishes

this recipe makes a very pliable and easy to work dough. it uses eggs and warm water and is like a strudel dough which is very thin. you need a large (11 c) food processor to make the full recipe. if you have a small one, make 1/2 recipe at a time or 2 batches.


2 eggs
1/2 c oil
1/2 c warm water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2.5 c all purpose flour


in a food processor, put the eggs, oil and water. mix until blended.

add the remaining salt, baking powder and flour and process ONLY JUST until it is blended. do NOT process it for longer or it will not work: you do not want to develop the elasticity of the gluten.

remove the dough and cut it in 4 equal sections. cover the pieces you are not working with and keep them apart from each other or they will fuse together again. best to keep them on a lightly floured plate or plates.

take one piece of dough and flour it well all over. coax the dough, on a well floured board or counter, into a rough rectangle.

roll out the dough, keeping the shape of a rectangle, as thinly possible. you should be able to see your hands underneath it.

again, place your filling along the long side of the dough keeping a 1/2 inch border.

roll up the dough and cut it using a sawing motion with your hand as in the previous recipe.

place them on an oiled or lined sheet & bake your knishes at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden.


n.b. for both recipes, you can freeze your unbaked knishes and bake them directly frozen at 350F for about 3/4 of an hour. i can't guarantee 100% perfection with the potato filled ones, though. potatoes don't tend to freeze well.

thanks norene!

Friday, July 04, 2008

friday night appetizers

ushering in, and honouring, the Sabbath each friday night at sunset usually means a table filled with an array of food of all kinds — and always more than just enough to feed those sitting to eat. the typical foods commonly depend upon whether one's family is ashkenazi or sefardi, and from which country they originate(d). of course, there are no steadfast rules. apart from the dietary laws, if they are followed, each family has its own mix of traditional and non-traditional items.

one sefardi mezze dish (appetizer) that is often served by those who have origins in places like lebanon, syria, egypt, iran, israel and iraq, is kibbeh or kubbeh. these torpedo shaped filled appetizers made from bulgur wheat or a mixture of meat and bulgur (or even ground rice) can be eaten hot or at room temperature. i personally do not like the ones made from meat and bulgur. rather, i much prefer those which are vegetarian and use just softened bulgur wheat and flour for the casing.

making these appetizers is a pretty straightforward procedure and fairly easy: make the filling, make the casing, put it all together and fry. as a note, they can be baked but it's not really the same end result. you'd have to try one baked and one fried to see which you prefer. they can be partially fried and then cooled and frozen for later use. you just have to refry them (or bake at 400F) until they are browned.

the casing can be made one of two ways: you can knead the softened bulgur wheat by hand, which is what i have done here, or add it to the food processor. the latter method is really the easiest and probably the best route if you've never made them before.

give them a try, at least once. they really are worth the effort.

vegetarian style kibbeh
stuffed bulgur wheat appetizers

enough for six servings (2 kibbeh/person)

recipe adapted from a. helou



1 small onion*
1 c FINE bulgur wheat**
1/2 c wholewheat or all purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice, heaped
1/4 tsp cinnamon, heaped
1/8 tsp ground black pepper, heaped

*make sure to use the correct size. do NOT use a larger one as there will be too much moisture.
**to make these successfully, you need fine granulation bulgur wheat and not medium coarseness.


1/4 c mild olive oil or (parve) margarine
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 medium onion
1/3 c COARSELY*** chopped walnuts, (not finely chopped - see pict. below!!)
1/2 tsp ground allspice, slightly heaped
1/4 tsp cinnamon, slightly heaped
1/8 tsp ground black pepper, slightly heaped
1 tsp pomegranate syrup (dibs al-rumman)****
1 - 2 tbsp chopped dried apricot or golden raisins or dates, optional

***if you're using whole walnuts, just snap them into small pieces or chop with a knife; you want texture.
****1 tsp of pomegranate syrup goes a long way so try not to be tempted to add more than this. don't omit it as it gives the correct flavouring to the stuffing. if you can't get the syrup, you can try to boil down 1/3 c pomegranate juice until it is syrupy. be careful not to burn it as it reduces however. taste before adding it — if it tastes burnt, discard it and use lemon juice instead [mixed with a little molasses].


for the casing:

you need a very fine sieve to strain the bulgur wheat or place a clean cotton tea towel in a larger hole strainer. if you don't, you will see your bulgur go down the drain, literally!

place the cup of bulgur wheat in a large bowl and add warm water to it, to cover by 2 inches, and 1 tsp salt. stir it and let sit for 1/2 to 1 hour (you can make the filling at this point while waiting). you may want to rinse the burgul once before soaking.

either in a food processor or blender, process the small (peeled) onion until it is very very finely ground (almost liquid). if using a blender, you may need a tsp or two of water. add the spices and blend again.

drain the bulgur wheat and squeeze out as much water as you can. this is very important to do. if using the tea towel, bring the sides up and twist it to extract as much water as you can.

now, if you are doing things by hand, place the drained bulgur wheat in a large bowl and knead it for about 3 or 4 minutes. add the onion mixture, flour and salt and knead again for another several minutes until you have a ball of dough. you may need to wet your hands under the tap every once in a while but it should be ok. check for salt and if needed add some more.

if doing this the food processor way, add the bulgur to the onions and blend it by pulsing for 2 minutes or so. remove it to a bowl and add the flour and knead until you have a ball of dough which is smooth.

set the dough aside, covered.

for the filling:

finely chop the medium onion and set it aside. measure out all the ingredients needed. make sure that the walnuts are not finely chopped as you want texture to the filling. if using whole walnuts, just snap them into smaller pieces (no smaller than at least 1/4").

add the oil or margarine to a heated fry pan and place the pine nuts in it. carefully fry the pine nuts until they are golden brown (not darkened). remove them to a paper towel and keep the oil in the pan. do the same with the walnuts.

add the finely chopped onion to the oil and fry it over medium heat until it has started to become golden brown.

add the walnuts and stir. add the spices and the pomegranate syrup.

add the pine nuts and dried fruit if using & mix everything and set it aside for later.

putting things together:

take the ball of kibbeh dough and separate it into 12 equal portions. set aside.

on a plate divide the filling into 12 equal portions.

take one of the kibbeh balls and place it in your hand.

make out a hole with your thumb on your free hand and start to turn the dough, making a thin wall all around. you want the shape of a hollowed out pumpkin! don't, however, make the walls too thin.

place 1 portion of the filling in the hole and close it up.

take the closed ball and start to shape it by rolling it in your hands, slowly but carefully, into a torpedo shape, pointed on each end. note that you make need to wet your hands. just have them moistened rather than dripping wet.

place the kibbeh down and form all of them this way. make sure there are not openings in the walls of the kibbeh or they will fall apart or fill with oil when frying.

cooking the kibbeh:

important: just like cooking falafel, if you're heat is not at the proper temperature, what you are frying here risks falling apart. most likely, it won't so don't be apprehensive.

place about 3 to 4 cups of oil in a pan and bring it to medium heat. you can take a small piece of bread and put it in to see if it starts to bubble and fry. if the heat is too high, take the pan off the heat and let it cool slightly; lower the temperature before proceding.

place the kibbeh about 4 at a time in the oil and cook them until they are browned, turning if necessary.

i cook them for about 6 to 8 minutes.

if you are freezing these, cook them half way and place on paper towel until cooled. freeze until you want them. see the intro for how to cook them after being frozen.