Potato Knish

Ever find yourself with a mountain of potatoes, thinking you can only eat french fries so many times in a week?  I have a nasty habit of buying too many potatoes when they’re on sale since I don’t buy them that often, and then I have to figure out what to do with them.

Usually this means adding them to curries, soups, etc, but when I’ve got russets on my hands, it’s time for a new strategy.  I like that this blog has helped me learn more about the food I eat.  Before this year, I never would have known the difference between a Yukon gold and a russet potato and which dishes I should be using them in.

As many of you probably know, (and for those that don’t, it’s time for some potato knowledge!) a Yukon gold is waxy potato and therefore better for soups and curries because russets tend to fall apart if they’re stewed (because they’re starchy).  That’s why they make great, fluffy mashed potatoes. They also make great french fries, just don’t try boiling them unless you intend to mash afterwards.

And knishes.  They make for great knish filling.  Another little known fact about me, I’m half-Jewish!  But it’s on my dad’s side, so I guess that doesn’t actually count for anything.  Whatever, I can sill make knish.

This was my first attempt, and though it was a little shaky, (I need to work on my knish-shaping skills) the little potato buns turned out way better than I expected.  The dough was flaky, yet soft, and the filling was russet potato fluffiness at its finest.  Plus some caramelized onion.  Need a good vegetarian meal?  Well my friend, grab some (starchy) potatoes because dinner is served.

Potato Knish

Adapted from the ever wonderful Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 8 knish, depending on how large you make them

For the dough:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar

½ cup water

For the filling:
1 ½ lb (about 3 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced small
1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the egg wash:

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp water

First make the dough. Stir together your dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, vinegar and water. Pour it over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Once the mixture is a craggy, uneven mass, knead it until smooth, about a minute. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Set it aside for an hour (or in the fridge, up to 3 days) until needed.

While the dough sits, prepare filling. Put potatoes into a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes can be pierced easily with a knife, about 20 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add butter and oil and once they’re fully melted and a bit sizzly, add onions and reduce to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, until deeply caramelized, which will take about 45 minutes.  You can always semi-caramelize them if you’re short on time.  Once they’re caramelized to your liking, transfer them to the bowl with potatoes and mash together until almost smooth.  Stir in salt and many grinds of black pepper and set the filling aside.

Next, assemble the knish. Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) with parchment paper or a silicone mat and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

If your dough has sweated some beads of oil while it rested, fear not, you can just knead it back into an even mass. Divide the dough in half. On a well-floured surface, roll the first half of the dough into a very thin sheet, roughly in the shape of a 1-foot square.  For moderate size knish, create a 2-inch thick log from half your potato filling across the bottom of your dough. Roll the filling up in the dough, but not too tight. A tiny amount of slack will keep the dough from opening in the oven. Keep rolling until the log has been wrapped twice in dough. Trim any unrolled length and add it to the second half of the dough; it can be used again. Repeat the process with the second half of your dough and second half of filling; you might have a small amount of dough leftover.  (Save it for homemade pop-tarts!)

Trim the ends of the dough so that they’re even with the potato filling. Then, make indentations on the log every 3 to 3 1/2 inches (you’ll have about 3, if your log was 1 foot long) and twist the dough at these points, as if you were making sausage links. Snip the dough at each twist, then pinch one of the ends of each segment together to form a sealed knish base. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the knish a bit into a squat shape and from here, you can take one of two approaches to the top: You can pinch together the tops as you did the bottom to seal them; indenting them with a small dimple will help keep them from opening in the oven. You can gently press the dough over the filling but leave it mostly open.  I like being able to see the filling.

Arrange the knish on the prepared baking sheet(s) so that they don’t touch. Whisk the egg yolk and water together to form a glaze and brush it over the knish dough. Bake knish for about 45 minutes, rotating your tray if needed for them to bake into an even golden brown color.  Let the knishes cool for at least 15 minutes.  That potato filling stays hot for a while and you don’t want to burn your tongue.  Serve with your desired condiment (sour cream, mustard, ah hem…ketchup, whatever floats your knish.)


Pasta with Creamy Smoked Paprika Sauce

All the houseguests are gone, and our home seems so quiet.  We had a lovely weekend; full of memorable firsts.  First visits, first subway ride to Chinatown, first golf lesson in the backyard, first attempt at true housebunny-hood, first time we lost the bunny…

You know, all those things you go through as new homeowners.  What, you telling me you never lost track of your bunny after opening the ENTIRE first floor to her? Well, somehow she found a way to get upstairs and I found her sniffing around the laundry basket in our bedroom.

Silly rabbit, upstairs is for people.  For the most part though, she’s taken to her new life quite well.  My mom commented on how social she is.  While she won’t always let you pet her or pick her up, she won’t run away from new people, and lounged about in the living room with us while we watched golf.

And then I attempted to teach Luke how to play golf.  But that’s a story for a different day.  Let me tell you about this pasta.  As you may know, I love pasta, noodles and all things long, thin and starchy.  I also happen to love smoked paprika and roasted garlic.  I think you know where this is going.

This pasta is pretty easy to throw together and happens to taste amazing.  I used angel hair pasta, but you can use any kind of long pasta, just keep in mind that the thinner the pasta, the more you need to use to soak up the sauce.  I ended up using almost an entire pound of pasta.  Leftovers are always welcome.

Pasta with Creamy Smoked Paprika Sauce

Adapted from Bev Cooks

Makes about 4 servings (or more with thinner pasta)

1 head garlic with the end chopped off
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
¼ cup dry white wine
1 tsp honey
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ pound long pasta (more for a thinner pasta like angel hair)
¼ cup chopped parsley

 fresh parmesan cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the garlic head in a small sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with oil and a tiny pinch of salt. Wrap up and roast 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the bubbling slows, whisk in the flour. Once fully combined, pour in the wine and whisk for about 30 seconds.  Add the honey and whisk another 10 seconds. Pour in the milk and slowly whisk until it thickens into a nice cream sauce, about 2 minutes. Add the cayenne, smoked paprika, a small pinch of salt and pepper; stir to combine.

Transfer sauce to a small food processor. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the sauce. They should just slide out of their skins. Blitz the sauce until well combined. Transfer back to saucepan to keep warm and season to taste.

In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain all but about 1/3 cup pasta water and return to pot. Pour the cream sauce over the pasta and toss to coat. If it’s too thick, add some pasta water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.

Serve pasta garnished with chopped parsley and fresh parmesan.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Smoked Provolone Cheese Sauce

I managed to knock over my personal fan no less than four times yesterday.  I’m sure our downstairs neighbors were very confused each time a big crash emanated from beyond their ceiling.  I’ll be glad when we move to the house and the only thing afraid of the noises my clumsiness causes is the bunny.

Somehow the fan is still intact and working properly.  I wish I could say the same for my memory card reader, which suddenly stopped working for no reason.  It’s quite frustrating when electronics fail on you without warning, especially an item as crucial as that.  Without it, I can’t share my lovely pictures of food with you.

Or the pictures of Izzy perched upon my back.  There’s a reasonable explanation people.  I was in her pen brushing her, and in trying to move to a more comfortable position, I leaned forward to one side with my knees planted on the ground.  She scurried up my thigh and was on my back before I knew it.  I felt strangely conquered; like how a mountain must feel when someone plants a flag in its summit.

Hopefully my new card reader will arrive shortly.  I got my new one from Amazon, as the last one was from Best Buy, but I’m certainly not going back to buy the same model that broke inexplicably in less than a year.

Thankfully I make and photograph a ton of food, so I have plenty to post about while my camera’s memory card reaches maximum capacity.

I love gnocchi.  Make that sweet potato gnocchi smothered in a smoky provolone sauce and I’ll probably never leave the kitchen table.  I may also drink the cheese sauce as my accompanying beverage.

I loved making this meal.   I loved eating this meal.  I can’t wait to make it again, and I strongly urge you to try it.  You can even skip the homemade gnocchi part and just make the sauce to drench the store-bought variety.  Don’t worry, I won’t tell.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Smoked Provolone Cheese Sauce

Adapted from The Noshery

Makes 4-6 servings

For the gnocchi:

1lb sweet potatoes, rinsed, patted dry, and pierced all over with fork

6 oz  (3/4 cup) ricotta cheese

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tsp plus 1 Tbsp salt

¼ tsp nutmeg

about 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the cheese sauce (makes about 2 cups)

2 cups milk

¼ cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, sliced

3 fresh sage leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup smoked provolone cheese, shredded (you can sub in another cheese if desired)

First make the gnocchi.  Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Place sweet potatoes on a plate and microwave on high until tender, about 5-6 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 1 1/2 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 3 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into a 20” long rope (about 1” in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 or so pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of fork to indent. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  You can freeze any gnocchi you won’t immediately eat at this stage.

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 1 Tbsp salt.  Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender and they float, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to servings plates to cool.

Next make the sauce.  In a small saucepan combine milk, onion, garlic and sage.  Place over medium heat and heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.  Do not boil. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove and discard onion, garlic and sage leaves.  Cover to keep warm.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until blended, 1 minute.

Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should cling to a wooden spoon or spatula, and leave a trail when a finger is drawn through it.

Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan.  Whisk in shredded smoked provolone (or cheese of your choice).  Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Dress the gnocchi with the sauce, garnish with extra cheese and sliced sage leaves and serve!


Herb & Cheese Frittata

We officially kind of have a house.  Technically the house isn’t completely ours yet because of slow processing on the bank’s end that led our 10am closing to take place at 5pm.  As such, the deed work was not completed in time, so we won’t get the deeds and keys until Monday.

My herbs

Our official move-in day isn’t until the 14th anyway, so this very minor hiccup really isn’t a problem.  I felt a little awkward at the closing though because I didn’t actually have to be there.  Luke is the sole purchaser of the house since we aren’t married yet and buying it jointly would have meant adding my student loan debt would have affected our financing options.  Ew.

So my name is nowhere to be found.  But I’ll get added on after the wedding, so that’s exciting…I guess.  What was exciting was the walk-through we did of the house before going to the closing meeting.  It’s such a cute house, I can’t wait to move in!

Now I just need to start packing, which also means trying to empty out the fridge, freezer and pantry.  I’m realistic; I know I can’t use up everything, but I can do my best to only buy groceries we absolutely need for the next two weeks, and make meals like this frittata, that use up extra ingredients lying around.

Frittatas are wonderfully versatile in that you can pretty much throw in whatever meats, vegetables, cheeses or herbs that need to be used up.  Make sure of course that your meats and veggies are cooked properly first.  I just wanted to use up some scallions, cheese and herbs.  Mission accomplished.  Now on to the pantry…

Herb & Cheese Frittata

Adapted from Cookie and Kate

Makes one 9” frittata, about 6 servings

6 eggs

½ -1 cup of shredded cheese (I used Monterey jack)

2 Tbsp milk

Vegetables and spices of your choice

I used scallions, shiitake mushrooms, a handful of mixed fresh herbs, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch springform pan or 9-inch square baking dish or 9” oven proof skillet.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, milk, vegetables and seasonings.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden and puffy and the center feels firm and springy, about 25 minutes or more.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve warm.


Black Beans & Rice

It’s about to get really hot around these parts for the next few days, so I’m hoping I’ll be seeing a lot of this.

Check out that chunk of naked belly…I guess it never grew back after she was spayed.

I was on the phone when she flopped over, and I had to kindly ask dear KA on the other end to hang on just a second because I needed to take some cute bunny photos ASAP.  I think she understood.

I have talked about my BFF Diego before.  I may or may not have posted embarrassing photos of us as children (and yes, there is an entire facebook album devoted to that very thing).  We’ve known each other since age 3, so of course there has been time to accumulate a lot of photos.

We spent so much time together if felt like we were practically siblings.  Diego’s mom refers to me as her American daughter.  I am proud to have been “adopted” if only for the awesome Hispanic meals I enjoyed in their household.

Rice and beans will always be one of my most favorite Hispanic dishes.  It’s so simple, but incredibly flavorful and filling.  While I doubt I’ll ever be able to replicate it perfectly, this, in my opinion, is a pretty good attempt, and even Luke who “doesn’t really like legumes” (I’m paraphrasing here…not sure he knows what a legume is) enjoyed it.

Black Beans & Rice

Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2012

Makes about 2-3 servings

1 small onion, diced

½ cup green bell pepper, finely diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp ground coriander

¾ tsp cumin

1½ cups chicken broth

one 19oz can black beans (I used Progresso)

salt, pepper, and lime juice

2 cups cooked brown or white rice

queso fresco and/or cilantro for garnish

Combine the onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, about 6-7 minutes.  Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes.  Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and a little lime juice.  Divide rice and beans among plates and garnish if desired. Enjoy!


Sweet Potato Fries & Ravioli

When my obsession with food hit, I was desperate to find other people who shared my passion so we could make wonderful food together.  Also, because more people to eat food=more opportunities to try out different recipes.

Though KA has always been a great foodie buddy, she was at school over 200 miles away, so a local alternative had to be found.  Luckily, I reconnected with Ham, who had taken first year Chinese with me, and also happened to really enjoy cooking.

Carina the hand model!

He also happened to have three ravenous housemates, so we’d hold these great dinner parties where Ham cooked dinner and I made dessert.  Greatness ensued.

But now Ham is in China and I am in Massachusetts.  Enter Carina.  We first bonded in college over our mutual love for all things Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi, and later we became foodie buddies.  She has her own blog too, called Four Corners, where she features great vegetarian and dairy-free recipes.

She is leaving for a six-week stint in Lebanon today (and I am oh so jealous), so I had to see her before she left.

I remembered her liking my Green Pea Pesto Ravioli post, and decided we should make some ravioli of our own.  Since I had some sweet potatoes on hand, I knew we’d be able to make something fabulous happen.

First, sweet potato fries.  Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries?  Even Luke, the hater of savory sweet potato dishes couldn’t resist.

The main dish was sweet potato ravioli.  I’ve attempted making pasta dough without a proper roller, and it was a nightmare, so I stick to wonton wrappers for the ravioli skin (until I get a roller…wedding registry anyone?).

Anyway, we had to omit the butter and cheese in the recipe for Carina, but it still turned out great, though I do want to give the recipe another go sometime and include them.  Either way, these raviolis are pure orange gold.

Sweet Potato Fries

Makes about 2-3 servings

One large sweet potato, peeled or not (depends on your preference)

2 Tbsp olive oil

seasonings of your choice (we used Italian seasoning and extra oregano)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Slice the potato into thin wedges and arrange on the baking sheet.  Drizzle the olive oil and seasonings over the potato wedges, then mix everything together with your hands to coat evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes start to brown.  Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Sweet Potato Ravioli

Adapted from Cosmo Cookie

Makes 2-3 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound sweet potato (one large potato)
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg
2 tsp fresh sage, minced
2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
40 wonton wrappers

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Cut the sweet potato into thirds. Rub garlic and sweet potato with olive oil, and place, cut sides down, on a baking sheet, and bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool briefly, and then remove potato skins and pass the potatoes and garlic through a potato ricer or food mill into a medium bowl (if you don’t have one of these contraptions, just mash everything up as best you can); mix in nutmeg, sage, oregano, and salt and pepper. Set filling aside.

Place 1 wonton wrapper on a work surface and place 1 Tbsp filling in center; dip your finger in water and trace the edges of the wrapper, then fold one side on top of the other and press the edges together to seal.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, add ravioli, and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with your favorite pasta sauce and enjoy!


Adobo Mac n’ Cheese

Tomorrow I’ll be attending Diego’s graduation bright and early.  Though I don’t understand why a college would schedule their graduation for 10:30am on a Friday.  Especially when it’s located in a city.

But I will be there, and it better not rain.  There’s nothing worse than a rained out graduation in a gymnasium.

But I’m going to think about good things, and there’s nothing better than a big plate of melt-y, cheesy pasta.  Unless of course you’re super lactose intolerant, in which case, I am so sorry.

Both my father and brother are mildly lactose intolerant, but thankfully I was spared the evil gene.  I’m not sure what I would do if I could no longer consume cheese.  I practically run on the stuff.

And mac n’ cheese is one of my favorite ways to get cheese into my body.  But one can only make the same version so many times before wanting some variety.  So I decided to make my mac n’ cheese a little more interesting by adding adobo seasoning and using Monterey jack cheese.  The result is a forkful of cheese heaven that I hope will find its way into my life more in the future.

Adobo Mac n’ Cheese

Loosely adapted from Jo Cooks

Makes 4-6 servings

2 cups small pasta (like elbows or penne)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, sliced thin

2 Tbsp adobo seasoning, divided

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 1/4 cup milk

1 egg yolk, beaten

1 ½ cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Cook pasta according to the package instructions, be sure to cook a few minutes shorter than instructed.  Drain and set aside.

In a medium skillet, add the oil and sauté onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Halfway through, add in 1 Tbsp of the adobo and stir to coat evenly.  Finish cooking and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 1 minute. Pour in milk, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick. Reduce heat to low. Add in other Tbsp of adobo seasoning.

Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl and drizzle 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten yolk, stirring constantly. Stir to combine. Pour egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook for another minute.

Add half the cheese and stir until melted. Add 3/4 of the onions and stir.  Add cooked macaroni and stir to coat.  If your saucepan is too small to fit the pasta, pour the pasta into an 8X8” baking dish, then pour the sauce over it and stir to coat evenly.  Top with remaining onion and cheese and bake for 25 minutes or until sizzling and hot.  Let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes and serve.