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.)


Crispy Baked French Fries

Does my girl have nice legs or what?  Man, I love Wednesdays.  I love that I have set aside this day to talk a little bit about my bunny.  I realize I’m slightly obsessed with her, but if you got to sit on your couch and have that creature accompany you, you’d want to gab about it too.

As of yet, I have watched her unsuccessfully mount the couch twice.  I know she can jump high enough, but she seems to be holding back, probably because she has no idea what’s up there.  A few nights ago she tried to jump up practically onto Luke’s lap while we were watching a movie.  Needless to say both parties were a little surprised.

Also, today I learned Izzy is completely down with the vacuum cleaner. I vacuumed the carpet while she was sitting on it, and she just calmly watched it, loud noise and all.  But opening the dishwasher scares her.  Rabbit brains are weird.

Human brains are easier.  Just give them loads of carbs and they are happy.  Or maybe that’s just me.  Sit a plate of these bad boys down in front of me and I am a one happy clam.  I mean, french fries minus all the greasy, oily business?  Win.

Though I guess if I put a carrot in front of Izzy she’d be the same way I am toward a hot plate of baked fries.  Maybe rabbit brains aren’t so tricky after all.

Crispy Baked French Fries

Adapted from Cookie & Kate

Makes about 2-6 servings, depending on how many potatoes you use

2-4 medium russet potatoes

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp canola or olive oil

sea salt and ground black pepper*

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes and cut them, lengthwise, into 10 to 12 even wedges. The trick is to first quarter the potatoes lengthwise, and then cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 to 3 wedges.

Place the sliced potatoes into a large bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for 10 minutes (this releases some of the starch in the potatoes and lets them absorb moisture, which leads to crisp outsides and moist interiors).

Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and 1/4 cup oil, then sprinkle evenly with about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Toss the potatoes with the remaining teaspoon of oil and mix evenly.

Arrange the fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and cover the sheet tightly with foil. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the underside of the potatoes are spotty golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and scrape the fries loose with a spatula. Then use tongs or the spatula to flip over each wedge, keeping the potatoes in an even layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Rotate the pan as necessary to help them brown evenly. Season with salt and pepper (or other spices of your choice) and serve hot.

*I like trying out different spices, like an Italian herb blend or curry powder.  Feel free to experiment.

Baked Cheddar Perogis

Luke and I have been doing research on universities in Massachusetts.  Turns out, if I want to get my Masters in the same discipline as my undergrad work, I have only two options.  In the whooooole state.

And yes, one of them is Harvard.  Ohhhhh boy….so really only one option, but a girl can dream.

I also registered for the GRE.  How I hate standardized tests, but we do what we must.

And I must share these perogis with you.  I can’t remember eating perogis before I made these, so I don’t have much basis for comparison, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The filling is made of mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese, and it’s encased in a simple dough then baked to golden perfection.  You could also pan fry them, but I was looking for a little less grease, while still maintaining a crispy shell.

And no, I didn’t forget: here’s your Hop Day with Izzy pic!  Happy Wednesday!

Nom nom nom.

Baked Cheddar Perogis

Adapted from The Bite House

Makes about 20 perogis

For the Dough:

 2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
Pinch of salt

For the Filling:

2 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar

chives and/or parlsey, finely chopped (I used scallions)
pinch of salt

 For the dough: Mix everything together with your hands or a mixer until you have a smooth dough. If needed, you can loosen it up with up to ¼ cup of cold water.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

 Meanwhile, make the filling: Boil the potatoes until thoroughly cooked, about 15-20 minutes.  Strain them and let stand for 5 minutes to let the extra moisture out.  Mash and add the cheddar, herbs and salt.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick. With a glass or dough cutter, cut out 3″ circles, saving the trimings.  Put about 1/2 tablespoon of filling in the middle of each.  Dip your finger in water and pass it around the edges so the dough will stick together nicely.  Close the perogis making sure they are completely sealed. You can crimp the edges with a fork to ensure this.  Set them aside on a pan.  Repeat the process with the rest of the dough, rerolling as needed.

At this point you can put them in a bag with a dash of flour and freeze them.

Put the perogis on a lined or greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then serve with desired condiments.

Pastry Queen’s Potato Cinnamon Rolls

This weekend, Luke and I are entertaining a friend of his who is in town to attend the PAX East conference.  What is the PAX East conference you ask?  Some sort of exclusive networking event?

Nah, it’s a big ole’ gaming conference.  You know, like computer and video games.  A while back, Luke got two tickets and came home to announce the good news to me.  “Do you want to join me?” he asked.  Blank stare “At a gaming conference?” I replied.  “But I don’t play video games…”

And so the extra ticket went elsewhere, and I’m pretty ok with that.  The only bummer part is that this is Easter weekend, so most of my friends have family plans.  So I’ll be bumming around the apartment in my pjs, or something.

I will probably also consume most of the cinnamon rolls I made for entertaining.  Oh well.  The only people that can judge me spent all day at a gaming conference.  Enough said.

Pastry Queen’s Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from The Pastry Queen Cookbook

Makes 24 large rolls (I fourthed the recipe and put it in an 8X8 pan)

For the rolls:

2 medium Russett potatoes

1 oz dry active yeast (4 packets)

¾ cup plus 1 tsp sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

3 large eggs

2 tsp salt

9 cups all purpose flour

For the filling:

4 cups pecans

4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the icing:

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

¼ cup milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

To make the rolls: Fill a large saucepan three-quarters full with water and set on high heat to boil.  Peel and quarter the potatoes.  Add the potatoes to the water and bring to a second boil.  Decrease the heat to medium until the potatoes are simmering.  Cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 10-15 mins.  Remove potatoes, reserving 3 cups of the cooking water.  Set the potato water aside to cool, until it registers 110-115 degrees. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes.

In a medium bowl, mix the reserved cooled potato water, yeast, and the 1 tsp of sugar.  Stir until the yeast has dissolved.  Let the mixture rest until foamy, about 5 mins.  In a large bowl, whisk together the potatoes, ¾ cup sugar, melted butter, eggs, salt and yeast water.  Add the flour in 3 cup increments and stir until the flour is incorporated.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 3-5 mins.  Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.  Leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 1-1 ½ hours.

To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7-9 mins, until golden brown and aromatic.  Coarsely chop the pecans.  Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Punch down the dough, then remove it from the bowl and divide in half.  On a floured surface, roll each half into a ¼ inch thick rectangle.  Spread each rectangle with half of the melted butter.  Cover each buttered rectangle with half of the brown sugar mixture.  Sprinkle the dough with an even layer of pecans.

Grease two 9X13” pans.  Carefully roll up each rectangle, starting on one long side of the dough.  Using a serrated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2 inch slices.  Place the slices, cut side down, in the pans, spacing the rolls about 1 inch apart so they have room to expand.  Put 8 rolls in each pan.  Set the rolls in a warm, draft-free place and let them rise until they get puffy, 45 mins-1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the rolls for 20-25 mins, or until light brown.

To make the icing: Combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Spread the icing on top of the rolls while they are still warm.  Serve warm or at room temp.

Potato Gateau

Potato gateau, you read that right.  This is a potato cake, baked in the oven and all.  Of course there’s no sugar, flour, butter or any of that amazing stuff.  Just potatoes.  And cheese.

This potato cake is not a cake at all, well at least not in the sense of fluffy layers cakes or adorably piped cupcakes.  It’s more of a big, contiguous, delicious hashbrown.

You can eat cake for dinner and dessert!  That wasn’t part of my master plan at all…check out that steam.

Speaking of cake, Luke and I had another tasting yesterday, which was even better than the first.  They gave us like 9 different kinds of cake to try!  Obviously we didn’t finish them all, but we’ve got a good idea now of what we want our wedding cake to look like.

But back to potato cake.  This would make a great brunch or side dish, if you don’t want your whole meal to be composed of mostly potato.  I don’t buy potatoes too often, so when I do, I like to go all out and really get my fix.

Potato Gateau

Adapted from Essential Pepin

Makes 6-8 servings

2 ½ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, washed

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsps olive oil

¼ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ cup heavy cream

3 Tbsps freshly grated Parmesan

Dump the potatoes into a pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30-35 mins, or until the potatoes are tender.  Drain them and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scrape off the skin and coarsely chop the potatoes, as for hash browns.  Heat the butter and oil in a 10” cast iron (or other oven proof) skillet, until hot.  Add the potatoes and stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper, mixing well so the potatoes are well coated.  Saute for 1-2 mins, stirring occasionally so the potatoes absorb the seasonings.  Using a spatula, press on the potatoes to compact them in the pan.

Bake the gateau for 35-40 mins, until nicely browned underneath and slightly brown on top.  Preheat the broiler.*  Place a flameproof round serving dish upside down on top of the skillet and invert the pan to unmold the potatoes onto the dish.  Pour the cream over the potatoes, sprinkle with the cheese, and broil about 4 inches from the heat for about 5 mins, until nicely browned on top. Remove from oven and serve.

*I skipped the cream, only because I was so eager to eat my potato cake.  Also, I didn’t have any heavy cream in the apartment.

Keema Chicken Curry

I cannot apologize enough for the poor quality of the photos in this post.  It was a tasty dish, really, even if the photos don’t convey that very well.  I am working really hard to make sure that I shoot in natural light, because my apartment’s lighting is horrible for taking photos.  Especially at night.

But that’s when you eat dinner, so I’ve had to make do.  I’m starting to make dinner while it’s still light out, shoot it, then reheat it when I’m actually hungry/Luke gets home.  This may work out well, since I don’t cook (or do anything) really well when I’m hungry.  Luke calls me “Hanna,” which stands for hungry Anna because my personality changes so much under the influence of hunger.

I hope you never meet Hanna.  Apparently she is not a very nice person.  Anyway, another new initiative I’ve started is keeping a spreadsheet of recipes I want to make from the various food magazines I get.  This way, I don’t dog-ear something and then completely forget about it.  Plus, I can make notes on the spreadsheet to remind myself of spicing changes, or just the overall outcome.

I’ve also done it for my cookbooks, and it’s been working well, since it’s much easier to search an electronic document for an ingredient than an index, especially when some of the recipes the index takes me to might contain other things I don’t like.  Plus I’m on my computer all the time anyway…so it works out.

Keema Chicken Curry

Adapted from Food & Wine January 2012 Issue

Makes 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound ground chicken meat

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

One 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk

One 14oz can diced tomatoes, with their juices

In a large deep skillet, heat the oil.  Add the ground meat and cook over high heat, stirring to break up the lumps (my grandma recommended using a potato masher, which works well to get the big chunks apart, sadly I didn’t have this knowledge yet when I made this dish), until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry powder and season with salt and pepper.

Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the potato, broth, coconut milk, and the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender, about 15 minutes.  Serve over rice, with or without naan.