Saturday, March 16, 2019

Coney Island Knishes – St. Patrick’s Day Leftovers Edition

One of my earliest “exotic” food experiences was eating potato knishes with my Dad when we’d visit Coney Island. There were the square variety, and we’d buy them from a hot dog cart, and since potatoes were my favorite food growing up, I was in heaven. I mean, mashed potatoes in a warm, flaky pastry? I’ll have two, please.

Back then they were still made with copious amounts of chicken fat, also know as “schmaltz,” which was the real secret behind their awesomeness, but you can make a perfectly fine version without that, especially if you have some leftover corned beef around. Regardless of how you fill these, the technique seen herein will work, and half the fun is trying new versions. As long as the base is mashed potato, spiked with onions fried in lots of fat, anything goes.

I think the baked version is the easiest, but if you feel so inclined, these can also be deep-fried, or pan-fried. No matter how you cook them, one of the keys is getting the dough nice and thin, so your finished product is mostly filling. Other than that, these are relatively simple to make, and the kind of snack that fills more than just an empty stomach, which is why I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 16 Knishes:
(Please Note: I only used half the dough in the video, and only made enough filling for 8 knishes, but the following ingredients will make 16 total)

For the dough:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup warm water

For the filling (might make extra):
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and boiled in salted water until tender
1/2 cup melted butter, and/or rendered chicken fat
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine salt), plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
8 ounces diced corned beef
1 cup finely chopped cooked cabbage

- Bake at 375 F. for about 40 minutes, or until golden-brown
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Irish Tea Cake – Was this Barmbrack Wack?

Every year I try to post at least one Irish recipe, and this time around I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary, and try my hand at Barmbrack. I love corned beef and cabbage as much as the next guy, but you can only film it so many different ways. Anyway, the thought of a nice, moist, dense, fruity tea cake for breakfast, with a cup of hot, black tea, sounded just about perfect, and so I started researching this ancient loaf…and researching…and researching, until I had seen and read so many recipes that I didn’t know which direction to go.

There are a huge variety of styles, from light, yeast-raised versions, to super-dense ones, similar to the often-maligned holiday fruitcake. So, I decided to just wing it, and use the force, which usually works out well, but this time, not so much. This is traditionally a Halloween treat, and my experience was equal parts trick and treat.

I’m hearing from my Irish friends on YouTube that I should have probably used baking soda, plus more tea to get a little more rise. They also say that using half wholegrain flour will inhibit the verticality as well. Notwithstanding my results, at the very least, I’ve hopefully made some of you aware of barmbrack, and maybe you’ll give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one 9” x 5” loaf pan:
2 cups warm black tea
1⁄2 cup golden raisins
1⁄2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried currants
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole grain flour (I’m told this makes the loaf a lot heavier, so maybe use all regular flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I’m told I should’ve probably added a teaspoon of baking soda)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1⁄4 cup milk
2 tablespoons reserved black tea
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey or any whiskey
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons melted butter
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Saturday, March 9, 2019

German Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelkloesse) – Dial-Up Some Delicious Dumplings

Sorry for the late upload, but I had some mysterious modem issues, and this German potato dumpling video took over 5 hours to upload! I was having flashbacks to those good, old dial-up AOL days, and they weren’t good flashbacks. I do miss that cool modem sound, but that's about it.

Anyway, it’s late, but I wanted to post the ingredient amounts, and maybe I'll add some more info tomorrow, although these are so basic that’s probably not necessary. The only tip I’ll give is that I think baking the potatoes works better than boiling them whole. Peeling, quartering, and boiling until tender will also work, but don’t overcook them, otherwise they'll absorb too much water.

By the way, if you’re German, or know the same things they do, I’d love to learn why we're sticking croutons in the middle of these things. I totally get the crumbs on top, but inside? If you have an explanation, I’d like love to hear it, and in the meantime, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 to 10 German Potato Dumplings:
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
pinch of nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
fresh chives to garnish
For the croutons/crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups fresh bread cubes
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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Kouign-Amann – Yas Queen!

The fact that Kouign-Amann (Pronounced “Queen-a-mahn”) have become a popular item in bakeries across America is quite a tribute to just how incredible they really are, since to stock something that no one can spell or pronounce is generally considered a retail sales no-no. As you may know, I pride myself on mispronouncing things, but even I don’t like to be corrected by a salesperson, and their judgmental, I can’t believe you just said “kooeegan-aman” look.

Yet, despite the difficult name, they’ve thrived for the very simple reason that this is one of the world’s great pastries. Maybe the greatest. I guess that depends on who you talk to, but the irresistible combination of sweet, salty, sticky, buttery, crispy, flaky, and tender, is hard to beat.

I guess you could just buy some frozen puff pasty, or croissant dough, and skip to the last step, but unlike many of those, the base here is a fairly lean bread dough, which I think is one of the secrets. A richer milk-based dough, which already contains lots of butter and sugar, won’t necessarily provide the same contrast.

Speaking of secrets, I think the real magic of these is the salt. Apparently the authentic ones are fairly salty, and just as savory, as they are sweet, but you don’t want to over do it. I suggest starting with less than I call for in your seasoned sugar mix, and then tasting on a wet finger to see where you’re at. Then, add more until you think it’s right.

Part of me hopes you have a bakery that does these nearby, so you can easily taste them for yourself, but another part of me hopes you don’t, so you’ll try to make them. Either way, you’re in for a huge treat. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 Kouign-Amann:
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the seasoned sugar (mix, taste, and adjust):
2/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons of sea salt or kosher salt (less if you’re using a fine table salt)
For the rest:
8 ounces ice cold unsalted butter (2 sticks) for the pastry
1 tablespoon melted butter for the muffin pan
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