Dear Constant Reader,
It’s been a while since I got into the kitchen, since things have been so crazy with The Wrathskellar. The other day I was in need of a little comfort food, so I made knishes, which always make me think of Zorita.
Zorita used “knish” as a euphemism for a certain body part burlesque dancers weren’t supposed to show the audience, but often did. She famously said, when accused of “flashing” by the Toledo police, “And they said that they could see hair. I said, ‘That’s impossible, I haven’t had a hair on my knish in years.'”. This recipe is in honor of her.
Make the dough first. Take 2 eggs, salt, baking powder, oil and flour.
Beat the eggs with the salt, baking powder, and oil. Gradually add flour until the dough is soft and not sticky.
Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Form into a ball and put into a bowl with a little oil. Roll the dough around until it’s covered with oil. Cover it and let it rest for an hour.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
Take potatoes, onions, an egg, parsley, oil (or schmaltz), and salt & pepper.
Boil the potatoes until they’re tender. Drain them, let them cool, and then peel. Really, let them cool. Don’t be dumb and keep burning your fingers. Trust me.
While the potatoes are cooling, chop the onions and cook them in some olive oil or chicken schmaltz until they’re nicely brown. If you’re a really bad Jew, use bacon fat. I won’t tell.
Mash the potatoes. Get out all your frustrations on the poor tubers.
Add the onions (let them cool a bit first), a beaten egg, chopped parsley, and some salt & pepper to taste.
Now comes the fun/tedious part: actually making the knishes. These are bite-sized cocktail party knishes, not big old deli-sized ones. That means you’re making a bunch of the little buggers. I didn’t take any pictures of this step because I was working too fast to pause.
Roll out about half the dough on a floured board. Keep the other half under wraps so it doesn’t dry out. Roll the dough as thin as you possibly can. Thinner than that. Use a 3″ biscuit cutter to cut a circle of dough. As soon as you lift the cutter, the circle will start to shrink in on itself, so roll it a couple more times.
Put a tablespoon of filling on half the round of dough. Brush the edges with cold water and seal. You want to smush things around so the knish is oval, with the sealed edge down the center, not the side like a potsticker.
Now you need to decide. Do you want a lady-like knish, appropriate for serving to refined company? Put the knish on the baking sheet, seam side down. Want a more vulvar knish, in honor of Zorita? Seam side up. It will probably open during baking exposing the delicious filling.
Repeat until you run out of dough or filling. I got 36 with some filling left over. I might have been able to squeeze a few more out of the dough scraps, but I was tired of it and 3 dozen is a round number. I put the leftover filling into a ramekin and baked it alongside the knishes. You could also make it into little cakes and fry them.
Brush the knishes with beaten egg yolk thinned with a little water and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
Here’s the recipe!
||1 lb potatoes
|1 tsp baking powder
||3 Tbsp schmaltz or olive oil
|1/2 tsp salt
||2 onions, chopped
|2 Tbsp oil
||1/4 c parsley
|1 2/3 c flour
||1 egg, beaten
|1 egg yolk beaten
w/ 1 tsp water
|salt & pepper
Beat eggs with salt, baking powder, and oil. Gradually add flour, just enough to make a soft dough that is not sticky. Start with a fork then work by hand. Knead for about 10 minutes, until very smooth & elastic, sprinkling in a little flour if necessary.
Pour a little oil into the bowl and turn dough to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for an hour.
Boil potatoes until tender, about 25 minutes, then drain, cool, peel, & mash. Fry onions in fat until browned. Add to potatoes, add egg, add parsley, salt and lots of pepper.
Knead dough again and roll as thin as possible. Cut into 3” rounds.
Place 1 Tbsp filling on each round & seal with a little water. Shape them into ovals.
Brush with egg yolk and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.