Potato Knish

My workplace in Saint Paul is less than a block away from Cecil’s Deli. ‘Twas lunchtime one day at work, and  I was looking at their menu when I came upon a term I didn’t recognize – knish. I asked my co-workers about knish and then looked for photos online. I stumbled upon a recipe and just happened to have all of the ingredients, so I put it on my list of things to make and post on my blog.

Potato Knish

Potato knish 1

Ingredients

Dough

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

Filling

  • 1 1/2 lbs (about 3 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp non-dairy spread (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk and 1 tsp water for finishing egg-wash

Instructions

Note: This recipe has a lot of steps, and is kind of hard to visualize at times. If you have any trouble following the steps, I recommend clicking the link to the original recipe at the end of this post – it has some helpful pictures.

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, vinegar, and water. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  2. Knead the dough for about a minute until it becomes smoother. Place dough back into the large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until you can pierce the potatoes quite easily with a fork. Drain the potatoes, then transfer them to a large bowl.
  4. Add the olive oil and non-dairy spread to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the mixture has started to bubble, lower the heat to medium-low. My stove-top seems to run hot, so I pulled the heat all the way back to low. Add the onions and cook, stirring pretty frequently, until they’re caramelized. (I ‘m not great at caramelizing onions, but just remember to keep the heat pretty low, keep some grease in the pan, and stir a lot, and they should turn out okay.)
  5. Once the onions are finished, add them to the potatoes with the salt and black pepper and mash.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Now the fun part – putting the knish together. Divide the dough in half, and sprinkle some flour on whatever surface you’ll be using to roll out the dough.
  8. Roll the first half of the dough into about a 12 by 12 inch square, and add half the potato filling, placing it into a log shape near one edge of the dough. Carefully roll until the filling has been securely wrapped in dough, then tuck in the edges on the ends.
  9. Twist the dough into three about equal parts, and close off one end of each section – this will be the bottom of the knish.
  10. Squish each knish into a round shape and seal the top, or leave it open – the choice is yours. I left the tops of my knish slightly open.
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 with the second half of the dough, then place all six knishes onto the prepared baking sheet. Mix the egg yolk and water, and brush each knish with the egg wash.
  12. Bake the knishes for about 45 minutes. My egg wash was too thin and the knishes did not brown up well, so I re-made the egg wash, brushed them again, and broiled for a few additional minutes.
  13. Let the knishes cool before handling or eating.

While the caramelized onions were tasty, I think I will add some herbs and/or spices to the potato mixture next time.

Source: Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Visions of Sugarplums (and Other Tasty Things) Danced in Their Heads

The holiday season is a great time to try out new recipes – many of us have some time off from work and are surrounded by family members and/or friends on which to test new creations. I’d been on the lookout for holiday recipes for a few weeks and found three that sounded great. These are all dairy-free recipes, the sugarplums are vegan and the thumbprint cookies can be made vegan if you sub something in for the honey (the original recipe used maple syrup, which I didn’t have on hand).

Sugarplums

Note: The sugarplums mentioned in the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (aka “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) are very different from this more modern recipe.

Sugarplum single

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) dried figs
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried cranberries and/or dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp candied ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Topping: granulated sugar and candied ginger

Instructions

  1. Place the pecans and walnuts in a dry skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. In food processor process dates, figs, cranberries/cherries, apricots, ginger, orange zest, and cooled nuts until minced. Add enough orange juice to make it all stick together.
  3. In a smaller grinder, combine sugar and candied ginger and process until uniform in size. Transfer to a small bowl and roll sugarplums in mixture before placing on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  4. Allow the sugarplums to sit until they’re no longer sticky.

These sugarplums were a bit too tart/orange-y for me; in the future I will probably leave out the candied ginger and some of the orange zest.

Source: Slightly adapted from recipe printed in St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 12, 2013

Thumbprint Cookies

Cookies 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole walnuts (or other nut of your choice)
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • Jams, fruit butters, etc for filling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the nuts until they are whatever size you prefer. I like the nuts in these cookies minced – I like the nutty taste but don’t want to be chewing large chunks of nut. Transfer the nuts into a large bowl.
  3. Using food processor/blender, grind the oats with the salt into a coarse meal. Transfer the oats to the bowl with the nuts, then add 1 1/4 cup of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup.
  4. Pour the oil into the bowl, then add the honey. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
  5. Form the dough into balls about the size of a whole walnut and place on the baking sheet.
  6. Using a small measuring spoon or your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each ball and fill with jam, fruit butter, etc. I like to taste a bit of the filling with each bite of the cookie, so I fill them accordingly.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes. Move to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from The Kitchn

Dairy-Free Eggnog

Eggnog 1

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sweetener (your choice)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste (and more for on top)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut and almond milk to about 160°F. I used a meat thermometer to gauge the temperature because that’s what I had on hand.
  2. While milk is heating to desired temperature, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until they’re light yellow. Once milk temperature has reached 160°F, pour 1 cup of the milk into egg yolks while continuing to whisk.
  3. Once the milk and eggs are fully incorporated, add the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Chill for 1 or 2 hours. I chilled the mixture in a metal mixing bowl in my garage for about an hour.
  4. When mixture is cool, pour into a blender and add the vanilla, spices and sweetener. Blend well. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg on top and enjoy.

You can add more egg yolks to this if you like a stronger egg-y flavor. You can also add your choice of alcohol to the nog if you’re in the mood for an adult beverage.

Need to use up leftover egg whites? Use them in a variety of recipes or freeze them for later use.

Source: Slightly adapted from Indian Country Today Media Network

Vegan Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Soup

I was at Cahoots Coffee Bar in Saint Paul for a meeting one day after work, and was hungry but not in the mood for a super big meal. I ordered their Vegan Cream of Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup (I think that’s what it was called… it was a long name) and it was great, especially on such a cold day (we get quite a few of those here in Minnesota). I wrote myself a note in my planner, and finally got around to trying to replicate the soup today. It’s a little less creamy than the original, but still delicious.

Vegan Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Soup

Butternut squash soup 2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, split in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Drizzle one tablespoon olive oil on squash and sprinkle with one teaspoon salt. Place cut side down on cookie sheet
  3. Roast squash for 30 – 45 minutes, or until tender. When squash is done, remove form oven and let cool.
  4. While squash is cooling, pour remaining tablespoon of olive oil into large soup pot. Add the carrots and onion and saute until they’re tender.
  5. Add the coconut milk, vegetable broth, and spices, and stir until combined.
  6. Once squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add to the soup pot.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender to thoroughly blend the soup.

This soup is good with a bit of fresh thyme sprinkled on top.

I am officially on winter break (one of the perks of working at a public school) and am looking forward to all of the cooking I’ll be doing between now and the end of break on January 2nd.

Source: Adapted from Eclectic Recipes

Stewed Prunes

When I was younger I thought that prunes were just for old people who had trouble going to the bathroom. They looked and smelled kinda funny, and weren’t really my thing. These days I’m a BIG fan of dried fruit, including prunes, though I have had a kind of love/hate relationship with them over the past few years. I remember really liking them in the Fruktsoppa (fruit soup) I had while a student at St. Olaf College (where I also had a funny/terrible experience with bouncing lutefisk), and this recipe reminds me of that wonderfully warm, spiced dish.

Stewed Prunes

stewed prunes

Ingredients

  • 1 orange, or 2 small tangerines, or 1 small orange and ½ a lemon
  • 1 pound pitted prunes
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Cut whatever citrus fruit you’re using in half vertically, and then thinly slice it (including the peel!). Place the citrus slices in a medium saucepan with the prunes and the cinnamon stick, and add enough water to cover everything.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes until the prunes are tender (my prunes had started to fall apart a bit at this point).  If you’re planning to eat/serve these right away, remove the cinnamon stick and do so. Otherwise you can store them in the fridge for up to a week.

I like my prunes a bit firmer than these turned out, so I will likely cook them for less time next time around. These prunes – fresh from the pan or heated up – are a great way to counter the cold weather we’ve been experiencing lately in the Midwest.

Source:  Orangette

Moroccan Carrot Dip with Toasted Pita Wedges

I’m always looking for creative ways to get my daily servings of vegetables, especially during the week when I pack lunches to bring to work. My default lunch veggie is baby carrots because they’re readily available and easy to pack. I like carrots, but I get tired of eating them. This carrot dip is a yummy twist on the usual carrots-in-a-baggie lunch time staple, and along with pita bread and some protein, could serve as an entire lunch.

Moroccan Carrot Dip with Toasted Pita Wedges

Carrot Dip

Ingredients

  • whole wheat pitas
  • 1 pound whole carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Toast the pitas: I followed the directions on the pita bag, placing them directly on the oven rack and baking for about 5 minutes, but they definitely could have gone longer. Once the pitas were cool enough I used a pizza cutter to cut each pita into 8 wedges.
  3. Meanwhile, combine carrots and enough water to cover them in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and cook until fork tender. For me this only took about 10 minutes, but it all depends on the size of the carrot pieces and how high the heat is under the pan. Drain in a colander and let cool for a few minutes.
  4. Put the carrots, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and spices in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.

You can use baby carrots instead of whole to save time, but I prefer the taste of whole carrots, and it really only takes a few minutes to peel and chop them. Spice it up a bit by adding another pinch of cayenne.

Source: Adapted from Weight Watchers Momentum Healthy Cooking Basics

Lentil Bread

I’ve been meaning to make some bread for a while now – just waiting to find a good recipe and the perfect occasion at which to serve it. My family was planning to go to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving, so I decided to make some bread to serve as our contribution to the meal. The savory-ness of this bread pairs wonderfully with traditional Thanksgiving fare. It’s wonderful with just a bit of gravy on top, and would probably be great in stuffing, too.

Lentil Bread

Lentil Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dry red/pink lentils
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • a generous pinch of cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • handful of rolled oats (for sprinkling on top of bread)

Instructions

  1. Wash and drain the lentils. Place in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Cook on medium-low heat until tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let the mixture sit until frothy – about 10 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, mix the flours, salt, and spices together. Add to the yeast mixture. Add the oil, cooked lentils, and water and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour or water as needed.
  4. Grease the bowl, sprinkle a bit of water on top of the dough, cover with a towel, and let sit for 1 1/2 — 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. When dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead for another minute. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased bread pan. Sprinkle water on top. Sprinkle oats on top, and press them into the dough (otherwise they’ll just go everywhere when you take the loaf out of the pan). Cover with a towel and let rise for 40 minutes.
  6. Bake at pre-heated 375° F for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and has formed a nice crust on the outside.

Source: Adapted from Vegan Richa