Knishes – Can be Delicious

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Knish DoneIt’s almost impossible to find an edible knish anywhere, let alone a truly delicious one. So with my mom’s 93rd birthday coming up I decided to make a knish she would like.  KCRW colleague Ariana Morgenstern agreed to help and we set a date for our knish project.

I started researching cookbooks and online resources and finally decided to follow Pam Reiss’s wonderful pictorial demo on  So I set about making the “stretch” dough two days before Ariana was coming over.  Traditional knish dough is like a strudel dough.  The gluten is strong from the kneading, yet all the fat in the dough forces it to relax pretty quickly.  The result is a dough that you first roll, then stretch until it’s super thin.  I found it very forgiving.  Any holes you get as you stretch the dough are camouflaged as you roll the cylinder.  Because I’m almost pathologically incapable of following a recipe exactly I substituted olive oil and duck fat for the canola oil called for in Pam’s recipe.  I also found the dough a bit too soft as I was beating it in the mixer.  (It was nearly a batter, probably because my eggs were too big and I mis-measured the water) so I added an additional ½ cup of flour in two ¼ cup additions.  When the dough looked more like Pam’s I stopped the machine and ended up finishing the kneading by hand.  I only did this because the dough hook to my mixer went missing years ago.  Pam says that she was taught to slap the dough on the counter 100 times.  So I did that, counting all the slaps.  The dough quickly took on a beautiful, soft, pliable consistency.  I was happy to see the tiny air bubbles in her pictorial in my dough.

Evan + Ariana at work
Evan + Ariana at work (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I refrigerated the dough and moved onto the filling.  I was inspired by Rae and Noah Bernamoff’s, The Mile End Cookbook.  They use potatoes, parsnips, celery root and onion along with two kinds of potatoes.  I decided to use Windrose Farms potatoes, onions, celery root and kale.  The only problem was not to eat it all for dinner.

Rolling 2The next morning Ariana arrived, pulled out her grandmother’s beautiful cherry wood rolling pin from its custom carrier and we got to work.  Making knishes is definitely fun with some help.

Ps…Last night my mom decided to microwave a knish.  It caught on fire and burned the microwave.  So it goes….