Goat Cheese-graced Knishes

Because I’m from Michigan, the first thing I think of when you say pastry-enclosed potatoes and veggies is PASTIES. No, not with a long a, but a short a. These are Cornish meat and potato hand pies, originally made for the coal miners of southern England to take down into the mines with them for lunch. Knishes, I suppose, are just Jewish pasties…and from a much older tradition, I imagine. Come to think of it, these are also a good deal like Russian pieroshki. Everybody into the pool, why not?!

So how could I avoid bringing these knishes to you, especially when I found a recipe that has been enhanced by the addition of chèvre? Yums! Thanks to Joe Pastry, you can have your potatoes, flaky dough, goat cheese, and eat them too!

 

Ingredients

One of the nice things about this dough is how easy it is to prepare and store. You just mix it up, let it sit for an hour, and it’s ready to use. Or, you can refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it, up to several days.

11 ounces all-purpose (AP) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil (very soft rendered chicken fat [schmalz], if you can find it, is even better)
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup lukewarm water

Whisk together your dry ingredients, beat the egg in a small bowl, and combine the vegetable oil, vinegar and water in a separate bowl or measure. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten egg and the wet ingredients. Bring the dough together with a spatula, then knead lightly into a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit for an hour at room temperature to relax and hydrate.

Directions

Whisk together your dry ingredients.

Then make a well in the center and add your beaten egg…

…followed by the wet ingredients.

Bring the dough together with a spatula…

…then knead it lightly into a ball. It will be somewhat oily feeling. That’s what you want. Let the dough rest and hydrate for an hour. It may weep a little bit of oil as it sits. That’s perfectly OK.

Meanwhile make your filling. Here I’ve got three medium red potatoes (cooked), about half a cup of deeply caramelized yellow onions (one onion diced finely, cooked gently in two tablespoons of vegetable oil over low heat for a little over an hour), about a two-ounce blob of fresh goat cheese, and a teaspoon of salt.

Mashed. This isn’t nearly enough filling for this amount of dough, but it’s a good “for-instance.” Knishes are great stuffed with just about any leftovers you have in the fridge.

When you’re ready to shape your knishes, generously flour a dough board. Pull off a piece of dough from the ball and start rolling. You’ll find that as long as you use enough flour, it’s a very flexible and forgiving dough that rolls out easily. Roll it out as thin as you can without the dough tearing. The precise shape of your sheet isn’t important. A rough rectangle is just fine.

When the dough is nice and thin, apply a long mound of filling to the bottom edge. I’m making rather small knishes, so my filling mound is small. For bigger knishes, well, you know what to do.

Then — and you can probably see where this is going — enclose the filling to form a long roll.

Roll the dough up in the sheet, but not terribly tightly. Knishes tend to want to break open in the oven. A little slack will help prevent this. Since this dough sheet is very thin, I keep rolling until the tube has about two layers on it. Some people really go nuts in this step and roll their dough out even thinner so as to give the tube four or five flaky layers. Me, I’m happy with two. Some like a thicker crust in just one layer. It’s really up to you.

When you’ve got as much crust on your knishes as you like, use a pizza cutter to trim off the excess. Add the scraps back to the dough ball for re-rolling.

Trim the excess, if there is much, from the ends.

Now to shape the actual knishes. This is very like making sausage. You want to pinch off about a three or four-inch length.

Give it a twist.

Then using your pizza cutter, cut it off.

The result is indeed like a small sausage. Pinch the ends shut to enclose the filling.

Turn the knish end-up on the pastry board…

…and with your palm push it down to form a squat cylinder.

Poke the top down with your finger to keep the center from crowning in the oven.

Lay the knishes out on sheet pans — these don’t need any proofing — and either bake, refrigerate (up to three days) or freeze (up to three months).

When ready to bake, paint with egg wash…

…and bake 30-40 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit until the crusts are golden brown.

 Now wasn’t that special??

 

The Birchwood – a PERFECT Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Wisconsin Cheese Marketing folks have got it going on, my friends. They are sharp, ahead of the curve, and sooooo good at tantalizing your tastebuds for cheese-centered dishes. I take my cheesemaker’s hat off to them. Kudos.

One of my favorite websites from them is The Grilled Cheese Academy, wherein they assault the reader with one delectable variant of the standard grilled cheese sandwich after another. And they are all to die for. I swear. The following entry felled me like a tree. It’s up for lunch tomorrow. Only because I already had dinner on the way when I found it tonight. Get on board, it’s bound to be a legend at your house.

Ingredients

No. of Servings: 4

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 yellow or Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6-8 ounces mushrooms such as cremini, button, portabello or shiitake, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
  • 8 slices whole-grain bread
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Aged Brick cheese or aged goat cheese
  • 4 large eggs

Cooking Directions

For caramelized onions: Heat large sauté pan over high heat; add olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter; heat. Add sliced onions and sugar. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring at intervals, for another 5-8 minutes to brown onions. Add water and stir for 1 minute. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Return pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon butter and melt; add mushrooms. Add pinch of salt and pepper and cook on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add chopped herbs and cook for 2 minutes. Remove to bowl.

Spread butter evenly on one side of the bread slices. Heat skillet or sauté pan over medium heat; place a bread slice, butter-side down, in skillet. Top with slice of Cheddar; add about 1 tablespoon each of mushrooms and onions, then top with slice of Aged Brick or aged goat cheese and another piece of bread, butter-side up. Grill for 2 minutes, then carefully flip over, cooking to a golden brown and melting the cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients (3 additional sandwiches). Place sandwiches on serving plates and return skillet to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and fry eggs sunny side up over medium heat. Season with pinch of salt and pepper and fry until whites are just set. Place an egg on top of each sandwich and serve immediately.

Now normally I don’t like orange colored cheese. I feel strongly that cheese should resemble the milk from which it is made, not Orange Fanta or Nehi. But the seductiveness of the cheddar hooked me here. See if you don’t want to just reach out and grab this sandwich off the page.

Have mercy!

Thanks to the wizards of Wisconsin cheese marketing. Vermont, I love your cheese, but y’all should take a marketing lesson from Madison!

Craig & Judi’s Savory Tomato Tart

Cheese, tomatoes, crust and onions....like a twist on pizza!

This recipe from friends who relish good food and great cheese!

2 roma tomatoes

3/4 C Birchbark Cloud Creme fresh goat cheese (yes, they specified ours!)

3/4 C caramelized onions

1/2 C crumbly blue cheese

3/4 C Italian breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Premade pie crust sheets

Cover bottom of a springform pan with pie crust sheet, exteding up the sides of the pan about 3/4 to one inch. Bake the shell according to package directions.

Meanwhile, caramelize 1 medium onion (cut into thin rings) in butter or olive oil.

Slice two roma tomatoes into thin slices.

Once shell is baked, spread Birchbark Cloud Creme on bottom of pie shell.

Arrange caramelized onions on top of goat cheese layer. Then sprinkle with blue cheese. Arrange tomato slices on top of blue cheese. Mix bread crumbs with olive oil and sprinkle on top of tart.

Return tart to a 350-degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool and firm up 5 min.

Remove from the springform pan and slice like a pie to serve.

Note: measurements may vary a bit according to the size of your springform pan.

Mmmm-- perfect for a summer's eve!