LESSON OBJECTIVES AND OUTLINE FOR TEACHERS
I. LESSON OBJECTIVES
A. The students will demonstrate their knowledge of proper cooking techniques by preparing the knishes; thereby demonstrating that they know how to:
- Measure and combine ingredients.
- Peel, dice, and sauté an onion.
- Mix, handle, knead, and cut dough.
- Roll out strudel dough to a very thin square.
- Fill the dough and roll up jelly-roll style.
- Cut the filled dough with the side of the hand.
- Pinch the edges of the filled dough together to form the rounded shape.
- Glaze the knishes using a brush.
- Bake the knishes until golden brown.
B. The students will demonstrate their knowledge of the origins and significance of knishes by completing the final Sample Test.
II. KITCHEN ORGANIZATION: TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
1. Since it is necessary to bake knishes for 35 minutes, a batch must be baked ahead if the students are to taste the finished product. They are easily frozen, if convenient, and rewarmed in the oven. Knishes made by the first class can be tasted by a second and so on.
2. Production is speeded up somewhat by dividing the class into two groups, each producing a separate filling and working with its own ball of dough.
1. The dough can be made by stirring together the ingredients with a wooden spoon, but if there is an electric mixer available, the initial combining of ingredients is easier with the mixer.
2. An easy way to handle the onion is to cut off both ends first, which facilitates peeling. Onions that have been refrigerated and are cold do not cause as much eye irritation. Slice the onion in half so that you will have a flat end against the table when dicing.
3. Make sure hands, rolling pins and surfaces are well-floured when working with dough, but be careful not to incorporate too much flour.
4. The dough will snap back like a rubber band at first, but with patience and a little care as it thins, it becomes less elastic and is very nice to work with.
5. Try to use the filling in such a way that dough and filling are used up at the same time. If the dough is thin enough, and therefore the square large enough, there should be about three rows of filling on each square.
6. Demonstrate the technique on the first filled roll and then let each student cut and form a knish with his own hands.
7. A 1-1/2 to 2-inch clean paint brush is handy for applying glaze.
III. FOOD FOR THOUGHT
A. Two fillings are presented here, but there are many variations of fillings that could be used to fill a knish. The more common ones are liver, kasha, and rice. Recently, knishes filled with spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and other vegetables have been making an appearance in combination with various types of cheeses and herbs. Discuss with the students what combinations are interesting to them and which ones are their traditional favorites.
B. The Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans gets much media attention in the United States, but the large Purim celebration in Tel Aviv gets none. It might be interesting to compare the similarities and differences of the two celebrations.
MATERIALS FOR CHEESE KNISHES AND POTATO KNISHES
- farmer's cheese (2 c.)
- eggs (4)
- all-purpose flour (4 c.)
- vegetable oil (1/2 c.)
- baking powder
- non-stick spray
- instant mashed potato buds (1-1/3 c.)
- onion (1 small)
- butter (1 stick)
- milk (1/3 c.)
- electric mixer (optional)
- small mixing bowls
- mixing spoons and forks
- 6-inch vegetable knife
- 2-qt. pot
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- small frying pan
- rolling pins
- clean 1-1/2 to 2-inch paint brush
- baking pans
- dish towels
- dish cloths
- dishwashing liquid
FOR THE STUDENTS:
CHEESE KNISHES AND POTATO KNISHES
Although knishes have entered mainstream American cuisine insofar as they can be found in most supermarkets with a delicatessen section and are available frozen as hors d’oeuvres almost anywhere frozen foods can be bought, they appear in Jewish cookbooks in the form that is most familiar to Americans only rarely. They appear to be uniquely of German or Russian Ashkenazic origin. Similar recipes for dough wrapped in various ways around a filling and baked are known by many different names in both Ashkenazic and Sephardic cultures, such as: borekas, kreplach, and pierogen. However, the classic recipe that is familiar to those of us in the United States, where they were a staple at every bar and bat mitzvah and Jewish wedding, produces a rounded patty-shaped crusty dough which encases a savory filling of potato with fried onions, liver, kasha, rice, or cheese. This type of knish is produced by the recipe below.
Since the flour used to make the strudel-type dough for these knishes is prohibited on Passover, another type of knish is made which uses mashed potatoes in the dough itself for this holiday. This mashed potato dough is wrapped around the filling. These Passover potato knishes are the most common ones found in Jewish recipe books. They are also delicious and a recipe for this type of potato knish can be found in the Passover Feasts course section of this curriculum.
In all its forms, the knish is very convenient street food and is sold by vendors in Tel-Aviv during the Ad’lo’yada carnival that takes place during Purim. In families where knishes are traditionally made, they are considered traditional fare for a Purim seudah, the festive meal that is enjoyed by family and friends during this holiday.
- 2 c. farmer's cheese
- 1 egg
- pinch sugar, salt
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 1/2 t. baking powder
- 3/4 c. lukewarrn water
- Non-stick spray
1-1/3 c. instant mashed potato buds
1/2 t. salt
1 small onion
2 T. butter
1/3 c. milk
1-1/3 c. water
1 beaten egg
1 T. oil
Group 1—Cheese Filling and Glaze
1. Mix cheese filling by combining ingredients in small bowl, breaking up cheese curds with a fork.
2. Prepare glaze by combining ingredients in a separate small bowl.
Group 2—Potato Filling
3. Dice onion and sauté in butter in small frying pan over medium heat. Set aside.
4. Bring water, milk, and salt to a boil in small pot over high heat.
5. Remove from heat and add potato buds stirring just until combined. Let stand 30 seconds to absorb moisture and fluff with a fork.
6. Stir in sautéed onions and butter.
Group 1—Dough and Cheese Knishes
7. Mix all dough ingredients together in bowl. (You can use an electric mixer at this stage.)
8. Empty out onto a well floured surface. Knead into a ball with floured hands.
9. Cut dough in half and knead each ball separately again.
10. Give one ball to Group 2 and roll the other out very thin on a floured surface to a square shape.
11. Spray very lightly with non-stick spray.
12. Place cheese filling one inch from top of dough in a strip about 1-1/2 inches wide along top.
13. Take top of dough and roll over filling, jelly roll fashion. Then roll twice more, and cut off with scissors from the rest of the dough.
14. Repeat process until all dough and filling are used up.
15. Pinch ends of dough together.
16. Cut strips of filled dough at 1-1/2-inch intervals with the side of your hand, pushing the piece away from the others slightly while pressing down.
17. Pinch to seal each end of knish. (The motion of your hand in cutting should just about seal the dough all by itself and a rounded shape results from patting the corners in your palm.)
18. Place on non-stick spray-coated baking pan and brush with glaze.
19. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown approximately 35 minutes.
Group 2—Potato Knishes
20. Follow steps 10 through 19 with potato filling.
These freeze very well and can be reheated in the oven at 350 degrees.
Makes about 40 small knishes. 20 Cheese - 20 Potato