It isn’t Kosher but it is delicious! (Note: See the comments section below)
Boil firm quartered potatoes in cold salted water until what Italians would call al dente (just barely cooked). Do not overcook.
Mash with an ordinary potato masher. Add nothing. Let cool just enough to handle. Using your hands, make large flat patties, perhaps four inches in diameter.
Using an ice cream scoop, place a scoop of your favourite stiff chicken pot pie filling in the middle of the potato patty. You could use a scoop of firm, not runny, chili con carni or a scoop of leftover beef stew. My oxtail ragout works. Using pulled roast pork, you could have a pig in a blanket knish.
Wrap the firm potato patty around the scooped filling. Form an oval-shaped ball. Pinch completely closed. Paint with just a little thin egg wash. Roll in semolina flour, covering completely. Pat the semolina so it sticks well.
Using a large spider spoon, gently place each knish into a 350 F oil pot. I prefer Mazola Corn Oil. Gently turn the knish a couple of times just until the potato turns golden. Remove immediately. Rest on white paper towel. Pat the top dry. Handle gently. Salt.
Using a steak knife, split the oval ball down the centre on its serving plate. Top each half with a generous dollop of sour cream. If you enjoy, chop a mixture of fresh dill, fresh thyme, fresh parsley or maybe fresh snipped chives over the sour cream. Serve hot. Two per serving often is plenty.
You could drizzle with your favourite gravy, rather than the sour cream.
A side of my sugared, buttered carrots is nice. If you insist that you need a salad, my Caesar salad pairs well. Try the French way, served after the main course, with peeled slices of fresh parm over top. To make the salad with a little different touch, sprinkle very fresh (not frozen) large juicy blueberries over the Caesar salad.
ALTERNATE: Make potato bread patties instead. Fill two slices with any of the readymade knish mixes and grill in a tiny bit of sizzling ghee or a knob of unsalted butter. Tasty, indeed.
Savoury pithiviers (to start or to finish)
Prepare filling that you would use for a chicken pot pie, keeping the roux rather stiff instead of gravy-like. Using an ice cream scoop, make individual servings placed on a parchment-lined sheet. Freeze until not quite rock hard. You want to be able to flatten the scoops to mash to look a little like a hamburger patty.
While the scoops are freezing, prepare frozen, thawed, store-bought real butter puff pastry sheets. Using a three-inch cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as possible. Refrigerate on a baking sheet lined with parchment in the coldest part of the fridge to keep the pastry cold, firm and puff-able.
Preheat the oven and follow puff pastry package heat instructions. Puff pastry always needs high heat.
On a parchment-lined fresh baking sheet, position the pastry rounds so they do not touch one another. Remove the pot pie scoops from the freezer and using a small pot, mash to be the same size as the pastry rounds.
Place a scoop of the chicken mix on each pastry round and cover with another pastry round. A little like a Napoleon.
Bake on the centre oven rack until the pastry puffs and becomes golden colour. Turn off the oven and let the pastry dry for another ten minutes. The chicken pot pie mix will continue to cook in its own heat.
ALTERNATE: Bake individual puff pastry rounds cut to the same size as a Camembert round in a single layer until puffed and golden. Once cooled, you can store the puff pastry rounds in an airtight container for a few days.
When ready to serve, heat the puff pastry rounds for five minutes in a warm oven.
Cut a room temperature Camembert round in half horizontally and put each half round between two pre-baked puff pastry matching size rounds. Brush the top with egg wash and heat in a hot oven for 10 minutes.
You could sprinkle the Camembert, before heating between the pre-made puff pastry rounds, with a tablespoon of my kumquat marmalade, or you might enjoy my tomato butter on the cheese. You could even choose one of my tapenades.
You could top the cheese with a few homemade candied walnuts from your pantry storage jar, or maybe top with a few homemade candied mixed citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar.
Serve right away. The pithiviers are a wonderful meal opener or closer. Perhaps decorate each plate serving with a small bunch of seedless grapes on the vine, sugared. You might serve a salad on the side.
Another way to serve: Fill the puff pastry rounds with the same filling you chose for the filo cigars. If using duck or pulled chicken or pork, definitely top with a dollop of my kumquat marmalade. Very yum!
You might want to make a not-so-plain old-fashioned sandwich: toast two artisan olive bread slices. Butter generously. Mound with juicy slices of leftover chicken breast. Top with a couple of tablespoons of my kumquat Christmas marmalade. Lay down a slice or two of Norwegian Jarlsberg light cheese (it’s Swiss and a little sweet). Place a second slice of toast on top. Cut on the diagonal using a sharp serrated knife.
Sweet potato pancakes with dates, figs and maple syrup – a hearty winter breakfast
Boil peeled, sweet potatoes in cold salted water. While the potatoes are cooking, fry a couple of bacon rashers until crispy. Chop fine.
Then in the residual bacon fat sauté minced shallots, finely chopped celery and minced fresh garlic. Careful not to burn.
Finely chop a fresh Medjool date and a small black mission fig from your Asbach Uralt brandy marinating jar. Add to shallot mix. Stir to combine and add to the mashed sweet potatoes.
Mash boiled potatoes, stir in a beaten egg, a little cream, salt, pepper. Add the sautéed shallot mix.
Use an ice cream scoop to make equal portions. Flatten each scoop to look like a pancake. Lightly brown both sides of the potato pancake in hot sizzling butter.
Using the beef gravy recipe, put a scoop of the ground beef between two pancakes and top with a spoon of the gravy. Cut the filled two sweet potato pancakes into four pie-shaped pieces and arrange overlapping on a serving plate.
Drizzle a little rich maple syrup over the pancakes.
Extra special: add a dollop of sour cream and a side of crispy bacon rashers. Maybe even add a once-over-lightly-butter fried egg that is just barely cooked so the yolk oozes out, as an additional side.
A side salad turns a hardy winter breakfast into a nice weekend brunch.
Sautéed figs in cognac cream
Sauté split fresh Black Mission Figs in real butter in a hot skillet. Flambé the figs using Asbach Uralt brandy. Sprinkle with golden brown sugar. Add a little more butter to the skillet. Stir gently for just a minute and remove the figs from heat.
Add a cup of half-and-half cream to the skillet and increase heat to scald and thicken the cream. Don’t turn your back. Stir the cream. When thickened, stir in a couple of tablespoons of your cognac figgy marinating jus and a sprinkle of salt. Add a very tiny drop of regular mustard.
Return the sautéed figs to the skillet cream. Serve warm or cold over a thick slice of pound cake or a serving of Genoise jellyroll, filled with fluffy whipped butter-cream frosting.
ALTERNATE in season: Sweat fresh cut chopped pink rhubarb (about two-inch pieces; it shrinks remarkably) with equal amount white sugar. Fold chunks of sweet rhubarb into the figgy cream and serve. Hot or cold.
Makes a great dessert crepe filling, too!
© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience