Monthly Archives: December 2013

Mini Cocktail Knishes with Kasha Filling

knishes email

Cocktail parties are always fun. Tasting little bite-sized foods that are easy to nibble on while sipping Champagne or elaborately mixed cocktails, sets a fun, festive setting.  I like to make mini knishes for a group gathering when the cocktails are pouring because they’re hearty and filling for a small bite. These knishes are made with a kasha filling instead of the typical potato filling. The kasha offers a nice balance to other bites on your cocktail menu such as mini latkes topped with smoked salmon or stuffed mushrooms.

Kasha is another name for buckwheat groats – a high-fiber, gluten-free grain that has a great nutty flavor. Growing up, we would eat Kasha Varnishkes, a dish of Eastern European decent was is Kasha with sautéed onions and bowtie pasta.  While heavy it may be, it is a lip-smacking comfort food – definitely saved for the 15% splurges of Hellbent Living.  The only other times I ate kasha as a kid was as a filling in knishes.

I tried making the kasha knishes using the Einkorn flour, but the dough didn’t hold up.  So, instead this recipe uses regular flour, which has the elasticity needed for rolling in the stuffing. The dough is a basic oil pastry that doesn’t require kneading and can be rolled out using the heel of your palm or a rolling pin.  Each portion of the dough gets rolls out to about 11″ by 4″.

The kasha filling is simply kasha cooked in chicken stock or water, with sautéed onions mixed in, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  You have to make the filling first so it is cool enough to handle.   I mound the the kasha on the dough about 1/2″ form the edge and it takes up about 1.5″ of space.

knishes stuffing on dough

Then you roll the filling pushing the stuffing in to the roll to form a log.  There is a lot of filling, so some may fall out as you roll.

knishes in roll

Using a pizza cutter, cut each log into pieces that are about 1″ wide.  You will get about 10 or so pieces per log.  The sides of the cut pieces will be open.  With your fingers, pinch the dough together to create closed packets.

knishes horizontal on tray

I serve the kasha knishes the same way as potato knishes with some hearty mustard in the side for dipping.  Though I prefer to eat them plain.   You can freeze the cooked knishes for advanced party planning.

Mini Cocktail Kasha Knishes 



2 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water

1 teaspoon Kosher salt


3/4 cup kasha

1 egg

1 1/2 cups of chicken stock or water

1 large onion cut in half and then thinly sliced

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Egg wash:

1 egg plus 1 teaspoon of water

To make the filling:  add the kasha to a bowl and add an egg to coat.  Place the kasha into a heavy pot and heat until the kasha separates and the egg dries up.  Then add the stock or water, and simmer with a closed lid for about 20 minutes until the kasha is cooked through.  You may need extra water or stock, if the kasha is not cooked through, but try not to add more liquid than you need.  In a separate pan, fry up the onions in 1/2 cup of vegetable oil with a pinch of salt and pepper until lightly browned.  When kasha and onions are done, mix together, season with salt and pepper to taste and let cool.

To make the dough:  add the oil, water, salt to a bowl then add the flour.  Mix with a work or your hands until the flour is all incorporated into a dough.  Wrap in plastic and let sit on counter for 45 minutes.

To assemble the knishes:  Divide the dough into quarters.  Roll out one quarter at a time on a floured surface to about 11″ x 4″.  Add a mound of kasha filling about 1/2″ from the edge lengthwise to span about 1″ high on the dough.  Roll the filling into the dough length-wise to form a log.  Cut the log into 1 inch pieces with a pizza cutter.  Seal the sides of each knish with your fingers.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush the knishes with the egg wash.  Place in pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, until the bottoms get a bit browned.

Makes about 40 mini knishes.

Cod with Lemon Caper Sauce

Cod with caper lemon sauce

I thought about this dish for the holidays because growing up in Brooklyn, many of my Italian childhood friends would celebrate Christmas Eve with a Feast of the Seven Fishes.  Most of the dishes were seafood or shellfish and then there was one dish of salt cod or baccala that all my friends would make a stink about. They hated this fish.  They said it smelled, tasted bad.  I never tasted it as given their critique it never became high on my list to eat.  But it was tradition, so their families served it to them on Christmas eve.

In trying to keep with the thought of tradition, yet providing a tastier alternative here is a recipe for cod with leon caper sauce.  It’s not a recipe for salt cod, but rather fresh cod.  What is great about this fish is that it’s study and holds up well with sautéing and braising.  The fish is dipped in a seasoned egg mixture, Einkorn flour and then again back in the egg to give a bit of batter-like coating.  It’s sautéed with little oil and butter for a few minutes and then taken out of the pan for the sauce to be created and then put back into the pan for a few minutes to coat with the sauce.  It’s quick and easy, you just need to be careful to not overcook the fish.  

cod with caper lemon sauce cooking

Cod with Caper Lemon Sauce


2 lbs of cod fillets, cut into 6 servings about 5 ounces each ½ cup Einkorn flour (you may use breadcrumbs or regular flour)

1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes

2 eggs

2 tablespoons water

2 large garlic cloves grated using microplane or minced

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup lemon juice

½ cup white wine

½ chicken stock

2 tablespoons capers

Salt and pepper

Make egg mixture with egg, water, 1 garlic clove grated, ¼ cup parsley.  Mix through. To the flour add the oregano and mix through. Salt and pepper both sides of the fillets then dip each into the egg mixture, then the flour, then the egg mixture again, coating both sides at each stage. In a saute pan, heat the butter and olive oil. Saute the fillets 3 minutes on each side.  You may need to do this in two batches. Move fish onto plate.  To pan add stock and deglaze the bits from the pan to incorporate into sauce.  Add wine and lemon juice, grated garlic clove, and capers. Cover and simmer 15 minutes until sauce is reduced a bit and thickened.  Uncover and add filets turning to coat, cover pan and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove filets from pan and our sauce on top, garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 6.




Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms with Caviar

artichoke bottoms 2

This is a perfect hors’ d’oeuvres for any elegant gathering. It looks beautiful and tastes great with any type of caviar.  You needn’t serve Osetra or Beluga caviar for this dish to work as it dresses up even the inexpensive caviar and it also works well with salmon roe or tobiko.  You can vary the quantities of caviar.  1-2 ounces should serve you well for 12 pieces. Depending on how much caviar you want on each bottom.

I got this dish from my mother who would serve it with cocktails.  I have also served it as an appetizer. You can serve it alone with 3 on a plate or place one along side of a salad.  Artichoke bottoms serve as the vessel for this no-carb, gluten-free appetizer.  I use canned artichoke bottoms for this.  It’s very easy to make.  Just marinade the artichoke bottom for 2 hours or overnight.  Drain the bottoms of the marinade and place about a half a teaspoon of sour cream or crème fraiche in the bottom and top with the caviar.  Garnish with chopped chives and lemon zest.

artichoke caviar 3 on plate

When marinating the artichokes, distribute the marinade so that some liquid fills the cups. You can extend the marinating process to a day or 2, as the artichokes do not get mushy.


marinating artichoke bottoms


Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms with Caviar


2 cans of artichoke bottoms

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 teaspoon mustard

1 garlic clove grated

Pinch of Salt

Few grinds black pepper

About a ½ cup of sour cream or crème fraiche

1-2 ounces of caviar

Lemon zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Make marinade by adding oil, water, vinegar, parsley, mustard and garlic into a bowl and mix through.  Put artichoke bottoms in a bowl or plastic container with a cover.  Pour marinade over artichokes.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and good for overnight. When ready to serve, drain the artichoke bottoms and fill each one with the cream, top with caviar and garnish with the zest and chives.

Makes about 12 pieces.