Last year, just before The Knish War on Rivington Street went to press, I re-learned the lesson
about being careful of what you wish for. Months earlier I suggested that the book have a recipe in the back, so families could make their own knishes—especially for families who live in parts of America that have never known the joy of knishes.
After signing off on the last edit I received an urgent email asking..."Where are the recipes for the knishes?" "Recipes?" I fired back. "Yes, recipes!" the next email said. "We need them by next week. PJ Library wants the recipes in the book!"
Immediately, I wrote to every Jewish friend who might have a recipe. Surely, somebody's Bubbe had left them a family recipe. I even promised a line credit and free books as a bonus. No takers. For me, reading a recipe is usually as far as I need to go; I can imagine the rest and leave the cooking to others. However, when I mentioned this project to the talented chefs in my family, there were no takers.
I had to face reality. After several hours of researching recipes on line and in my ancient and unused Molly Goldberg Cookbook, I combined the common ingredients and wrote down my version of recipes for filling and crusts. But, could I send them to my editor without trying them? Of course not.
There I was in my city kitchen with no baking utensils—no baking sheets, rolling pin, rolling board, mixing bowls...not even flour or baking powder. This was about to become a bigger creative challenge than writing the book!
Not only did I make knishes, I came up with a filling for potato knishes that works for baked or fried knishes AND I discovered it's also a good nosh between filling knishes. Having eaten enough knishes to know how they should look, I was able to make the baked ones and fry the other kind, getting hit with hot oil only once or twice. Still, I needed to have testers to be sure I was not just imagining how good they were. At a family gathering the next day I had my answer. My kids could not believe I made these delicious knishes! Neither did I! Maybe it was beginner's luck, I don't know. I confess: I have never made them again. I sent the recipes to the editor. I also put the recipes on bookmarks that I take to all my speaking events. So far (knock wood!)I have not heard any complaints. Find out for yourself....if you are at Book Expo, I'll be there with a fresh supply of bookmarks.
I'll be signing The Knish War On Rivington Street books at Book Expo on May 31st from 10-10:45 AM at the Albert Whitman Booth #1521. If you are there, come say hello or stop by for a bookmark with my delicious knish recipes—which also happen to be in the back of the book.