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KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
Meet Chef Ramni Levy or “King Knish” as he is known these days. Here’s his story. Moving from New Orleans where he found a love of cooking to Manhattan where he developed an interest in event planning. He then made it to San Francisco in the late 1990s, where he pursued his two passions. He opened a small bistro in the Richmond District, called Bistro 1650.
In 2005, he wanted a role where he could take bigger risks, and explore and experiment more freely, so he sold the Bistro to give himself completely to the art of catering.
In October 2012, after years of pleasing customers with Knish Hors d’oeuvres through his boutique catering company, he gave into their insistence that he introduce the greater San Francisco Bay Area to his gourmet Knish, an “old world dish with a new world twist™.”
King Knish is the only artisan food producer in the Bay Area dedicated to making the traditional Eastern European snack food. Leaving no room for confusion with the stuff one may find in the grocer’s freezer section, Ramni not only bakes his Knish in small batches, but are also focused on taking homestyle recipes up several notches with creative culinary flair.
Customers love the Classic Potato Knish, but are always excitedly looking for less traditional options from the King Knish kitchen as well, like the Wasabi and Potato with Crystallized Ginger, Pastrami. Despite his modern twists Ramni tries to stay true to the “Old World” history and traditional techniques of making Knish.
We met at La Victoria” a bakery and a commissary kitchen for our Foodie Chap chat. There Chef Ramni gave me a quick “101” in the making of Knish, the tasty little bun filled with all manner of “yummyness,” ground meat, potatoes and onions; you choose what works for you.
Listen to the interview to find out the story behind the Knish and why it became the bite that Ramni mastered…there is good reason that he is known as “King Knish.”
5 Tasty Questions with ‘King Knish’
Chef Ramni’s Knish Recipe
(Yields 24 small knish)
The Flour Casing
1/2 cup Oil
1/2 cup Warm Water
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
2.5 All Purpose Flour
In a large mixing bowl add the eggs, oil and water and thoroughly mix until well blended and frothy.
Add the remaining salt, baking powder and flour and blend well together. You will begin to see the dough to form. In a processor be sure not to overdo or the dough will become rubbery.
You can cut the dough into 4 sections and place on a lightly coated floured plate. If you wish to you may freeze some of the portions, tightly wrap in saran and put in a plastic bag.
Flour your wooden board and roll out the pastry dough to a very thin (like rice paper) and then using your round small cutter make your rounds.
Be sure to have flour to not have the dough stick.
Keep the rounds on a plate lightly battered between the rounds, so they do not dry out.
You should keep them covered with a piece of plastic wrap.
4 Red New Potato
3 Yukon Gold
3 Yellow Potato
8 – 10 (depending on the size) Mushroom/Button
½ Yellow Onion
½ Purple Onion
½ White Onion
1/2 cup Oil
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1.5 tablespoon Salt
1.5 tablespoon Ground Black Pepper from a Mill
Wash the potatoes and then cut in quarters, add to boiling water in a stockpot and cook till the potatoes are breaking apart.
Then pour in a colander and wash in cold water and let drain.
In your large mixing bowl add the salt and the pepper then add the potatoes and mash till the mix is all creamy and smooth.
Remove the stem of the mushrooms and slice in 1/2 then slice the mushrooms.
Make several slices of the onions and then slice to 1/4 inch pieces.
You can either put the onions and mushrooms together in a heated with oil pan or separately. Pour 1/2 cup of oil in the pan and make sure it is hot enough then add the mushrooms and onions and reduce heat a little then begin to sauté. Continue to cook and begin to caramelize about 3 – 5 minutes.
Remove from the burner let sit for 5 minutes then add to the potato batter. Mix thoroughly until silky and creamy.
In your pre cut (using a round cutter 4″) take a soup spoon and a little size of the batter and place in the round cut dough. With a little flour on your hands take the disc with e filling and fold in going around 2x, if a little filling oozes out that is okay. then place the knish folded part down and mold with your fingers making the knish rather stout in shape.
Then beat 1 egg and using a pastry brush do a light egg wash on the knish and then finish off with sesame seeds atop.
Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake 350 degrees for about 12 – 15 minutes, checking to see the tops are a golden look. Do not over bake.
Then take the knish out let sit form and cool.
Ready to eat and enjoy!
For more information, visit www.kingknish.com
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)