One of my warmest childhood memories is of the time that I spent at my grandmother’s house in The Bronx. On Sundays, after Hebrew school, we gathered with aunts, uncles, and cousins for all sorts of special foods, lively conversation, and a good game of cards. There were a lot of us! But as the youngest of the youngest, my time to shine was on Passover, when from the end of the last bridge table I stood, with all eyes focused on me, to chant the Four Questions in the traditional learnensteiger motif. I also had a seat closest to the kitchen where the real action was. My grandmother’s kosher kitchen was abuzz for days before the seder and I was there to help with chopping of the liver, grinding of the fish for gefilte fish, and the making of my favorite, the bilkalach.
My grandmother’s bilkalach were a Passover version of potato knishes which I have adapted from memory. I have a dairy house, so mine are stuffed with browned onions. My grandmother stuffed hers with chopped liver and other sorts of meat too.
Note: I have never really thought of the proper proportions for this recipe. So feel free to play around with them. There should be twice as many potatoes as onions.
2 lbs white potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb yellow onions thinly sliced
4 Tbsp canola oil (or other light oil or margarine/butter)
¼ C matzah meal (more if needed)
ground salt/pepper to taste
1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease of your choice.
2.. Brown sliced onions in 2 Tbsp of oil in large frying pans. Look for carmelization. (You can add a little sugar if you like.) Add more oil if necessary. When cooled, blot extra oil with paper towel.
3. As onions are browning, boil potatoes in large pot until soft.
4. When potatoes are soft (test with fork) drain and return to the pan.
5. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
6. While still warm, mash. Add one at a time: 2 eggs, remaining 2 tbsp of oil, matzah meal, salt & pepper. Mix together.
7. When potatoes/onions are cool enough to touch, wet hands, scoop out some potatoes and shape like a hamburger. Holding it in one had, create a well on top. Place the onions in the well and mold the potatoes to enclose the onions. When your potato-burger is smooth all around, place it on your sheet pan and repeat.
8. Using last egg, mixed with a few drops of water, brush the top of the bilkalach.
9. Cook for about 90 minutes, until tops are golden brown.