who's in the kitchen

The knishes of Grossingers, and a bygone era


As I sit here writing this column, four days before Shabbat Nachamu, I am nostalgic. It’s been 34 years since I was at Grossinger’s, but the memories are more vivid than ever.

Each summer, starting in 1979, I and my friends would travel up to the resort in Liberty, NY for Memorial Day, July 4th, Shabbat Nachamu and Labor Day weekend. But Shabbat Nachamu stands out. There were something about the Three Weeks coming to an end, being able to go out to the movies again, concerts and partying.

Although Grossinger’s Resort Hotel has been closed since 1986, we hoped that one day it would be refurbished. Alas, it was not in the cards. The current owner of the property is seeking government help in cleaning up the site, to demolish the last remaining buildings and construct a 300-room hotel and housing complex.

In the Facebook group Grossingers 1919-1986, I came across a post by Rich Lemonie called “Goodbye Grossinger’s.” Look it up — his pictures are amazing. Rich has custom-merged some of the pictures so that half the scene is Grossinger’s in its prime and the other as it looks now. He has stars superimposed on the hotel at its peak, and the same people standing in the same areas now decaying and abandoned. It really hit home.

Part of me would love to keep the memories alive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Grossinger’s Museum? You all have mementos from Grossinger’s — an ashtray, one or two or 10 of those photo viewers, towels, place cards, postcards, and of course, the daily Grossinger’s Tattler. We didn’t need the Internet — there was one place to be on holiday weekends, and that was Grossinger’s.

When I asked my husband to Jerry tell me his favorite memories of those weekends, he said he had never been there on those weekends! He came with his parents during winter break, and would visit as a counselor in summer camp. His favorite memory was one winter with his mother, father and younger brother, when he was 10 and his brother about eight. His dad was the sports star of the family, having been a soccer star in Romania. But now he was the photographer, as Jerry, his mom and his brother entered a toboggan race of mostly college kids. Jerry’s mom in her Shabbos garb and the two boys in their wool coats and Cossack hats found their way into the line. Lo and behold, they won the race.

So although the hotel has been closed since 1986, we still dared to dream that one day it would opened again. As each year passed and the hotel decayed a little more, we knew the chances were slim to none. But now that there are plans for the final demolition, that glimmer of hope is gone.

So, goodbye to the pink elephant lounge, the coffee shop, the grand dining room, the late-night shows. The ski lodge, the toboggan run, the skating rink, the golf course and tennis courts, the indoor and outdoor swimming pools and sauna. Goodbye Jennie G, the hostess with mostest. All we have left are the wonderful memories … and the recipes.

Jennie Grossinger’s Knishes

(via Meal-Master at RecipeSource.com)

2-1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup salad oil
2 Tbsp. water
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and drop the eggs, oil and water into it. Work into the flour mixture with the hand and knead until smooth.
There are two ways to fill the knishes. In either case, divide the dough in two and roll as thin as possible. Brush with oil. Now you can spread the filling on one side of the dough and roll it up, like a jelly roll. Cut into 1-1/2 inch slices. Yields 24 knishes.

Potato filling
1 cup chopped onions
6 Tbsp. chicken fat or butter
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Brown the onions in the fat or butter. Beat in the potatoes, egg, salt and pepper until fluffy.

Cheese filling
1-1/2 cups diced scallions or onions
4 Tbsp. butter
2 cups pot cheese
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. Sour cream
Scallions are better than onions for this recipe, so try to use them. Brown the scallions in the butter and beat in the cheese, egg, salt, pepper and sour cream until smooth.

Meat filling
1/2 cup minced onions
2 Tbsp. chicken fat
1-1/2 cups ground cooked meat
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Lightly brown the onions in the fat. Add the meat, rice, egg, salt and pepper, mixing until smooth.

Chicken filling
1-1/2 cups ground cooked chicken
3/4 cup mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Mix all the ingredients until smooth.