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stuffingbread stuffed dumplingfinished 004Sheila Hibben married former U.S. diplomat Paxton Pattison Hibben in Athens in 1916, and twelve years later she was widowed, faced with the urgent problem of how to provide for herself and a small child. That is how Sheila Hibben began her career as a food writer and cookbook authorEventually Mrs. Hibben became the New Yorker magazine’s first food critic and regular food columnist.  (Fans of the Nero Wolfe mysteries may be interested to know that it was Mrs. Hibben who provided their author, Rex Stout, with menus for his detective novels.)

Mrs. Hibben’s first cookbook came out in 1932.  It was a book about regional American cooking called The National Cookbook:  A Kitchen Americana and, while there have been plenty of American regional cookbooks published since then, Mrs. Hibben’s book still holds its own as a fine example of the genre.  (The book is available here in its entirety in the Hathi Digital Trust online library.)

In the introduction to her book, Mrs. Hibben makes a strong pitch for using fresh, local ingredients, advising “the American housekeeper” to “pay attention to how things taste,…study the materials of her own district,..and become a virago even about fresh materials”.  Her endorsements of refrigeration and canning are qualified.  “[They] mean progress,” she writes, “But progress has upset the apple-cart of permanent and enduring standards.  It is in the combination and balance of old and new,..that a healthy program arises.”

‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’. For many of us, balancing convenience and quality in the kitchen is still a challenge.

Mrs. Hibben’s enthusiasm for the great ethnic variety in America’s eating traditions shapes how she views regional American cooking.  And, while she writes with appreciation of the variety of non-European ethnic cuisines influencing what America eats, this collection is confined to straightforward and familiar dishes from European cooking styles.  That is what Mrs. Hibben knows best. Born in Montgomery Alabama in 1888, she spent much of her youth in France and Italy.

Her measure of good food is not how fancy it is, or how novel, but how the end result tastes.  Traditional ethnic recipes are, in her view,  good sources for good food, since dishes with long-standing traditions are ones that have stood the taste-test of time.

Kroppkakor are a part of America’s Scandinavian food heritage.  They are a fine accompaniment to a fine dinner and are, to use one of Mrs. Hibben’s expressions, ‘honest victuals’.

Postcript:  Those who wish to give some of Mrs. Hibben’s recipes a try may wish to begin by looking at the preface to the book, ‘Miscellany’ (p. xvii) in which she describes her understanding of some kitchen basics, like measuring dry ingredients and regulating oven temperatures…thereby insuring that you and Mrs. Hibben are ‘reading off the same recipe’.

stuffingbread stuffed dumplingfinished 008Kroppkakor ~ Swedish Stuffed Potato Dumplings (Ingredients amounts are given below for 14 – 16 dumplings and 30 – 32 dumplings)

A Timing Note:  The dumplings may be prepared several hours in advance through Step 6 of forming them, refrigerated, and fried later in the day.

kropkakkor swedish potato dumplings 009Ingredients for 14 – 16 dumplings

  • 2 big Idaho Potatoes (or about 1 pound or 500 grams of potatoes, unpeeled potatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Bacon or Goose Fat or Butter (28 g)
  • 1/3 cup of minced Prosciutto (about 35 grams):  Any other Ham you like may be substituted.
  • 2 Tablespoons of minced Onion (28 g)
  • Optional:  1/8 teaspoon of Ground Cloves
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (33 grams) of White Unbleached Flour, plus a little flour for the pastry board
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Salt, plus a little to sprinkle on the dumplings once they are fried
  • 1/8 teaspoon of coarse-ground Black Pepper
  • Oil for Deep Frying:  There should be enough oil so that the dumplings float freely, without touching the bottom of the pot, as they fry.  The photographed dumplings are fried in Peanut Oil.
  • Optional:  a little chopped Parsley to sprinkle on the fried dumplings, or branches of Parsley to lay alongside the dumplings

Ingredients for 30 – 32 dumplings:

  • 4 big Idaho Potatoes (or about 2 pounds or 1 kilo, unpeeled potatoes)
  • 4 Tablespoons of Bacon or Goose Fat or Butter (56 g)
  • 2/3 cup of minced Proscuitto (about 70 grams):  Any other Ham you like may be substituted.
  • 4 Tablespoons of minced Onion (56 g)
  • Optional:  1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cloves
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (66 grams) of White Unbleached Flour, plus a little flour for the pastry board
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt, plus a little to sprinkle on the dumplings once they are fried
  • 1/4 teaspoon of coarse-ground Black Pepper
  • Oil for Deep Frying:  There should be enough oil so that the dumplings float freely, without touching the bottom of the pot, as they fry.  The photographed dumplings are fried in Peanut Oil.
  • Optional:  a little chopped Parsley to sprinkle on the fried dumplings

Equipment:

  • a Grater with Large Holes
  • a Mixing Bowl
  • a Pastry Board and Rolling Pin
  • a 2-inch (5 cm)  round Biscuit Cutter or a small Glass with a 2-inch (5 cm) mouth
  • a Spatula with a flat blade
  • a Baking Sheet lined with Parchment or Waxed Paper
  • a Pot for Deep Frying
  • a Slotted Spoon
  • a Deep-Fry Thermometer is useful for maintaining the oil at the best frying temperature

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C ).  Prick holes in the unpeeled potatoes and bake them until they are tender–for, perhaps, an hour or a little less. Cool them.

2.  While the potatoes cool, make the stuffing.  Melt the fat or butter over low heat and add the prosciutto.  Cook it, stirring, for a couple of minutes, until the ham begins to turn golden around the edges.  Add the onions and continue cooking, stirring the mixture about, until both prosciutto and onion are golden.  Transfer them to a bowl to cool.  Stir in the ground cloves, if including them.

3.  Grate the potatoes over the large-sized holes of a grater.  There’s no need to peel them.  The peel will fold back as the potato runs through the holes of the grater.

4.  Place the grated potato in a mixing bowl.  Add the beaten egg, flour, salt and pepper, and mix everything together with one hand, squeezing and kneading the mixture into a cohesive dough.  The dough will be damp but not sticky.

kropkakkor swedish potato dumplings 0225.  Turn the dough out on a lightly floured pastry board and roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-inch (about 1/2 cm).  Cut rounds with the biscuit cutter or  glass.  Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper.  Use the flat blade of the spatula to slide under any rounds that stick to the pastry board–In this way, they will come away from the board without losing their shape.  Place about 1 teaspoon of stuffing in the center of  half of the rounds.

kropkakkor swedish potato dumplings 0256.  Cap the rounds containing stuffing with the remaining rounds…

kropkakkor swedish potato dumplings 028…Press the edges of each pair of rounds together and roll them into balls.  The dumplings may be prepared up to this point several hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated until you are ready to fry them.

kropkakkor swedish potato dumplings 0317.  To fry the dumplings, pour oil into a deep pot.  There should be enough oil to allow the dumplings to float freely without touching the bottom of the pot as they fry.

8.  Heat the oil to 360 F (about 185 C) and place a few of the dumplings at a time in the hot oil to fry until they are golden.  Stir the dumplings about gently with a slotted spoon to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  They will fry in about 3 minutes.  Drain them and fry the rest in the same way.

9.  Before serving, you might sprinkle them with salt and a little chopped parsley, or garnish with a branch of parsley.

stuffingbread stuffed dumplingfinished 009A Note:  Kroppkakor are served with Sauerbraten Lüchow’s in the Main Course of the Dinner Menu:  Dinner at Journey’s End.

A Request to Readers and Cooks:  A subscriber has requested advice on making Orange and/or Lemon Marmalade.  Her question is posted in the diplomatickitchen’s Ask and Tell feature.  Your good recipes for either of these marmalades will be greatly appreciated.  You are invited to go to Ask and Tell and contribute your version of this recipe.

stuffingbread stuffed dumplingfinished 014© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2013

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