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Dive Into Dumplings

Richards, Sherri. "Dive Into Dumplings." Forum, 8 March 2006, sec. B1 and B3.


Potato Klubb, a tradition Norwegian dumpling, is often large and very filling. Melted butter is commonly drizzled on top, but here bacon grease provides flavor.

Ask for dumplings anywhere in the world and you'll likely get your wish.

It just might not be what you imagined.

Dumplings are defined only as mounds of dough, usually cooked in a liquid.

Some are stuffed with meat or cheese. Others are sweet, wrapped around fruit, poached in a sugary sauce.

But in one form or another, dumplings are prevalent in every culture around the world, according to the Food Network.

Oatmeal is a common ingredient in England. In Asia, wontons are the typical form.

In Italy, they're gnocchi, used the same way as other pastas.

For the past few months, Sarello's restaurant in Moorhead has offered a gnocchi dish - served with spinach, mushrooms and olive oil - and owner Tony Nasello will lead a community education class on making gnocchi this spring.

"When you do them right, they're very fluffy and light," Nasello says. "They're like pillows, really."

When Rose Marie Gueldner, culinary historian and author from Fargo, thinks of dumplings, her mind goes to the flour creations from central Europe. She's devoting an entire chapter of her latest book, The German Bread Baker, to dumplings.

"It used to be a meal for a lot of people, certainly in pioneer days," Gueldner says.

"They were so easy to make compared to yeasted bread. You could do it with almost no tools. You just needed a heating source and you needed a pot," she says.

While the stove was busy baking the days bread, dumplings could be made on top of the range. A hearty meal with minimal ingredients, they could stretch other foods. They could also be made from day-old bread.

For Roman Catholic settlers, dumplings were a common meal on days when meat was forbidden, Gueldner says.

"For meatless meals, that was the entre. That was it," she says. Dumplings likely lost favor as those restrictions were lifted.

Dumplings started off as a food for the aristocracy, Gueldner says, until improvements in milling and sifting made refined white and wheat flour widely available.

At any Kroll's Diner, dumplings can be found every day in the knoephla soup.

"They're very simple, flour and eggs, some water, baking soda," says Keith Glatt, whose parents founded the diners. "It's a German-Russian heritage that is just something my family grew up with."

He also recalls knoephla fried in a pan with sausage and sauerkraut.

For nearly 20 years, Mel Larson of Fargo has made potato klubb for a monthly dinner at the Sons of Norway.

He mixes white and wheat flour, a little salt and baking powder, ground potatoes and ham to feed 125 people. The dumplings are cooked in a broth of pork hock and onion.

"She (my mother) used to put a little pork fat in the middle (of each dumpling) all the time," Larson says. "When you make 300 of them, you dont have time to monkey like that."

The dumplings are usually topped with butter, although some like syrup on top. "That's not something I was ever used to," Larson says.

He hears from several people, especially those from an older generation, that remember klubb, sometimes spelled klub (and sometimes called kumla). They say haven't had it since they're mothers made it, Larson says.

Larson declined to share his recipe. Otherwise everyone would know how to make it, he says.

Gnocchi, an Italian dumpling, is often topped with a traditional pasta sauce. Sarellos restaurant in Moorhead serves this gnocchi dish with mushrooms, spinach and olive oil coating.

I always get good reports from it, he says.

Swabian Tiny Dumplings (Schwäbisches Spätzle)

6 eggs, beaten

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves, optional

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Whisk together flour and eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir in milk, parsley and salt. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes to relax the gluten. The mixture will resemble a thick pancake batter.

Bring a large pot of salted water or stock to a boil. Place a strainer or sieve in a bowl near the pot. Place 1 cup of batter on a cheese grater with 1/4-inch openings, grating side down. Using a rubber spatula and holding the grater over the boiling water, firmly push the batter through the holes using a back-and-forth motion. Repeat, working quickly until the surface of the cooking water is covered but not crowded with dumplings. Simmer until done, dumplings have surfaced and the center of a test dumpling is not doughy, several minutes total. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon to the strainer; rinse in cold water. Lay on baking sheet to dry. They'll stick to your hand when ready to sauté. Repeat until the batter is cooked.

To sauté, melt half the butter in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Add half the dumplings; stir until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat with second batch. Serve warm as a side dish.

        Recipe from Rose Marie Gueldner

Potato Klub

6 slices bacon

2 cups all-purpose flour

teaspoon baking powder

10 medium potatoes, peeled and shredded

2 teaspoons salt

Place bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove bacon from the pan, and reserve the grease.

In a bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Stir in potatoes to make a sticky dough.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Squeeze the potato mixture into 6 or 7 dumplings, or your desired size. Drop carefully into the boiling water. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove to a platter with a slotted spoon.

Serve with bacon grease brushed over the top, and crumbled bacon. Serves 6.

        Allrecipes.com

Gnocchi

3 pounds russet potatoes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg, extra large

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup canola oil

Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft, about 45 minutes. While still warm, peel and pass through vegetable mill onto clean pasta board.

Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, like making pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished.

Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of the fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off.

Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup canola oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve.

        Foodnetwork.com

Knoephla Soup

2 quarts water

3 tablespoons chicken base

1 bay leaf

1 small onion

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon margarine

Parsley flakes

3 cups milk

Dough

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

Combine water, chicken base, bay leaf and onion. Bring to a boil.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add enough water to make a soft dough. Cut into small pieces with scissors; add to broth. Boil for 15 minutes.

Add margarine, parsley flakes, and milk. Heat to serving temperature.

        Recipe from Napoleon Care Center Cook Book, courtesy of North Dakota State University Germans from Russia Heritage Collection

-- Michael Vosburg / Forum photo editor

Reprinted with permission of The Forum.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
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