Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Exit - Swedish Stuffed Potatoes

There’s a point when you look up from all the thousands of items of merchandise that you’ve been sifting through and don’t remember where you are nor how exactly you got there. The space you are in is cavernous, linking showroom, marketplace and warehouse. Even though you are on the second floor, you might as well be in a dungeon, for there are no windows. Even though there are many clocks for sale, not one of them is ticking the correct time. To enter the labyrinth of IKEA is to lose all perspective of place and time. It’s like being in a casino. This is the mega-retailer’s master plan.

Scott and I had been making due with a small dining table tucked into a tight corner of our condo for many months. We’ve entertained around the glazed maple orb, even hosting a Thanksgiving feast for five, despite the fact that the table barely seats four. For the most part, as a couple, we dine on the sofa, the coffee table propping up our dinner plates and utensils. It’s all very newlywed, though technically, we are not newlyweds anymore. The table has ultimately been relegated to the function of catch-all for books, keys, mail and general clutter. With Christmas dinner for six only weeks away, we knew that we could not defer our furniture shopping into yet another year. It was time to bite the bullet and go to IKEA. I dreaded it.

IKEA, as anyone who’s ever visited knows, is a godsend to the economy minded: the college students, first-time homeowners, and retirees who seem to make up the bulk of patrons. It can also be a boon for anyone who wants to carry away their booty without having to squander whole days waiting for a traditional store to deliver your furniture. This is the key draw for me. Unfortunately, you do run the very real risk of squandering just as much time trying to wend your their way through the complex, made even more exasperating by the 360 degree spin of the shopping cart casters, designed specifically, I believe, to slow you down as you try to advance but instead careen sideways into the next display. This can shake even the most determined of buyers who study the online catalog, set their sites on their prey and memorize a schematic of how to navigate the loop. People like me. To be forewarned, however, is to be forearmed. Or so I thought.

After a careful study of our dining table options and an understanding of IKEA’s MO based on a handful of prior shopping expeditions, Scott and I reaffirmed our vow to resist impulse-buy temptations. We deliberately choose to go at dinner time to avoid the crowds, arriving at 6 p.m., with the goal of spending no more than an hour in the brash blue and yellow behemoth.

Our strict schedule was pretty much a success. Though it felt like several days before we got to the car, we had only actually spent ninety minutes there, a little over our allocation, but not enough to scold ourselves for lack of discipline. Our new solid birch mini-tables, enough seating for eight, were stacked in the trunk. My one impulse buy, a Swedish cookbook, was squarely rested in my lap. I had breezed by the pots and pans, the cutlery, the glassware. I had ignored the napkins, wall racks and mixing bowls. I didn’t see it coming; it was just there. Resistance is futile. --

Kroppkakor - Swedish Stuffed Potato Dumplings (adapted from Swedish Cooking by NGV Publishing ) [Yes, after last week’s gnocchi post, it’s potato dumplings again. Sometimes, you just don’t want to escape.]


4 large Russet baking potatoes or other dry, mealy variety
1 egg, beaten
¾ -1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon butter or oil
3 cups finely chopped mushrooms
½ cup minced onions
1 tablespoon red wine
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Butter or oil
1 cup freshly chopped parsley


Either bake or boil potatoes until tender. When potatoes are cool to touch, press them through a ricer into a large bowl. Beat egg into riced potatoes until well mixed. Add salt and pepper. Incrementally beat flour into potato mixture until it becomes a stiff but malleable dough. Gather dough into a ball and place on well-floured surface. Mold, press and stretch dough out into a long blocky roll approximately 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. (Work in multiple batches if your surface is limited.) Cover with a dry dish towel. (If you want larger or smaller dumplings, you can resize the dough to suit your preference. I made mine the size of golf balls.)

In a large skillet, gently cook mushrooms and onions in the butter until soft and shrunken. Turn up the heat to medium, allowing the mixture to brown and crisp, stirring occasionally. Add red wine, salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the mixture resembles dark brown, finely chopped raisins. Remove from heat.

Cut the roll/s of dough at 2 inch intervals, then press a finger to depress the center of each piece of dough. Fill each depression with a little of the mushroom stuffing, cupping the dough in your palm as you close your fingers around it to bring together the edges into a ball, gently pressing and pinching the seams closed. Slightly dampen your hands to shape and smooth each dumpling. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Gently drop dumplings into water without crowding them. Dumplings are cooked when they rise to the surface. Scoop them out of the water with a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Butter the dumplings then scatter the tops of them with parsley. Serve immediately while hot. Serves 4 generously. --

This post is being submitted to Vanessa of What Geeks Eat..., hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of this popular food blogging event.


Been There, Done That ~

Sales Resistance & Potatoes
New England Potato Clam Chowder

Rosemary Roasted Blue Potatoes


Other People's Eats ~

Where's the Beef? - Potato Pancakes
More Than Burnt Toast - Ranch Mashed Potatoes


Ricki said...

We won't know what to do with ourselves this year with all that space! Can't wait to try these "taters" look yummy!

Lucy said...

It is very easy to get oneself very, very lost in IKEA, so round-about is that loop, but I, secretly, love it. The Swedish food section gets me every time...

These dumplings are marvellous - more potato posts please! - and the photo, of the 'taters and 'shrooms piled into a shopping cart of their own is delightful.

The Passionate Palate said...

Susan, I love your writing! Being in IKEA is something we can all relate too, even getting sucked into the Swedish food thing. The potato dumplings look really great, I have to say. Maybe I'll add that to our Christmas Swedish Smorgasbord.
Thank you.

Sylvia said...

Those dumplings sounds delicious.Well done

Kalyn said...

Sounds like a very interesting dish. I realize I know practically nothing about Swedish cooking.

Salt Lake just got the first Ikea. I went there once, and hated it immediately. I haven't been back and don't know if I'll ever go there again, so I was laughing all the way through your description.

sra said...

Wish we had Ikea here! I wonder if the filling is something called onion marmalade - came across that in some hotel here the other day, it looked v similar.

Toni said...

I've developed a technique for navigating IKEA. I always go into the exit and slide past the cash registers. True, I feel like a salmon heading upstream, but it's worth it not to have to go through all the "rooms" in order to find something like kitchen stuff or bath mats.

I've never considered stuffing potatoes. These look soooooo very, very good, I WILL try them!

Laurie Constantino said...

Your post is exactly what I like about food blogging -- learning about a dish that I've never heard of before, but that looks as wonderful as this one does. Thanks for posting this very interesting recipe!

Foodie Froggy said...

Wow, I totally agree with you about IKEA ! This recipe looks very interesting too.

katiez said...

What an interesting recipe - and the look sooo good! When I read the title I was wondering and say the photo I was wondering how you stuffed them - hahaha!
As to Ikea, it's a mainstay for those of us who don't have a lot of shopping options (Pottery Barn, Target, whatever) for all the little kitchen and household stuff...(We live in France - out in the middle of nowhere...just us and Ikea)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Yes, going to IKEA is a unique experience ;-P...
I love those potato dumplings! They look gorgeous and must taste wonderful!



Asha said...

Thanks for offering Susan. Gnocchi board is available here, but I didn't picked it up before because I didn't know what that is used for until I saw in your post!:D
Stuffed Potatoes looks yum.Kids would love them. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your's. Enjoy!:)

Mishmash ! said...

I am one of those impulsive buyers who cannot resist such beauties too :P

Anyway, enjoy the new table and all the fun and food of TG. Happy Holidays :)


Sandeepa said...

I love spending time at IKEA, more so when I don't have anything specific to buy other than knic knacks :D
I love the made up rooms and though technically I don't eat beef ;-) I enjoy the swedish meatballs there :D
So did you buy a dining table ?

Your swedish stuffed meatballs look you serve this with gravy and cranberry sauce like the meatballs ?

Simona said...

Reading your posts is always such a pleasure! You beautifully express my feelings about Ikea. And those stuffed potatoes look wonderful. I hope the tables will work out fine.

sagari said...

those stuffed potatoes look delecious susan

Retno Prihadana said...

Sounds delicious. Susan, can I use mashed potatoes?

Rosa said...

These are so cute! They look so much like small whole potatoes that at first I wondered how you got the stuffing inside. Congratulations on your willpower.

Susan said...

Hi, Ricki! We’ll really be able to stretch out this year. : )
Lucy – Thanks. There is a mixed consensus about IKEA (given the “polling” results of the comments here). That “shopping cart,” BTW, was an IKEA purchase. LOL!

I’m currently going through a potato phase. You can expect more posts in the next several weeks if I don't eat all the photo ops first.
Thank you, Jeni. In fairness to IKEA, they do have a very nice assortment of Swedish comestibles.
Thank you, Sylvia. These dumplings were more dense than the gnocchi of the last post, but no less delicious.
Kalyn – I don’t know too much about Swedish cooking, either. My first encounters were when I worked for a Swedish pharmaceutical company; they had tubes of salted fish roe paste for sale in the cafeteria. (And Swedish fish in the vending machines, of course!) Glad you laughed through the post. So did I.
Sra – You never know where IKEA will turn up next. They do have an ever-increasing global presence. This filling is essentially a mushroom savory without any sugar, so would be different from a marmalade although the texture is similar.
Toni – LOL! “A salmon heading upstream…” It’s all true! Oh, but they make it very hard to backtrack through the complex. Clever devils.

The dumplings were easier than the potato gnocchi. I highly recommend them.
Hi, Laurie. Discovering new cuisines/recipes is my most favorite part of food blogs, too. It would probably take twice as long to find the novel in the cookbook section of Barnes and Noble. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks!
Anne – IKEA does seem diametrically opposed to what I fantasize is the leisured pace of shopping in French markets.
Katie – The recipe title, taken from the cookbook, is a misnomer. I couldn’t figure out how to stuff potatoes, either. At first I thought they were boiled whole and then filled somehow.

I can just see a giant IKEA rearing up against the French countryside! LOL!
Thank you, Rosa. The dumplings really were excellent and fairly easy to make. Good to see you.
Thank you, Asha. I hope you try the gnocchi board sometime. Kids of all ages love dumplings. : )
Dear Shn – Thank you for your well wishes. I’m pretty good with impulse buys, but sometimes I am as vulnerable as the next gal/guy. : D
Sandeepa – I knew you would love IKEA, given how you enjoy shopping therapy. Swedish food does have some truly outstanding dishes. These vegetarian dumplings are traditionally served with lingonberry preserves, but I just had them plain w/ some butter and parsley. No complaints. : )

Yes, we did get our table, which turned out to actually be three small ones that can be configured any way we like. They can be lined up to easily seat eight. Yay!
Thank you, dear Simona. So far, so good with the tables. I’m sitting at one now, laptop in front of me, as I type this up.
Hi, Sagari. Thank you very much. Good to see you!
Thank you, Retno. You could use mashed potatoes but only if you cook them in the oven. They would fall apart in the water because mashed potatoes do not have egg or flour in them to bind and strengthen.

Ann said...

This looks baaaad... in a good way. :-)

TBC said...

You dreaded going to Ikea?! I love the place and could spend hours in there! We were there a couple of times earlier this year 'cos we needed to purchase a recliner and a table for the computer. I must say that I exercised enormous self-control in buying just what we had come for. My husband was very very proud of me:-)
Susan, I just sent u an e-mail. Please check your spam folder:-)

BTW, the potato dumplings look great.

Dhanggit said...

well ikea is really such a paradise for bargain hunters of good stuffs in the house.;the only thing is..i find it really hard to put together their furniture..a really brain twister.;sometimes my husband would spend 13 hours just to assemble them :-) love your potato dumplings such a creative and yummy way of eating for this season :-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

I tried to go to Ikea when I was in London but in the end there was no time - such a pity!
My credit card is thankful for that, though. :)

What an interesting and delicious recipe, Susan! I love anything with potatoes.

Kelly-Jane said...

We visited Ikea for the first time last month, and I'm still thinking about doing a write up. It was the candle holder section I was glued to!

Your table sounds great, and those dumplings, oh for a taste right now of one of those!

VegeYum @ A Life (Time) of Cooking said...

What a great buy if the recipes are all like this.

Johanna said...

looks like a lovely recipe - I might try it one day if I can overcome my anxiety of dumplings falling apart in the water - seems like they would have cheered you up after ikea (the first time we went we had to ask directions to get out of there!)

Susan said...

I couldn't agreed more with you, Ann. "Bad," sometimes really is best. Thanks!
Hi, TBC. Yes, IKEA nearly provokes panic attacks in me - such are people's differences. I'm glad you agree, though, that sales resistance is a badge of honor. : ) I must add that the Swedish cookbook I impulsively picked up was a very good investment; there are tons of fine recipes I want to try.
Thanks, Patricia. Nearly everyone loves potatoes. No IKEA in South America yet? Oh, give it time. And hide your credit card! : )
Hi, Kelly-Jane! I'd love to read your take on IKEA. Candles are such a lovely addition to the holiday home. It's no wonder you lingered among the candle holders.
Hope you try the potatoes someday. They were really first rate! Thanks!
Yes, Vege-Yum. The cookbook is full of fine, easy-to-execute recipes with gorgeous deep-focus photography at a remarkably low price. It was definitely worth the minimal investment.
Hi, Johanna. I can assure you that the use of egg to bind the dough will prevent the dumplings from fading away in the water. Very good to see you here again!

Richa said...

oh sure, the shopping lists are pushed deep inside the pockets never to be found again ;) it's a never ending maze, a fun place at that :)

those stuffed potatoes sound d-lish, would like to try them. i guess i can play around a bit with the stuffing, right? seasoning the potatoes well is the key here, i think.

Nora B. said...

Hi Susan,
I'll have to use your strategy at IKEA next time I need to go there because we've spent waaay more time than we planned AND indulged in impulse buys....

These dumplings looks so moist and yummy. And all your photos look terrific.

Have a good weekend!

Wendy said...

These look amazing! I just got a Swedish cookbook as a birthday pressie. Don't think this recipe is in it though. Feeling inspired to cook Scandi this weekend. :)

Gay Carrillo said...

This looks good and yummy!

Susan said...

Richa - Yes, the stuffing is very flexible. The original recipe uses pork, but I prefer the meaty flavor of mushrooms. They really were delish. Thanks!
Nora - For the most part our IKEA strategy does work. You do need a plan if you don't want to leave much poorer than when you started.

Thanks for the kudos. The dumplings were a little easier than my recent gnocchi, even with the stuffing.
Wendy - Thanks! Once you open up that cookbook, I'm sure it will be hard to turn away.
Hi, Gay! Thanks! Good to see you. Welcome!