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----- Original Message ----- 
From: Greg
To: phaedrus
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2003 10:12 AM
Subject: History of Fattigman

> Dear Uncle Phaedrus,
> I'd like to know the origin of the Norwegian fried Christmas cookie,
> fattigman.  How old a recipe is it?  Is it hundreds of years old or less?
> Why the threading of the tip through the slit?  What is the shape supposed 
> to symbolize?
> And why, with such a rich recipe, is it called "poor man.s"?
> Thanks very much for your help.
> Sincerely,
> Greg 

Hello Greg,

The true, contextual origin of the name "poor man's cookies", which is what "fattigmann bakkels" means, may be lost in the mists of time. Even the Americans of Norwegian ancestry over on the Roots-web genealogy message board haven't been able to pin it down. I could find nothing about any significance of the shape nor about exactly how old the recipe is. It was brought to the US in the 1800's.

The general opinion is that the ingredients for this rich cookie were quite expensive, so that after buying the ingredients, one would be a "poor man", thus the name. Perhaps the shape somehow also represents the fact that the cookies were expensive to make. I'm wondering if at some point the diamond shape with one end inserted in a slit might have resembled some sort of coin purse in common use.

See below for a reader's take on the subject.

Some recipes below.


Hi I am a third generation Norwegian,
My Grandmother was from Kristansund, my grandfather from Vadu.  My mom and I would make 
Fattigman every year for Christmas along with her friend whose family was from Norway. 
She is now 84 years old.
I was looking at your site to get a more in depth understanding of the history of this cookie, 
but guess what! I can explain "poor man" to you that refers to these cookies.
Realizing that in a large batch of Fattigman, it uses about 12 egg yolks, 1 pint of Heavy Cream, 
but only a 1/2 cup of sugar.    The farmers called it "Poor Man's Cookies", because sugar was 
hard to get, expensive for the average person in the inlets where food supplies had to come from 
far away.
So, because of ready available milk (cream), hens (eggs), butter, and mills for wheat, the 
cookies were quite cheap because they used almost no sugar. Cardamom is cheap in Norway, so 
the end result:  120 cookies without high cost!
Maybe this will help your readers, 


5 egg yolks
5 T. sugar
5 T. cream
1 T. cognac
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups flour

Beat together egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cream. Stir in cognac and
spices. Beat egg white until it's stiff and carefully stir into other

Mix in a little more than half of the flour. Let dough stand, covered and in
a cool place, overnight. Use the remaining flour-as little as possible-for
rolling out the dough; the less flour you use, the more tender the fattigman
will be. Roll the dough out a little at a time and as thinly as possible.
Use a fattigmann cutter to cut out diamond shapes. Make a small diagonal cut
in the center of each diamond, and "thread" one point of the diamond through
the cut. Heat lard to 350º F. Fry fattigman until golden brown.
Fattigman Bakkels
Credit: Family Recipe
Date: December 20th, 1999
Submitted By: DDees

   This ethnic recipe was brought to the U.S. in the 19th century and has
been passed down for generations. It's easier if two people prepare it, one
doing the cutting and rolling, and the other deep-frying. 

3 eggs

3 Tbsp. cream or milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tblsp. melted shortening
1 Tblsp. brandy or whiskey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds (see note)
3 c. all-purpose flour
Oil for deep-fat frying
Powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly. Beat in cream, sugar, melted
shortening, brandy, salt and cardamom. Add flour gradually to form a stiff
dough. On a lightly floured board, roll out as thin as possible. (The dough
is very springy and takes considerable rolling - it has a tendency to 'snap
back'). Using a sharp knife, cut into diamond shapes about 4 inches long.
Cut a lenghtwise slit in the center of each and pull one end through the
Heat the oil for frying to 365 degrees. Fry the pastries, 5 or 6 at a time,
for 1 or 2 minutess on each side, until lightly browned. Drain on paper
towels. Cool and store (or freeze) in covered containers. Just before
serving, put powdered sugar in a bag and shake a few cookies at a time in it
to coat lightly. Yields about 100 cookies.

***NOTE: Traditionally, Norwegian cooks buy cardamom seeds in the husks,
peel off the soft, light-colored husks and crush the dark-colored seeds with
a mortar and pestle. The seeds may also be ground in an electric blender.
 Fattigman Bakkels (poor mans donuts/cookie)

 Here is a Fattigmand recipe from my grandmother, who was born in Kragerø,
Telemark, Norway in 1871.  It's a lot of work, especially pulverizing the
Cardamon seed to a fine powder.  I do it by putting the seeds in a a piece
of cloth, like an old sheet, and beating the heck out of it with a hammer on
an anvil.  Cardamon needs to be fresh for the best taste effect.


Cream together:
1/4 pound butter     
9 tablespoons sugar
6 well beaten eggs            
1 wineglass brandy (optional)
9 tablespoons whipping cream   
4 to 5 cups flour (or enough to make a stiff dough)
1/2 to 3/4 ounce whole cardamon seed (remove seed from pod and crush)
4 pound lard (for frying - we use cooking oil)

Mix dough and chill overnight.

Roll dough very thin, a small portion at a time.  Cut
diamond shapes with a cutter, make a small slit in
center and pull one point through it.  Fry in hot oil
until golden, drain on brown paper (or paper towels).


----- Original Message ----- 
From: Judd
To: phaedrus
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2003 5:35 PM
Subject: Germknudel Recipe

> Phaedrus,
> I was wondering if you can help me.  I am looking for a recipe of an
> Austrian dessert, which I believe is called a Germ Noodle or Germknudel or
> Germknodel.  When I was 10 years old my family went to Austria skiing and
> the ski lodge had this "Germ Noodle" thing, which is a softball sized
> dumpling with a chocolate or plum (lekvar) type filling and it was served
> drizzled with melted butter.  Holy cow was it good.
> Unfortunately most people have never heard of it and the only place I know
> of to get one is in Austria at a ski lodge, which is, of course, not
> practical.  Now I consider myself a decent web surfer, but I just can't
> seem to find this recipe anywhere, and I've been looking for the past
> several months using various search engines.  Actually, I did find one,
> but since the recipe is, I think, in Swedish I have no idea what it's saying.
> Here is a link to the Swedish one in case you want to check it out:
> I checked your archives and I didn't see anything.  I'm not sure if you
> can help, but if so then I'd sure appreciate it.
> Thanks,
> Judd.
> P.S. - You were great in Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Hello Judd,

Thanks, but I can't take credit for ZAMM. That book is one reason I chose the handle, though.

Below is a recipe from an Austrian cuisine site.


(Yeast Dumplings)

500 grams wheat flour
30 grams yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
250 milliliters warm (not hot!) milk
30 grams sugar
2 eggs
30 grams melted, warm butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 drops lemon flavor
plum preserves
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

For yeast dough it is important that all ingredients have basically the
same, warm temperature. So, put eggs, flour and all that stuff out of your
fridge into your warm kitchen at least on hour before you want to start.

Sieve the flour into a bowl and create a little depression in the middle.
Put the teaspoon of sugar, the yeast and 5 tablespoons of the warm milk into
the depression (if you use 'wet' yeast, crumb it with your fingers into
little pieces) and use a fork to gently mix them with some of the flower
until you get something that looks very much like an old vulcano that has a
grey, muddy see in its crater. Let the bowl (covered with a kitchen towel)
rest at a warm place for about 15 to 30 min.

Add the sugar, the eggs, the molten butter, the salt and the aroma to the
dough, but put them at the side of the vulcano mountain, don't throw 'em in
the middle. Starting from the center and using your hands, mix the yeast
with the flour and the other ingredients. Add as much of the milk as
necessary to get a non-sticky, kind of dry dough. Again, let the covered
bowl rest at a warm place for about 45 to 60 min.

Take the dough, knead it well and form the dumplings. One dumpling has
roughly the size of a snow ball. You can create Bavarian Germknoedel and put
plum preserves into the center of each dumpling.  The same warm place: put
the finished dumplings at rest for a short time.

To cook the dumplings, put them into cooking salt water and let them boil
for 20 min. The pot has to be covered all the time. Serve them with brown
butter and vanilla sugar, or ground poppy and sugar.

Portabello Mushroom Soup

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: StaCon 
  To: phaedrus
  Sent: Friday, July 18, 2003 2:34 AM
  Subject: Copy Cat Soup from Macvaroni Grill for their Portobello Soup recipe

  When I had the intense pleasure of having the clear broth based soup with portobellows and was 
  taken from the life as I had once known it....

  Please some onn find that soup's recipe for me so that I may live again at last as the true 
  praisers of portobellers that I am......

  Pleeeessessseeeee help me unlock the key to this hidden recipe.......

  Awaits your answer.

Hello StaCon,

I have searched everywhere and by every method that I can devise, but I cannot locate the Macaroni Grill recipe. However, the below recipe from Bon Appetit is highly recommended.


  Portabello Mushroom Soup  
  Recipe By : Bon Appetit

  1/4 cup butter
  5 leeks -- white part only, -- chopped
  1 medium onion -- chopped
  10 ounces mushrooms -- Portabello, chopped
  1/4 cup flour
  3 cups chicken broth
  4 tablespoons dry sherry
  2 cups half and half
  1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  Melt butter in heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and
  onion; saute until tender, 10 mins. Add mushrooms and saute 5 mins.
  Reduce heat to low. Add flour; cook until mixture is thick, stirring
  occasionally, about 3 mins. Gradually stir in stock and 2 tablespoons
  sherry. Bring soup to boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer until
  thickened, about 10 mins. Stir in half and half. Simmer until slightly
  thickened, about 10 mins. Stir in cayenne pepper. Season with salt and
  pepper. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

  Stir remaining 2 tablespoons sherry into soup. Bring to simmer and serve. 

Tortilla Soup

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Somer 
  To: phaedrus
  Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 9:24 PM
  Subject: Soup recipe

  Can you please help me find the recipe for Tortilla Soup that is served at Cracker Barrel 
  Old Country Store and Restaurant?  The only ingredients that I am sure of are:  Monterey 
  Jack cheese, shredded chicken, and  taco seasoning.
  It was topped with crispy strips of tortillas.  Thank you very much!                   

Hi Somer,

I can't locate the Cracker Barrel recipe, but the ones below are supposed to be similar and just as good.


Tortilla Soup (like Cracker Barrel)

1/2 gal Water 
1 cup Diced Green Chiles 
2 lg Yellow Onions, Diced 
#10 can Chopped Tomatoes 
1 tsp Black Pepper 
6 Tbs Chicken Base 
2 cup Sour Cream 
10 ea Corn Tortillas. Diced 
2 cans Creamed Corn (14oz cans) 
1/2 gal Heavy Whipping Cream 
3 qts Diced Cooked Chicken

1. Add all ingredients thru sour cream to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Add the whipping cream to the stock and reduce heat to medium. 
2. Add the chicken and tortillas. Continue to cook until the tortillas dissolve and the soup thickens. 

To Serve: 
1. Add the soup to a bowl and top with teaspoon of sour cream, tortilla strips and cheddar cheese.

To make tortilla strips, slice tortillas into 1/4x2-incg strips and fry in oil until crispy. 
  Tortilla Soup

  2 Tbsp Olive oil
  1 med      onion, diced
  4 cloves  garlic, minced
  6 cups     chicken broth
  4  boneless/skinless chicken breast halves
  2 cups     tomato salsa(see below)
  Salt and pepper, to taste
  Tortilla chips

  Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add
  onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, until tender.
  Add broth and chicken breasts. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10
  Remove chicken and set aside. Add salsa to broth; season
  with salt and pepper. Cut chicken into cubes and return to soup. Put a
  handful of tortilla chips into the bottom of soup bowls. Ladle soup
  over chips.

  Garnish with any of the following: 
  lime slices, grated Monterey Jack cheese, minced cilantro, sour cream, hot
  sauce, minced onion, or minced jalapeno peppers.
   Serves 4-6

Brown Sugar Substitute

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Marna 
  To: phaedrus
  Sent: Friday, July 18, 2003 10:26 AM
  Subject: Sugar Substitute

  Is there any way I can take the product, "DiabetiSweet", and make it usable 
  for brown sugar?  Or do you have any suggestions, measure for measure, in making 
  a sugar free brown sugar subsititute?

Hello Marna,

I am not familiar with "DiabetiSweet", so I couldn't say. The only way I know of to make "brown sugar" out of either regular sugar or granulated sugar substitute is to add molasses to it. However, adding molasses, of course, adds sugar to it.

However, there are sugar-free brown sugar substitutes on the market:

Sugar Twin makes a brown sugar version.

People say "wheylow gold" is the best tasting sugarless substitute:

Steel's Brown Nature Sweet Crystals (Maltitol) makes the perfect brown sugar substitute for baking according to them.

The Sugarless Shop sells other brown sugar substitutes:
The Sugarless Shop



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