Miss Dobbins’ Potato Salad was a big hit when Kitty Hessburg brought it as part of the lunch to an icon art workshop she was attending.
When I called Hessburg to find out about the recipe and where it came from, she said it was included in her mother’s little cookbook.
Her mother was the late Bernadine Koenig, originally from Peoria, Illinois. I asked for the name of the cookbook.
Laughing, she said, “Have you ever seen those little cookbooks that were blank pages between two thin pieces of wood, held together with a piece of leather or heavy string? It’s a blank book to record your (or your friends’) recipes in.” I did remember those and asked if that one had a little chef painted or drawn on the cover. Yes, hers had the little chef, too.
The Miss Dobbins’ Potato Salad recipe is in her mother’s handwriting. Although Hessburg doesn’t remember Miss Dobbins, she remembers her mother making that potato salad and garnishing the top with either a daisy or tulip cut from a boiled egg.
It looks like your regular potato salad, but it’s not. To begin with, the base of the salad dressing is a cooked sauce made with flour, lots of sugar, dry mustard, lots of cider vinegar and an egg.
A couple of drops of yellow food coloring are added to the sauce to make it a pale yellow, then Hellmann’s mayonnaise is stirred in. That sauce, or dressing, makes a little more than you will need for 5 pounds of boiled potatoes, so it feeds a bunch.
There will probably be extra dressing that you can cover and refrigerate to use on sandwiches later. It tastes similar to Durkee’s Dressing.
The cooked potatoes are mixed with onion, celery, boiled eggs, salt, pepper and the dressing.
The salad should be made the day before you want to serve it so the seasonings can meld.
Although I reduced the amount of sugar, the sauce has a hint of sweetness and some of that is necessary because of the amount of vinegar. Altogether, the flavors blend well, producing a good, creamy potato salad.
Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.