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What is it?


Janel

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It is Lefse, a Norweigian potatoe flat bread, which we eat while it is tender and able to roll up. One learns to eat it with butter & sugar as a kid, and then graduates to using it with cheese, herring or other tasty food that could be rolled into it.

 

Potatoes (riced), butter, cream, salt, sugar and then flour. Rolled very thin and cooked on a large griddle, flipped and then brushed of its excess flour. The stack is swaddled in clean dish towels to temper the moisture, set into a cool environment to "cure", and then stand aside while the family members roll their lefse to their appetite's content. It does get ouus and aahhhs from some! Believe it, or not! :D;):)

 

There is a long family tradition in this. My mother's father passed his knowledge on to me, and as I was rolling and watching the flat bread cook, I wondered how far back this tradition and skill goes back in my family lines. I will never know, but I, for one, am proud to brandish the lefse stick (used to transfer the rolled dough and flat bread from rolling to griddle to stack) in honor of tradition. There are precious few of those historic traditions in our lives now.

 

So, during this week of longest winter nights, or longest summer days, hold close to those you love, and remember those whose knowledge brought you to where you are today. Greet the new year with good cheer and a determination to learn and grow, and to do something to help others!

 

Janel :D

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I've got pickled herring at the studio, already ate the supply at the house. I don't get too close to lutefisk though. Having a mother who gags ;) when fish is near enough to smell she did not indoctrinate us towards that Scandinavian delicacy, so I don't seek it out at the miriad church lutefisk suppers in our area :). Unlike my mom, I like to eat fish, and herring is a great snack in a pinch. That and lefse are about all of the seasonal Scandinavian delights, unless I remember to look for Geitost at the grocery store. So far, I have only thought about it and don't remember to put it on a list, and really don't remember at the store. Something about a recent birthday...and short term memory...? :D

 

Have a good holiday, Dan

 

Janel

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Guest ford hallam

Hey Janel,

 

now that I've insulted your ancestors national dish :D , I must confess a real fondness for pickled herring ( I know them as roll mops ). In high school one of my mates , Ole bent sur Hansen ( a real Scandinavian ;) ) and his family introduced me to many of their national delicacies. They obviously held back on your particular speciality. Perhaps you'll be able to make it for me sometime :) .

 

hope you're having a ball with your nearest and dearest,

 

cheers, Ford :D

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Someone asked for the recipe. It is not a secret :lol: , I just did not guess that many others would be interested in the nitty gritty of making it. Nor do I know how my technique fits into the norm for others who make lefse, since I've not shared or met with other lefse makers.

 

So, is anyone interested in the long version of how I make lefse?

 

FYI, eight pounds of potatoes made about 55-60 pieces (not an exact science) on Saturday, and they were gone by Wednesday after sharing it with family. Lefse monsters! Yummm!

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actualy, my adress was Scandia, we lived on the east side of the lake.....we were sorry to have to move to Atlanta for my wifes work. Rather have stayed in Minn., or gone back home to Penna. In a few years when the wife retires we intend to return to Penna......we still have a home and acerage there.

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This is the rather lengthly version for making lefse:

 

I use an electric lefse griddle, or something large enough for use on a stove that can keep the cooking surface at a constant temperature around 450-500° F.

 

Lefse stick! My grandad made one that is long enough to reach across the griddle, with a roundish handle that allows one to roll it (hard to describe the technique) while placing the delicate lefse round onto the griddle. It has a rounded point and is very flat and thin, so it slides nicely under the rolled lefse dough without catching or ripping it. (an acquired technique through practice)

 

Four inch, new (no paint please) soft but firm paint brush, dedicated to lefse.

 

Prepare a receiving area for the cooked lefse. I wash several dish towels and run them through the rinse cycle twice to remove soaps remains before drying. I a place a medium pizza pan on the counter then a plastic kitchen garbage bag, opened, on that. Then an absorbent towel folded for the base, and two dish towels opened on that. Two more dish towels are folded to use as the cover which is flipped on and off when the just cooked lefse goes to the pile. The purpose is to trap the steam and to allow the lefse to retain some but not all of its moisture. Pliable lefse is the goal.

 

Boil potatoes with their skins on. Peel the skins, this should be easy when the potatoes are done and a bit cooled.

 

Prepare the lefse rolling place, I use a part of a heavy formica covered block of wood, with a sturdy piece of stiff dish toweling, or one could use canvas, taped tightly to the underside, like stretching a canvas. This heavy flat plank with cloth covering taped down all stays in place while rolling out the lefse dough.

 

A good rolling pin, and you may want to purchase some sticking-knit to cover the rolling pin. I never have it when I need it, so I don't know if it is actually helpful.

 

Rice the potatoes while warm or hot, or mash them. Measure the potatoes, mix the ingredients into the potatoes and allow to cool. When cool, add flour.

 

3 cups riced potatoes

4 Tablespoons butter (the old recipe used lard, ugh)

4 Tablespoons cream (I have used Half & Half, and/or plain skim milk, personal choice rules)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

 

When the above mixture is cool, add

1 Cup flour

 

Mix gently, add flour if too sticky, though the dough will be a soft one. Divide the dough in 12-16 pieces and gentle it into rounded patty shapes. You may sense the dough is too sticky or or stiff, so adjust the flour by adding more, or by adding more potatoes to make the dough more moist and pliable. Do not over-mix because that activates the gluten too much and the dough will not stay rolled out (elasticity like bread dough after kneading). The flour is added to give workability to the potatoes.

 

Mix only this size batch or smaller, because the dough has a tendency to get sticky while sitting. I've been keeping half the patties in the refrigerator while cooking the lefse, and use the porch with the windows open to allow the cooking room to be cool. (My grand dad worked in the cold Minnesota, November weather in the garage, so it was cool for him as well. I don't know if it was to keep out of the family hubub, to keep the flying flour in a less pristine area, or so that he could smoke to his content while working...)

 

When ready to roll, have a container of flour handy to use for flouring the rolling surface. I place the patty into that bowl and flour both sides, then place it onto the floured rolling surface. Roll the dough to you preferred thin-ness, I go for really thin and use enough flour to keep the rolling pin from sticking. Oh, turn the dough over and re-flour as needed. I use lots of flour on the board, so that when flipping the round it is essentially floured for the next bit of rolling. Use the lefse stick to turn the dough, using the stick rolling technique. It is a delicate dough, work carefully.

 

Slide the lefse stick under the middle of the thin dough and lift gently, lay the edge of the dough at the edge of the griddle and commence to roll the stick until the dough is placed on the griddle. Wait until the griddle cooks the lefse until the spots are deep golden brown to almost blackening (Your choice for that). Use the stick to lift and turn, then cook the other side similarly. I seem to like to flip another time to further the cooking a bit more, then place the lefse on the toweled receiving area.

 

This next step is the flying flour step. One person builds a routine, which for each piece of lefse ends with it being brushed gently and briskly to remove the flour. (That dusty stuff is not much fun to eat, and leaves fingers a bit dusty when eating the lefse.) Somehow, when the griddle is set to the right temperature, there is time to place the rolled piece on the griddle, roll the next piece, then brush the last cooked piece ( that brief wait is advantageous to the brushing step ), move the freshly cooked piece onto the pile, place the next piece on the griddle, roll the next piece out then brush the flour... and so it goes.

 

As the stack grows, start shuffling them, putting the bottom few onto the top, and sort of shuffle the lefse, a little like a deck of cards now and then. That keeps the moisture from piling up on some and keeps others from becoming too dry.

 

Once done, fold the dishtowels around the pile, and bring the plastic bag around that. When the lefse is cool (in refrigerator or cold garage...) the lefse sheets will stick to one another. The next step is to take the pile off its spot and gently separate one sheet from the next one, and building up the pile on the toweled pizza pan, towel in the bag storage place again. This will ensure that the lefse won't become a solid block as time passes.

 

It is a lovingly passed-along tradition, and I often think about grandpa John, who might have taught him, and on back through the family generations. I think about my dad, and how he enjoyed eating it, and how my son and brother, and other family members who enjoy eating it now. As we stand around the table, preparing our lefse, we reminisce about our childhood, and those whose lives are responsible for our own existence, where they came from, what we do and do not know about them...

 

My husband helped this time, mixing the four batches that I made this year. The batches need to be mixed just before using, so he was alerted when I was on my last patty or two. That was a nice help, but one can do the whole process alone just as well, with a little more time for the process.

 

I hope it works out for you. I apologize for the writing of the lefse novel, but the making of it has some tricks to it. If any of us were neighbors, you could have learned by doing and observation with me!

 

 

I wish you all a very happy and fulfilling new year!

 

Janel

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Dear Janel,

Thank you very much for the description, I know that you were thinking in every step of your cooking process for us to make it right. Here in Argentina we have a big italian influence in food and when someone explains a recipe involving a dough is normal that the one teaching it invites the other (of course if their are firends) to help him/her in order to "feel" the dough. Of course that if you know something about it you can descibe it hoping for the other to understand it right, as you said "sticky" or "stiff".

Funny to work with potatoes in a dough, here we make gnocchi and some people boil the potaoes or others just put them in the oven, as I do, with their skins, the flavour is different.

Getting hungry here...

Well guys,

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU WITH LOVE, PEACE AND HEALTH!!!!!!

Hughs,

Sebas

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  • 10 months later...

Is anyone else planning to make lefse this year? Avery, our son, and I are gearing up for doing it on Thanksgiving day, rather than making a huge meal or joining other family members. Avery as also coaxed me into joining the cooking club at his dormitory, to teach the students how to make lefse! That will be a trick to be sure! Tomorrow's session will help me to better plan for a group potato and flour toss! It could get dusty.

 

For the USA members, I hope that you all have a lovely Thanksgiving day.

 

Janel

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