Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lefse is Beautiful

I have always felt proud of my Nordic roots, but am embarrassed to say that I have never actually made Lefse. I would love to have had the legacy of the old family recipe, passed through generations, but instead called up my friend Pegi Lee, and she shared with me a recipe with a legacy all its own. The recipe for Lefse is from Linka Holey, who shared it with Gean Neuman, and was then passed on to Pegi Lee who shared it with me. It's great to have a legacy of wonderful friendships!
It has been my goal in this blog to keep ingredients simple in all the recipes, and you couldn't get more basic than is simply potatoes, flour, salt and butter.

You start by boiling 3 pounds of russet potatoes whole in their skins. When they are just cooked, drain them, quickly peel them and push them through a potato ricer. This needs to be done when the potatoes are warm, because they are much harder to push through if cooled. You should have about 8 cups of riced potatoes. When you measure them, try not to pack the potatoes too firmly into the cup. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups all purpose flour. Stir together to make a smooth dough. Scoop into 1/4 cup sized balls, and chill dough balls overnight.
When you are ready to roll out the lefse, get ready for a whole lot of flour all over you, your kitchen and the kitchen floor! It's really helpful to have a canvas covered board for rolling, as well as a rolling pin sock on your rollingpin. You will want to have a bag of flour handy for frequent sprinkling of the dough to prevent sticking. Check the rolled out dough with your lefse stick starting at the center, to make sure it's not sticking to the board. When the lefse is nice and thin, lift it off the board with the lefse stick and roll it onto a heated lefse griddle or cast iron skillet. I wanted to be a little 'old school' on this part, as I really don't want to have any single purpose electric appliances, so searched out a great cast iron griddle that is round and fits over my stove top burners. I was very happy with how it worked!
Anyway, once you roll the lefse onto the griddle allow it to cook over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes on each side, and then flip over to cook the other side. While you are cooking the lefse arrange a stack of clean flour sack towels so that you can swaddle your lefse in it. You can get four pieces of lefse in each towel by folding the towel into quarters, making pockets for the lefse to lie. This keeps the lefse from sticking to each other. You can store the lefse in the folded tea towels in an airtight container for a few days at room temperature, but will want to refrigerate it if you need to store it longer.
If you want to warm it up, you can gently reheat it on a griddle, but this may dry it out.  If you have a bamboo steamer, you can warm the lefse, still swaddled in its tea towel, over slightly steaming water in the steamer.
To enjoy your lefse, you can simply spread with butter, roll up and eat.  A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is yummy, too!  And of course, pickled herring, gravlax, rullepolse, or lingoberry jam are all perfect companions for lefse.  I had a delicious 'Lefse Brat' at the State Fair this year that I found at the 'Sausage Sisters' booth in the food building....served with lingonberry ketchup....absolutely delicious!
Just goes to show you that there is no limit to creativity with lefse....Enjoy!

All the beautiful photos were taken by Tom Thulen of Tom Thulen Photography.  Thanks, Tom!