In Honor of Grandma

My precious Norwegian Grandma went to be with the Lord in October after 99 1/2 years of life.  The one tradition we had at Christmas time with Grandma was eating lefse; a Norwegian potato pancake.  My entire extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins along with my own family absolutely LOVED lefse.  But, I was keeping a little secret; I did not actually like lefse.   For some reason, I thought I needed to pretend to like it, and so I did.  It’s not that I couldn’t stand it — it was ok.  But, I didn’t love it, and one piece was more than enough for me.

All that to say, it’s been years since we’ve had lefse as a family.  This year, in honor of Grandma, I thought it would be fun to give it a try.  I didn’t tell my parents in case I didn’t get a chance to get it done.  In hindsight, I probably should have since I was stuck making it with no potato ricer, no lefse stick, and no griddle.  (At least they know what to get me for Christmas next year; hint, hint!)

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Turns out, a grater works pretty well in place of a ricer.  My crepe pan made a nice griddle.  And, my long thin Pampered Chef spatula was an excellent lefse stick.

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And so I rolled… and cooked… and rolled… and cooked.  Wow.  Now I know why Grandma made a day of it!

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I was so nervous; what if all that work went to waste and they turned out terrible?  Well, it looked like Grandma’s lefse… it smelled like Grandma’s lefse… and it did indeed taste like Grandma’s lefse!  And, guess what…

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I still don’t love lefse!  But, it was so fun to carry on that tradition, and I’ve discovered a little jelly along with the butter makes a big difference for me.  It was especially fun to let my kids have a taste of their Norwegian side.  After all, they’ve had quite the introduction to Chinese cuisine.  The verdict?  Three kids seem to have gotten the “lefse gene,” while one clearly states she doesn’t like it.  (My Sierra is a bit more blunt than me!)

Here is the recipe I used:

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 pounds/2 1/4 kilograms red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform size
  •  cup/158 milliliters neutral oil, such as canola
  • 1 (5-ounce) can/148 milliliters evaporated milk
  • ½ cup/100 grams sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 ½ to 3 cups/312 to 375 grams all-purpose flour, more as needed

PREPARATION

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook potatoes until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Rice potatoes into a large bowl, continuing until you have 8 cups. Add oil, evaporated milk, sugar and salt, and mix well. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.
  3. When ready to make lefse, add 2 1/2 cups flour and mix well. Divide dough into two logs if you have a lefse grill, and four if you do not. Dough should be sticky and hold together, but not so sticky it’s impossible to work with; if necessary, add remaining 1/2 cup flour. Cut each log into 9 or 10 pieces, shape into small balls and place on plates in refrigerator.
  4. If you have a lefse grill, heat it to 400 degrees. If you don’t have a lefse grill, set a wide, low-lipped nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Generously dust work space with flour and flour a rolling pin. Roll one dough ball in flour, then use the heel of your hand to press it into a thick disk. If you have a lefse grill, gently roll dough into a large, thin circle (if you are using a regular pan, roll into a thin circle just smaller than the size of your pan), lifting and flipping frequently so it doesn’t stick; use more flour as needed. Brush excess flour from dough. Use a lefse stick to carefully transfer to grill (use a thin spatula if cooking in a pan). Cook for 1 minute, or until lefse is steaming and small bubbles appear on uncooked side. Using lefse stick or spatula, flip lefse and cook for 45 seconds or so. Place lefse on a clean dish towel and cover with another. Repeat, stacking lefse atop one another between the dish towels.

 

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