Weekend Cookbook Challenge #10: Lefse

Friday, November 03, 2006

My usual tactic is to get rid of things I don't use, so I hadn't planned on participating in the Neglected Gadgets episode. Then, with some leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge, I spotted my mom's lefse rolling pin - something I don't generally think of as a kitchen implement, but more as a supporting structure in my family's culinary architecture. And I had not made lefse for ages. (You can buy lefse locally at specialty grocery stores or at the farmer's market, outrageously priced even for frozen lefse. And they are rather thin and pale - I like it a bit thicker, with a good browned flour char.)

This is one of those dishes I always make without a recipe, but I looked through my cookbooks none the less. Could have sworn there was a lefse recipe in our family reunion cookbook, but couldn't find it - then figured that most of us would think it was too simple for a recipe anyway. I did find two recipes in a collection from Whispering Pines Place, a lodge in Canwood, SK where my great grandmother used to live. One of the recipes called for eggs and baking powder, which I though quite odd - more of a potato pancake recipe, though it would be nice and tender and need less flour. The other recipe is written as a poem that starts with Yew tak yust ten big potatoes...probably politically incorrect to copy the whole thing. I ended up calling my mom about it. Leftover mashed potatoes (we always made them with milk), flour, salt, nothing more - you don't want potatoes made with too much milk, because then you have to add more and more flour.

I kneaded about 1 cup of flour (by 1/3 cups) into about two and a half cups mashed potatoes warmed to room temperature, til the dough was smooth and held together. After letting the dough sit for about ten minutes, I used the lefse rolling pin to shape lefse that would fit my 8 inch cast iron pan, using lots of flour and turning them so that the dough would not stick - a lefse rolling pin is a royal pain to clean if dough is sticking in the grooves. I then browned them on both sides in a dry frying pan over medium high heat. The generous amount of flour prevents the lefse from sticking to the pan as long as you don't burn them. The garlic and goat cheese from the original mashed potato recipe came through but not as strongly as I'd hoped, so I would try using less flour next time. I at first thought the mashed potatoes had plenty of salt, but ended up adding some to the dough after tasting the first cooked lefse. I ate these very untraditionally, with chunky harissa and sour cream and roasted eggplant. We always ate them at home just with butter, and sometimes sugar and cinnamon.

Anyway, I am happy that this edition of Weekend Cookbook Challenge led to my rediscovery of the lefse rolling pin. I am going to use it to give some surface texture to my latest favourite blog recipe, Nic's wheat crackers.

This episode of Weekend Cookbook Challenge is brought to you by Mary of The Sour Dough and Sara of i like to cook.


Anonymous said...

I'm so excited to see Lefse on someone's food blog! My grandparents and I take two days every December to make the mother of all batches, and it's one of my favourite holiday traditions. I'll have to remember to post about it this year.

Pepper said...

Nice to hear from you, chef girl! Food traditions are the best.

Sara said...

Hey those are pretty cool! I love anything made with potatos.

Soup and Song said...

Hi Pepper,

What a cool blog you have - and I love all things potatoes! Thanks for finding me. Your mujaderra recipe looks great also, and you're right - it's a very sought after dish. So simple and so good...I will look forward to reading more of your postings.

Ciao :)