One doesn't often hear of the culinary
delights from the area of the world that brought you lutefisk
, but lefse is special.
It's generally described as a sort of Scandinavian potato pancake. I always thought of it as a kind of Norwegian tortilla. Between the two, you can get the idea. While it can be used in much the same way as a tortilla is used, it's more often used as a dessert/treat. Being a sort of "family-type" recipe, numerous variations exist.
A couple fairly representative ones:
After mixing the ingredirents into dough
it. Divide dough into ½ cup portions and use a rolling pin
(on a floured surface) to make the portions as flat as possible. Bake on a Lefse grill/electric skillet
. When it begins to brown flip it.
; in case the potatoes weren't originally made with these ingredients:
Mix ingredients. Using portions of approximately 2 inches in diameter, roll out the ball thinly on a floured surface. Fry in a dry skillet
look for small brown spots to appear.
My German/Norwegian Grandmother used to make this for us after Sunday dinner, using the leftover mashed potatoes. Since she grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, she knew how to make good mashed potatoes (which, of course, means not entirely healthy). So by the time it came to make the treat, she already had mashed potatoes full of the tasty goodness of generous amounts of (real) butter and half and half. Salt (really an optional ingredient) was already in it, too.
Some recipes call for chilling or even refrigerating overnight but she just waited until they were cool enough to work with by hand. Since she was dealing with left-overs and there being no set amount, a simple ratio of about half the amount of flour as potatoes sufficed (because the amount of flour is partly dependent on the how moist the potatoes are, one needs to experimenttoo much flour can ruin it and not enough will make it too hard to work with).
Then using a good old-fashioned rolling pin and flour sprinkled on the counter, she'd shape it into a long roll (Mom describes it as an almost bread-loaf shape) and pinch off the amount she wanted to make each lefse. While one can make it as big or small as one wants and/or the cooking surface allows, the size of a typical soft taco tortilla works pretty well.
Some people suggest electric skillets (as above) or griddlesI've seen special Lefse griddles advertised for way more money that I can see a rational person spending (one was over $100 in US currency)a good well-seasoned cast-iron skillet works wonderfully (an item no kitchen should be without). Heat it up until you can get a drop of water to skitter across the surface rather than evaporating quickly. Then medium heat should be fine.
Carefully place the lefse into the skillet. You'll start to see it bubble up a bit. You can poke the bubbles with a fork. Using a fork, you can gently lift the edge to see if it is starting to brown slightly underneath. Purists would suggest one of the special "lefse turning sticks"sort of a flat stick that can be made or bought (again generally for more than anyone should have to pay for a stick). Being a practical sort, Grandma used the fork. You don't want it to cook too long or brown too much. Much more than a minute is probably too long.
Once done, they are best served warm. As I noted, they can be used with "regular" food, but we liked them best with butterwhich melts on the fresh lefseand sugar sprinkled on it (a reason why there's no real need to add sugar to the mix). We also sometimes put jelly or jam on it. A sugar/cinnamon mix would be good, too.
(Sources: recipe #1 adapted from www.world-of-recipes.com/NewRecipes/Breads/Lefse.html, recipe #2 adapted from www.ccci.org/joy/breads/lefse.html, recipe #3 from Mom and my late Grandmother)
Approximate metric equivalents:
3 cups=710 ml
2 cups=475 ml
1 cup=236 ml
½ cup=118 ml
¼ cup=60 ml
1 teaspoon=5 ml
2 inches=5 cm