Health Fusion: A how-to lefse party with recipe, laughter and a mouse
Making Norwegian lefse is an annual holiday tradition at our house. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams gathers family and friends for a slightly chaotic and fun lefse-making tutorial that will hopefully inspire you to grab a griddle and give the old-fashioned treat a try.
Lefse is kind of like a tortilla, but it's made with potatoes. My neighbor Lance's Auntie Charlotte was a lefse-making legend. Nobody in her church network could match her skill at rolling out the dough or the taste of her finished products.
My husband's family is Norwegian and they taught me how to eat the seasonal delight -- slathered with butter and sugar. My father-in-law preferred to fill his with mashed potatoes and gravy, topped off with butter.
As someone who is passionate about healthy living, I'll admit that eating lots of sugar and butter should not be a regular thing. But the benefits we get from being together as we make the lefse and sample the final products are definitely worth the splurge a couple of times a year.
Check out the video or podcast and amidst the craziness and giggles, you'll learn the amazing recipe for Auntie Charlotte's lefse. We held the lefse-making party via Zoom. So please forgive the audio issues!
Auntie Charlotte's lefse recipe
Supplies (easy to find online): Lefse griddle, rolling pin, rolling pin sock, pastry board and cover, wooden lefse turning stick, 2 kitchen towels, plastic baggie for storage.
*Lefse takes practice. Be sure to check out Auntie Charlotte's hints at the bottom. They can really make a difference!
Ingredients: Makes 12 Lefse rounds
Option #1: Using real potatoes
Russet potatoes (6 medium), 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 2 2/3 to 3 cups flour, extra flour for rolling, butter, sugar (white or brown)
Directions: Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil until soft. Drain and use a ricer to make sure all lumps are removed. Allow to cool in refrigerator. While potatoes are boiling (or cooling), mix all other ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes. When potatoes are chilled, mix in as much flour as you can to make a slightly firm dough (this is where experience helps). Heat griddle to 500 degrees. Form dough into a log and cut into 12 pieces. Roll them into balls. On a generously floured pasteboard and cloth, roll each dough ball into a thin, round circle (like a tortilla). Use the lefse stick to lift the lefse off the board and place on the griddle (griddle should be dry - no oil, spray etc.). Fry until bubbles form and the underside develops golden brown spots. Flip and fry other side. Remove from heat and place on kitchen towel to cool. While the lefse is cooling, place another towel on top so the lefse steams a bit more. Repeat. To serve, fold and place on serving tray next to butter and sugar so guests can slather and sprinkle their own. To store: allow to cool to room temperature then fold in quarters, and keep in sealed plastic bag or similar container to prevent drying.
Option #2: Using potato flakes
Supply list is same as above.
Ingredients: 2 cups potato flakes,1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 cup cold water, 1 T vegetable oil, 1 T butter (melted)
Directions: Mix all ingredients except flour and let sit for 30 minutes. Then add 1 cup flour, mix and form into a loaf. Divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and on a lightly floured pastry board and cloth, roll out into a thin round (like a tortilla). Heat griddle to 500 F. Use lefse stick to lift lefse off of the board onto the griddle (griddle should be dry -- no oil, spray etc.). Fry until golden brown spots form, then flip and do the same on the other side. Pop any bubbles that form. Remove from heat and place on slightly damp kitchen towel to cool. While the lefse is cooling, place another towel on top so the lefse steams a bit more. Repeat until all doing is fried. To serve, fold and place on serving tray next to butter and sugar so guests can slather and sprinkle their own. To store: allow to cool to room temperature, fold in quarters, and keep in sealed plastic bag or similar container to prevent drying.
*Hints: As I mention above, there is definitely controversy among my family members about method! Some insist on potatoes, others, insist on potato flakes. And some says towels must be damp and others say they should be dry. But Auntie Charlotte has some hints that help either method:
- Batter/dough must stay cool. If your house is too warm, it can make dough too sticky while you're cooking.
- Even if you follow the directions, you may need to add a little flour.
- When rolling, use plenty of flour on surface to prevent sticking.
- Let lefse cool to room temperature before folding and storing.
For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.