Back to My Roots

During the holidays, I had a chance to reconnect with my roots.  Being a Midwesterner, its no surprise that I’m a Scandinavian girl, with roots in Sweden, Norway and Austria.  While I don’t have much connection to the Austrian in me, as it’s a very small part of my heritage, I do have strong ties to both the Swedish and Norwegian in me.  Case in point?  I love pickled herring, spritz cookies, krumkakes, Swedish meatballs, Santa Lucia, and lefse.

What is lefse?  According to Wikipedia

Lefse is a traditional soft, Norwegian flatbread. Lefse is made out of potato, milk or cream (or sometimes lard) and flour, and cooked on a griddle.

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Traditionally, my family spreads butter on the lefse and then sprinkles cinnamon sugar, and rolls it up before noshing down.  There are, of course, many other ways to eat lefse, but this is by far my favorite.

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The problem with lefse?  The inclusion of both cream and butter in the recipe my mother had…  So what is a girl with a dairy allergy to do?!  IMPROVISE!  And guess what?!

On our first attempt at ever making lefse, my mom and I got the dairy free version to work! – And no one could tell it was dairy free!  It took her a while to get me the recipe, but she finally did, and I couldn’t think of anything better to do than share it with all of you – and all the dairy free/vegan folk out there!

So, here goes nothing.

A “New” Norwegian Lefse (vegan!)

  • 3 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • a bit of Earth Balance (1-2 tbsp)
  • a bit of almond milk

Per 5 cups riced potatoes (you should have about 10 cups from the above)

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • a bit of almond milk
  • 4 Tbsp of soy cream
  • 2 cups flour

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks.  Boil in water until the pieces can be pierced with a fork easily.  Then drain.  Mash them with a little Earth Balance and almond milk.  — This is really what my great great grandmother’s recipe calls for – ‘a little bit.’  As such, my mom and I added like a 1/4 cup of almond milk and 1-2 Tbsp of Earth Balance.  It’s a little bit of trial and error.

Then cover the mashed potatoes with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, rice the potatoes. 

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(its just as hard as it looks.  my mom’s arms – and mine – got a workout)

Then take 5 cups of rice potatoes, slightly packed, and add the soy cream, salt, sugar and flour.  Mix till well blended – this CANNOT be over mixed!

Turn on lefse griddle to 450-475.  Then shape into balls that aren’t too sticky (the WHOLE recipe will make about 14-15 balls, or 14-15 lefse).  If the kitchen is hot, keep in the fridge, in a covered bowl (otherwise keep covered on the counter).

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(The lefse griddle – I’m pretty sure most Norwegian/Swedish families have one…somewhere in the depths of an attic or basement.)

Roll out each ball on a covered board with covered rolling pin, adding flour to prevent sticking.  The goal is to get the lefse as thin as possible without it tearing or sticking to the covered board.

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(Momma hard at work!)

Lift with a wooden lefse stick onto the hot lefse griddle (450-475 degrees), and bake first side until the bottom has some brown spots and the lefse begins to bubble.  Flip with the lefse stick and bake on the other side. 

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Remove, and fold in half and lay between the folds of a towel to cool, adding each lefse to the towel as its done.  As the lefse begin to cool, place in a second towel to completely cool – the towels are important as they help keep the lefse from drying out.

When completely cool, fold into thirds or quarters and wrap well in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate or freeze (if you freeze, make sure to keep them in ziplocs).

Then enjoy as a snack or with a meal!

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What traditional foods from your heritage do you love making for holidays or every day enjoyment?  Are there any you really want to learn how to make?  Next on my list?  My family’s Swedish meatballs….

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