Monday, September 21, 2009

Lefse from Beth Solheim

I got to know Beth Solheim through Echelon Press. Her new amateur sleuth series will be out in 2010, and I knew she'd be a fun guest blogger. Enjoy! - Amy

When you marry into a family, you link into their ancestry, their beliefs, their cultural celebrations, and their cuisine.

Coming from a predominantly French community in northern Minnesota, I experienced a new assortment of edible delights when I married into a Scandinavian family. When my husband’s great-grand parents immigrated to America from Norway and Sweden, their traditional recipes came with them.

My first Christmas with the Solheim family introduced new foods scents I had never experienced. Some of them were, shall I say, quite distinctive. I’m talking about Lutefisk. Lutefisk is made from dried whitefish, normally cod, prepared with lye in a sequence of treatments. The watering steps of these treatments differ slightly for salted/dried whitefish because of its high salt content. There are two trains-of-thought regarding lutefisk. You either love it, or you stay out of the kitchen when it’s boiling. Odd aroma.

Fortunately, tradition also dictates that Swedish meatballs and lefse (a thin, rolled out, melt-in-your-mouth potato bread) are served with the lutefisk to round out the meal. When I asked my mother-in-law for the recipes, I was in for yet another new experience—making lefse.
The ingredients are simple, but the process takes practice. You need a pastry board, a rolling pin, a lefse stick, and a lefse grill. It’s delicious served as a snack or to accompany a meal.

8 cups riced potatoes
½ cup whipping cream
½ cup butter
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder

Boil potatoes until done. Drain until dry. Rice potatoes, add butter and cream. Chill mixture in fridge for a couple hours. Add flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and mix well. Separate into six patties. Flour pastry board and roll dough patty into a thin, even 12” thin circle. Insert the lefse stick under the dough sheet and transfer quickly to a dry lefse grill.

Peek under the dough when it begins to bubble. When it becomes a light golden brown (about 30 seconds), turn it over. Remove from lefse grill when the reverse side is golden brown and place it on a towel to cool. Fold lefse in half and then in half again.

Serve with soft butter and sugar, or serve plain.

Like the main character in her Sadie Witt mystery series, Beth Solheim was born with a healthy dose of imagination and a hankering to solve a puzzle. She learned her reverence for reading from her mother, who was never without a book in her hand. By day, Beth works in Human Resources. By night she morphs into a writer who frequents lake resorts and mortuaries and hosts a ghost or two in her humorous paranormal mysteries. Raised and still living in Northern Minnesota, she resides in lake country with her husband and a menagerie of wildlife critters. She and her husband are blessed with two grown children and two grandsons. At Witt’s End, the first in the Sadie Witt mystery series, will be released in early 2010 by Echelon Press.

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