lefse

It has come to the point in the holiday season where I really just want to stick a straw into the balloon that is the month of December and blow it up a little. I’d like it to be two weeks longer, or maybe three. That’s the amount of time that I estimate I’d need to get all of the holiday things done that I want to get done, including just being able to sit comfortably in the holiday spirit without getting nervous that it’s going to end before I can have enough Sufjan Christmas moments.

I had a lot of mediumly grand plans this holiday season: adding rose nougat to my annual cookie boxes, throwing a Lefse and Latke Chrismukkah Party, making a Dala horse shaped stollen-y cake, and not having to pay for expedited shipping on the gifts I ordered online. At most, I only achieved abridged versions of these (thanks to these quick stollen bars and free shipping from Pendleton). But no party and no nougat. Which is fine because this season was still packed with other people’s parties, almond-heavy cookie swaps, and little Cliff’s Baptism bash. It also has yet to be packed with Christkindlmarket and an Upper Peninsula pasty tour. And I have a dentist appointment at the beginning of January so it’s probably best that I didn’t make nougat. 

But the one thing that I would seriously schedule first in the event that my expansion of December by way of blowing it up with a straw plan actually worked is a lefse weekend. Ever since I learned about the lefse making tradition when I first moved here, I admired it (even despite the fact that the first time I made it, it ended in tears). Making lefse symbolizes the holidays in the upper Midwest, it’s a group activity that’s been happening year after year for generations, and there are so many stories surrounding it. But to be totally honest, it wasn’t until I made lefse with cousin Elaine and aunt Ethel when we filmed the Chrismukkah episode of Girl Meets Farm back in October that it became a food that I craved with all of my might. Is it because I’m pregnant? Maybe. Good things, especially potato-centric things, do tend to taste better these days. Or maybe it’s because the last few times I’ve had it, it was store-bought. When we made it on the show, I was reminded of how fluffy, soft, tender, and flavorful it is when it’s fresh off the grill and slathered with softened butter. I wish I could have eaten more of it during the filming. I wish I could have paused cameras for a minute so that I could run to my cabinet and pull down all of my jams, nut butters, Nutella, etc., and just sit there eating a bite of lefse with each. But we were on a schedule and I needed to pace myself because that was also spätzle week. 

And then after filming wrapped I had one ultimate foam-at-the-mouth pregnant lady epitome. It happened on the plane to Florida when I opened up the December Bon Appetit and saw the most drop dead beautiful spread of roast beef, pickles, a white creamy sauce, and salty buttery fluffy rolls, all set up for a party. It was simple and stunning. I shoved it in Eggboy’s face and he also started foaming at the mouth. The more I stared at that spread, the more I realized I had to do it… but replace the rolls with lefse. And replace the roast beef with ham (I’m going through a ham phase). I mean??!!! Just imagine a soft warm sheet of lefse slathered with mayo and wrapped around salty hot ham. The pickle could be in it too, or it could be on the side, it would be perfect either way. I am a little dead just thinking about it. I might need to schedule a random January party just to do this. But something tells me that lefse ham tacos would taste better without the vibe of New Year’s diet mishegas in the air. 

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been daydreaming of.

<3 Lefse and ham. <3

Here is our family lefse recipe, which was developed by Ollie Amundson, my second cousin three times removed in-law in-law. (Or, the wife of Eggboy’s great grandpa’s second cousin.) It has more sugar than many other lefse recipes, and the fact that it uses oil instead of butter has been raising some eyebrows. But it’s the family recipe that Ethel has scribbled on a very special notecard and I love it for its extra sweetness and soft moist texture. The following includes directions for if you have a lefse setup (a lefse grill + a lefse stick) and if you do not (you’ll need a low-sided skillet and a large offset spatula). FYI, my ham taco fantasy uses smaller, skillet-sized lefse. This is best made as a group activity and it is best eaten the day of, however it is very common to keep a stock of it in the freezer. For video help, check out the video that the New York Times filmed at our house a few years ago!


lefse

makes 18 large sheets or 36 smaller sheets

ingredients

5 lbs. (2.25kg) red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2” cubes

1/2 c (100g) sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

2/3 c (133g) neutral oil, such as canola

1 (5-oz) can evaporated milk

2 1/2-3 c (325-390g) all-purpose flour, plus quite a bit more for dusting

Softened butter, sugar, cinnamon sugar, jam, or any other toppings as desired (like ham.)

clues

Add the potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rice them into a bowl, continuing until you have 8 cups. Add the sugar, salt, oil, and evaporated milk, and mix to combine. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. 

When you’re ready to grill, preheat a lefse grill to 400º or set a low-lipped skillet over medium high heat (I like using a cast iron pan, at least 10” big). Add the 2 1/2 cups of flour to the potato mixture and mix to combine. It should be sticky and hold together, but not so sticky that it’s impossible to work with, if so, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Divide dough into two logs if you’re using a lefse grill, and four if you’re using a skillet. Cut each log into 9 pieces and place three of the logs on plates or a cutting board in the refrigerator. Keep the dough chilled while you’re not working with it, and work with one log at a time. 

Roll one ball of dough into a ball and place it on a work surface dusted with flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well and gently roll it out into a large thin circle, about 1/4” thick, adding more flour as needed. Rotate and flip the circle frequently as you’re rolling it out so that it doesn’t stick. And again- add more flour as needed! Not knowing to do this is what brought me to tears the first time. Using a lefse stick or a large offset spatula, transfer the circle to the grill or skillet and cook until small brown splotches appear on the bottom, about a minute. Using the lefse stick or spatula, flip it and cook on the other side, until small brown splotches appear. Transfer to a plate lined with a clean dish towel and cover it with another. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking lefse on top of one another between the towels. 

Serve with toppings as desired. This is best eaten the day of but leftovers can be refrigerated in a ziploc back and reheated in the microwave until warm. Or frozen and then thawed/microwaved before eating.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!

my dad's coconut cream pie!

A few years ago, my dad, who has always been more of an eater/human garbage disposal than a cook, casually started mentioning his “famous coconut cream pie.” I would get text message pictures on pi day of this pie, or he would just throw it into everyday conversation about dessert, and one time when our family convened in Los Angeles he had brought an entire pie on the airplane from Chicago. This coconut cream pie thing all seemed to happened out of nowhere, I don't remember him making it when I was little, it just became his "thing" all of a sudden! And I don’t know how it became famous or if it actually is famous, I think he just started calling it that one day?!?? I asked him about it once and he named someone from work who thought it was famous or something… so he went with it. Stoopie and I eventually just shrugged it off and went with it because why not??

And then a lot of things became clear when I made the connection that Eggboy, who is also nary a cook, has his one pie that he makes and, on good years, considers to be very famous. And then I thought: Am I, as a deeply loyal member of #teamcake (well, until very recently), forcing all of the pie-loving humans in my family to step out of their comfort zones and make their own pies? And then I thought: 🙄🙄🙄 I should shut up and not make this about me. 

So then I decided that I shouldn’t dwell on the origins of this pie and whether or not it actually is famous and instead I should learn how to make it. So! I texted my dad for the recipe and he sent back a picture of a printout of a Martha Stewart recipe from 2010 that had some very important annotations in the margins. Martha’s recipe was your typical pudding pie, made with a chocolate cookie crust and topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut. But, as my dad had penciled in, it should be made with 80 chocolate cats (referring to the Trader Joe's cookies), not the 30 wafers that it called for, and it should be made in a springform pan, not a pie pan. And the pudding should be made in a medium saucepan, not a small saucepan. Idk if there is an exact reason for the cats other than that they’re cute and you get to call for “80 cats” in an ingredient list which is fun, but the reason for the springform pan is so that you can see the whipped cream on the sides. And I like the look, it’s so geometrically pleasing! 

I took the recipe for a test run before my dad’s visit, and because our nearest Trader Joe’s is a million miles away, I went the old fashioned route, ordered a plump lil cat cookie cutter online, and made my cats. And because I was making them from scratch, I thought why not make the cats themselves coconutty?? So I threw in some of bob's red mill coconut flour, and this completed their journey to becoming coconut cocoa coco cats. (Coco is one of our farm cats who usually gets out shined by Sven because she is less of a dog cat, but she’s great and plump like these cookies and I named her!) I wanted to make these cocoa cocos with just coconut flour but it turns out that coconut flour is mainly a flavor enhancer, as opposed to a substitute for all-purpose flour. Too much coconut flour will make dense grainy cats, so you just need a little of it to get good flavor! And because they’re plumper than Trader Joe’s cats, you only need about 40 of them. 

I think the only other change I made from my dad’s/Martha’s recipe was to use unsweetened coconut, since it’s easier to control the sweetness that way and since I love the look of the toasted flakes on top. I think pops agreed! I tried to get away with skipping the step where you bake the crust because I typically like a denser moister cookie crust, but he would hear none of that. It had to be crispy like a cookie, he said. And once I stopped being lazy and added that baking step back in, I saw what he meant. Overall I think our pie kicked butt!! It's got a big thick crust (we love crust in this family!!!!), a pudding that is just sweet enough, tons of whipped cream, and a great rustic yet clean aesthetic. It’s definitely worthy of being famous. Right?! Right.

You know what your Thanksgiving dessert table needs? This. And you know what can be made ahead of time?? This!

coconut cream pie

makes one 9" pie

ingredients

For the cats:

1 1/2 c (190g) bob’s red mill all-purpose flour
7 tb (50g) bob’s red mill coconut flour
1 c (80g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 c (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp coconut extract

For the crust:

5 tb (63g) unrefined coconut oil
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/3 c (27g) unsweetened shredded coconut

For the filling:

2 3/4 c (660g) whole milk
4 large yolks
2/3 c (132g) sugar
1/3 c (43g) cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla bean
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 c (100g) unsweetened shredded coconut

For the topping:

1 1/2 c (360g) heavy whipping cream
1/2 c (40g) unsweetened coconut flakes
Shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles

clues

to make the cats: preheat the oven to 325ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. mix in the vanilla extract and coconut extract. with the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. it will still be a bit crumbly. pour the mixture onto a work surface and give it a few kneads to bring it all together. (at this point you can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, up to overnight, but I find that the dough is stiff enough that this isn't totally necessary).
on a work surface, roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness, dusting with cocoa powder if the dough is sticky, and cut out small cats or 1 1/2" circles. transfer them to the baking sheets, 1" apart (using a small offset spatula helps with this step). re-roll the scraps and cut out more rounds. 


bake the cookies until the tops are no longer shiny, about 12 minutes. let cool on the pan. Cookies can be made up to a couple of days in advance and stored at room temperature.

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325ºf. Line the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment and set it aside. In a food processor, combine 40 of your ugliest cats (you'll have some leftover and since those are staying in tact you want them to be the pretty ones) with the coconut oil and salt and pulse until the mixture is sandy and starts to clump together. Add the coconut and pulse just a couple more times to get it evenly distributed. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan, pressing it up against the sides to give it a 1-1 1/2” tall crust and bake until set, 25 minutes. Let it cool. 

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt. Cook over medium high, whisking constantly, until thickened. Stir in the shredded coconut and pour into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours, until set. (This can be done up to 2 days in advance; keep covered in the refrigerator.)

To make the topping: With an electric mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Spread it on the pie. Toast the flaked coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown. Let it cool and sprinkle it on the pie. Top with shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to take it out of the pan, run a small offset spatula around the edge and carefully remove the sides. Enjoy! 
 

-yeh!

Thanks to bob's red mill for sponsoring this post!

hot dogs with moroccan carrot slaw on jerusalem bagel buns + a summery backyard feast!

limb by limb i am peeling myself off of the couch and ending the post-eggsiswedding recovery and rehydration process. it took a solid few days but that’s ok because i had game of thrones to catch up on (which was broken up by the pilot of santa clarita diet, um… do we need to talk about this?) as of this weekend i officially have the following things: a very tall eggbro, experience making 320 wedding cake servings, and a beginner level proficiency for turning small talk into medium talk. i learned about zady and what it’s like studying feminism in texas, and then at the pizza place we invented a new revolutionary diet that is going to blow all of your minds (either for its brilliance or stupidity… celeste, would you like to take the lead on this one?). i am extremely excited to see all of celeste’s photos that she took over the weekend and to tell you about how the cake building went, but for now here is a sneak peek and here is another one.

today we are talking about summer grill parties! 

i was raised in a mayo-free household. i always thought that this was because i was raised in the 90s, and in the 90s, fat was evil. but then this weekend my mom told me that it was actually because “jews don’t eat mayonnaise unless it’s in whitefish salad or egg salad,” (two things that i absolutely did not eat when i was little). that lead to a quick trip down an internet rabbit hole that more or less confirmed this (i’ll let you get into it here on google). and while as an adult i now love mayo enough to qualify to be the captain of #teammayo, i still have a small amount of guilt whenever i eat macaroni salad or potato salad or coleslaw, the kind of mayonnaise-y things that i most often encountered when i was little since in those days the only times i’d see mayo were at other people’s houses, for barbecues and grill parties. it was an unwritten rule that stoopie and i were not to eat the salads at these parties. so similarly to how i inherited a portion of my mom’s aversion to creamy soups, i also inherited this macaroni salad guilt. which doesn’t stop me from eating it (eggbro’s aunt made a great one for the rehearsal dinner, and in january i learned the magic of the rainbow drive-in plate lunch) but it does encourage some sort of moderation and is also most certainly the reason for my relief re: all of these new pasta salads and potato salads i keep seeing around the internet that have swapped out mayo for olive oil. 

i love this trend, not just because of my reduced guilt, but also because i feel like there’s more creativity to be had with it. mayo-y salads showcase mayo and modesty and comfort, olive oil-y salads showcase brightness and flavor. they encourage fresh herbs and vegetables and are accommodating to loud spices. i like that their colors get shinier when they’re dressed. and it’s bathing suit season. olive oil just seems more appropriate for that.

so we had a dinner about it! my friends at california olive ranch sent over some of their olive oil and a few weeks ago when i had family in town, we picked radishes and herbs from the garden and then had a lovely feast in our backyard. cats and dogs were invited. bugs were not. here was our menu:

rainbow radishes // we can’t get them anywhere in town so we grew our own and they’re finally up! we served them with butter, olive oil, and flaky salt.

maureen’s lebanese potato salad with lemon and mint // i love this potato salad, i’ve made it multiple times. it is so bright and fresh.

ottolenghi’s pasta salad with spring vegetables and tomatoes // we used farro instead of pasta and it was fantastic!

hot dogs with moroccan carrot slaw and jerusalem bagel buns // see below!

chocolate frosted olive oil blondies // duhhhhh

ok, about these hot dogs: i love a crunchy fresh slaw on my dog. and herbs and cucumbers and onions and yes, this is essentially a salad on a hot dog so eat 12 because they’re basically healthy. this slaw is inspired by moroccan carrot salad which is the best part of any salatim spread. typically moroccan carrot salad uses cooked carrots that are chopped into coins, but to preserve some crunch, this slaw uses raw shredded carrots. they’re tossed with smoky harissa, nutty arbosana olive oil, a couple of chopped dates for sweetness, and lots of garlic. it’s wonderful on its own but its sweet smokiness goes so well with the sweet smokiness of a hot dog that it is something you’ll definitely want to do. you can totes use a veggie dog. you cannot use a carrot dog. that’s too meta. and if you don’t have a good hot dog bun source, go ahead and make some fluffy ones from scratch out of jerusalem bagel dough


hot dogs with moroccan carrot slaw on jerusalem bagel buns

makes about 4 cups of slaw, enough to top about 12 hot dogs

ingredients

for the slaw:

2 tb fresh lemon juice

2 tb california olive ranch arbosana extra virgin olive oil

2 tb harissa

2 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

3/4 tsp kosher salt

black pepper

4 large carrots, shredded

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

4 medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped

for serving:

jerusalem bagel buns (use this recipe but instead of shaping 6 large bagels, shape 12 long buns)

hot dogs, veggie or meaty

thinly sliced cucumbers and onions

fresh mint leaves

mayo, optional

clues

to make the slaw, in a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, harissa, garlic, cumin, salt, and a few turns of pepper. add the carrots, parsley (reserving a small handful), and dates and toss to combine. cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (this can be made a day ahead). top with remaining parsley before serving.

to serve, top a hot dog with the carrot slaw, a few slices of cucumber and onion, a handful of fresh mint, and a drizzle of mayo, if desired. enjoy! 


-yeh!

thank you, california olive ranch, for sponsoring this post! 

all photos by chantell and brett quernemoen!

orange blossom almond cake

by the time that she's old enough to date i think i'll be so far removed from junior high drama that any advice that i may be able to offer my little sister would be completely unqualified and terrible. same for anything pertaining to fashion and applying eye shadow. but as her trusty middle older sister, i can definitely educate her on the value of sprinkle tweezers and the proper fluffiness of a cake batter. and if her enthusiasm now for baking (and—get this, cleaning up) is any indication of her future, i think that sprinkle tweezers will take her much further than eyebrow tweezers.

all of her birthday and holiday presents for the past few years have been baking centric: cake in a crate boxes, decorating classes with alekka (including one all about buttercream roses!!) and this year i was gonna go for the big piping set but apparently stoopie beat me to it. last week she did baking camp!

when i was her age i was into my tamagotchi flock and doing math, i thought i wanted to be a math teacher when i grew up. now i practically have to use a calculator to compute how many bagels a double batch of 12 will yield. so i realize that the chances are not unlikely that mia will probably get serious about a million other things before she grows up but i do selfishly have this fantasy that she’ll turn into an ivenoven or bk floral delight so the tables can turn and i can go visit her for buttercream flower advice. 

speaking of that, i don’t know what i’m doing on my computer right now, i should really be doing some crumb coats for the eggsister wedding. two days until show time!!!! i just really really wanted to show you these pictures and this cake before the big day! mia came for a visit a couple of weeks ago and, like the rest of our family, has a strong pull toward almond things (yass!!) so we made this almond cake that’s based on the pistachio cake from molly on the range. to keep with eggsister’s floral theme we added a tiny splash of orange blossom water that isn’t easy to detect on its own but it adds a complexity that’s just slightly bitter and fancy. mia chose all of the buttercream colors out of my new fun nifty fifty set. at first i was horrified at the mix of neon and pastel colors that she chose but i love how they turned out! and i enjoyed playing with colors that i otherwise wouldn’t have used. chantell and brett came to take some photos and mia brought out all of her sia-inspired hair bows to choose from. don't be fooled by our very serious concentration faces, it was the best day!!!! 

a couple of notes on this cake: it is so dense and packed full of nuts that it functions best as a one-layer cake (its original form is a loaf, so feel free to go that route if you'd like). it will look super ugly and like a meteor has crashed on top when it comes out of the oven but flip it over and it will be nice and smooth and have a slight dip in the center, which is best for holding a pool of glaze. i’ve included some brief buttercream rose directions below, one of which is to watch a million instagram and youtube videos, and at my current skill level that’s the best advice i can offer. i know i said i was going to try german buttercream this time but we ate all the eggs. oops. 


orange blossom almond cake

makes one 9" cake

Ingredients

2 c (224g) almond flour
1/2 c (56g) all-purpose flour or gluten free all-purpose flour with 1/4 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c (300g) sugar
4 large eggs
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp orange blossom water

For decorating

Powdered sugar glaze (a couple cups powdered sugar mixed with milk, cream, or water until creamy and spreadable)
Buttercream roses

Clues

Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease and line the bottom of a 9” round cake pan and set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then add the lemon zest, almond extract, and orange blossom water. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Scrape into pan and bake until browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are just slightly pulling in from the pan. begin checking for doneness at 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To decorate, pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Watch a million instagram and youtube videos for how to pipe buttercream roses. Pipe them onto little parchment squares and place them on a sheet pan. Freeze the sheet pan for about 15 minutes or until the frosting is firm, and then peel them off the parchment and stick them on the cake. Fill in any spaces with buttercream leaves and sprinkles, if desired.

 


-yeh!

all photos by chantell and brett quernemoen!

apron by enrich and endure

here are some more buttercream rose posts: