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!

garlic and onion latkes and sour cream

Zomg it’s almost Hanukkah already! Any earlier and I feel like we would have come dangerously close to reliving the Thanksgivukkah mash-up of 2013 all over again. Luckily I feel like having this week free of any feast-driven holidays has allowed us to create space for all of the latkes and sufganiyot that we’re about to eat… but who am I kidding, the entire holiday season is a feast-driven holiday?! And so is the entirety of pregnancy! Ok, this is gonna be great.

I’m cutting no corners this Hanukkah and following all of the rules for good Hanukkah food:

  1. I will not let impatience get the best of me and I will let the oil heat up completely before frying anything.

  2. I will let the potatoes sit with their salt for at least half an hour to allow the moisture to escape, for the sake of an extra crispy latke. 

  3. I will let them get appropriately browned!! Extra crispy!! Ugh, this always takes more time than I want it to, but it’s gonna be worth it.

  4. I will not go the route of frying store bought biscuit dough and calling it sufganiyot. I’m thinking of going a chocolatey brioche route this year, maybe chocolate and strawberry??

I’m so excited to be able to use Eggboy’s menorah again and, oh gosh, I just got emotional thinking about how this time next year we’ll be lighting the candles with little Poppy Seed. I can already see the Eight Days of Baby Books happening. 

Ok before I get ahead of myself, I’m gonna talk about these latkes. They’re basically an amped up version of the classic latkes that I typically make and they are sooo good. Flavor-wise, I’ve added garlic and scallions (to an already onion-y mixture) and paired them with a caramelized onion sour cream situation that’s just like French onion dip. Texture-wise, I’ve replaced my standard flour binder with panko breadcrumbs for a thicker heartier texture. I find it helps these latkes fry up more like hockey pucks, which is a good thing because we live in hockey country. I supposed you could also use matzo meal!

And since I feel like it’s been a while since we talked latkes, let’s review some tips for prepping them ahead if you’re planning on hosting a big party this year:

-For the most low maintenance route, follow the below directions but instead of transferring to a wire rack or paper towel as written, transfer the latkes in a single layer to a sheet pan covered in foil. Let cool and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze for up to a few weeks. The foil is so that they retain that excess oil and you want them to do that so that when you reheat them on that pan (in a hot oven, 400º or 425º should do), the excess oil lightly re-fries them.

-For a slightly higher maintenance route, follow the below directions as written, taking them out of the oil just before they get to be optimum goldenness. Let cool and refrigerate for up to two days. And then when you’re ready to serve, simply fry them again. They’ll fry up faster and they’ll be super crispy because twice fried latkes are a very good thing.

-The garlic and onion sour cream can totes be made a day in advance.

And I’m using Our Family sour cream with this recipe! It’s reliable and comes in a cute package with cows all over it. And! It comes in the huge tubs, which is a must for Hanukkah. Thanks for sponsoring this post, Our Family!


garlic and onion latkes with garlic and onion sour cream

makes 20 latkes

ingredients

for the latkes:

2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes

2 medium yellow onions

4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

4 large eggs

2 tb lemon juice

black pepper

2/3 c (40g) panko breadcrumbs

4 stalks scallions, chopped

Flavorless oil, for frying

for the garlic and onion sour cream:

2 tb olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c (240g) Our Family sour cream

1/2 tsp onion powder

black pepper

scallions, for topping

clues

Using the shredding attachment on a food processor (or mandoline), shred the potatoes, onions, and garlic. Line a colander with 2 layers of cheese cloth and set it over a bowl or in the sink. Add the potatoes/onions/garlic to the cheese cloth and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30-45 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and use your hands to squeeze out any excess moisture. 

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, lemon juice, a few turns of black pepper, and the breadcrumbs and add the potato mixture. Stir in the scallions.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4” of oil over medium-high heat, until shimmering. It’s ready when a strand of potato added to the oil immediately starts to sizzle. Use an ice cream scoop to add blobs of the mixture to the oil, spacing them out so as not to crowd the pan. Press the scoops down lightly with a spatula to get 1/2” thick patties. Fry until golden brown on both sides, a few minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack or paper towel and sprinkle with salt or flaky salt. Repeat with the remaining mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

for the garlic and onion sour cream:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium and add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and sugar. cook, stirring, until golden brown and caramelized, about 30-40 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Let cool and then stir with the sour cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, onion powder, and a few turns of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh scallions. 


-yeh!

thank you, our family, for sponsoring this post

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen


p.s. tune into this weekend’s #girlmeetsfarm for brussels sprout latkes, lefse, pastrami meatballs, speculoos sheet cake, and marzipan chocolate bars!

salt & vinegar knishentaschen

It’s like the last day of camp, I can’t believe that the Olympics are over :( It’s so sad. I made a list of things to look forward to now so I wouldn’t be tempted to just be a sad couch blob who does nothing but eat dry granola and watch slow motion replays of Jocelyne Lamoureux’s game winning goal over and over while I get nostalgic and cry. (But seriously, if you have the NBC Sports app, go look up their epic slow motion videos, they’re so cool.) Ok, here’s my list of things to look forward to:

Mackenzie’s Baby Shower! Emily and I are throwing Mackenzie a brunchy baby shower next weekend and there’s gonna be so much cute shit like fruit skewers and tiny smoothies and Eggboy’s building a bagel wall for it. You know, like a donut wall, but it will hold bagels.

Eggboy’s Trombone Concert! He’s playing in the town trombone choir for the premiere of a piece by Eric Ewazen, who was both of our music theory teachers at one point. IDK if he’ll remember us but we definitely remember him and his Jell-O impressions. I wanted to make him a Jell-O salad but Eggboy said no because Eggboy is no fun. 

~Whistler~ I’m busily getting all of my ducks in a row for my Passover cooking demos at Pesach on the Mountain, and also trying to put together some fun skiing lewks so that when I suck at skiing, I’ll at least look stylish. 

World Ice Skating Championships! Haha! You didn’t think that ice skating was over for the season right???? I’m looking forward to a Nathan Chen short program repeat of his Skate America magic, and just being able to watch Papadakis and Cizeron again. 

Yogurt Book Launch! In the last week we’ve gone from planning one local event to three! Two of them are in Fargo, one is yoga related (because who else occasionally calls yoga “yogurt?”) and all three are going to be so much fun. Keep an eye out on my events page for details.

Purim!!! I love a good Purim celebration and also I love Hamantaschen because they are like dumpling cookies and just so darn pretty. And I love seeing all of your sprinkletaschen this year!!! Keep the pics coming, please.

This year I have gone savory!!! And combined my Hamantaschen with a Knish to make a Knishentaschen. I mainly just wanted an excuse to make knishes because it’s been too long since I strolled the Upper West Side eating a Zabar’s sweet potato knish and I couldn’t stop looking at these Zak the Baker beauties on Instagram. And with both a knish and a hamantasch being filled baked goodies, the combination of the two was inevitable, right??

In my knish dough research, I came across a super easy dough in The Gefilte Manifesto, originally from Mrs. Stahl’s knishery in Brooklyn. Flour, oil, salt, water, essentially the same as the simple and satisfying Amy Thielen-inspired cracker crust pizza dough that we make all the time for Friday pizza. So guess what I did? I doubled the dough, made knishes for lunch and pizza for dinner. 2 in 1 dough, what more could you ask for?

The filling here is salt and vinegar potatoes for an acidic twist on your basic potato knish. Love an acidic twist. If salt and vinegar is not your flavor, first of all, gtfo, but also know that you can forego the vinegar here and still get a mighty tasty mashed potato knish. A heavy pile of parmesan rounds all of this out, but you can definitely switch up the cheese or omit it for a dairy-free option. If you omit, sprinkle some flaky salt or other herbs and seasonings (everything bagel seasoning???) on the outside to give it an extra somethin. The bottom line is, these aren’t rocket science and you can play with these fillings as you see fit, you can even add spinach. In the end you will have a hearty, carby handful of delight with soft potato innards and a chewy satisfying crust. 

And I like these with ketchup. Obviously. 


salt & vinegar knishentaschen

makes 12

dough adapted from mrs. stahl's knishery, by way of the gefilte manifesto

potatoes adapted from epicurious

ingredients

for the dough:

1 3/4 c (224g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 c (50g) vegetable oil

1/2 c (118g) water

 

for the filling:

1 1/2 lb (680g) russet potatoes, diced (3/4”)

1 c + 2 tb distilled white vinegar

Kosher salt

2 tb (28g) butter or olive oil or vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

Black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 oz (113g) shredded parmesan

Fresh chopped chives, for topping

Ketchup, optional, for serving

clues

Preheat the oven to 400º. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set them aside.

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil and water and stir to combine. Turn onto a work surface and knead for 5-7 minutes, dusting with flour as needed, until smooth and slightly sticky. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rest at room temp while you prepare the filling. 

To make the filling, place the potatoes in a large pot with 1 cup of the vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt. Add enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until very soft. Drain and pat dry. Meanwhile heat the butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat, add onion and a good pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until softened and browned. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onions, additional salt to taste, a bunch of black pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar in a bowl and mash coarsely.

On a work surface, divide the dough into 12 balls. Roll them out into 4" circles and brush them with a thin layer of egg. Top with a pile of cheese (leaving some to go on top of the knishes) and a big scoop of potato filling. Fold the edges up and over the filling to form a triangle shape, overlapping the corners and pinching them to seal. Transfer to the baking sheets an inch or so apart, brush the outsides with egg wash, sprinkle with remaining cheese, more black pepper, and a few chives, and bake until lightly golden; begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes.

Let cool slightly and enjoy with ketchup, if desired. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a few days and then reheated in the microwave or oven.


-yeh!

P.S.

 

Have you pre-ordered Short Stack Yogurt yet?? Get to it! 

potato challah

Around this time two years ago I began begging Eggboy for a pet pig for my birthday. I’ve always loved pigs (it goes hand in hand with my marzipan obsession since when I was little I collected marzipan pigs) and after living on a farm for a few years, it seemed like the time was right to get one. 

Ok, but we’re going to name him Potato, said Eggboy.

That’s a cute name!! But why?

So that when we eat him we can just say we’re eating Potato and confuse all of our friends.

😒😒😒😒😒😒

That kind of ended that.

And that’s all I have to say about potatoes at the moment other than that there are real actual potatoes in this challah dough, not pigs. And there are potatoes of an unknown variety growing in our garden! And idk why it took me this long to put mashed potatoes in challah. I loved potato sandwich bread and potato bagels from Einstein growing up because, well you know me, I've always been one for soft doughy bread over a crusty baguette. So this year for Rosh Hashanah when I was having my routine challah brainstorm, my mind went to the humble potato.

If you thought that a perfectly baked loaf of doughy eggy challah could not get any better, well just add a cup of mashed potatoes to your dough and watch it get even softer. And richer! It’s a subtle difference, you can’t really taste potato *flavor*, but eating it is a similar sensation to hugging a friend who you haven’t seen in a while and feeling a stronger, more robust embrace, the kind of arms that make you step back, do a once over, and ask, you been workin out?  

Potato challah is regular challah that has been going to the gym all summer. 

So, you know, the recipe here is not very different from the challah that you were going to make next week. Just do all of us two favors: add mashed potato to the dough, and when proofing the yeast, use the water that you used to boil the potato instead of regular plain jane water. Works like a charm! Sounds like we’re all going to have fabulous New Years. 

Ok so to shape it, you can either just make one huge long snake and coil it up into a round swirly shape, as I’ve done in past years. Or you can make four strands and make a circular braid. It looks a lot more complicated than it really is. I have all of the faith in the world that you can do it. Here is a slower version of the braiding video that I posted on IG the other day. Plz forgive the background banter between chantell, brett, and me. Or just don't turn the sound on haha. My non-existent video editing skills are exactly non-existent: 


potato challah

makes 2 loaves

ingredients

8 oz peeled potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp + 2 tb sugar
4 c (504g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/3 c (66g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable
2 tb (42g) honey

egg wash + topping:

1 beaten egg
poppy seeds, sesame seeds, other seeds, optional
 

clues

Place the chopped potato in a large pot and cover it with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until a fork pokes easily into the potato, begin checking for doneness at about 10 minutes. Drain the potato, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Let the potato cool, mash it, and set it aside. Once the cooking water has cooled to be warm (about 105º-110ºf), add the yeast and the 1 teaspoon of sugar. Give it a little swirl and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until foamy on top. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and honey. When the yeast mixture is foamy, add it to the dry mixture, followed by the egg mixture and mashed potatoes. Stir to form a shaggy dough and then either knead it on a clean surface or in the stand mixer, adding flour if it gets too sticky to handle. Knead until the dough is smooth and just slightly sticky, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 375ºf and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface, divide it into two equal parts, and shape according to the notes and video above. Transfer the loaves to the baking sheets. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. Brush the loaves with a light coating of egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, if using. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and have an internal temp of about 190ºf. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. 

Let cool until it is jusssst cool enough that it won’t burn your mouth, then smother it with butter and hope that there will be some left for dinner that night. Hehe. 



oh here are some more challah recipes!!