One of the best things about Christmas back in Hawai`i is that Auntie Jude (my mother’s middle sister) and her family moved there the same time I moved back. Uncle Jag (I’m so naming him as he was a JAG lawyer and judge) was fortunate enough to get stationed there after having been stationed in Manila. This means I got to be around all my cousins. It also meant Granny, Papa, and Auntie Boogie traveling to Hawai`i every other year for Christmas. I also got to partake in the Halvorson family traditions.
One of the traditions I enjoyed was Christmas Eve dinner. Meatballs, lefse, and mashed rutabagas. Did I mention that Uncle Jag is Norwegian? My cousins taught me to butter the lefse, sprinkling it with sugar, then roll it up to eat. I loved it. And the meatballs. And the mashed rutabagas.
Granny requested a Thompson family Christmas in 2000. Chaz and I flew out to Tustin for a week to be with my mother’s side of the family. Now, Auntie Boogie loves giving gag gifts and Dad is a bit slow in processing jokes. That year, she gave Uncle Jag a book of Norwegian jokes. Uncle had to do the flip through and read out some jokes for all of us to enjoy. One of them was about Oleg seeing a pizza for the first time and saying, “Oy! Who threw up on the lefse?” We had a great laugh with that one. Except for Dad. He didn’t get it. Until 10 minutes later when the joke book was laid aside and we were back to unwrapping presents.
In the midst of the sound of paper being torn we hear Dad start to laugh and say, “Oy! Who threw up on the lefse?” He was laughing so hard that he took his glasses off, was pinching his nose and starting to double over in his chair, looking like he was about to fall on the floor. Yep. That’s my Dad. We’re always on to the next thing when he finally gets the joke. My brother, sisters and I used to tease him relentlessly about his lack of quick wits. I really don’t know where we got it from. These days I wonder if his slow processing of jokes has to do with English being his second language.
But I digress. This post is about lefse.
Auntie Jude gave me the recipe for the lefse and the Christmas Eve meatballs some time ago so I could make them myself. However, since moving to the South/Mid-West, we’ve always been with Chaz’s family on Christmas Eve and Christmas. So, I’ve never been able to make them for Christmas Eve dinner.
I started thinking about it last week after my successful conversion of Amaretto Bread. Along with Grandma Brown’s (Stick’s grandmother) Chocolate Chip Cookies. I figured why not give it a go? Worse thing that could happen is they are inedible and I end up quickly fixing another side to go with dinner. Right? Right.
The lefse was a little time-consuming, but I was able to prep the veggies and get them in the oven while I was cooking the lefse. Since I don’t have a special lefse rolling pin (they have grooves in them) and my marble rolling pin is way too heavy, I used a glass to roll them out. I noticed that the thinner I got them, the more pliable they were. They were also better that night than they were the next day since they are best at room temperature. They were still good the next day, just dry. And for some reason I was thinking we used cinnamon on it when we added the butter and sugar. So my first test I buttered it and used just cinnamon. I hate to admit it, but the sugar makes it. Thankfully, I used palm sugar, and just a hint to give it a tiny bite of sweetness. I will be making it again, but just half of this recipe so I don’t have a bunch of lefse leftover. Best thing, the dough doesn’t stick to your hands like other gluten-free doughs. You know those doughs I’m talking about. The kind where half the dough sticks to your hand while trying to get it on the baking pan.
Lefse (gluten-free, dairy-free)
3 cups mashed russet potatoes at room temperature (do not refrigerate or dough will be sticky)
3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon palm sugar
2 tablespoons Spectrum palm shortening
1-2 tablespoons So Delicious Coconut Creamer
Earth Balance soy-free butter (optional)
palm sugar (optional)
Combine ingredients except creamer with your fingers. Add cream 1 tablespoon at a time. Just enough to hold the dough together and not make it sticky. The dough should have the consistency of play dough. Roll out dough 2 tablespoons at a time between two pieces of parchment paper using a lefse rolling pin, another small rolling pin or a glass. Bake lightly on a medium hot griddle or flat pan. You want it lightly browned on each side. Let cool on a rack lined with paper or cloth towels. Serve at room temperature with dairy-free butter, palm sugar and cinnamon.