Posts tagged ‘potatoes’

Ready, set, roll! Lefse time!

With one month until Thanksgiving and two until Christmas, my brain has started thinking about holiday cooking. Ok, lets be honest, it is always thinking about cooking and baking, but now I think of seasonal things I only plan to make in the coming months. One of my favorites is krumkake, a cone shaped cookie my mom taught me to make and about which I have written before. Another favorite is lefse, a type of Norwegian flatbread. Last Christmas, my husband and I made lefse with his family, and between the six of us we rolled out 200 rounds! (My husband chided me for not writing a blog about lefse after this feat, so all I can say is, better late than never.)

This past weekend I had a chance to take a lefse making class at Ingebretsen’s in Minneapolis. As I mentioned, this is a food I’m familiar with, so I wasn’t going as a beginner, but I know when it comes to cooking and baking it never hurts to learn from others. You might pick up a trick or learn a technique you never knew before, like this video I recently watched on how to efficiently chop onions. Maybe you all know this method, but I sure never learned it. Why on earth did no one in my junior high Home Ec class teach me this?!

Anyway, before I tell you about the class, I want to make sure you know about Ingebretsen’s.

If you’re not Scandinavian or from Minnesota, this shop’s name may not be familiar to you, but if you are, you know the treasures it holds. First opened as the Model Meat Market in 1921, Ingebretsen’s is a wonderful place full of all things Nordic. Whether you’re looking for a wooden Dala Horse, a troll ornament for your Christmas tree, a cookbook on how to make Danish open-faced sandwiches or a the proper slicer for your gjetost (brown goat cheese), they’ve got it all. If you’re the crafty type, head over to the Needlework side of the store where you’ll find no shortage of threads, patterns and other supplies. And of course, the meat market is still there, full to the brim with fish, cheeses and their secret Swedish meatball mix. In 2011, they celebrated their 90th anniversary with a number of events and the release of their book Ingebretsen’s Saga – A Family, A Store, A Legacy in Food. The book features a history of the Ingebretsen family, the store and Scandinavians in Minnesota, plus over 60 recipes for traditional Scandinavian foods, as well as modern twists on old favorites. I loved the picture of the Tomte Sandwiches, cute little appetizers that look like the Swedish beings known as tomte (in Norway they’re called nisse), and think the Nordic Salmon Chowder sounds divine and perfect for a cold winter evening. 

Ingebretsen’s doesn’t only feature items for purchase, but also a number of events and classes, so you can learn the traditions of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Whether you have ancestors from the Nordic region or just an interest in Scandinavian culture, Ingebretsen’s has a wide variety of craft, needlework, culture and cooking classes. Some of those cooking classes include kransekake (a cake made out of stacked rings of almond flavored dough, frequently seen at Norwegian and Danish weddings), krumkake (I actually teach the class!) and of course, lefse.

Which brings me back to the class I took last weekend. The class was taught by Cheryl Netka, who usually teaches the class with her friend Pamela Strauss (who wasn’t able to be there that day). As a side note, Cheryl’s mother also teaches the kransekake class at Ingebretsen’s. You can watch a fun preview of their classes here:

Cheryl shared with us several tidbits about the history of lefse, a variety of recipes and helpful hints to remember when making your own. One interesting things I didn’t know is that lefse wasn’t always made with potatoes. The potato didn’t come to Norway until the 1700’s, so before that it was just flour. It stored very well and was more like a cracker, which kept well during winter months or on ships. When the potato arrived, the Norwegians began mixing it in the dough and it became more of a delicacy, as we know it today. A practical tip that a seasoned lefse roller likely knows, but was a good reminder for me, is to always roll from the center of the dough out. This gives you nice roundish pieces that are more easily transferred to the lefse griddle.

If you’ve never made lefse or want a refresher, I would definitely recommend checking out the class at Ingebretsen’s. It’s a hands on experience, so don’t forget your apron! And if you would like to invest in your own griddle or need a rolling pin, lefse stick or board, they’ve got that too!


October 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm 1 comment

Blend, baby, blend

This year for my birthday, I received a gift I’ve been wanting for some time now. There aren’t many big ticket items out there that I desire, but this is one thing I had begun to talk about to friends, family, co-workers, anyone who would listen. I may have even told strangers. I’d first heard of this item through my brother and was beginning to have what I referred to as a serious case of “blender envy.”

Yes, that’s right. The item I coveted was a blender. What kind you ask? A serious one. There seem to be two prevailing “high end blender” camps out there and I fall on the Blendtec side of things (Vitamix is the other). This thing has settings for smoothies, soups, sauces and spreads. While not recommended to try at home, it will even blend golf balls.  It has revolutionized our lives. I would go as far as to say I love this blender. May seem a little Enemy of the State, but seriously, this blender is amazing. And after way too many episodes where I only ended up uttering curses at our previous two blenders – brands to remain unnamed – it was time to splurge.

Most of the blender’s work thus far has been fruit drinks in the morning. My husband has concocted a wide variety of combinations, experimenting with strawberries, pineapple, raspberries, mangoes, apples and more. It is fantastic how little work is required and on items like kiwi, you don’t even have to remove the peel – which I have learned is actually quite high in fiber and very good for you. This has been a really great way for us to ensure regular fruit intake, especially on days when time is tight.

Tonight, however, I ventured into the world of soup. The most amazing part of making soup with this blender is the fact that it gets going so fast that the friction – or whatever physics are going on – actually heats it up. No cook soup. Genius. I’ve made one other soup so far, based on a recipe in the handy cookbook that comes with the blender, and tonight I tried a modified version of the “Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup.”

Here is the recipe:

  • 2 c milk
  • 1 medium potato – baked and cut in half
  • ½ c cheddar cheese – shredded
  • 1/4 c onion – steamed
  • 1/4 tsp dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions: Place above ingredients into blender jar and secure the lid. Press the Soups button. If soup is not hot after first cycle, press the Soups button a second time.


  • 3 slices bacon – crisped and broken into bits
  • 1 baked potato – cut in half

Directions: Press the Pulse button approximately 5 times to blend in added ingredients.

MY NOTES: The most obvious change for this pig free diet was removing the bacon, but I also had to improvise on the milk. As I mentioned in my post about French Toast a few weeks ago, we rarely have milk in our house, so alternatives require some creativity. Tonight my two cups of milk looked like this: a fourth cup half and half, a fourth cup plain yogurt and one and a half cups water. Might sound weird, but it worked. In addition, I didn’t have enough cheddar so I used some brick cheese we picked up in Wisconsin and it added a nice creamy flavor. Also adding to the flavor was a bit of parsley I had picked from our garden and had left over from dinner a few nights ago.

The other thing I learned tonight is that baking potatoes in a toaster oven – even when you’re using little potatoes and have the temp at 375º – isn’t the most time efficient idea. I could have popped them in the microwave for a quick cook, but the more I learn about microwaves and how they affect our food, the more I want ours to die so I can take it to the recycler and be done with it forever. So, in the future, I think I’ll need to plan ahead and either start them in the toaster oven earlier or find some other stuff that needs baking and fire up the regular oven for a bit.

And for a final few thoughts. I love dill – my favorite soup is Borscht – so this recipe caught my eye right away. Even with only a fourth of a teaspoon, the dill did not disappoint. And, while August 1 may seem like an insane day to have a hot creamy soup, today we had a huge rain storm and it was rather overcast much of the day, so it seemed appropriate. Overall, this soup had a wonderful rich taste and I look forward to blending up more potato soup combinations in the future.

August 1, 2011 at 9:42 pm 1 comment

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