Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a. fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast -- because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.
Today: Potatoes for breakfast never sounded so sweet.
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Lefse appears to be having a moment right now, between a video with Sam Sifton and Molly Yeh and a spread next to shots of beautiful Norwegians eating in snowy woods in the December issue of Bon Appétit magazine. But in case you missed those and don’t know what lefse is, I’ll bring you up to speed: It’s a soft, Norwegian potato flatbread. Lefse is sometimes called a potato crêpe because it’s a giant, paper-thin round usually served spread with butter and cinnamon-sugar and eaten as a dessert.
Except, that is, when it isn’t. Here’s a fun fact that most people don’t know: The large, thin-style of potato lefse brought over to the United States by Norwegian immigrants is just one of many styles of lefse. Historically, there were as many styles of lefse in Norway as there are fjords and valleys. Some lefse were made with rye flour, some oat, some wheat, some potato, some a mix of flours. Some were fried on a griddle while others were baked. Some were thick and folded in thirds while others were thin and rolled.
Before our neighbor taught us to make our own, my family would buy pre-packaged lefse called lompe, which are small and thick. You would find them sold at any grocery store in Norway, as you would a stack of tortillas here, and we’d eat it rolled around a hot dog. Though lompe is not generally considered a breakfast food, it makes a fantastically soft, chewy, and flavorful flatbread for topping with breakfast-y foods and spreads. And, unlike the larger, more delicate potato lefse, you don’t need any special equipment to make lompe.
You make a base of creamy mashed potatoes and let it refrigerate overnight. You then work in enough flour to make a dough, roll it into small rounds and fry it in a dry skillet (like a tortilla, again), until browned on each side. Its buttery potato flavor can skew sweet or savory, leaving you any number of options for topping. My favorite toppings are either scrambled eggs and lox or butter and gjetost (Norwegian goat cheese). But, I’ve been known to also top a lompe with pâté, or cream cheese and jam, or -- if no one’s looking -- go the butter and sugar route -- even at breakfast.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.