The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

A new cookbook March 29, 2010

Filed under: book — orangepumpkin @ 19:03
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Today I was in the Albert Heijn, our national supermarket. They can be found in every single part of the country. And they’re a big multinational as well. The concept of this typically Dutch supermarket is best explained by John Fealey’s ‘Zakje’. You really have to watch this video

A few years ago our local AH (and lots of other supermarkets in the country) introduced scales integrated in the cash register, to fight the cheating. But once they’ve introduced self scanning (which is the most brilliant thing in the world), the self weighing was reintroduced. So it’s still quite accurate! (Ok, if you don’t get why the audience is going wild and crying their eyes out, you either don’t have a sens of humor, or you’re not Dutch and have no idea where ‘The Dutch’ are coming from 😛 I think this video is one of the most popular video’s here, I think every one knows it. If you say ‘zakje’ most people will at least smile)

Anyway, I was in the AH, minding my own business, self scanning my groceries, feeling really cool about myself. Right at the cash register, in the corner of my eye I saw a cookbook. Twelve months of good food, it said. And it looked massive. 365 recipes perhaps? But then I spotted the price label: not even 15 euros. Ok, come on! That’s just ridiculous. And I bought it. I just did ‘beep’ with my self scanner, and then I ‘put it in my zakje’. And it is massive. Full colour print, loads of recipes. I couldn’t let it sit there in the AH, waiting for someone else to take home a cookbook. So what else could I do but buy it? Yeah, I know, I could’ve saved myself the money and the energy of dragging it home, but I didn’t.

Naturally I was immediately curious if the recipes in it were something that would work for me. Would it be possible to make the ‘January’ recipes and not buy something that was grown in South America? In the introduction they explain that they’ve redone the book. I wouldn’t know, I don’t have an older copy. They say that people have become more and more interested in original Dutch dishes (aha!), and that some products are best enjoyed in season. Basically what they mean is that if you can have strawberries for Christmas, it doesn’t mean they’re good, delicious strawberries. They might be a bit of a tasteless surrogate. Aha! Well, I liked that. For every month they have a certain theme. January is Dutch, February is wintery Europe. And they list all kinds of ingredients that are in season.

It’s not all Dutch, but I must say, I do think that would be boring. But I can make a few of these recipes and stay local. I’m really looking forward to using this book to make my way around the kitchen!

 

Raapstelen / Turnip Greens March 26, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 17:42
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This never happens to me, but right now it did. I walked into the supermarket and I looked among the vegetables for my almost favourite spring veggie: raapsteeltjes (turnip greens). And I saw them. Not marked as such, not a sign of how much they cost, but they were there. And I grabbed them. I was probably the first person in my supermarket to buy them, because they weren’t entered in the system with a proper identifying code or something. They had to enter the code by hand, wait for what seemed at least half a century, and then could I pay for them. And I felt so incredibly great for being the very first person to buy and eat them. Raapsteeltjes ROCK!

I just totally love them, and I can’t really tell you why. But what I did with them was incredibly simple: I made a stamppot. Just mashed potatoes, a little salt, cream cheese and raapsteeltjes. And there you have it: the most wonderful dish of the year! I absolutely love love love it when it’s spring. You know, it was one of these very first spring days ever. With incredible warm weather, sunshine, blue skies, bird song and not one malicious thing to be found. And I had raapsteeltjes for dinner. All I mean to say is: this is probably one of my most cherished spring days. My most favourite day of the year is the first day they cut grass to sun dry it into hay, the smell of fresh cut grass is so immense and lovely I could thrive on that alone, for all eternity. I love love love that smell. The love for the smell of fresh cut grass is unsurmounted, but raapsteeltjes come incredibly close. But there is one other vegetable that I absolutely love and adore. Almost as much as the smell of fresh cut grass. And I’ve seen signs that they’re for sale. So I will grab my bike, ride it to the farm where they grow the most insanely divine sort, buy them, and return to die while eating. I will report on my love for asparagus in one of my next posts. Because truly, nothing in food land ever surpasses the incredibility of asparagus. The fresh asparagus, cut in the morning, had for dinner in the same day.

I just absolutely love love love spring. And all the lovely and utterly non-depressing vegetables that go with it. Dear spring, after an incredulously white, cold, long winter, I’m glad you’ve finally arrived. Please stay! At least for another 10 years or so, because I think I’ll get seriously upset when I have to endure another winter in less than 365 days…

Ingredients

250 gr raapstelen

400 gr potatoes (mash ’em)

2 spoons cream cheese

salt to taste

Boil & mash potatoes, add cream cheese. Rinse and cut up turnip greens (in bits of about 5 cm/2in), and rinse ’em well, there might be loads and loads of sand in them. Stir them through the potatoes. Add some salt (probably best to do that when mashing, but I’m a little uncoordinated sometime, I add salt as an afterthought).

Serve with meat, I had jalapeño beef thingy on the side, and it was brilliant!

How local?

potatoes 30-50km (I have no idea, except that they’re Dutch)

raapstelen 50-100 km (they’re Dutch, but from the supermarket)

beef  errrrr… probably Dutch, no idea though

 

Ode to Potato March 22, 2010

Filed under: vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 22:02
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I used to not like potatoes so much. They’re boring, right? They’re just there, they fill your stomach and that’s kind of it. Tasteless. Very unexciting. But they’re here for a reason! You can eat them! They’re cheap… Oh, this is going in the direction of The Potato Eaters… But they’re in loads of Dutch dishes. And I’ve devoted *cough* all *ahem* my Fridays to Dutch food. Prepared by… moi. Eaten by… moi. And produced by my lovely neighbor (well, it’s close enough! There are areas where neighbors are not to be found at 2,5km distance!) It’s the dedication, right?

Anyway, I was quite scared I would end up eating a lot of potatoes. And I would turn into a depressed monster from before electricity. And I’d be auditioning for a prime spot in Van Gogh’s painting. Well, I do eat a lot of potatoes. More than I did before. But thankfully I’m not depressed, nor out of electricity, nor in a Van Gogh painting. So all is well, almost. The thing is I started to appreciate the potato a little much. It’s a reliant friend. In my fridge, waiting for me to fire up the stove, skin them, cook them, mash them, eat them. It’s so simple! Almost simpler than preparing pasta (yeah, potatoes never will beat pasta, even though they’re equally tasteless). I even bought a proper potato-masher a while back because I’ve been eating a lot of the stuff.

When I was doing some internet research for my other post (one about stamppot), because I wanted to show you the most brilliant potato ever, I found something else. It’s called ‘Pieperpad‘. That needs some explanation, I know. The ‘Pieterpad‘ is an ancient route from Groningen (North Eastern part of the country) to Maastricht (most Southern part of the country). I think it is actually a part of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela (it isn’t, I checked Wikipedia, there it says it was thought up, boring!). I once had a fleeting ambition of riding the thing on horseback. It’s 400km, trust me, doing that on horseback is a radically bad idea. I didn’t do it. But the ‘Pieperpad’ is a pun. A ‘pieper’ is a potato, and ‘pad’ is ‘path’, or ‘route’. The Pieperpad runs from Lauwersmeer (a lake in the North of the country) to a little place in Zeeland (South West of the country) near the Belgian border. The route runs along all kinds of organic potato farmers, and Bed and Breakfast stops where you can stay the night. It’s a bicycling route, which is pretty awesome. Not that I’ll ever cycle from Friesland to Zeeland and only eat potatoes en route, but I like it. It’s cute!

And they have some great potato facts to go with that. Apparently the average Dutchie eats 90 kg potatoes a year. I’m not nearly there yet, but I’ll try a little harder! The Dutch are great at growing potatoes. They’re like the number one or two. Potatoes contain high doses of vitamin C (I wonder if that’s still there when they’re cooked?).

So now you know!

 

Winterpostelein / Winter purslane March 19, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 21:28
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Wow, I might have hit a bit of a zone here. I found myself at my favorite vegetable shop that mainly sells local produce like there is no other. I went there because I needed potatoes. They sell great potatoes. The ones I truly love. I could choose not to live without them, but that would be a bit much on the potato-love. I don’t want to OD. So just to get sane again I look at my downloaded and printed picture of The Potato Eaters. Yikes! No more depressing earth-fruits of doom! And then I go and buy another two kilograms of the stuff. Yeah, don’t know when that happened, but somewhere this winter I fell in love with Texelster. They’re red on the outside, sublime on the inside. And they need cooking before they reach their utter sublimeness. (Ok, I just googled ‘Texelster’, to show you a link of some kind, and I just found a whole lot of inspiration to post an ode to the Potato. Right now would be a good time to run away screaming and kick me into Potato Eater mode.)

Anyway, I grabbed a nice bag of my red little friends, and I decided I would make another stamppot. Because it’s starting to grow on me. I kind of like it. It’s cute, simple, and this way (with fresh, local, organic ingredients) it’s even better than pasta. No it isn’t, but I’m trying to kid myself here, please don’t disturb my nice little ‘I ♥ potatoes’-bubble, OK? Anyway, it’s not half bad and I’m ok with skipping a little more of the pasta, the tomatoes and the Italian (or any other Southern dish that creeps up to me when I least expect it).

So, I looked around and saw that ‘raapsteeltjes’ are still not in season. I started to cry and sob and I was nearly kicking and screaming, but then I remembered I also liked winterpostelein. And they had that. So I bought it. And I bought some cress. And I went home, I boiled the potatoes, made some awesome stamppot, and I was happy. And once again quite local. Ok, the potatoes are a serious deal here, I’m not parting with those (as am I not parting with my favourite apple Granny Smith, which is imported from France). Next to the nice red gorgeous potatoes lie… potatoes in a layer of dirt, obviously grown right next to the winter purslane and all other insane local vegetables that have made their way to my soul, but I won’t touch them. These dirt covered potatoes will lie there until doomsday, if it’s up to me. I take my red-skinned friends home. Pah!

Anyway, the stamppot I made was great. So I might be back, but only a little, you never know what happens next week.

Ingredients:

potatoes, 400 grams

winter purslane, 200 grams

garden cress, 100 grams

spoonful of cream cheese

salt to taste

Boil them potatoes, cut up the purslane, cut off the cress. Drain the potatoes, add the purslane, cress, creamcheese and salt and start mashing. That is all it takes! Honest. Serve with some kind of meat or other. Or don’t bother, just add more cheese!

How local?

potatoes 50-100km, grown in the Netherlands

winter purslane 2,5 km

garden cress 50-100 km, grown in the Netherlands

salt and creamcheese probably Dutch, but there’s no telling.

 

Stamppot To Go March 15, 2010

Filed under: restaurant — orangepumpkin @ 22:01
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A few months ago I had a chat with someone who was really bummed there wasn’t a take away for Dutch Cuisine. I just shrugged. I’ll be honest, I’m perfectly OK with the great Italian pizza baker across the street. If he’s moving, I’m suing, but I’m assuming he’s not going anywhere, except his pizza oven. Who needs a friggin’ take away of DUTCH food? Hm? Yeah,  nobody. I’m not so OK with the Chinese take aways that seem to have taken over our pretty society, but the rest of my family adores them. They sleep at the doorstep of any given Chinese restaurant, just to get some more yucky fatty foods. To me, Chinese is like fast food. Too fat, little tasteless, and not at all refined. Well, that’s maybe a bit harsh. I’m sure good Chinese food is brilliant, but most restaurants serve very little good brilliant food, in my limited experience. All I really like is the saté (satay), with peanut sauce! Bring it on, some white rice to accompany it and I’m in a blissful state. Not for long, but it lasts long enough for me to ignore the fat dripping from other people’s faces (yuck!). I also like most other types of satay, the Indonesian satays, they’re super great too. But there’s not much Indonesian take away, here, I think. There’s loads of Indo-Chinese restaurants, that make neither of the food in an OK way, that’s where you’ll get the horrible fatty spring rolls etc.

Anyway, my friend was bummed. She just wanted a little bit of stamppot boerenkool (you won’t see me ever make that, so nevermind what it is, all you need to know is that it’s gross) to go! Well, the heavens have opened up and granted her her wish. Not sure if it’s any use to her, but you can’t have everything. The great news is that I recently noticed a new take away has opened in Utrecht (yup, it’s a tongue twister), and it’s called: Stamppot To Go. It’s a cute little shop and they only offer take away. All kinds of recipes. So if you’re ever in the Netherlands and you’re desperate for trying some good old fashioned Dutch dishes: you now have a place to go. And Utrecht is OK for a tourist visit, so you won’t be wasting a lot of time on travelling to Stamppot Heaven. And you won’t have to put up with my less than perfect recipes!

 

Zuurkool March 12, 2010

Filed under: vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 11:25

Here’s something I totally hate about Dutch cuisine. It’s responsible for such a high level of ewwwww-ness in my life, that I would personally be grateful if this thing is banned from all the world. Because it’s the grossest thing I’ve ever eaten. It is, I’m not kidding. ‘Zuurkool’ is the Dutch word with which we describe something generally known as ‘sauerkraut’.

And I truly hate it. I have long lost memories that I would like to keep lost forever, concerning sauerkraut. My mother would make us sauerkraut regularly. And I’ve never stopped hating it, not from the first day I ate it. She would boil potatoes, mash them, boil some sauerkraut, some apples and raisins, and she’d serve some meat on the side. That probably is a good way of preparing sauerkraut. But, once again, I hate it. The sauer is still sour. Very sour. I never really liked meat, so I probably skipped that. No matter how many apples and raisins you would add, the sour did not subside. I’ve told you before that I admire my mum, she’s the living legend of a good housewife. Really! She manages to keep a huge house clean and tidy, whereas I have trouble getting through with cleaning my tiny apartment. So I don’t get how she does it, or how she ever did it when she had small children roaming about. I just don’t get it, honestly. And I don’t get how she got a meal on the table everyday, either. And that meal was nice and edible almost all of the time. Except for her flirting with sauerkraut. It just doesn’t do anything for me, you know. Never will, probably. And I will never buy sauerkraut and attempt to make something that tastes OK, see, I’m not even going to assume ‘great’ would be possible.

But the other day, I had great sauerkraut. I did. And I don’t get it. I didn’t cook it, naturally, and when I heard it would be sauerkraut I had reserves. I thought ‘Oh boy’, but I didn’t say anything. You know, if someone is cooking you dinner, you damn well don’t complain about it. Just eat it. And if you don’t like it, make your own dinner! So, as we sat at the table I helped myself to the potatoes, the sauerkraut, the meat and the gravy. And I was shaking with anxiety. I was scared to death that I had to eat it all and that it would be a struggle. But I was so very, very hungry. I’d been working all day, and I was just not going to not eat. That wasn’t an option. I was mentally preparing to slowly work my way through the sour food of doom. And it wasn’t sour. The gravy complemented the sauerkraut in such a way that it wasn’t sour at all! It was absolutely great. It was terrific. And I helped myself to a second serving (proving to the person who made me dinner that I’m a big girl and I eat truck loads of food, every friggin’ day!). I was so surprised with how much I liked it that I totally lost my sense of good behaviour and I just said it: ‘Wow! This is some great sauerkraut! What did you do to it?’ I exclaimed, while beaming happily to the greatest gravy of all time. You know what the answer was? ‘Oh, it’s just sauerkraut with potatoes, meat and gravy.’

The saddest thing about this is that I didn’t learn the secret to the greatest gravy-sauerkraut ever. So I have no bloody idea how to make it myself. I will forever be depending on this person to make me great sauerkraut, because I still won’t be able to do it myself. So, so sad.

 

Stamppot rauwe andijvie March 5, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 11:43

I think I’ve taught you by now that ‘stamppot’ is a very great Dutch word that means you’ll be getting mashed potatoes with ‘something in’. Whatever that ‘something’ is.

Today I’ll be making ‘Stamppot rauwe andijvie’. Because I have been so incredibly looking forward to eating it. I have both great and very disturbing memories of it. Because of the ‘andijvie’. Andijvie is endive. I think I’ve already told you this a while ago. Endive has this very distinguished bitter taste to it. And as a child, I hated it. More specifically, I hated it when it was cooked. My mum did that at least once. And trust me, bitter cooked endive, that’s a reason to jump up from the table and run off screaming. According to Wikipedia, endive is from the same plant family as chicory. Which explains why it has this foul bitter taste. And why I hated both of them as a child.

Somewhere along the way, though, I’ve learned to absolutely love endive. ‘Stamppot rauwe andijvie’ is the reason. ‘Rauw’ is Dutch for ‘raw’, so the endive isn’t cooked. At all. What you do is this: you cook the potatoes, you mash them, you cut up the endive, and throw it in, you dice a bit of cheese and throw that in too, and that’s all. The endive stays crisp and fresh, the cheese melts, and life is great!

I love the slightly bitter taste to it, I love, love, LOVE (oh yes, I absolutely love it) the molten cheese. And potatoes aren’t so bad when you make a stamppot out of them. I don’t feel like The Potato Eaters at all. I’ll update this post to tell you how incredibly great my trip to heaven exactly was.

How local?

Potatoes 50 km

Endive don’t know, it’s Dutch though (I’ve been really lazy, getting it from the supermarket and choosing the sliced endive, I’m so ready to go!)

Cheese Dutch, but again, supermarket Dutch, so there’s no telling, really.