The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

Pumpkin Soup revision August 29, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,soup — orangepumpkin @ 15:23
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Ok, so I’ve revised my pumpkin soup. Which is to say, I added a few extras and I still liked it. I liked it so much that I effectively ate one whole pumpkin, three big carrots, a small zucchini, and half a litre of water. And I lived to tell you about it.

I also added sour cream and a truck load of chili pepper powder. This last bit I did after my sister advised me to do that. It gives a nice little zing to the soup. It isn’t at all innocent anymore, and you can just keep adding chili, it seems.

I added the chili because I don’t have tabasco, which is what she would add. But hey, I’m mee, I’m stubborn and I like it. Now you go try. It’s still simple, Put in all the ingredients, boil the veggies for 20 minutes, stick in the stick blender, add the sour cream and seasonings. And eat.

 

Artichokes April 24, 2010

Filed under: book,cooking,main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 21:49
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This week, my bike and myself went all the way to the asparagus place I would like to refer to as asparagus heaven. From afar I could see the white asparagus sign wasn’t up yet and I wondered: are there no asparagus to be had? And yes, there were no asparagus to be had. I was so disappointed I cried a little. I was wearing sunglasses so no one could see. You know, it hurt! I called my mum (or she called me, I don’t recall) and I told her there were still no asparagus at asparagus heaven. And she said that she hadn’t found any asparagus for sale near there, either. So we both cried a little. You know, she’d been driving around for ages, looking at suspicious looking humps where -for sure- asparagus were grown. But no one sold them. She asked at the supermarket for Dutch asparagus, and they didn’t have them. The supermarket guy told her that Dutch asparagus were awfully late this year. I also checked my supermarket. They have asparagus from Peru. But since that probably means they’re days old, instead of hours, I refuse to buy them. Otherwise I’d totally buy a bunch and cook them. I’m so asparagus-deprived that the whole Peru-thing seems like a tiny thing that can easily be overlooked. I’m easily persuaded, I know. Anyway, no Dutch asparagus. Anywhere.

Artichoke top cut off

The beauty of a thistle flower

So when I found myself in a greengrocer’s today and they had artichokes at €1.50 a piece (holy crap, that’s expensive) I didn’t check where they were from, I just bought one. Just one. Not five, which -on hindsight- would’ve been better. When I got home I realised that I actually had no idea how to prepare artichokes. I looked in my newest cookbook and they just had a recipe for artichoke hearts. Which actually means canned artichokes. You know, no matter how much I love my new cookbook, how on earth am I supposed to can my fresh artichoke? I don’t know these things! So I checked my ’50’s Dutch cookbook (revised version from the 2000’s). It had very little to say about artichokes. Seriously? Is this another joke? Doesn’t anyone eat these things anymore? Are they not cool enough for the general population? Are my fellow 20-something’s this deprived of all life that they don’t even buy fresh artichokes anymore? What kind of life am I living anyway? Should I abandon my €1.50 artichoke and see if McDonalds is willing to make me some french fries? Can I get American sauce with that? That’s what it’s called, I have no idea if it’s anything American, but whatever. I opened the kitchen cabinet that contains all my cookbooks. And I thought to myself: yes, this would be a perfect time for that! ‘That’ being my mum’s copy of ‘The Joy of Cooking‘ by Irma and Marion Rombauer. They’re American, you know. ‘That’ also referring to my mum’s advise when she gave me her copy ‘on loan’ (which is permanent, sorry mum, I’ll read the recipe’s to you when you need anything, but I can’t give it back, not anymore!). Her advice was this: ‘If you ever have anything that you’re not exactly sure about how to prepare, this book will provide the answer in a heartbeat.’ I listened intently while turning the ancient pages (this copy being printed in 1974, probably a wedding gift). ‘Remember that time I found a dead rabbit?’ (my mum saw it being hit by a car) Oh yes mum, I do! ‘Well, this book provided all the information on skinning and preparing rabbit!’ I remember that too! Dad with my siblings bent over the rabbit, cutting her (she had a uterus with babies inside) open, telling them what they were looking at. It was very much The Anatomy Lesson of dr. Nicolaes Tulp. My dad being that Tulp-guy, me being Rembrandt, because the picture is still very vivid and detailed when I think about it. Anyway, I took my mum’s copy home, and leafed through it some more, and I thought about making some of the recipes one day. Honestly, I wanted to be Julie & Julia. Unfortunately my name is nothing like Irma or Marion, and besides, they were together already. And besides that, I’m a horrible cook.

My copy of The Joy.

So I grabbed the book off the shelve and I looked for ‘artichoke’ in the index. And boy oh boy, did these ladies do artichokes! My other cookbooks didn’t have that many references to ‘artichoke’, but this one did. Page 256 is the first hit, and I stayed there. I cooked the artichokes just like that. Exactly like that. (I’m not sure if I would be violating copyright if I would list the recipe here, so I’m not going to, I will just tell you how good it is) And since I was quite bored, and the cooking of artichokes apparently takes 45 minutes, I started tweeting about it, also here, here, and here. I would never have thought of cooking the artichokes with other vegetables. I just wouldn’t. I’m probably too stupid. I was worried there was no salt in the recipe (I mean, every recipe has salt. I left some out, once, and it just totally ruined it. ‘It’ was bread. I threw it out. Saltless bread is inedible.) But I stuck to it. I persevered. Who am I to judge my new BFF’s Irma and Marion? (they’re long dead, but still, man, they live with me now, they’re my soulmates! Plus, they know how to cook, man.) I did not add salt.

The cut off artichoke stem.

In The Joy they advise you to serve the artichokes with Béchamel sauce. I know how to make Béchamel. My mother taught me when I was 8. It’s easy. Fry onions and garlic, add flour, add water or milk, season with whatever you can find (I usually empty my entire stash of herbs), and that’s it. Oh no no! Not Irma and Marion! They put flour in butter, then add milk, than add onions and garlic and only then do they season the sauce. They don’t tell you how to season it, exactly, but after tasting the superb sauce I had just created (see, they need to be my BFF’s, they could tell me 50 years before I was born how to make Béchamel sauce, I mean, they’re saints!), I knew it was so nearly perfect that my overly enthusiastic seasoning would kill it stone dead. And I didn’t want that. I wanted the sauce to live. And talk to the artichokes. And make a beautiful artichoke sauce. And make me happy. So I could die in peace someday, because I had, once in my life, made the perfect Béchamel. It was tough, you know, but I added salt. Lots. I added pepper. A little. And I added chives. (See, I have this chives plant in a pot, and it’s dying, so I think that by cutting it, it might stand a chance. And otherwise it will be dead anyway.) And a little marjoram. And that was it.

The Béchamel, prior to seasoning.

And then the whole thing was done. I ate the artichoke with an abundance of Béchamel, because I love a lot of sauce. On anything really. And it was great! Everything was great about it. So I do think that I can die in peace now. Even though I’m not sure the Béchamel was perfect, it was better than anything I’d ever hoped to achieve. And that is kind of perfect, right?

In the end, buying Irma and Marion Rombauer’s The Joy Of Cooking would be a fine investment, even today. I would like to get my hands on Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ too, then my life will be complete and I can do whatever I want. That would be great, wouldn’t it?

BTW: this is my first post with photo’s, I should do that more often, I like it! If only uploading pictures to my computer were more easy…

 

Pizza Perfect

Filed under: cooking,main course — orangepumpkin @ 19:51
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I promised that I would post something about my pizza frenzy. Now I will.

It all happened a few years ago. I was in the supermarket and I discovered a mix for pizza dough. Curious little creature that I am, I bought it and it ended up on my shelf for some time. Until one day I couldn’t make up my mind what to make for dinner, and I stumbled upon the pizza mix. On the back there were a few suggestions on what to put on your pizza. I honestly don’t remember what it was. I set off to the supermarket (this was before my whole local produce gamble came into play), I bought what I thought had been suggested on the back of the package and I went home again. I made the pizza and I was delighted. It was some seriously great pizza! The crust was quite brilliant, and the toppings were quite great too. From then on I almost always had a bit of that mix in my cupboard, because you never know when you feel like pizza.

The following, on how the pizza-saga evolved, might be quite familiar, since this happened to me before (well, I think the pizza came first, but on this blog they come second). It has everything to do with my untempered enthusiasm, moderation, and measurements and proportions. You can guess it: it went wrong. It went hilariously wrong. It simply had to. One day I simply forgot all the pizza making lessons I had learnt in the previous months. Someone unplugged my memory and it was drained. I planned on making a pizza, so I went and bought the ingredients. While I was in the supermarket I remembered what I had put on my pizzas before and what had been really great, and then I bought it. I bought everything that I had liked on a pizza at some point in my past life. That we shall call mistake number one. It’s a huge one. I did have some moderation in mind, I didn’t buy three leeks, five carrots, two onions and an extra big pack of mushrooms. I only bought small amounts. But I did buy everything. I might have gone easy on the meat, remembering that there are barely any pizzas that have five types of meat on them. But I did get leek, mushrooms, carrots, olives, mozzarella, salami, tomatoes and probably a bunch of other stuff that I don’t even remember anymore.

When I got home my salivating glands were in overdrive, my mind was quickly wandering off to the perfect pizza place and I cut up all my toppings, kneaded the dough, etc. Once I was putting all the topping on the pizza I started to realise something: there is no way in pizza that that will fit. It dawned on me that I had bought too much. I said dawned, because it never really set in. Enter: mistake number two, it’s even bigger than mistake number one. I quickly quit putting more stuff on there. I did squeeze in some tomatoes, and the mozzarella, but the rest of it I stored in the refrigerator. Then I put the pizza in the oven. I was convinced that the vegetables would shrink and settle, that the moist from the tomatoes would help that process and that my pizza would be perfectly fine.

Of course, it wasn’t. My carried away mind had resided on Mt. Vesuvius this time, forgetting all about my dear friends ‘Measurements & Proportions‘. The vegetables didn’t shrink and settle. The pizza didn’t work the way I had planned at all. It wasn’t cooked. The crust was ok, but the rest of it just simply sucked.I don’t remember if and how I salvaged it. I do remember that I realised later on that I should’ve made a quiche instead. Quiche is good, and in case you’re throwing on too much stuff, it’s definitely better than pizza!

I learnt a terribly important lesson that day: don’t overdo your pizza. Keep it simple. After that I’ve made quite a few nice pizzas that were quite perfect. I didn’t put on everything I knew would be good on pizza. Because I do know that it will, but not on one small pizza. Everything put together won’t work on pizza. Though obviously I haven’t learnt my final lesson in moderation. I keep getting carried away. It’s in my nature I guess.

Oh, typing this up just reminds me so much of the great pizzas I used to make. God, I wish this was Italy and I could eat pizza all day. I guess it’s time to make some again. Of course I’ll share the recipe! Hope I’ll remember the ‘less is more’-motto that definitely applies to pizza!

 

No Asparagus April 10, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 18:32
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It’s so sad! Yesterday I was right in the mood for asparagus. It was spring, someone was bold enough to mow their lawn, teenage boys were jumping in the river from the bridge (and they froze their testicles off permanently, but they’ll only find that out in 10 years time when they’re trying to conceive a child), and I was on my bike. So I took a little tour to the local asparagus dealer, where you can fetch a shot. From afar I could see the white asparagus sign wasn’t up yet. And I had been looking forward to it, so I was really sad. I had to stand there and weep for at least 15 minutes. I had been looking forward to getting myself some asparagus heads. I know they look like penises and it’s probably a bad thing for a nice girl like me to go wild for asparagus heads, but I do. I have been going without them for over 9 months. Yes, that too is quite inappropriate. But hey, they’re asparagus. I can’t help it that they look like penises! It’s their fault! (I was going to make a witty comment about the taste, but I’ve decided against it, I have, really, I’ll keep silent forever)

Anyway, my asparagus dealer didn’t have any asparagus yet. I was eager to ring the doorbell anyway and say: Hey, it’s April, gimme my shot! It’s about bloody time! But I didn’t.

And today I read in the paper that asparagus season is unusually late. Because of a harsh winter, etc. The first asparagus have been harvested in Brabant (one of the Southern provinces) today. So I’m sure next week is better timing for my dealer to be able to provide my shot. I’ll make sure to try again! Another thing that caught my eye is that asparagus aren’t really popular in the Netherlands. The only group of people eating them are pensioners. Young single adults are especially NOT eating asparagus. Hmm. But I am! I’m young, I’m adult, I’m not a pensioner. I guess I’m kind of the exception to the rule. But I’ll keep the faith, I’ll be a pensioner some time, and by then I’ll be fitting the bill to eat asparagus. Right now I’ll just have to accept the fact that I’m a bit of a black sheep. And that the asparagus have taken until bloody April to show themselves. If there is a god of asparagus to hold responsible, I definitely will! Bastard!

 

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

 

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 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.