The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

Hete Bliksem January 15, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,meat,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 10:23
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‘Hete Bliksem’ translates as ‘Hot Lightning’. Yes, this is the actual name of a real dish. I’m not sure if any Dutch person will be able to say ‘Ah yes, that’s a dish, indeed!’ (like my Dutch mother did when I said I would make it), but lots of those people out here will know. Which is very strange since there is the worrisome aspect of calling a dish anything like that. I for one have no clue why it’s called that. I don’t. I’ve racked my brain about it, but I haven’t come up with a solution as of yet. But I haven’t asked Google yet either. I don’t really care, because there are other dishes that have really weird names, like ‘Stoemp’, it’s not even a word! I have no idea what it means, and how it’s related to food. I said ‘stoemp’ and my ever helpful mother said: ‘Oh, that’s a soup, isn’t it?’ and I told her that I’d stumbled upon a recipe of ‘stoemp’ which looked just like ‘hutspot’ (which is a weird name for a dish, too, but it means something like ‘mixed stamppot’ and ‘stamppot’ is anything containing mashed potatoes and mashed vegetables).

Of course, ‘hete bliksem’ is a stamppot. It is! You would not expect it of the dutch to have another stamppot, did you? Anyway, I kind of knew it was a dish and when I read the recipe, I thought, that could work! I was going to visit my family so I consulted with my sister if she’d be ok with a Dutch dish. She said ‘eeeewwww’ and ‘grossss’, and then, bluntly, ‘no!’. So I said, ‘What about a stamppot, like hutspot?’. And she said ‘eeewwww’ again. God knows why we’re related, but I was stumped, she doesn’t like hutspot? How in the name of all things edible is that possible? Hutspot is a great invention, even though it’s Dutch. I mean, who wouldn’t want mashed potatoes, carrots and onions? Obviously I’m related to the only properly born Dutchy who doesn’t. I’ve racked my brain about it, too, and I’ve used Google to find an answer, but I must say Google’s let me down. Anyway, I Googled for some other recipe’s for stamppot, hoping to find something even my sister might like. Based on the ingredients, and not on what it looks like. So I called her again and I said, ‘How about hete bliksem?’. And she said, ‘What?!’. Me: ‘Well, it’s a stamppot…’, she: ‘…which I’m not particularly fond of…’, me: ‘… with potatoes, apples and bacon.’, she: ‘Ok, you can try, but I’ll personally kill you if I don’t like it.’, me: ‘According to this recipe you have to cook the bacon, but that sounds really disgusting…’, she: ‘…oh no! No cooked bacon, fry it!’. And that was the end of it.

I called my mum and I asked her what kind of vegetable should be on the side, and what kind of meat. I mean, 300 grams of fried bacon for 4 people is a little meager on the meat side. Considering that we’re omnivores and my father especially should be considered a carnivore. He’ll eat half a pig for breakfast. Or maybe he used to when I was little and I’m still confused about it, anyway, the guy loves meat. But my mother said, ‘Oh, the apples are the vegetables. And 250 grams of bacon is good enough!’ Right-o. So I took my ingredients over to my parent’s place and I made hete bliksem.

I thought mashed potatoes with apples would be weird. I just couldn’t envision it. But once on my plate, I didn’t mind it so much. It was ok, and the tangy fried bacon was really good with it. As was the skillful amount of all kinds of peppers on hand that were in there. It is a hot dish, so you need pepper. It was quite tasteful. But I told my family I was still a bit concerned because to me, Dutch dishes still are as depressing as The Potato Eaters by Van Gogh. I might have given a certain someone with lots of love for Dutch dishes *cough* a certain idea by mentioning the famous Van Gogh painting. And depressing food also consists of a lump of mashed potatoes with apples and a few bacon bits thrown in. Especially when that’s what’s on your plate. It’s a bit lacking in colour. It’s a bit very sad and quite depressing. And you most definitely can’t serve something like that in a restaurant. Even if it tastes great. It looks horrible, so no one wants to eat it. You need a bit of green to make it look appetizing. And Dutch dishes can be great tasting dishes, they just look depressingly bad. So, I liked the hete bliksem, but next time I will serve it with a salad on the side, and a little more bacon. Because bacon is great!

And over dinner we talked about seasonal vegetables and it turns out, leek is a seasonal vegetable, too! Leek can withstand frost, you just can’t harvest it when it’s freezing, but that’s ok! I like leek. And I know a great stamppot with leek! Ha! And while passing a greengrocer I saw that they have ‘raapsteeltjes’ (‘brassica rapa’ in Latin, or ‘field mustard/turnip mustard’), already. Probably not Dutch, or from a heated greenhouse, but it still means that very soon I can have stamppot with raapsteeltjes, which is a great dish! And I can still make stamppot with ‘winterpostelein’ (winter purslane, or miner’s lettuce). And a salad with ‘veldsla’ (corn salad) which I can combine with winterpostelein. And by that time winter will be over and I haven’t had to make some of the most horrible dishes Dutch cuisine knows, like something with koolraap (rutabaga in English), which is a horrible and slimy thing to eat. But I do have to make a stamppot with celeriac, because that’s great too! I’m so happy winter is almost over (ok, after weeks of below 0 temperatures (Celsius of course), it’s finally thawing. Even though I haven’t been skating, I’m glad for now the icy, snowy mess is finally over. And I refuse to believe it will freeze again and we’ll have an Elfstedentocht, that’s just too much depression.

Ingredients (four small servings):
1 kg potatoes
500 g sweet apples
500 g  sour apples
300 g smoked bacon (cubes)
pepper (I grinded black pepper and added cayenne pepper, a lot of it!)
1 tablespoon of cream cheese

Skin potatoes and apples, cut them up (apples in quarters). Put them in a pot with a layer of about 2cm of water. Cook for 25 minutes, check if the potatoes are ready with a fork and cook them longer if desired. In the mean time, fry the bacon in a frying pan until they’re nicely brown, put aside. Drain the water from the potatoes and apples and mash them with a wire masher. Put in the cream cheese and stir or mash until it’s well mixed. Put in the bacon last and stir until they’re evenly spread. Tadaaaa, hete bliksem can be served!

How local?
Potatoes: 50-100 km (The Netherlands)
Apples: 500-1000 km (France)
Bacon: 100-200 km (The Netherlands, but mass production)
Cream cheese: 100-200 km (The Netherlands)
Pepper: a land far and away, but I’d like to think it was imported in the 1600’s by sailing boat. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Scrambled eggs January 9, 2010

Filed under: cooking,meat,side dish — orangepumpkin @ 20:21
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Eggs and I, we don’t really mix well together. Except when there’s other ingredients involved as well, that’s when I love boosting my cholesterol with some really health-unfriendly eggs.

It all started when I was a really young and little orange pumpkin. For Easter the easterbunny (he’s a hare, at least in Dutch) would scatter some eggs all over our garden and we (my siblings and I) would go out and look for them. There were two types of eggs: the ones I would eat, and the ones I wouldn’t eat even if I’d be tortured. The first are chocolate eggs, and to me, there never were (or are) enough chocolate eggs around Easter. The second would be boiled eggs. And to me, there are always way too many of those, not just around Easter. How can a sane human being eat a boiled egg? That’s what I’ve asked myself for most of my life. I don’t get it. Poached eggs aren’t much better I’m afraid.

After the whole egg search was over, we would go inside and have breakfast. The table was set with all kinds of lovelies, it was a very festive breakfast. There would be a bowl of boiled eggs and there would be a chicken (wow, that chicken, sweet memories) filled with chocolate eggs. I would silently eat one (or maybe two) slices of bread, and then I would ask my mother nicely if I could start on the chocolate eggs. She never said yes. Before I could eat something sweet (including chocolate spread on my bread) I had to eat a boiled egg. It was torture. In my tiny brain I had two options: eat the boiled egg just like my siblings, and then start on the chocolate eggs (until my mother would intervene and say that it was enough, unless… and there was something more about boiled eggs), or not eat the boiled egg and watch my entire family eat chocolate egg after chocolate egg. Trust me, to a child, that is a very simple choice: two types of tortures, and only one included eating some chocolate eggs myself.
Eating the boiled egg was a real challenge, I hated the taste, I hated the texture, I hated the smell (I still do), and it would take forever. But I managed. And I ate at least one boiled egg a year.(Oh, and they were hard boiled, which is the worst, especially with the blueish yolk. I understand that for preservation’s sake (they were in the garden after all), you can’t serve moderately boiled eggs, but the memory itself is traumatic. Who knows how much therapy I need now that I remembered the blueish yolks?)

My father, on the other hand, was an avid egg-eater. He ate them boiled, fried, scrambled, poached. Anything would go for him. He was one happy egg-eater! He never did anything in the kitchen, except bake his egg for Sunday lunch every once in a while. And he would lovingly bake some bacon first, throw on lots of herbs, top it off with cheese, he was a happy man!  And everytime he was making himself an egg, he would say that one day, when he was young and naive and stupid, he thought he’d write a cookbook on how to prepare egg in one hundred different ways. ‘Or a thousand’, he’d say when he added just a little bit more salt. Because one period in his life, he’d lived on eggs. He didn’t have anything else.

It’s a bit strange to have that as my father and not really like eggs myself. But there you go, I don’t. But there are exceptions. And today I will give you the recipe of the most brilliant way to scramble eggs. Because I love them this way. I could live on eggs for quite a while like this. I change little bits of the recipe every time I scramble some eggs, so can you!

Ingredients:
1-2 eggs per person
half a table spoon red pesto (which contains tomatoes, I use Bertolli)
grated cheese (as much as you like, probably around 150 gram in my case)
250 gram diced ham, bacon or chicken
bit of salt
3 sun dried tomatoes (don’t overdo it, those can be really quite distinctive in any dish)
herbs (lots of herbs, I use this pre-mix of Fair Trade (which is a Dutch/Belgian brand, the mix is called ‘Sun dried tomatoes’), with: sun dried tomatoes, black pepper, garlic, red onion, paprika, olives and basil, it’s gorgeous!)
pepper
some olive oil

Put meat  in frying pan and fry until done. add eggs, wait a while and then add herbs, salt and pepper and stir until the eggs are solid. Add the pesto, sun dried tomatoes (yes, I add extra, can’t have enough tomatoes), stir some more. Add the cheese when you’re happy with the scrambledness of your eggs. Let the cheese melt completely, while stirring. I always add a truckload of cheese, I love it nice and cheesy =D (but remember: cheese is bad, it contains a crazy amount of calories and it’s not so good for your cholesterol. I don’t really mind, I’d rather die of a heart attack because of scrambled eggs, than be entirely miserable for the rest of my life without them!)

How local?
Eggs: 2-5 km
cheese: 50-100 km
pesto: is ‘Italy’ vague enough? It’s about 1500 km from my house anyway (if this Bertolli-plant is located in the north of Italy)
ham: no idea? Should be Dutch though, about 200 km?

 

Snert January 8, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,meat,soup,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 21:28
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‘Snert’ is a beautiful Dutch word and it’s powers are very underestimated. It can be used as a bit of a cute swear word (resembling ‘shoot!’) and as such it is also used to describe the weather (‘snertweer’), which generally means it’s raining cats and dogs, there’s a huge storm and you freeze to death if you go outside. But mainly ‘snert‘ is pea soup (erwtensoep). And the perfect weather for that kind of snert is now. It’s really cold, and it has been cold for quite some time now. Almost all open water is frozen and lots of those ponds, ditches and canals are suitable for skating! So, all the people in the Netherlands grab their Unox tuque (hey, that’s what Wikipedia says is the proper translation for ‘muts‘), retrieve their skates from the attics or basements, put on an extra layer of clothes, and off they go. I remember that as a kid we used the nearby nature reserve (it was strictly forbidden to enter because of the wildlife, I got in serious trouble once during summer for trespassing) which had a little pond (to me it was a lake, but now that I’m a grown up I know it was a pond, and quite little to anyone’s standards). It was bustling with people, there was a snack stand, there were lights for late night skating, and there was music (played quite loudly). But only if there was ice. All the locals would drag their (unwilling) families to the ice rink and we would skate like there was no tomorrow. I hated skating, I was so terrible and I fell a lot. In some very sarcastic lapse of judgment some guy invented ice. While doing so he thought of the specifics of ice and he said to himself: it has to be cold, really bloodcurdling cold. And he asked himself: what else could I make this ice be that is so horrible to little girls when they’re learning how to skate? Ah yes, it has to be rock hard, so that when they bounce their little girly bottoms on the ice when they fall, they feel as if they’re bums are frostbroken off! I was the most unlucky sod in the entire universe, because I didn’t generally fall on my tiny behind. I fell on my knees, my arms, my shoulders, my hips, anything but the one place I might have grown some fatty tissue, and especially those places where there were lots of bones sticking through. I was a big fan of the snack stand, though. And I would spend my entire savings of the previous year on candy my mother never bought me. I ate Mars bars, Nuts, Raiders (now they’re called Twix, so cruel!), Snickers, anything sweet and chocolatey.

When after a day of skating and falling we (my siblings and I) would come home to the warmth of the kitchen, my mother would, like all good Dutch housewives, have a pot of steaming snert ready. Snert is what you eat when it’s super cold, and you’ve been out and about, suffering. And don’t you dare eat snert without rookworst!

Today I’ve been out and about, not really suffering, but I thought snert would be a good meal. I’m not suffering much because I have the greatest outdoor jacket for extremely cold circumstances. It’s meant for skiing, but honestly, it’s great when you’re cycling through cold and freezy Holland (ok, I don’t live in Holland, but for the sake of things I’ll just imagine I did today). I also have skiing gloves. I have a wool tuque (come on, muts is a great word as well!), I have a nice shawl and I put on an extra layer as well: I tucked some nice tights under my trousers (also made out of wool). The first ten minutes or so I’m a bit cold, but then I’m warming up (cycling is hard work) and after another ten minutes I have to start taking things of, I open the zipper of my coat, I take off my gloves and sometimes I end up looking like I forgot to put on anything warm and cozy. I use skiing equipment because that does the trick quite nicely. My friend always uses clothes meant for horse riding. She’s actually quite good at horse riding, so she’s a legitimate owner of that kind of equipment. I don’t really ski. I love it, but it’s like ice skating. I suck. I get downhill quite quickly, but not really in a way that looks like skiing, it’s more bum-sliding with skis on. Quite artistic if you try to do it intentionally, but I’d rather be standing up. But what can I say, I’m a natural, you might even think I have thing for frozen water.

About the snert: it has a great subtly distinguished taste. It’s not too outspoken, and it’s generally soft and easy on the taste buds. Well, it’s not really easy on the taste buds if you’re way to hungry to wait a few seconds. It stays hot for a longer period than the average hot substances and you might want to take it easy for the first few bites, or you’ll end up with a burning sensation in your mouth that prevents your taste buds from tasting anything. Which might be just what you’re looking for, but I wasn’t intentionally setting out to burn my gums and tongue. But I did anyway. The beauty of life, eh?

Ingredients

250 g split peas
1 big carrot (winterwortel/winterpeen)
1 leek
1 onion
1 potato
1 L water
2 bouillon cubes
100 g celeriac
100 g bacon
150 g pork chop (or basicly any kind of meat that can be cooked, usually a cheap type of meat is used)
(1 rookworst -if you can get any and if you want to-)

Wash the split peas and cook them in 1 L of water with the bacon and pork for 60 minutes.Cut up the vegetables vegetables and add them after the peas and meat have been cooked for 1 hour. Also add all the other ingredients. Let it cook for an additional 30 minutes. If you want to include a rookworst, you also want that in for the last 30 minutes. Take out the big pieces of meat, cut them up in smaller bits and put them back in (leave the rookworst out). Take your stickblender and get at it. It’s ok if it’s not completely smooth, but you should get most of the texture out, including the meat. Slice up the rookworst and put it back in. Serve!

How local?
peas: 100-200 km
celeriac: 50-100 km
carrot: 10-50 km
bacon: 10-50 km
onion: 2,5 km
garlic: 2,5 km (I had some garlic in it too)
leek: 10-50 km
potato: 10-50 km
rookworst: 100-200km (if not even further away)

I did pretty local, didn’t I? I bought my veggies at an organic supermarket (they only sell organic stuff) and they had tags at every veggie saying where it was from. For the snert I only bought vegetables from the Netherlands. Oh, and they sold avocados from Spain, so I might not have to move to Peru after all =D. Next to this supermarket is an organic butcher, he only sells organic meat, and they know everything about the meat they’re selling. They might even know the name of the cow or pig that you’ll be eating. I only bought the bacon there, but I’ll definitely return to buy some more great and local meat!

 

Hutspot December 11, 2009

Filed under: cooking,main course,meat,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 22:30
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Today, I had a friend over and I decided to serve something typically Dutch. My friend loves ‘stamppot’, including ‘hutspot’. I myself hate some of the stamppot-variants, but I definitely love, love, love hutspot. Why? Because it’s elegant, it’s whimsical and it doesn’t have you chew on rotten vegetables (I’ll get to that, though I promise I won’t make it).

Hutspot is mashed potatoes, carrot and onion. That’s it basically. You cook the potatoes, carrot and add the onion halfway through the cooking. You get rid of the water, and you mash the whole load. You add some butter or cream cheese for a bit of a creamy taste and that’s it. Super easy! Really, anyone can do it, so that’s probably why it’s the nation’s favourite dish.

I hadn’t had hutspot in ages. Because right now I’m a grown up, I cook my own meals. And somehow my mother has moved on to another level of cooking, so whenever I’m there, she’s not serving hutspot. Which is fine, because I can make my own. I just hardly ever get ’round to it. But I did today. I’d forgotten how much I love the taste. The carrots and the potatoes, and then the onions. Just perfect. Right next to the blotchy mashed mess I served a pepper steak. And boy, did that go well with the hutspot. Wow!

The carrots I used for the hutspot are called ‘winterpeen’ or ‘winterwortel’ in Dutch. I’m not sure what that translates into. If you decide to make hutspot, though, I will advise you to use a type of carrot that’s best cooked. We have ‘bospeen’ here as well, you buy them with the green still on and a big bunch of them. You can eat those raw and they’re very juicy and fresh. Winterpeen however is a bit drier and has more structure, oh and they’re a lot bigger. They’re not at all nice and tasty to eat when they’re not cooked. These kinds of carrots keep their taste better when they’re cooked and they’re sweeter, too. Besides that they don’t end up as pulp straight away, so they don’t get entirely lost in the mashed potatoes. Though I guess other types of carrots would do just fine.

Ingredients:
4 medium sized potatoes per person
1 winterpeen (big carrot) per person
1-2 onions in total (add more if you want, they’ll be cooked so you cannot mess anything up)
1 tablespoon of butter (or cream cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes, carrots and onions for about 20 minutes. Drain the water. Mash the potatoes, carrots and onions, you don’t have to be thorough, a little structure can be nice. Stir butter through the mashed potatoes. Serve.

How local?
potatoes: 25-50 km
carrots: 2,5 km
onions: 2,5 km
butter/cream cheese: 50 km?
pepper steak: no idea, hopefully/probably Dutch

 

This weeks’ cook-up December 1, 2009

Filed under: main course,meat — orangepumpkin @ 20:26

Maybe someday, we’ll laugh about this, but right now it just illustrates what a horrible cook I am.

Today I payed my parents a visit and I stayed for dinner. My mother asked me to start up the ‘stoofvlees’, which is meat that needs to cook for a few hours before it’s edible (apparently it’s known to be Belgian and called ‘carbonade flamande’, but they add beer, we didn’t). She said that on the bottom of the packaging there should be something about how to cook it. Fool proof, we agreed. But I’d never made stoofvlees. You know, basically any kind of meat isn’t really my kind of deal. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m not some blood crazed carnivore either.

So I checked the fridge and sure enough, there it was: a package of organic meat. It’s cow’s meat and it looked really delicious. So I grabbed the biggest frying pan I could find. I chopped onions, I’m good at that, I can chop onions. I cut up a clove of garlic, because, you’ve guessed it, that’s another thing I actually can do. I added butter to the pan, heated it, and I fryed the onions and garlic. On the meat manual it said the meat needed to be fried on both sides, nice and brown. Ok, I can do that. No really, I can. So I did it. It was great, as if by magic the meat did turn brown, the onions were sizzling and the kitchen was filling with a nice smell of fried onions (you should know, I love that smell!). I read the package. It said: add bouillon (I’m going to keep calling it bouillon, that sounds so much more delicious than broth). That’s when I entered a blissful unknowing place. You know, we have these instant bouillon making cubes. You have to dissolve them in 0.5L of water and that’s it. So I stood there, thinking about it for a few seconds and then I said to myself: I can’t make proper bouillon with too little water. I tried doing something similar to that and I discovered that things get really, really, verrrrrryyyy salty. And you don’t want that. I didn’t want to poison my family with meat I wasn’t going to eat (I don’t like stoofvlees, however Dutch it is, yuck!). So I took 0.5L of water, added it to the frying pan, added the cube and put the lid on. I decided to cut up a tomato, because that’s what the package also advised to add, turned down the heat and read a book.

Then my mother came in… and she discovered I practically drowned the damn meat and successfully made meat soup. It had been cooking for about 1.5 hours, so it was soup alright. So I said: It needs cooking right? She agreed, it needs cooking. So, does it really matter how much water you use? She removed the lid, turned up the heat and let the water evaporate. It worked really well and it kept all the tastiness in the pan. She kind of avoided disaster and reversed my unintentional attempt at making meat soup.

Just so you know, it tasted great and she and my dad ate it all up. Which is great, because that way I didn’t have to feel guilty for not tasting my own cook-up. I did taste it, but only a sliver, and I know for sure I don’t like stoofvlees.

Ingredients:
Meat (I should check how much and which meat exactly)
1 chopped up onion
1 chopped up clove of garlic
butter (or olive oil)
1 bouillon cube
a little water (less than 0.5L)
2 tomatoes
2 leaves of laurel
(2 table spoons of flour)

Fry onions and garlic in butter. Fry meat on both sides until it is brown. Add water (the meat should still stick out of the water), bouillon cube, laurel and cut up tomatoes. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least 2 hours.
If the sauce is still very watery, you can add a bit of flour to give it more texture. Be sure to mix the flour with a little water in a cup before you add it to the pan.

How local?
I have no idea, it was my mum’s kitchen. All I know is the laurel came from France, which could be almost anywhere in France. The meat was probably Dutch, but you can’t be certain about that. I don’t know where the supermarket onions and garlic came from, either. It could kind of be local, but there’s no telling.