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.

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Carrot soup April 2, 2010

Filed under: soup,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 17:18
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When I took a closer look at my new cookbook, I noticed that they had a recipe for carrot soup. Which amused me. I don’t think I ever had carrot soup. I’ve had carrots in various different ways, but I don’t remember soup being one of them. If you don’t count pumpkin soup that needs a bit of carrot to add something extra to the flavour. So, I thought it would be nice to make carrot soup. And I would let my family enjoy my new cookbook to. So I took buses and a train and travelled for 2 hours to meet them. Of course I made sure I had the recipe. I wasn’t going to carry around the entire cookbook for one lousy recipe.

The next day I went to the shops to look for one of the ingredients. It was called ‘sereh’, or ‘citroengras’ in Dutch, but I think you’ll find it more helpful to know that it’s called cymbopogon, or lemon grass. Really, cymbopogon. That must be one of the greatest names for a herb/vegetable/thingy, ever! I don’t even know how to pronounce that! Anyway, I asked in two supermarkets that I payed a visit. They stared at me blankly. ‘Lemon grass?’ they’d say (lemon grass being the literal translation of citroengras), and I’d confirm, ‘Yup, lemon grass’. One girl asked her boss, the other didn’t even bother, in the end both supermarkets didn’t have it. Which must ultimately be because they weren’t Albert Heijns. I’m sure that the Albert Heijn would’ve had lemon grass. If only because they sell a stupid cookbook that demands you cook something with lemon grass in it. Because they didn’t even know what lemon grass was, I had to think of something else. Can you just leave out lemon grass? I asked myself. Is it a key ingredient? And I pondered about the thing while I ransacked the sweets rack in the supermarket. It must be. You wouldn’t want lemon grass in your carrot soup if it wasn’t a key ingredient, right? But there was no lemon grass to be had. And since I myself didn’t really have a clear idea of what this mystic lemon grass was (or tasted like) I assumed it was something ‘lemony’. And I thought of all the lemony things that were to be had. First of all, lemons. Should I add some lemon juice to my soup? Or some lemon zest? I mean, anything with lemon zest is great. In the end I settled for lemon balm. Which had just come up after a long winter. I ended up picking some young fresh lemon balm leaves, cut them up and put them in my soup. I have no idea if it completely ruined it or not. I’ll have to make the soup sometime again, this time only with lemon grass, and hopefully I will remember what my first attempt tasted like.

I liked it. The carrot soup was soft, easy on the taste buds, not too spicy. But it might have been a little boring, even. And that’s not really good. So maybe it will be incredibly exciting with lemon grass in it? In general it wasn’t really something I’d make anytime soon. Because it wasn’t exactly knocking my taste buds’ socks off. And anything that does that is a must repeat for me. I love knocking my taste buds into outer space with something good. I love the extra terrestrial experience and sensation that evokes.

Ingredients:

400 gr carrot, diced (the big ones, winterpeen)

lemon grass

garden cress

100 ml sour cream

1 shallot, cut up

1 clove of garlic, cut up

500 ml chicken broth

Fry shallots and garlic for 3 minutes in oil. Add carrot and fry for another minute. Don’t turn the heat too high, or the carrots will burn. Cut up the lemon grass in length. Pour the broth over the shallots etc, add the lemon grass. Bring to a boil and boil for about 20 minutes). Remove lemon grass and use a stick blender to mash the soup. Remember: once blended the soup will be thicker and you don’t want your pot to explode on your new clothes, unless they’re orange and it won’t show, so turn down the heat and make sure the soup isn’t actively boiling. Use half of the sour cream and stir it through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put a spoon of sour cream in the plates, add the soup, and add some freshly cut off garden cress. Serve with a baguette and butter.

How Local?

Well, everything was extremely local, especially since I didn’t use lemon grass, which is probably from God knows where. Everything was Dutch, but from the supermarket. Except the lemon balm, which was about 50 yards from the kitchen window.

 

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!

 

The best pumpkin soup November 27, 2009

Filed under: main course,soup,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 16:50
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I can already imagine myself in about two hours. I’ll be sitting here, with a plate of hot steamy pumpkin soup, which is delicious and very much local produce. Next to it I’ll have a plate with a cut up baguette. Which is French, but baked somewhere in the Netherlands, so that’s produced locally. Though God only knows where the ingredients come from. But for now I’ll count it as local produce. Because the biggest sin is about to be committed. I dip the piece of bread in the soup, and I sprinkle a bit of cheese over it. Cheese could be a very Dutch product. There’s a lot of milk and a lot of dairy products in my teeny tiny little country. But, not this cheese. I am a total sucker for Gran Padano cheese. I have no idea where exactly this Padano-place is, but it must be heavenly there. All I know is that it ain’t here. A little piece of it is here, but not the big booming lovely place of Padano itself. That’s somewhere in the divine country of Italy. So, Italy is in Europe, so it’s kind of local on a global scale, right? Sigh, I should move there. I really should. I should be lying in the sun underneath an olive tree, munching away on some local Italian baker’s bread, covered in Gran Padano cheese. Please?

So, let’s snap back to reality. Said soup, which is very Dutch and local and good, I’ve made it before. And when I did I swore it was divine. It was heavenly. Which is odd, since it’s not Italian, but Dutch, but, there it was, divine and heavenly soup. The thing is, right now, there is no soup. There is half a pumpkin, there’s a carrot, there’s onions and garlic… there’s just ingredients. Which is good, I can make soup, you know. Hmm. Well. There might be one tiny itsy bitsy of a problem here. In the past few days, or weeks, or maybe even months, all foodstuffs I have tried to produce (cook, bake) myself, have been… let’s just be honest here, not quite good enough to meet my own standards. Ok, so, I have high standards. If it’s not divine, I just won’t have it. You see, the needy hungry children in Africa (a Dutch parents’ favorite threat when children just won’t eat), they’d love this soup. They’d love the baguette and the cheese. They’d kill to switch places. But I’m not them. I’m the spoiled brat who has to cook her own meal and knows that everything she’s tried to make herself has been a total disaster. Except most of the times I made scrambled eggs. But then again, what could possibly go wrong with scrambled eggs? Well, let’s just say that I have been able to f*** them up nicely recently. In ways that have made me stay away from the eggs for a considerable time. And now I’m doing soup? Yes, today, I’m attacking the pumpkin soup. And it better be good, because I’m on the verge of losing my cooking mind here. I’m just warning the bloody pumpkin before he’s cooked, that should work, right?

Ok, so, it’s more than three hours later, and it took me two and a half to finally get to the finished product (I waste a lot of time reading this and that, doing something here, or like today: cleaning up the kitchen so it’s workable, I have a very tiny kitchen, but it takes me ages). But my! Does this soup rock! Right now it’s rocking my insides like a maniac, but that’s only because I totally stuffed myself. I know no limits when the food is good. Only after I’ve finished do I realize that limits should have been the way to go, but on hindsight I’m always a very, very clever girl.

First I fried the onions and the garlic in some olive oil (yes, that’s not local produce either, it’s Italian, did I express my love for Italian food already?). I poured 0,5L water over it, added the bouillon (broth) ingredients (a neat rectangular salty spiced dissoluble thingy, I wouldn’t know how to make my own bouillon, honestly). I chopped like mad to get the very stubborn pumpkin sliced up in nice *cough* and small *cough* pieces (I leave the skin, I once cleared the entire pumpkin from its skin, that took me over an hour and apparently you don’t need to, so I stopped bothering long, long time ago). I chopped the half of one very big carrot into pieces, threw everything in with the boiling water with onions. And let it cook for about 20 minutes. In the mean time I sliced my baguette (bread, but also more fancy in French) into nice thin slices, I buttered them and… I ate them. This always happens to me. You always get bread in restaurants; while they’re cooking away to feed you, they give you some nice little breads, some olive oil and fresh butter. And me? I’m eating away, stuffing myself like I’m the Thanksgiving turkey. It’s great to live in a country where there’s no such thing as Thanksgiving and we rarely eat turkeys or chickens that require stuffing. So I’m in the clear and I can just stuff away with my buttered bread. Which is what I did while my pumpkin was cooking. Because I was to serve the soup with some nice cheese, I decided to try out all the cheeses I bought today. And I bought a lot of cheese. Sinful cheese. Yes, the only thing you might want to skip if you’re making this pumpkin soup and you’re very dedicated to the world and only eating local produce… would be the cheese. Unless you’re Swiss or Italian and still living in your respective country. But if you’re a sinner like me, well, you just don’t care, you butter your bread and get your cheeses. Do it now, because I’ll say ‘cheese’ so very often that you will die if you don’t take the only natural antidote: real cheese!

I started my sinful cheesing with Emmentaler. Which comes from Switzerland. So it’s European, but not very local. Emmentaler cheese tastes great on a buttered slice of baguette. Even though the French and the Swiss don’t regularly get along in the real world, they do on your plate. Which is great! Then I had this little pièce de resistance called Passendale. I have no idea where it’s from, I’m just guessing it’s not Dutch because they sold it in miniature pieces and the price I payed was quite astronomical. Besides that, the Dutch don’t make a cheese like that. They… er… we don’t. I have no idea how to make cheese, but I’m Dutch, though with this Passendale cheese I wish I wasn’t, so I could say ‘they’. Maybe it’s just principles talking. You know, one of these Dutch guys saying ‘No, we cannot make a cheese that frivolous, that wonderful and that divine for the taste buds. It’s undutch! We just cannot do it!’ (somehow I prefer picturing a Frenchman with a baguette saying this) All I have to say is: we just wish we were first and we’d make a kick ass cheese like that! Passendale cheese is great! Greater than any Dutch cheese I’ve tasted. Ok, so now I’m googling ‘Passendale’ just to make sure it really isn’t Dutch, but more like English. The only good English cheese or something. Just so I can say that I have the only really great cheese the English make, in my friggin’ fridge right now. I just hope it’s not German, or Swiss. *frantic googling* No! I cannot believe it! It’s even better! It’s Belgian! No way! But YES, it’s Belgian! Wow. Great cheese! (It even tastes better now that I know that I have some really great Belgian cheese in my fridge. Ha!)
So, the Emmentaler and Passendale cheese were great on my buttered bread. So I decided to step down from the ‘mild’ cheese and get to the ‘extra pittig’ (god knows how I should translate that, it’s the tasty opposite to ‘mild’, which means the same both in English and in Dutch): Gruyère cheese! Which is also Swiss cheese (you might not know, so I’m being the thoughtful educator here). My butter liked it, my bread liked it and oh, yes!, my watering mouth liked it, too.
On to the rock hard cheeses I also brought along. They were all Italian. You should know I have a weakness for Italian food, did I mention that already? I can’t think of anything coming out of any Italian kitchen that I wouldn’t like. But most of it I’ll just love, really, the come to mama-kind of love. I know this cheese, the Grana Padano, and this cheese is my personal best friend (I know I already mentioned its divinity, but I’ll mention it again, and again). I could live on Grana Padano. I don’t need anything else. So I bought a wedge of it. And then I went nuts and bought the two other Italian cheeses that were lying next to it as well. One called Parmigiano and the other is called Pecorino. I put all of these on some buttered bread, just to try. Remember, the pumpkin was still simmering, and I had time. So I stood there, at my counter, gulfing down these slices of bread covered in Parmigiano. And I loved it! So I covered the next slice with Pecorino. And I loved it! I could barely believe my taste buds. So I made the next slice with Grana Padano and I entered heaven. I love it when that happens. Just standing in the kitchen, waiting for the pumpkin to be done cooking, eating away at some buttered bread and cheese and all of a sudden you hear angels singing and you float away to someplace else. Thank God I set the timer, which rang me back to my pumpkin soup reality.

After I tried to force the pumpkin bits into submission with a fork, I grabbed my stick blender. And it did the job nicely. I recommend it. But I also recommend to have the cover  ready and install it immediately after you’re done blending. The soup is now thick and right before you turned off the heat and stuck in the stick blender, it was cooking. (This is how I tell myself where and when I messed up, which of course, despite the divineness of the soup, I did, at least once, let’s just say the soup didn’t suffer much from my messing up. It’s a good soup all by itself.) And cooking substances have the tendency to say ‘blob’ or ‘blub’. They’re boiling, actually. Yes, and when a thicker substance than water boils, it says ‘blob’ in a more fervent way. It explodes all over your kitchen. I’m just saying: don’t let it happen to you. You know, it’s messy. And it’s such a waste to have to clean the divine soup off the floor. You know. I might’ve cried a little if I hadn’t been such a rock hard soul.
Add some cream cheese, some cooking cream, parsley and thyme. Stir it, serve it. And don’t forget the divine buttered bread and cheese.

It was a trip straight into heaven, the butter, the cheese, the bread (which I already knew to be a great combination), and the soup. Oh, the soup! It was creamy, it was tasty, it was beautifully orange. It was just right. My taste buds loved it, and so did the rest of me.

Ingredients:
500g pumpkin
One big carrot
Butter/olive oil
2 onions
1 clove of garlic
Parsley
Thyme
0,5L bouillon
Cream cheese (I always use Philadelphia)
Cooking cream (I use soy cream, from Alpro (which is a Belgian brand))

Dice onions and garlic, fry them in a bit of butter or olive oil. Pour in the bouillon before they turn brown. Add the diced up pumpkin and carrot. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and use a stick blender (fork will do, it will take longer and leave more texture) to mash up the pumpkin and carrot. Add a chunk of cream cheese, parsley, thyme and some cooking cream. Serve it with buttered bread.

How Local? (distances travelled to my kitchen)
pumpkin, carrot, onions and garlic: 4,5 km
olive oil: 1000km (wild guess, it could be from anywhere, it doesn’t say on the bottle)
Passendale cheese: 200 km (birdflight)
Emmentaler cheese: 600 km (birdflight)
Gruyère cheese: 610 km (birdflight)
Pecorino Romano cheese: 1400 km (birdflight)
Grana Padano cheese: 1000 km (birdflight)
Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan) cheese: 950 km (birdflight)
Philadelphia cream cheese: ? (could be anywhere)
Baguette: 2,5-50km