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?