The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

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…


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


Leek stamppot January 29, 2010

Filed under: main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 19:35
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Today I’m making stammpot with leek. I have a great recipe, but I thought leek wasn’t seasonal in the winter. Until someone told me it actually is in season, because it stays ok while it’s frozen, covered in snow, that kind of thing. And since for today I didn’t have any good plans to make something I hadn’t already ever had or something really old school Dutch, I decided to dig in my memory for the right recipe. I just hope I haven’t forgotten any essential ingredients.

I’m not sure how local the leek is, I went to the doomed supermarket and I didn’t check any of the labels for ‘country of origin’, I just decided that it could be Dutch, and that’s fine with me today. It would be possible to make this dish with entirely Dutch ingredients. And for today, that’s enough of the spirit for me. It’s the absolute most I can courageously give myself, so that’s it for today.

The difficulty with supermarkets is, they have lots of cool stuff to eat. Like Haribo sweets. Which is probably German or something. But it was 50% off, so I bought two. And it’s so full of chemicals, and there’s so much sugar in it my teeth will be spontaneously dropping to the floor on their own accord without my consent anytime soon. But I stopped caring about that too. I’m still way to tired to care about what I put in my mouth, as long as there is something to satisfy my rumbling tummy. So I also bought another sweet: soesjes. Which is a puffy pastry thingy filled with whipped cream. Yup, no caring here. I ate them all. Without getting nauseous, without throwing up, nothing happened. And when I passed the deep frozen section I decided I would get Ben & Jerry’s as well. For the sake of really bad things, all the bad things you could probably eat if you dared. And since I couldn’t make my mind up, I bought two cartons. Something wrong with me? Probably, but… not that I really care.

So, to compensate for this bad behaviour I’m actually making dinner. To follow the soesjes. And I made it from scratch. I didn’t grab the frozen snert that’s still in my freezer. I went ahead and made something new. So proud of myself!

potatoes (I used three big suckers for me, myself, and I)
1 big leek
cream cheese / butter
salt + pepper
grated cheese
chopped up walnuts
150 gram diced ham

It’s really easy: you skin the potatoes and cut them up with the leek, boil them for about 20 minutes (no one’s really keeping track, so, make it 30 if you want to), mash them together. Throw in some walnuts, diced ham, a little cream cheese or butter (oh, that is bad, but you did get the fact that I’m not really caring much right now, not about a thing, not even cholesterol, weight gain, zits, the world ending), add half a table spoon of pesto (I use some really great pesto with sun dried tomatoes and some sort of kick ass parmezan in it, it’s from Italy, but… I stopped caring long time ago). Mix well, and finally go ahead and add lots of grated cheese. Some simple cheese will do, it doesn’t have to be fancy. But if you want you can go ahead and put in whatever fancy cheese you want. It does have to be good cheese, not some rubbery plastic surrogate cheese. How much? However much you want! Season with salt and pepper and you’re good to go.

How local?
Potatoes: 50-100km
leek: 100-250km
pesto: Italy, 1500km far and away
salt & pepper: god knows, anyone care less than I do?
walnuts: probably the moon, should/could just be the Netherlands, but it doesn’t say on the package…


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?


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.

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