The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

Brassicaceae April 12, 2010

Filed under: vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 18:34
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Recently I discovered something. I love most vegetables from the Brassicaceae-family. I have a preference towards them even. As well as aliaceae (onions, garlic, leek, I mean, what would life be without them?), but I already knew that. I just didn’t know that so many of the things I love are related to each other in the Brassicaceae-family.

First of all: garden cress. My life is depending on it! I use garden cress in a lot of things. For instance my kick ass sandwiches. They need cress. Lots of cress!

Another thing: rucola (rocket).  It’s another family member. It has a bit of a peppery taste. Which, apparently, is characteristic. I like rucola. I like the word. ‘Rucola’. I can say that in the mirror time and again, until I almost feel Italian. Because I think it is Italian. And I love Italy. I’ve never been there, but I should move there, and never leave again. I could have pommodori and rucola. I could have pesto and avocado (ok, thats Peruvian, but I’d plant a avocado tree there, and I’ll kick it if it doesn’t grow enough avocados). I could have mozzarella and olive oil. And I wouldn’t feel like a sinner every time I have these things. It would be perfectly OK and normal. Because they’re Italian. I would eat pasta, and only pasta. I’d never have to bother with any depressing potato-dishes anymore. I’d drink wine like it’s water. I’d run around in a t-shirt and skirt, I’d wear flip-flops year round. And life would be great.

Um, sorry, I wasn’t talking about Italy, was I? Oh yes, I remember. Brassicaceae!

Did you know another family member is mustard? Yup. I like mustard. I think mustard is awesome. I remember that we went on a holiday to France (don’t worry, I won’t get sidetracked here, I hate France. Even if they have tomatoes, rucola, mozzarella, and the Provence. France sucks). It was in the Provence. I fell in love with the lavender fields. It’s the only good thing from France, you know, lavender fields. Lavender honey. Lavender oil. But anyway, we also went to a market in a small Provençal village. Which was awesome. My mum bought us French comics. The sun was shining. There were grapes. And then we went to a lavender field and we bought some of the most awesome honey I’ve ever tasted. In another village we bought a few jars of special mustard. And I remember one specifically. It was the most awesome mustard ever made. It was ‘moutarde au miel’, there’s no way to say that in another language, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. But ok, since you probably don’t know that ‘miel’ is honey, I’ll translate; it was mustard with honey, honey mustard. And boy! Friggin’ awesome! As was the mustard with the cool herbs, but I don’t remember that one as well as the ‘moutarde au miel’, because in my teeny tiny child’s mind, that was (and is) the most awesome mustard. Ever.

See, no sidetrack, it was all about mustard! But, I found out yesterday that there is another cool family member of Brassicaceae: radish. Right now, I think I should start a religion. I will devote all my life to eating Brassicaceae and worshipping the divinity of it. But I’m not exactly religious, so it would be hypocrite to worship a vegetable, and then eat it, wouldn’t it? So I won’t. I just tell you that I think Brassicaceae deserve their own house of worship: a restaurant!

And another family member is: raapsteeltjes (turnip greens, I’ve loved ’em before)! I love those! I think Spring could not be celebrated right without a raapsteel-stamppot (oh, it’s the potatoes again!). Life wouldn’t be the same without them, that’s all I’m saying.

But let’s not forget about horseradish. I love that stuff! Besides Italian food I have a weak spot for Japanese. And the Japanese cuisine in itself can be considered religion. But especially sushi and sashimi are true religions. They worship wasabi. And wasabi is made of horseradish. Wasabi is wonderful. Too much and you’ll die, or at least most of your taste buds will. Not enough, and you don’t feel half-alive. But just enough, oh la la! It will make you feel alive and awake. And then you still have a bit of tuna or salmon to enjoy while feeling properly alive. Yeah, wasabi’s the stuff I’d be surving in my house of worship!

And the most beautiful yellow flower (well, almost) is also a member of the extensive Brassicaceae-family: rapeseed (canola). I loved the fields of flowering rapeseed (which would’ve been both in France and the Netherlands, but they’re to be found in Germany as well).

The only part of the family I don’t really care for is the cabbage. I consider them the in-laws. They’re a sorry bunch trying to hitch a ride with their cool cousins. But that won’t fly. I think cabbage is worse than potatoes. I might kind of like broccoli, probably because it sounds kind of Italian, but the rest of them I really don’t care for. I think they’re depressing winter foods that should be banned. I’d prefer to eat leek and pumpkins all winter. Or just hibernate and don’t eat at all. But thank god I’ve got my peppered tasty friends left!

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A new cookbook March 29, 2010

Filed under: book — orangepumpkin @ 19:03
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Today I was in the Albert Heijn, our national supermarket. They can be found in every single part of the country. And they’re a big multinational as well. The concept of this typically Dutch supermarket is best explained by John Fealey’s ‘Zakje’. You really have to watch this video

A few years ago our local AH (and lots of other supermarkets in the country) introduced scales integrated in the cash register, to fight the cheating. But once they’ve introduced self scanning (which is the most brilliant thing in the world), the self weighing was reintroduced. So it’s still quite accurate! (Ok, if you don’t get why the audience is going wild and crying their eyes out, you either don’t have a sens of humor, or you’re not Dutch and have no idea where ‘The Dutch’ are coming from 😛 I think this video is one of the most popular video’s here, I think every one knows it. If you say ‘zakje’ most people will at least smile)

Anyway, I was in the AH, minding my own business, self scanning my groceries, feeling really cool about myself. Right at the cash register, in the corner of my eye I saw a cookbook. Twelve months of good food, it said. And it looked massive. 365 recipes perhaps? But then I spotted the price label: not even 15 euros. Ok, come on! That’s just ridiculous. And I bought it. I just did ‘beep’ with my self scanner, and then I ‘put it in my zakje’. And it is massive. Full colour print, loads of recipes. I couldn’t let it sit there in the AH, waiting for someone else to take home a cookbook. So what else could I do but buy it? Yeah, I know, I could’ve saved myself the money and the energy of dragging it home, but I didn’t.

Naturally I was immediately curious if the recipes in it were something that would work for me. Would it be possible to make the ‘January’ recipes and not buy something that was grown in South America? In the introduction they explain that they’ve redone the book. I wouldn’t know, I don’t have an older copy. They say that people have become more and more interested in original Dutch dishes (aha!), and that some products are best enjoyed in season. Basically what they mean is that if you can have strawberries for Christmas, it doesn’t mean they’re good, delicious strawberries. They might be a bit of a tasteless surrogate. Aha! Well, I liked that. For every month they have a certain theme. January is Dutch, February is wintery Europe. And they list all kinds of ingredients that are in season.

It’s not all Dutch, but I must say, I do think that would be boring. But I can make a few of these recipes and stay local. I’m really looking forward to using this book to make my way around the kitchen!

 

Ode to Potato March 22, 2010

Filed under: vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 22:02
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I used to not like potatoes so much. They’re boring, right? They’re just there, they fill your stomach and that’s kind of it. Tasteless. Very unexciting. But they’re here for a reason! You can eat them! They’re cheap… Oh, this is going in the direction of The Potato Eaters… But they’re in loads of Dutch dishes. And I’ve devoted *cough* all *ahem* my Fridays to Dutch food. Prepared by… moi. Eaten by… moi. And produced by my lovely neighbor (well, it’s close enough! There are areas where neighbors are not to be found at 2,5km distance!) It’s the dedication, right?

Anyway, I was quite scared I would end up eating a lot of potatoes. And I would turn into a depressed monster from before electricity. And I’d be auditioning for a prime spot in Van Gogh’s painting. Well, I do eat a lot of potatoes. More than I did before. But thankfully I’m not depressed, nor out of electricity, nor in a Van Gogh painting. So all is well, almost. The thing is I started to appreciate the potato a little much. It’s a reliant friend. In my fridge, waiting for me to fire up the stove, skin them, cook them, mash them, eat them. It’s so simple! Almost simpler than preparing pasta (yeah, potatoes never will beat pasta, even though they’re equally tasteless). I even bought a proper potato-masher a while back because I’ve been eating a lot of the stuff.

When I was doing some internet research for my other post (one about stamppot), because I wanted to show you the most brilliant potato ever, I found something else. It’s called ‘Pieperpad‘. That needs some explanation, I know. The ‘Pieterpad‘ is an ancient route from Groningen (North Eastern part of the country) to Maastricht (most Southern part of the country). I think it is actually a part of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela (it isn’t, I checked Wikipedia, there it says it was thought up, boring!). I once had a fleeting ambition of riding the thing on horseback. It’s 400km, trust me, doing that on horseback is a radically bad idea. I didn’t do it. But the ‘Pieperpad’ is a pun. A ‘pieper’ is a potato, and ‘pad’ is ‘path’, or ‘route’. The Pieperpad runs from Lauwersmeer (a lake in the North of the country) to a little place in Zeeland (South West of the country) near the Belgian border. The route runs along all kinds of organic potato farmers, and Bed and Breakfast stops where you can stay the night. It’s a bicycling route, which is pretty awesome. Not that I’ll ever cycle from Friesland to Zeeland and only eat potatoes en route, but I like it. It’s cute!

And they have some great potato facts to go with that. Apparently the average Dutchie eats 90 kg potatoes a year. I’m not nearly there yet, but I’ll try a little harder! The Dutch are great at growing potatoes. They’re like the number one or two. Potatoes contain high doses of vitamin C (I wonder if that’s still there when they’re cooked?).

So now you know!

 

Stamppot To Go March 15, 2010

Filed under: restaurant — orangepumpkin @ 22:01
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A few months ago I had a chat with someone who was really bummed there wasn’t a take away for Dutch Cuisine. I just shrugged. I’ll be honest, I’m perfectly OK with the great Italian pizza baker across the street. If he’s moving, I’m suing, but I’m assuming he’s not going anywhere, except his pizza oven. Who needs a friggin’ take away of DUTCH food? Hm? Yeah,  nobody. I’m not so OK with the Chinese take aways that seem to have taken over our pretty society, but the rest of my family adores them. They sleep at the doorstep of any given Chinese restaurant, just to get some more yucky fatty foods. To me, Chinese is like fast food. Too fat, little tasteless, and not at all refined. Well, that’s maybe a bit harsh. I’m sure good Chinese food is brilliant, but most restaurants serve very little good brilliant food, in my limited experience. All I really like is the saté (satay), with peanut sauce! Bring it on, some white rice to accompany it and I’m in a blissful state. Not for long, but it lasts long enough for me to ignore the fat dripping from other people’s faces (yuck!). I also like most other types of satay, the Indonesian satays, they’re super great too. But there’s not much Indonesian take away, here, I think. There’s loads of Indo-Chinese restaurants, that make neither of the food in an OK way, that’s where you’ll get the horrible fatty spring rolls etc.

Anyway, my friend was bummed. She just wanted a little bit of stamppot boerenkool (you won’t see me ever make that, so nevermind what it is, all you need to know is that it’s gross) to go! Well, the heavens have opened up and granted her her wish. Not sure if it’s any use to her, but you can’t have everything. The great news is that I recently noticed a new take away has opened in Utrecht (yup, it’s a tongue twister), and it’s called: Stamppot To Go. It’s a cute little shop and they only offer take away. All kinds of recipes. So if you’re ever in the Netherlands and you’re desperate for trying some good old fashioned Dutch dishes: you now have a place to go. And Utrecht is OK for a tourist visit, so you won’t be wasting a lot of time on travelling to Stamppot Heaven. And you won’t have to put up with my less than perfect recipes!