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…

Ingredients

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

 

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!

 

Winterpostelein / Winter purslane March 19, 2010

Filed under: cooking,main course,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 21:28
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Wow, I might have hit a bit of a zone here. I found myself at my favorite vegetable shop that mainly sells local produce like there is no other. I went there because I needed potatoes. They sell great potatoes. The ones I truly love. I could choose not to live without them, but that would be a bit much on the potato-love. I don’t want to OD. So just to get sane again I look at my downloaded and printed picture of The Potato Eaters. Yikes! No more depressing earth-fruits of doom! And then I go and buy another two kilograms of the stuff. Yeah, don’t know when that happened, but somewhere this winter I fell in love with Texelster. They’re red on the outside, sublime on the inside. And they need cooking before they reach their utter sublimeness. (Ok, I just googled ‘Texelster’, to show you a link of some kind, and I just found a whole lot of inspiration to post an ode to the Potato. Right now would be a good time to run away screaming and kick me into Potato Eater mode.)

Anyway, I grabbed a nice bag of my red little friends, and I decided I would make another stamppot. Because it’s starting to grow on me. I kind of like it. It’s cute, simple, and this way (with fresh, local, organic ingredients) it’s even better than pasta. No it isn’t, but I’m trying to kid myself here, please don’t disturb my nice little ‘I ♥ potatoes’-bubble, OK? Anyway, it’s not half bad and I’m ok with skipping a little more of the pasta, the tomatoes and the Italian (or any other Southern dish that creeps up to me when I least expect it).

So, I looked around and saw that ‘raapsteeltjes’ are still not in season. I started to cry and sob and I was nearly kicking and screaming, but then I remembered I also liked winterpostelein. And they had that. So I bought it. And I bought some cress. And I went home, I boiled the potatoes, made some awesome stamppot, and I was happy. And once again quite local. Ok, the potatoes are a serious deal here, I’m not parting with those (as am I not parting with my favourite apple Granny Smith, which is imported from France). Next to the nice red gorgeous potatoes lie… potatoes in a layer of dirt, obviously grown right next to the winter purslane and all other insane local vegetables that have made their way to my soul, but I won’t touch them. These dirt covered potatoes will lie there until doomsday, if it’s up to me. I take my red-skinned friends home. Pah!

Anyway, the stamppot I made was great. So I might be back, but only a little, you never know what happens next week.

Ingredients:

potatoes, 400 grams

winter purslane, 200 grams

garden cress, 100 grams

spoonful of cream cheese

salt to taste

Boil them potatoes, cut up the purslane, cut off the cress. Drain the potatoes, add the purslane, cress, creamcheese and salt and start mashing. That is all it takes! Honest. Serve with some kind of meat or other. Or don’t bother, just add more cheese!

How local?

potatoes 50-100km, grown in the Netherlands

winter purslane 2,5 km

garden cress 50-100 km, grown in the Netherlands

salt and creamcheese probably Dutch, but there’s no telling.

 

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!

 

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!

Ingredients:
potatoes (I used three big suckers for me, myself, and I)
1 big leek
cream cheese / butter
salt + pepper
grated cheese
pesto
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…

 

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?

 

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