Dutch comfy food for a monthly mingle

January 27th, 2008 § 5 comments § permalink

In the heart of the dutch winter, when it’s freezing cold outside, dark and rainy, when my stomach crave for some comfort food that will warm me up from head to toe… I cook dutch! When it comes to winter comfort food, dutch know their way in the kitchen: steaming hot erwtensoup (pea soup) with smoked sausage, creamy potato hutspot* or stamppot* with chicory or boerenkool, served with meatballs, sausages or bacon and a rich flavoured gravy… Might not sound like michelin star gastronomy to you, but I assure you, once you have tried the real homemade stuff, you’ll ask for more. 

I’ve been willing to post about my weakness for dutch winter food since the beginning of the winter season but didn’t come to it yet. Then last week, I stumbled over the theme of the Monthly Mingle event organised by Meetah from What’s for lunch honey? : comfort food! What a perfect occasion. Further, some days ago,  while having dinner in a dutch “Eetcafé”, I couldn’t help overhearing some expats at a table next to me complaining of the lack of culinary traditions in Holland….

So, to lovely Meetah and to all the too many expats in the Netherlands who cannot stop complaining about the lack of culinary culture in this country… Here’s one of my dutch winter favourite comfort food, the dutch ‘boeuf bourguignon’, the king of dutch stews, the ‘Hachee’.  Lean stewing steak, a lot of shallots and oignons, browned in butter and delicately flavoured with juniper berries, bay leaves and cloves, simmered slowly in a lot of beer until the meat falls apart… Lekker**!

The king of dutch stews

My recipe is probably far from the traditionnal one but has been approved by many dutch so far. It is inspired from my favourite dutch cookbook (in english! …didn’t speak dutch at the time I got it): “Dutch cooking – The new kitchen” from Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer.
Just like boeuf bourguignon, in private, I love to have my Hachee with macaroni. When I have guests, I’ll serve it with a celeriac mash. Always a success. 

Dutch hash stew – Boeuf mijoté à la hollandaise

serves 6 pers.
prep: 30 min. cook: 2 hrs

1.5 kg lean stewing steak, diced in chunks fom ~3×3 cm
1 handful flour,
60g butter,
200g shallots, peeled and chopped
500g onions, peeled and sliced thinly
500 ml beer,
1 Tsp sugar

2 bay leaves,
3 cloves,
6 juniper berries,
sea salt and pepper to taste,
optionnal: 2 slices of bread generously spread with mustard

Hachee ingredients

Put the pieces of meat in a plastic bac with a handful of flour and shake to coat the meat. Melt the 2 thirds of the butter (40g) in a cocotte or heavy casserole and sear the meat on high heat (proceed in two batches to get the meat nicely brown). Reserve the meat, add the remaining butter and sauteed the onions (reserve ~100 g for later) and shallots over a low to medium heat until transparent. Pour back the meat, season to taste with sea salt and pepper and add the sugar, the cloves, bay leaves and juniper berries. — At that moment, the original recipe calls for two slices of bread crust removed, spread with mustard and added in chunks to the cocotte which should help thicken the stew (use then 750ml beer). Somehow, I have always inadvertantly missed that step without consequences, but will surely try it next time. — Then cover with beer and leave to simmer covered for about 2 hours. Serve hot with macaroni al dente or mashed celeriac or potatoes. 

Eet smakkelijk!
My dutch potato “stampper”

Mashed Celeriac
Purée de Céleri rave

serves 6 pers.
prep: 10 + 5 min. cook: 20 min
1 celeriac (~800g), cleaned, peeled and diced in 2 cm x 2 cm chunks***
4 potatoes (~300g), cleaned, peeled and diced
30g butter,
10cl liquid cream,

1 Tsp coarse sea salt,
pepper to taste,

Put a large amount of water to boil together with 1 Tsp of sea salt. When the water is boiling, add the celeriac and potatoes and cook for 15 to 20 min on medium heat or until the celeriac and potato are tender. Drain. Add half of the liquid cream, slightly warmed,  and mash using a fork or a dutch “stampper”  (don’t blend, the mash should be coarse). Add the butter and eventually add some more liquid cream to adjust the texture to your taste. Season with freshly crushed pepper. Serve hot!
If you wish, the vegetables can be boiled in advance, don’t drain and reserve covered until 15min before serving. Then reheat on low-fire, mash and season at the last moment.

Bon appétit!

* stamppot is a typical winter dutch dish calling for boiled potatoes coarsely mashed with roughly chopped season vegetables (raw or cooked) such as chicory, white loaf, carrots and oignons (this latest version being called hutspot)
** Lekker is dutch for yummy!
***  To avoid browning, keep covered in cold water seasoned with lemon juice

Italy in the garden

October 3rd, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve never been known for my “green fingers”. Every time someone offers me a plant that need a slight bit of attention, I can’t help but thinking “Oh no, how long is it going to last under my care”.
Yet, after three years in our house, me and my dutchie finally managed to made a garden out of our garden, with green grass, healthy looking and flowering plants and all kinds of herbs… a miracle.


For the veggies, we’ll have to give it another try next year though: out of my three plants of tomatoes and my plants of strawberries, I hardly managed to get a dozen of half eaten strawberries (damn snails!), a dozen of cherry tomatoes (at the rate of ~2 per month) and a dozen of roma tomatoes (out of 30 that just ended up rotting before even turning red… damn weather!).

Nonetheless, proud of my tomato harvest… my little head started boiling with ideas of beautiful tomato salads to present my very own tomatoes to the world (or let’s say the maximum I could feed with my dozen of tomatoes: my dutchie and a close group of friends… ). Before settling on a final recipe, I thought I should at least try one tomato… What a disappointment: with the lack of sun this summer, it must really have been a struggle to get to maturity. The flavour was there, but the structure was terrible (what we would call “farineuse” in french, literraly ‘”floury”). Bye bye salads! my tomatoes were only good for a tomato sauce. A great tomato sauce though, with herbs from the garden as well of course….


Canneloni with fresh tomato saus
Canneloni aux tomates du jardin

serves 4. prep: 15 min cook: 15 min + 35 min

16 cannelonis
8 Roma tomatoes (that’s all I had)
400g minced beef
100g minced pork
small oignons
1 small clove of garlic
a small handful parsley
a few twigs of thyme
1 twig of rosemary
1 laurier leave
4 Tsp olive oil
5cl red wine
3 Tsp freshly grated parmeggiano
a pinch of cayenne chilipepper
sea salt, pepper

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Wash and peel the oignons. Chop 1 1/2 thinly. Press the remaining half with a garlic press. Chop half of the thyme and rosemary thinly. Put the minced meat in a bowl, add a third of the chopped oignons, the pressed oignon, the parsley, and the chopped rosemary and thyme, season with sea salt and pepper and mix alltogether with your hands. Reserve.

Set some water to boil in a large pan and in a smaller one. In the larger pan cook the cannelonis for three minutes in the boiling water. Then rince in cold water to stop the cooking. Add a few drops of olive oil to prevent them sticking to each other. Reserve for later.

Wash the tomatoes and plunge them for 1 min in the boiling water in the remaining pan. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and chop them. Blend the tomatoes for 30s with 1Tsp olive oil. Sauteed the oignons and pressed garlic clove briefley with 1Tsp of olive oil in a cooking pan. Add the blended tomatoes, and remaining herbs. Season with sea salt, pepper and cayenne chilipepper. When it gets to boil, add the wine and lower the fire. Leave to reduce for 15min.

In the meantime, fill the cannelonis with the minced meat and lay them in a large oiled oven dish. When it’s done pour the tomato sauce over the cannelonis. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 35 min. Remove the foil 10min befor the end.  Sprinkle the grated parmeggiano over the dish and serve immediately.

Bon appétit!

nb. I prefer to use minced veal but it’s hard to find at the supermarket in holland and my butcher was closed.
nb2. You might wonder why I only add the cheese at the end… Well, for the simple reason that my dutchie cannot stand cheese (damn it!). I am condemned to add the cheese in my own plate or to make sure his part remains absolutely cheese-free. I was however very happily surprised by the result. I loved the taste of the freshly grated cheese on the cannelonis.

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