It was a typical start to a typical Dutch February day. A bit of ice on the roads, some slipping and sliding going on with the folks on bicycles, and some quick navigation around the roundabout to avoid the kind of traffic you get in a 3 stoplight town. But as the sun rose it covered the world with a gorgeous golden glow that only happens first in the morning or late in the afternoon with a sun just above the horizon. That coupled with the perfection of the Dutch cerulean and the puffs of clouds were really breathtaking.
I try not to say no to anything related to eating and especially eating combined with learning about Dutch food and Dutch culture. So despite the traffic, the tricky bit of driving my tiny Fiat 500 over arguably icy roads… I made my way to a Carol’s, our Dutch culinary leader, home to enjoy an afternoon of cooking, eating and laughing. We made traditional Dutch apple pie, a one pot meal called “hutspot” and a really “lekker” (Dutch for Yummy) cheese and Nederland’s shrimp soup. All so tasty and made simply enough to be part of a regular lineup for dinner.
The class was taught in a way that was pragmatic, but fun without a lot of overly “foodie” stuff. Which to be honest that isn’t at all what traditional Dutch cooking is about anyway. They serve a lot of vegetables, often the potatoes are mashed together with other vegetables like kale, or carrots, or beets to create a really comforting combination that warms and sticks to your ribs so to speak. The “hutspot” was a mashed vegetable concoction, combined with a piece of roast beef style beef. I did learn quite a bit about how the Dutch butcher and grade their beef. The cuts are entirely different than American cuts (not that I know what is what there anyway) and the beef is graded on the leanness as opposed to the fat content. The Dutch like lean beef so the longer it is cooked the better I guess.
The soup, was made with Belegen (Matured – aged 8-16 weeks), which is a local style cheese and is very typical here. We used the broth of cooking veggies and a dash or red wine an creme fresh to liven it up a bit. Then as a garnish we added a trio of Nederlands shrimp (tiny little things that are about a half an inch long, fresh red tomatoes and chopped dill. Again simple but oh so good.
Of course, if you know me, I was paying to most attention to the dessert. The Dutch love apples almost as much as potatoes and they sever apple pie everywhere. It is a lot easier to make than American style apple pie. The crust is a bit more forgiving and they use a spring form pan that brims with tart and tangy chopped apples. Added to the apples are of course, sugar, cinnamon and some lemon zest. We added white raisons plumped in tea and some chopped walnuts. The lattice crust came out just perfectly as well.
All in all a fun way to stay warm and enjoy a bit of Dutch culture with friends.