Archive for December, 2011

December 30, 2011

Life III

Holiday greetings from Croatia.

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December 23, 2011

Dutch cuisine; stamppot boerenkool (potato kale mash)

Dutch cuisine is not so impressive.

It HAS been once, for sure, but people forgot about all of those stews that cooked for hours and dishes that “our” grandparents’ parents made , mostly ’cause they’re too time consuming. Forgotten ingredients are coming back, it’s not that, but we simply got lazy. In The Netherlands all world cuisines are widely represented, any ingredient is for sale in Amsterdam, but I often wonder if the flavour and the amount of nutrients and vitamins are just as high as when the ingredient is consumed where it grew, naturally, where it originates from?

Next year I’ll spend some time researching & getting into the old Dutch cuisine. For now;

Stamppot boerenkool (potato kale mash)
Boerenkool (kale) was first mentioned in cookbooks from the year 1661. (I’d love to get my hands on a copy of this book for my collection!) In 1661 mashed potatoes were not used in this dish yet, although the sausage was already served with the cabbage in this dish. The dish became popular after a few bad corn-seasons when potatoes became popular as food. Boerenkool contains a lot of carbohydrates, which makes it a popular meal for cold winter days.

for 4 persons;

  • 500 grams of boerenkool/ kale, cut and cleaned. Dutch tradition is that the kale is harvested after the first night of frost. If the frost stays out you can put it in the freezer after cleaning and cutting, it will enhance the flavours of the vegetable because the sugars are relased from the leaves after being frozen.
  • a kilo of potatoes, peeled and cut
  • 1 smoked sausage
  • some butter
  • some milk
  • salt and a pinch of nuttmeg.
Bring the potatoes to boil with some salt. When they are cooked you add the frozen kale and cook for a minute or 2 (or untill taste but not too long!) more. Add the milk, butter and nuttmegg and mash everything together. The Dutch traditionally make a hole in the mash on the plate in which they add some gravy. I generally make the gravy from an onion, some butter or olive oil and fried bacon or panceta, sometimes a spoon of mustard and add this over the mash. Serve with the warm smoked sausage.
Eet smakelijk.

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December 19, 2011

Christmas Carols and goosebumps; Snowapple

After a busy wknd I did not plan to spend Sunday night outside the house. But… I had already heard that there would be a good band (that I had never heard about) playing in a local “brown café”. The name “brown café” comes from the dark but cosy wooden interiors and the nicotine-stained walls and ceilings  (Explanation from IAmsterdam over HERE), a must-see if you’re a tourist in Amsterdam.

Spontaneously I decided to have a drink and check out the band anyway. Luckily! I was not dissapointed.

The 3 young, fresh and non-stop smiling ladies of the Dutch band Snowapple, are incredibly talented, they have a lot of fun when they perform and theycreate a happy atmosphere. They play with their voices, they’re multi- talented, they play dozens of instruments together (From guitar to ukelele, mandoline,  klokkenspiel, accordeon to violin- and for sure much more) and they definitely know how to give a show. They gave me goosebumps when they sang A capella, they used their voices as instruments, I FELT their music.  They’re all singer-songwriters and despite their young ages they are already experienced professionals. If you ever get the chance to check them out, do so! They describe their style as Cowboy Christmas and it was surely a pleasure to listen to.

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I had the feeling the audience of the bar was not the audience they generally are used to perform for, and yet they got the place to rock! For € 6,- I bought one of their Christmas cd’s so I can enjoy them at home too.

Snowapple http://www.snowapple.nl
Fanny de Ruijter http://www.fannyderuiter.nl
Una Bergin http://www.myspace.com/unabergin
Laurien Schreuder http://www.operaria.nl/

December 14, 2011

BBC documentaries fake?

I’m a bit shocked.

I know the too- beautiful- to- be-true- nature – ocumentaries-of- the-BBC are often too beautiful to be true, meaning; directed.

I also know that the link I’m going to drop below is from The Sun, which is like the Dutch De Telegraaf (Which i dare to admit to read about daily, online), not the most reliable newspaper. Yet. Have I been so amazed by fake images???

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3992838/BBCs-Frozen-Planet-series-accused-of-using-fake-animal-footage.html

 

December 14, 2011

Food- festivals & events

My favourite food festival is Krompirjeva noč, “potato night”, in the village of Veliko Ubeljsko in Slovenia. Of course it’s all about potatoes (The Dutch would love this festival!) It starts around noon and finishes somewhere the next morning. You pay a few euro’s entrance and can eat as much of the potato dishes as you want.  Throughout the day there are about a dozen of different (simple, peasant) potato dishes, from soup to fries with panceta, potato stew and much more. All neighbouring villages visit (you can find a “lost” Italian,they always find good food,but basically there will not be any tourists), there’s something to do for everyone, games for children, cards competitions for the men, music for the youth. The best fries I’ve ever had, were over here.

For which food- festivals or events is your region known? Where are you from?

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December 14, 2011

“Like the locals do” ?

I’d love to travel the world exploring local kitchens, taste the local flavours, learn about ingredients, experience food like the locals do.

Which dish from your country and/ or region should I definitely include?

HR stew

Croatian stew

December 13, 2011

Burn calories

Passed by the Ams uni where I was reminded of the upcoming holidays ;)

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December 9, 2011

The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo

My Christmas present to myself just arrived! I thought it would take much longer! YAY :)

I am trying to stop myself from continuing collecting cookbooks, I simply don’t have space for more. Browsing through cookingbooks is like meditation for me. I generally know which recipe I can find in which of my books.  I enjoy improvising with food and creating new combinations but sometimes its therapy to follow a recipe and to see the result. When I came across The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo online, I just had to have it and and ordered it. And the postman just delivered it!

Hiroko Shimbo began her career in 1989 in Tokyo by opening Hiroko’s Kitchen, where she introduced the art of Japanese and Asian cooking to the foreign community in Japan. She’s an authority on Japanese cuisine with worldwide recognition. She’s a chef-consultant for the restaurant industry and food companies, a trained sushi chef and a chef- or cooking- instructor in USA and Europe, she helps restaurateurs realize their concept, develops recipes and menus and helps with staff training and instruction manuals and she’s a cookbook author.  She has developed an exclusive line of product imports for one of the largest Japanese food and restaurant equipment importers and distributors.

The Japanese Kitchen, award-winning, best selling cookbook published by Harvard Common Press in 2000 has been acclaimed in the press and by cooking authorities as the standard book for preparing Japanese dishes in a Western kitchen with readily available ingredients using easily mastered techniques. In this book you will find thoroughly explained all you need to know: from shopping for and selecting ingredients, to cooking techniques, to presentation. Healthful, delicious, appealing, and easily prepared Japanese dishes can become part of your cooking repertoire.

Unfortunately Hiroko’s webshop is not yet adopted for European customers (If you, unlike me, live in The States, this book is an absolute bargain!) but Hiroko promised me she will take care of this soon. Also because of this we had to be in touch a couple of times and put some extra effort in (Thank you again, Hiroko!), I was surpised with a package of Handy Disposable Brewing & Infusion Bags, which can also be ordered from her site for  $5.95 (price for USA customers). Great! I will definitely use them, I spend some time last summer picking herbs and teas.

Before discovering this unique product, how did you survive in the kitchen? Well, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but this is one of those products that once discovered will become essential to your culinary life. These are disposable cloth-textured bags that can be used for all brewing and infusing tasks. Any material can be put in these self-closing bags: teas, herbs, spices, poultry bones, or any other material you wish to remove from a liquid after preparation. The bags can brew a strong cup of tea in minutes or, filled with herbs as a bouquet garni, can simmer for hours in a stockpot. Since they are not paper, the bags will not degrade or decompose while in use. Want fresh lemon juice without seeds or pulp? Simply put half a lemon in a bag, seal and squeeze. Make hot mulled wine or infuse flavors such as orange peel, pepper or what ever you like into vodka or any liqueur. After use simply dispose of the bag and its contents. You will find more uses for these handy bags than we already know! Please let Hiroko know how you are using them!

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When you order any of Hiroko’s books directly from her website, she will sign the book for you. I asked her to write me my name and enjoy your meal in English and Japanese and she did, so cool! Also it seems like all communications (by email) were with her personally, which is for me a total added value to my order. I did not even try any of the recipes hyet but I’m already a fan! I promise to keep you updated over here when I try something from the book.
If you’d like to order anything from outside the USA, I recommend you to send an email to Hiroko first to ask her how to proceed. <hiroko@hirokoskitchen.com>. For more info, Hiroko’s blog and to order from the USA, visit Info and to order from the USA; http://www.hirokoskitchen.com
December 5, 2011

Happy birthday Sinterklaas & gezelligheid

Gezellig!!!!!! Today its Sinterklaas’  Bday!

Actually tomorrow, but he always celebrates it on the 5th of December in The Netherlands, because on the 6th he sails back with his steamboot and “Zwarte Pieten” to Spain. Naughty children won’t get candies or presents in their shoe, but they have to travel with Sinterklaas to Spain, in a bag. Luckily the bag is made of jute so you can breathe through it. I’ve always wanted to accompany Sinterklaas to Spain when I was younger, ’cause Spain seems warmer and drier than The Netherlands, but I never actually ever met anyone who’s been lucky enough to have been bad enough to be taken to Spain. I was invited to spend Christmas in Spain though, could be cool too!

We celebrated the holiday yesterday with The Posse, my international group of Amsterdam friends. There was some Dutch tradition involved but I think we actually started our own new tradition. Before unwrapping the presents, The Dutch normally eat sometime quick and easy (that’s about equal to Dutch cuisine), such as boerenkool (mash pot of borekole/kale, recipe soon!) or erwtensoep (traditional Dutch peasoup, recipe soon!). Two beautiful dishes actually, but some of the posse-members are from Sardinia and thus allergic to pees (yes, REALLY!) and boerenkool I had only just recently introduced The Posse to. Sooooo……. since we couldn’t decide what to cook, we decided that everyone (which was 16 pax in this case), had to cook something & bring something to drink. This resulted into our Sinterklaas celebration being an international food feast. We had a buffet of tasty dishes consisting of Spagheti bolognese, moussaka, Indonesian fried rice with homemade pickles and some garnish, multiple salads, mashed potatoe with bacon and everyone’s favourite; moose stew from our Swedish Posse-member. Did I forget anything? Hereafter we started the Sinterklaas game. Everyone had to buy 3 presents of maximum € 5,- together and wrap these. After entering the appartment, everyone put his presents on the table and the pile was growing ’till after the dinner-buffet. The game is played with a dice and it’s cool (okay I got lots of presents…)! With the low budget it totally calls for creativity and I loved how everyone tried his best. Depending on what you throw with the dice, you have to pick another present, steal someone’s present, unwrap your present, make someone give a present away and so on. It’s hilarious because people were attracted to the packaging and the contents of the package is not always what it seems… There are many variations to this game and my personal tip is; Agree with Your Posse that the budget is € 0,-. Everyone has to bring 3 presents from his house, everyone has something at home he doesn’t use but it can be very useful to someone else.

After the game, which took some hours (and friends showing new or true faces), we all “had to” pick a paper with a name and the big surprise was; everyone had 30 minutes to write a poem about the person he picked. The poem had to be 6 lines minimum and once again it’s cool to experience your friends in a creative way you’ve never seen before! I think the best kick off was; “Dear E, I don’t know you very well, but you look very well. ” After picking the name, it was time for the dessert-buffet. From Sweden we had a gorgeous dessert which I don’t want to name but the Urban dictionary explains perfectly over HERE . Absolutely lovely! It was his first time to make these and the Swede knows his …. balls. There also was a pure chocolate mouse with strawberries, a Spanish flan, a chocolate cake decorated with forest fruits and berries and maybe I forgot about something else? After all the sweets there was some time left to write the poem and to give some Posse-members the time to quote whole Italian songs or fill up an A4-paper and others to struggle on their 6 sentences. We laughed so much reading the poems out loud…

GEZELLIGHEID!!!!!
Of course there’s a whole historic story behind Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten, but for us yesterday that was irrelevant, we were in it for the gezelligheid. Gezelligheid is a Dutch abstract noun (adjective form gezellig) which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture. The word derives from gezel which means companion or friend. During the Middle Ages a gezel was also the Dutch term for a journeyman, which in the Dutch guild system formed a group around a single Master craftsman; hence the added meaning of belonging. The adjective gezellig can be used in a wide variety of situations. For example; A room can be gezellig (meaning cosy or inviting), a person can be gezellig (meaning entertaining or pleasant), a party can be gezellig (meaning fun), a visit to ones grandparents can be gezellig (meaning togetherness), a set of curtains can be gezellig (meaning pretty or nice). Gezellig can also be used as an exclamation, in which can either carry the meanings described above or be used sarcastically or ironically. The Danish word hygge is very close in meaning. Etymologically, it is related to the Dutch word “heugen“, meaning to make happy. However when used negatively marked differences become visible, as in Dutch ongezellig simply means not gezellig. In Danish however, uhyggelig means scary or nasty. The German term Gemütlichkeit (of which “gemoedelijkheid” is its Dutch cognate), invoking cosiness and comfort and which has also been adopted by the English language, covers some of the possible meanings of gezellig, but not all.

Let’s play something. MUSICHETAAA! (F.Y.I. I don’t generally listen to this kind of music, but some parts of The Posse does and I actually enjoyed it for the 1st time this wknd!)…. So here’s a modern (Dubstep) version of a traditional Sinterklaas song…

Thank you my friends, for a beautiful celebration yesterday. Thanks Blondes for your organisation. Thx Sinterklaas for the cute presents and thank you All so much for your creativity and good spirit. :) Germans; next year we do a re-run for sure.

Thx Wiki & Urban Dict.