Belgian Endive/Witlof/Chicory Salad with Mandarins and Walnuts

There are few vegetables that have different names in the UK, the US, and Australia, but witlof is one of them. Witlof is what it’s called in Australia and the Netherlands, but it is called Belgian Endive in the US and Chicory in the UK. In this post I’m going to stick to witlof, as this is a Dutch salad.

A witlof salad with mandarins and walnuts is a very homey Dutch dish, that is often made with canned mandarins and store-bought dressing. As such it is okay but nothing special. With a few touches I’ve transformed it into something a lot better: using fresh mandarins rather than from a can, toasting the walnuts, and making my own dressing with fresh mandarin juice and zest, honey and walnut oil. Continue reading “Belgian Endive/Witlof/Chicory Salad with Mandarins and Walnuts”

Apricot Tart (Limburgse Abrikozenvlaai)

The dinner I cooked for Clayton when he visited had to contain something Dutch. After some thinking, I came up with Limburgse abrikozenvlaai, a tart from the province of Limburg that is made with a yeasted dough. I already wrote about kersenvlaai (with cherries) a while ago. Since it’s summer, fresh apricots are available. The apricots are cooked before they are used in the vlaai.

DSC08710 Continue reading “Apricot Tart (Limburgse Abrikozenvlaai)”

Hot dog à la Stefan

Eating hot dogs is not something that really fits with my reputation. It is true that I do not generally eat hot dogs. In winter I do however like to make my own gourmet version and that goes like this: I bake my own wholewheat buns, I procure artisan prize-winning smoked pork sausage (rookworst) from the butcher I frequent, and I serve it with sauerkraut and home-made ketchup. Home-made mustard and home-made sauerkraut would also be nice, but those are bridges I haven’t crossed just yet. And who knows, perhaps I’ll even smoke my own pork sausage one day? In any case, my “hot dog” tastes a lot better than one from a street vendor. Continue reading “Hot dog à la Stefan”

Limburger Cherry Pie (Limburgse Kersenvlaai)

The province of Limburg in the South of the Netherlands is famous for its pies, called “Limburgse Vlaai” in Dutch or simply “Vla” in the local dialect. Vlaai is especially baked or bought for a birthday party.

You may think this looks like an Italian crostata di ciliegie (cherry tart), but the main difference is that a crostata or tart is made using flaky shortcrust pastry (pasta frolla) with 50 grams of butter for each 100 grams of flour, whereas vlaai is made with a yeast dough with only a small amount of butter. This gives the pastry a very different consistency.

There is a big difference between a ‘real’ freshly baked vlaai from Limburg and the industrially produced ones that are available all over the country. Kersenvlaai (vlaai with cherries) is one of the best known kinds. The pastry of the kersenvlaai I remember from my childhood tasted of cardboard. I can still remember the first time I had real kersenvlaai from Limburg, about 20 years ago. A friend of mine from Limburg was visiting, and since Limburg is so far away (3 hours is considered far in this small country of ours), my friend would be sleeping over. His mother had given him a kersenvlaai, bought from the local bakery in Nuth, as a gift for my family. That kersenvlaai was freshly baked and changed my opinion of vlaai completely. It was delicious! It is this kind of kersenvlaai that I tried to bake, and I think I came pretty close for my first attempt. It is fairly easy to do and very tasty, so I urge you to give this a try. You will be glad you did! Continue reading “Limburger Cherry Pie (Limburgse Kersenvlaai)”

Home-made Belgian Fries

Belgian Fries (known as “Vlaamse friet” or simply “patat” in the Netherlands) are very popular in both Belgium and the Netherlands. The main difference with French fries is that they are thicker. Belgian fries should be freshly cut, fried twice, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the ouside, have a distinct potato taste, and are 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Belgian fries are usually served in a paper cone when you buy them from a street vendor, but at home I just serve them on a plate. For the best taste, real Belgian fries must be fried in beef tallow … Continue reading Home-made Belgian Fries

Kale with Mashed Potatoes and Smoked Pork Sausage (Boerenkool met worst)

Since I had all this left-over kale from the kale salad with goat cheese I made recently, I decided to make a very traditional Dutch dish: boerenkool met worst. I’ve eaten this lots when I was a child, but never made it myself before since I never really liked it. I discovered that I actually quite liked this version, since it tastes a lot better when you remove the bitter stems from the kale. And perhaps my palate has evolved a bit, too? I’m not sure if the traditional smoked pork sausage (rookworst) is available anywhere outside of this country. … Continue reading Kale with Mashed Potatoes and Smoked Pork Sausage (Boerenkool met worst)

Dutch Easter bread (Paasstol)

One of the traditional treats for Easter in the Netherlands is a “paasstol”: a bread filled with raisins and almond paste. The same bread is also made with Christmas and then called “kerststol”. Other than the name, there is no real difference. In many cases the filling also contains candied fruits and hazelnuts, but I prefer just raisins. A similar bread is made in Germany and then called “Stollen” (Weihnachtsstollen, Christstollen). Instead of proper almond paste, a store-bought stol will in many cases contain ‘confectioner’s paste’ (“banketbakkersspijs”) which is actually made from beans instead of almonds. It is of course … Continue reading Dutch Easter bread (Paasstol)

Hotchpotch with sous-vide braised beef (Hutspot met draadjesvlees)

One of my favorite traditional Dutch dishes is “hutspot met draadjesvlees”: mashed potatoes, carrots and onions with braised beef and gravy. According to legend the recipe originates from the Siege of Leiden in 1574, but that cannot be accurate because potatoes were not eaten in Holland yet at that time (so it was probably parsnip back then). The traditional preparation means that you boil the potatoes, carrots and onions in ample water, but to amplify the flavor I sauté the onions in butter and use as little water as possible. I’ve braised the beef sous-vide for additional juicyness and tenderness. … Continue reading Hotchpotch with sous-vide braised beef (Hutspot met draadjesvlees)