Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kwast

We're sick. Well.....not full-blown sick, but we have a case of the sniffles and the coughs. And we're not feeling very good. We're a little bit ziekjes. And our throat also hurts a tiny little bit, too. So tonight we're going to bed early and see if we can sweat it out. Usually, we have a cup of anijsmelk as our night cap, but not tonight. Tonight, we're having a mug of kwast. Oma's orders!

The Dutch have a small variety of hot beverages that all seem to serve a purpose: anijsmelk (sweet hot milk flavored with anise) to lull us to sleep, zopie (warm Bock beer with cinnamon, sugar and eggs) to warm us up after hours of skating on the ice, and kwast to knock out the evil spirits of upcoming or lingering colds. Kwast especially is one of those beverages that has become a much-relied-on home remedy, a grandma staple, for when you're suffering from a cold. Whether it *really* helps or not is disputed - but the extra vitamin C and the increased body temperature that comes from drinking something hot while covered with blankets may have very well something to do with it.

Kwast is a hot beverage made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, boiling hot water, sweet, comforting honey and, for those that desire a bit more fortitude, a splash of alcohol. It's especially popular during this time of year when a good night's sleep, an extra dose of vitamin C and a way to sweat out those first signs of a cold are needed!

So without further ado, we're heading to bed, mug in hand. And while we sip our hot, lemony kwast carefully, we tuck ourselves in under het dekbed, the duvet, looking forward to a good night's sleep. Tomorrow is another day!

Sleep well and beterschap!

Kwast
Half a lemon
8 oz water
1 heaping teaspoon honey
Optional: splash of whisky, rum or brandy

Juice the lemon half and add it to a mug. Bring the water to a boil, pour it over the lemon juice. Stir in the honey. Taste. If you'd like it sweeter, add a bit more honey. Stir in the splash of whisky, rum or brandy, if desired.

Sip slowly while covered with blankets,and feel better in the morning!





Monday, January 5, 2015

We made the Top Ten of Hottest Dutch Food Blogs!



Photo: Thank you all for a fantastic 2014! We look forward to 2015 - with more cooking and baking and sharing our Dutch culinary heritage with you, so you can pass it on to those you love!

We hope that 2015 is going to be a very happy and amazing, creative, tasty and gezellig year for all of our readers!

For The Dutch Table, the year starts well. We are proud to be listed in Trendbubbles Top Ten of Hottest Dutch Food Blogs! Click the link to see who the other nine are, and find some great blogs for Dutch food and recipes.

http://trendbubbles.nl/de-10-hotste-nederlandse-foodblogs/




Friday, December 19, 2014

Bisschopswijn

Sometimes, when it's really cold outside and you need a serious boost of warmth, a cup of coffee will simply not do. Those days that a frosty winter wind chills you to the bone, little to nothing will satisfy the need for heat, unless it's a glass of steaming, sweet and spicy mulled wine.

The Netherlands, as many other Northern countries, has its own version of a warming, citrus and spice flavored wine drink. It's perfect for warming up after spending a blistery cold afternoon skating on the canals! The concept of hot wine is thought to have been introduced by the Romans, who already heated wine for drinking as early as the 2nd century. During their travels, they brought their beverages with them, and the rest as they say is history. Virtually every country that has access to wine and cold weather has some variety of mulled wine, as can be seen here. Each country used particular fruits and spices: the Scandinavian countries for example often add cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger: three flavors that are also readily found in their baked goods.

The Dutch call their mulled wine bisschopswijn, or bishop's wine. It is a sweet red or white wine, flavored with citrus (but oranges only), cloves, star anise and cinnamon. The warm wine is predominantly consumed during those early days of December, when that other bishop, Sint Nicolaas, is in the country. According to this news reel of 1952, Sinterklaas is quite fond of the sweet concoction himself!

Nevertheless, don't let the time frame hold you back. Bisschopswijn can be enjoyed any day of the year that you need a quick, comforting and warming drink!

Bisschopswijn
1 bottle of sweet wine (red or white)
1 orange
3 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise pods
5 whole cloves
Sugar or honey (optional)

Add the red wine to a small saucepan on the stove, and add the cinnamon sticks and anise pods. Cut the orange in half lengthwise and stud one half with the cloves. Cut the other half in even slices. Add everything to the pan, and let it simmer for thirty minutes. Don't allow it to come up to a boil as the alcohol will evaporate - a large warming feature of this mulled wine is the fact that the alcohol content is preserved.

Taste and adjust the sweetness, if needed, with sugar or honey. You can add some hot water if the wine is too strong, or substitute half of the wine with cranberry or pomegranate juice for a lower alcohol level. Using only juice in combination with the fruit and the spices makes it a child-friendly drink. Serve warm or hot!





Monday, December 15, 2014

Amandelbroodjes

The month of December could just as well be called "almond month". It's when specialties such as gevulde speculaas, banketletter, banketstaaf, and kerststol show up in bakeries and cafés, and at coffee time with friends or family. For many, these Dutch pastries and breads signify the welcome arrival of the winter festivities, such as Sinterklaas and Christmas.

These baked goods all have almonds in common: they're filled with the sweet, slightly sticky substance called "amandelspijs" or almond paste, that is so loved by many. Almonds have been part of our baking history for many centuries: the earliest Middle Dutch cookbook "Wel ende edelike spijse" already mentions a variety of almond dishes, such as almond butter and almond bread porridge. It seems that we developed a sweet tooth and a craving for almonds early on!

Today's pastries are called "amandelbroodjes". These almond filled treats used to be so popular that a Protestant church in The Hague sold them by the thousands to finance their new chapel! Its name literally translates to "almond rolls", but they're hardly rolls. They're more like the apple turnovers, or appelflappen, that we're familiar with. The good thing is that they're easy to make, and quick to bake. The bad news is that they'll disappear in no time, as they are absolutely delectable. It's hard to deny yourself the pleasure of biting into a warm piece of banket!

Amandelbroodjes
8 oz* slivered almonds
8 oz* sugar
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 large egg
Zest of 1/2 lemon

8 squares of puff pastry

1/4 cup coarse sugar

Add the almonds, the 8 oz of sugar, the almond essence, one large egg and the lemon zest to a food processor, and pulse repeatedly until the paste comes together. It should be sticky but stiff, and you should still be able to see itty-bitty pieces of almond and sugar crystals.

Preheat the oven to 385F. Take 2 oz of the almond paste and roll it into a small log. Wet the puff pastry with a  little bit of water, and place the log slightly to the right of the middle (see picture above). Fold the dough over so that the long ends meet, and pinch the dough together or use a small fork to push the tines into the dough and sealing it. Brush a little bit of water on the top of the turnover and dip it into the coarse sugar.

When all turnovers have been filled and folded, you can place them in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and cover with plastic so they don't dry out. You can wrap and freeze any leftover spijs.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and puffy. No worries if they look too big, the dough will slightly collapse as it cools!

Almond paste gets really, really hot, so don't bite into a hot amandelbroodje just yet.....let it cool until warm to the touch - that's when they're at their best!





* Volume ounces are different than weight ounces. A full measuring cup of 8 volume ounces does not necessarily equal 8 weight ounces: imagine the difference between a cup of feathers and a cup of lead! The ounces for this recipe are by weight, not by volume.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Koffie Verkeerd

The enjoyment of coffee drinking is nothing new to the Dutch. Public coffee houses, where the caffeine-laden beverage could be enjoyed, have been part of the city landscapes since the early seventeenth century. Traditionally, only men visited these koffiehuizen, to talk about politics, read newspapers, smoke pipe tobacco and do business while drinking cups of hot, steaming coffee. Women seldom, if at all, entered these public houses, and preferred to consume coffee and tea at home.

Slowly but surely, coffee became an integral part of the day as it was served with breakfast, then with lunch, and as the integration of the black beverage solidified over the years throughout all layers of society, coffee was also served with dinner at six, and again at 8pm. The country became a coffee-loving nation, which it is to this day. According to The Atlantic magazine, the Netherlands is the world's most-coffee-drinking nation, with an average of 2.4 cups a day.

But 2.4 doesn't sound like all that much, to tell you the truth. On average, we consume four to five cups a day (one cup at breakfast, another one at work around 10:30, possibly a third one to wrap up lunch time or at 2:30pm as a pick-me-up with a cookie or a koekje, maybe a cup with dinner, and another cup at 8pm). On those days that the buurvrouw comes over, you drink at least two or three cups, while you visit and talk about well...the other neighbors, I guess. With an average of 2.4 cups, either people have stopped visiting or somebody's not pulling their weight back home!

The persistent rumor that the Dutch are so stingy that they will only offer a single cookie with coffee is one that is hard to kill, but so very untrue. Nine out of 10 Dutch people insist that serving coffee without cookies is just "not done": the cookie is part of the coffee drinking experience. This explains why, when ordering coffee at a café, one usually gets a cookie or little piece of chocolate with the order. And since, especially in company, the Dutch will seldom only consume one cup of coffee (that's just not gezellig!), it is very doubtful that a second cookie is not offered with a follow-up cup.

Koffie verkeerd, or "wrong coffee", is a typical Dutch way of consuming coffee: half automatic drip coffee and half warm milk. It's called "wrong" because traditionally coffee only contains a "wolkje", a small cloud, of milk.

Koffie Verkeerd
4 oz strong drip coffee, hot
4 oz milk
Sugar as desired

Warm the milk to the point of boiling, and add to the hot coffee in the cup. Stir. Serve. With a cookie. Or better, make it two!