Saturday, February 11, 2012

Koek-en-zopie

Skating has been on the brain of every Dutch person, voluntarily or not, for the past several weeks. And not just any kind of skating. The air was pregnant with possibilities of another Elfstedentocht this year, and as it always goes, the whole country goes into skate frenzy.

The 200 kilometer ice skating event travels along the waters of eleven Frisian cities, all connected through waterways. But skating is no new pastime for the Dutch: for centuries they've tied skates on and whisked away on the ice, sometimes out of need, but mostly for pleasure.

During the 17th and 18th century, that pleasure part did not only limit itself to slipping and sliding on the ice on a set of iron blades (for the rich) or sharpened large animal bones (for the not-so-rich): as rules and regulations were only applicable to the land, during cold winters and frozen waters, small shacks would appear on the ice. These temporary settlements provided opportunities to strengthen the inner self with hot alcoholic beverages that were taxable and subject to law on the mainland but not on the ice. Other small buildings were constructed to help one lose one's hard earned money in gambling pits or to brave the cold and harsh conditions for eh.....visits of a more carnal nature. Go figure.

But back to the first shack. Called koek-en-zopie's (cookies and hootch), these huts sold cakes and cookies, and something called zopie. The word zopie allegedly comes from the word soopje, which may have been derived from the word zuipen (to imbibe). Regardless, a recipe for the tipple resides online so there was no excuse to not try it out.

Nowadays, koek-en-zopies sell split pea soup, hot chocolate and gevulde koeken, but no more zopie which is a shame, because it was actually quite good and easy to make. So tie on your skates (or tie one on without!) and get to cooking: the Elfstedentocht may be near!

Zopie
3 12 oz. bottles of Michelob Amber Bock (or another type of bock beer)
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves, whole
2 slices of lemon
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
4 tablespoons rum

Bring the bock beer, with the cinnamon stick, the cloves and the lemon slices to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for fifteen minutes. Whip the brown sugar with the eggs until foamy.

Carefully add a tablespoon of  the warm beer to the egg mixture and stir. Do this five more times, then take the beer off the stove. Remove the cinnamon stick, the lemon and the cloves. Carefully stir in the eggs. Make sure the eggs don't curdle, and keep stirring. Now return the pan to the heat, but do not let the mixture boil. The beverage will thicken a bit and give the drink a smooth, velvety texture.

Stir in the rum, and serve hot with a dollop of whipped cream and some cinnamon.


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