Friday, May 25, 2012

Kaasvlinders

Birthdays are always an interesting event to experience in the Netherlands, and if you can get invited to one, I encourage you to attend, if not for culinary reasons, then at least for the interesting developments as the evening progresses.

For starters, guests will be welcomed by the front door and have their coats taken, usually by a younger member of the family. They are then invited into the living room, garden area, or whichever room is chosen for the celebration. If they're the first ones to arrive, they will congratulate the host and hand over the gift or flowers they brought, and take place on the chairs that are strategically placed in a wide circle. As later guests arrive, they will do the same, but not before going around the circle, shaking everybody's hand, and congratulating them with the birthday of the host. This seems odd behavior, and unless you're born and raised doing it, you're not even aware of how weird it is. Seriously.

If the birthday host is considerate, he or she will wait with the first offering of refreshments until the circle has been completed, and the mayority of guests have arrived. The first round of refreshments will invariably be coffee or tea, and cake or pastries. If this is your first exposure to Dutch pastries, by all means avoid the tompoes and the Bossche bol! The late comers now have the inconvenience of a) shaking the hand of someone who is already trying to balance a cup of hot coffee and a plate of cake on their lap b) trying to find a place to sit c) possibly running out of cake or pastries to chose from.

After the first round of refreshments has been consumed, a second cup of coffee or tea will be offered. If there are no takers, the host will move on to the next round of food and beverage: bowls of potato chips, nuts, and other savory samples will be presented for snacking, and soda and alcoholic beverages will appear on the table. Much chatter and goodhearted ribbing of the host will ensue, and a good time will be had by all. After the second round, various people will call it a night. Junior, if still awake, will be asked to retrieve the coats and goodbyes will be said, but not before the mandatory handshaking around the circle has been completed.

It's the die-hards that stay. If you're lucky and your host is a bit of a culinarian, you may be partaking of some homemade foods during the third round of foods, usually after consuming several adult beverages: the food will traditionally be served hot and be more in the fashion of a mid-night snack: small pieces of frikandel, or some bitterballen, but also saté or even soup with bread.

Kaasvlinders, or cheese butterflies, are a traditional savory pastry that is served during the second refreshment tour. In case you don't have the opportunity to attend a typical Dutch birthday, or prefer to enjoy these snacks in the company of your own choosing, here's a recipe:

Kaasvlinders
1 large sheet puff pastry
1 cup shredded sharp cheese
1 egg
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

Dust the counter with a little bit of flour, and thaw the dough. Sprinkle the puff pastry with the shredded sharp cheese, and roll each end up, toward each other. Beat the egg, and brush the pastry dough where the rollups meet, so they'll stick together.

Cover or wrap with plastic film and set in the fridge for about thirty minutes, while the oven heats up to 375F. Remove the dough, and slice into half an inch pieces. Place each slice on its side, brush with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with some cheese (optional). Season with salt and pepper (just a dusting) and place the butterflies in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffy and golden. Cool on a rack.





Monday, May 21, 2012

Congratulations!

And we have a winner!!! Jody from  Gypsyspinner was the 451st commenter on the blog, a random number that was picked. Jody, enjoy the book and we look forward to hearing all about your Dutch cooking adventures!

Bummed you didn't win, but still want a copy of the book? Amazon lets you pre-order it here: http://amzn.to/KrMLP8

Disclosure: if you order through this link, a small percentage will be credited to my account.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mokkataart

Oh, how we love to party! Any good old reason to crank up the coffee machine, bring out the coffee mugs, the creamer and sugar and a couple of pretty plates to serve pastries on, will do. Good weather, bad weather, the soccer team won, the soccer team lost, start of the summer holiday, the end of the summer holiday, and any valid reason inbetween. Sometimes because we're sad, other times because we're happy. We just love to get together, drink coffee, eat cake and have a gezellige time.

And today we're celebrating over a thousand likes on the site! I've been thrilled to read everybody's messages. Some are a little sad, because the recipes remind the readers of their childhood, their grandparents, and the times they miss. Others happy, as long lost favorites have been re-found. Several of you emailed me privately to ask for a specific dish, and even others were excited to know some family favorites could be made easily at home! Please record these recipes somewhere, in a notebook, handwritten preferably, with your personal notes on the side. Too many of you write to me that family recipes have been lost - how wonderful would it be to leave this culinary legacy to your kids?

But today, we celebrate! With a creamy, sweet mocca cake no less. Easily one of the most favorite choices of the cake-loving Dutch, a mocca cake combines the pleasant flavors of sweet sugar, slightly bitter caffeine and the lightness of the sponge cake. This is an incredibly rich cake, and will take a little bit of effort to make, but it will be sooooo worth it!

Mokkataart
7 eggs, room temperature
8 yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the buttercream*
2 sticks butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons coffee syrup**
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Chocolate sprinkles or nougatine
Chocolate coffee beans (optional)

Whip the eggs and the yolks with the sugar and the vanilla for a good ten minutes at high speed, or until the mixture is light yellow, has tripled in size and falls in a thick ribbon off the whip. Sift the cake flour and fold it through the mixture, making sure you don't lose much of the air you've beaten into it. Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans, and carefully divide the mixture between the two pans. Place on the middle shelf in an oven that's preheated to 350F. Bake for twenty five minutes or until done. If a toothpick comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Let the cake cool for ten minutes, then carefully remove it from the pan, and let it cool further on a cookie rack. In the meantime, cream the 2 sticks of butter with the powdered sugar, the coffee syrup and the vanilla for a good five minutes at high speed, you want that butter fluffy! Slowly pour in the heavy cream while you continue to whip: the buttercream will increase in volume and become a little lighter. If the mixture curdles, slowly melt a quarter of the mixture and return it to the bowl: give it a good whipping and the buttercream will come together. Taste. Add more powdered sugar or coffee, depending on how sweet or strong you want the cream.

When the cakes have fully cooled, cut off the top so you have two equally high pieces. Spread a thick layer of mocca cream on the top of one half, and place the other half on top. Spread cream on the side of the cake, and roll it through the nougatine or the chocolate sprinkles. Pipe the rest on top and decorate with chocolate coffee beans, malt balls or chocolate curls. Refrigerate.

Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee, or something else, and enjoy this in the company of good friends!



* If you prefer a lighter version,substitute the butter with a cup and a half of whipping cream. Adding the sugar and coffee will give you a lighter mocca option.

** Reduce a strong cup of coffee with two heaping tablespoons of sugar until you have two tablespoons of syrup left. You can also add instant coffee granules to this, if you wish for a stronger coffee taste. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A thousand likes!

Recipes from My Dutch Kitchen: Explore the unique and delicious cuisine of the Netherlands with over 350 photographsJust the other day I was on The Dutch Table page on Facebook saying that I was planning a surprise when the counter hit 1,000. That was April 12th. And in less than a month we've hit this milestone, I am so excited!!

So, in good Dutch fashion, we'll celebrate with cake. This weekend I'll post the recipe for a taart, but can't pick which one: mokka (mocca) or hazelnootschuim (hazelnut meringue)? You decide!

And to celebrate even more, I'd like to give the new Janny de Moor book, Recipes from my Dutch Kitchen (in English), to a random reader. The book is due August 12th of this year.

In order to get in the drawing, post a comment in the next ten days, until May 20th, with your favorite memory, favorite dish or request. Or just say hi and let us know you like the website! That can be either below this post, or on the post of your liking.

Past comments also count, so if you've posted in the past, no need to post again, unless you'd like to share something. I'll pick a random number, seek out that post and you may be the winner! Anonymous postings don't count.....

Thank you all for your likes, I am so grateful!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gemberbolus

The last day in April, Queen's Day,  with all its joyous festivities is offset by a much more sobering and serious couple of days in early May.

It is on May 4th that the Dutch remember the victims, both military and civilian, of the war. Not just the Second World War but since 1961, Holland also remembers those who were killed during peace operations elsewhere.

On May 5th, the country celebrates Liberation Day, to commemorate the end of Nazi German occupation. Freed predominantly by Canadian troops, the war could not have ended soon enough for the Dutch citizens, as provisions were extremely scarce and many died during the hunger winter of 1944/45.

But for many Liberation Day came too late. Amsterdam had a thriving Jewish population that influenced art, music, and all other aspects of life. Even the city's moniker, Mokum, was the Jewish name for the city: a "safe haven". Jews fled to the north from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition, and found Amsterdam a welcoming city, hence the nickname. Until the war. Some fled, some hid, but many were taken away and were not heard from again. It's a dark page in our country's history. 

So today, in honor of those that lost their lives during those atrocious times, I'm baking a gemberbolus, or ginger roll. A traditional baked good that can still be found in many Dutch bakeries around Amsterdam, the ginger studded pastry is probably one of the most famous Jewish contributions to the city's baking repertoire. The bun is traditionally baked and served in an aluminum cup because it's very, very sticky.  

Gemberbolus
7 ounces of crystallized ginger
1 cup of water
3/4 cup and 3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons butter, divided, room temperature

Bring the cup of water and the ginger to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for ten minutes. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, warm up the milk to 110F, add the yeast and let it proof. Mix it in with the flour and the salt, and add one tablespoon of sugar, and two teaspoons cinnamon. Mix well, add the egg and two tablespoons of butter, and knead the dough until it's soft and pillowy.

Oil a bowl, add the dough, cover and let it rise. In the meantime, drain the ginger but save the water. Add the ginger, 2 tablespoons of soaking water and 2 tablespoons sugar to a blender, and purée the mixture. Stir in a teaspoon vanilla.

Take four tablespoons of water, 4 tablespoons of sugar, two tablespoons of soaking water and 4 tablespoons butter and put it on the stove in a small saucepan. Bring it slowly to a boil, then let it simmer for ten minutes until you have a buttery syrup. Set aside to cool. The syrup will thicken as it cools.

Punch down the dough, and divide into 12 equal parts.

Mix four tablespoons sugar with one teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle a teaspoon on your countertop. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball, then roll it out into a rectangle on top of the sugar. Put a line of ginger purée in the middle of the dough, lengthwise, and fold the dough over to the top. Fold one more time, pinch the seams and carefully roll the dough in the sugar. Now take one side of the dough and roll it, roly-poly wise, onto itself. Tuck in the end piece. Do this with all the pieces of dough.

Turn on the oven to 350F. Brush the inside of the aluminum cups (or a muffin pan) with the syrup, and place each gemberbolus in a cup. You can put a little bit of ginger purée in the middle, if you wish. Cover the rolls and let them rest for about fifteen minutes while the oven heats up.
Before you place the rolls in the oven, pour a tablespoon of syrup over each bolus. Place your cups or muffin pan on a baking sheet, and bake the bolusses in about fifteen minutes. They don't need to be golden brown, just cooked in the middle. (Temp 190F, they're done).

Brush the rolls with more syrup when they come out of the oven, and let them cool. Eat warm, cold or heated up.