Saucijzenbroodjes

The fastest way to describe saucijzenbroodjes is to say they're like worstenbroodjes, sausage rolls, but fancier. Instead of bread dough encasing the ground meat sausage, a saucijzenbroodje wraps the meat in a delicate pillow of crisp, flaky puff pastry. The common worst gets bread dough, the saucijs (a fancier name for sausage, from the French saucisse) gets the buttery pastry.

It's the culinary version of a famous Dutch saying: "Er zijn werkpaarden en er zijn luxe paarden"(There are work horses and there are luxury horses). The saucijzenbroodje is definitely a luxury horse!

Saucijzenbroodjes are readily available, warm, at Dutch train stations, in fast food places and often consumed for lunch with a salad or a cup of soup. The puff pastry makes it a fairly rich treat (and a bit messy if you're eating it on the go!) but is also very versatile. This recipe makes a basic, pretty standard flavored roll, but you are welcome to add your favorite spices to the mix. How about shoarma flavors, or a spicy hint of curry? It's your choice!

This is also a great treat to share with friends at a potluck, as a snack for TV watching, or for lunch with a salad.

Saucijzenbroodjes
8 squares of 5 x 5 inches frozen puff pastry
1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons panko or bread crumbs

Lay the puff pastry squares on the counter to defrost. Mix the meat, parsley and the spices together, add half of the beaten egg and all of the breadcrumbs. Mix and roll into a large sausage. Divide it in eight equal parts and roll each one into a log, about 4.5 inches long, a little shorter than the length of the puff pastry square.

Heat the oven to 425 F. Place the sausage on one half of the pastry square, brush a little egg on the edges and fold over the other half. Press the long edge shut with a fork. After you've folded all eight pastry squares, brush the tops with the rest of the beaten egg. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, put the saucijzenbroodjes on top and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Best eaten hot or warm - keep in fridge and consume within 24 hours.


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De snelste manier om een saucijzenbroodje te beschrijven is door te zeggen dat ze op worstenbroodjes lijken, maar dan sjieker. In plaats van brooddeeg om het worstje van gehakt, omarmt het saucijzenbroodje het vlees in een broos kussen van knapperig, luchtig bladerdeeg. De gewone worst krijgt brooddeeg, de saucijs (een sjiekere naam voor worst, van het Frans saucisse) krijgt het smeuïge korstdeeg.

Het is de culinaire versie van het bekende Nederlandse spreekwoord "Er zijn werkpaarden en er zijn luxe paarden". Het saucijzenbroodje is beslist een luxe paardje!

Saucijzenbroodjes zijn kant-en-klaar verkrijgbaar, warm, op Nederlandse treinstations, in cafetarias en worden vaak gegeten tijdens het middagmaal met een salade of een kopje soep. Het bladerdeeg zorgt ervoor dat het best wel een machtige versnapering is (en kruimelt nogal als je hem uit het vuistje eet!) maar is ook vrij veelzijdig. Dit recept is voor een standaard saucijzenbroodje, maar u kunt er natuurlijk uw eigen draai aan geven. Wat dacht u van shoarma kruiden, of een pittige kerriesmaak? Kiest u maar!

Dit is ook een lekkere traktatie om te delen met vrienden tijdens een gezamenlijk etentje, als een snack tijdens het televisie kijken, of voor het middagmaal met een salade.

Saucijzenbroodjes
8 plakjes bladerdeeg van 12 x 12 cm
500 gram rundergehakt
1 eetlepel verse peterselie, fijngehakt
1/2 theelepel uienpoeder
1/2 theelepel zwarte peper, gemalen
Mespuntje nootmuskaat
1 theelepel zout
1 ei, geklopt
2 eetlepels panko of broodkruimels

Leg de plakjes bladerdeeg op het aanrecht om ze te ontdooien. Meng het vlees met de peterselie en de specerijen, voeg de helft van het ei toe en de volledige broodkruimels. Meng het nogmaals, en rol het dan in een grote worst. Verdeel het in acht gelijke stukken en rol ieder stuk uit tot een stammetje, ongeveer 10 cm, iets korter dan de lengte van het bladerdeeg.

Heat the oven to 225C. Plaats ieder worstje op de ene helft van het plakje bladerdeeg, strijk een beetje ei op de randjes en vouw de andere helft er over heen. Druk de lange kant vast met de tanden van een vork. Nadat u alle acht plakjes bladerdeeg gevouwen heeft, strijk de bovenkant dan in met de rest van het ei. Leg een blaadje bakpapier op een bakplaat, leg de saucijzenbroodjes er op en bak ze in de oven voor ongeveer 20 minuten, of totdat ze mooi goudbruin zijn.

Het lekkerste warm uit de oven of lauw gegeten - bewaar ze anders in de koelkast en gebruik ze binnen een dag.


Nonnevotten

If you're a fan of Carnaval, and if you find yourself in the southern regions of the country in the next week or so, you are in luck! This year, February is the month that the traditionally Catholic parts of the Netherlands celebrate this colorful festival, but the planning for these events already started on November 11 of last year. During these meetings, princes are elected to rule the temporary kingdoms, routes need to be established, floats designed, costumes sown....it is an unstoppable beehive of activity that involves many members of a community.

All this hard work culminates, during the five days before and after the weekend of February 11th, in a myriad of activities. The party starts on Thursday and ends the morning of Ash Wednesday. In the province of Limburg especially, carnaval is a colorful revelry of non-stop music, dancing, laughter and drinking, five days long. Five days long!!! (If you want to see what carnaval is all about, check out the excellent documentary "Nao Ut Zuuje",about carnaval in the city of Venlo.)

As you can imagine, all that physical energy has to be fed and maintained somehow – and in the southeastern part of the province, it's the deep fried nonnevotten that provide that much needed fuel. The combination of grease, sugar, carbs and warmth provide enough energy to keep going, especially when it’s cold outside. And with carnaval being so early this year, it's bound to be a chilly one!

Nonnevotten are pillowy knots of deep fried dough, rolled in sugar, and are traditionally from the city of Sittard, in Limburg. Their name translates as "nuns' bums" but it is unclear where the name comes from. Some claim it's because the pastries are tied into a knot and look like the bows on the aprons of the Franciscan nuns (another name for the pastry is "strik", bow). Others say "vot" comes from "vod", rags, since the Franciscan sisters presumably exchanged fried goods for donated worn clothing that they would pass on to the poor. So far, I haven't been able to find a reliable and conclusive source for its name, but these two sound plausible.

The nonnevotten are made with flour, milk, yeast and butter, and are rolled in sugar before being served. In the old days, these knots were great for using up the last of the perishable ingredients before Lent kicked in, but they proved to be so popular that they can be found in bakeries year round. Nonnevotten are best eaten warm and fresh straight from the baker’s store. 

Somehow the whole "let's-party-like-it's-going-to-be-Lent-in-five-days" doesn't really work when you live so far away from it all.  I cherish the memories of walking in the carnaval parades with my grandma Pauline, tossing candy to the kids, long days going from village to village dressed up either individually or in a group - it was a lot of fun!

So, although I don't dress up anymore, am not dancing any polonaises anytime soon, or even engage in loud song singing while dressed in a colorful costume, I will honor this traditional festivity by frying nonnevotten. Just because I'm not a part of the carnaval festivities back home, doesn't mean I have to forego all pleasures. Time to whip up a batch of dough and fry up some sugary, doughy goodies! Alaaaffff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nonnevotten
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, lukewarm
3 teaspoons (10 gr.) active dry yeast*
1 3/4 cup (250 gr.) flour
5 tablespoons (60 gr.) butter, melted and room temperature
2 tablespoons (20 gr.) sugar

Fryer oil (sunflower, canola, rapeseed....)
Deep fryer or fryer pan for stove top

Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the lukewarm milk. The larger the surface, the better so that all the single particles can expand in the liquid, and not clump together. Set it aside so that it can proof. This should not take long, a good five minutes, where the yeast will start forming small bubbles.

While you wait for the yeast to proof, mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl and check the oil in your fryer. Make sure it's clean and that you have enough oil.

Pour the warm milk with the yeast in the bowl with the flour, add the melted butter and knead everything together into a scraggly dough. Continue to knead the dough for five or six minutes on the counter top until it's smooth. Roll it into a ball, put it back into the bowl and cover it. Let rest and rise for about 30 to 40 minutes in a warm spot.

After the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl onto the counter, and roll it into a log, with just a few strokes. Divide the dough into six equal parts. Roll each part into a long rope, about 16 inches (about 40 cm) long, place a loose knot in it and set aside until all ropes are done. Some bakers tie one single knot, others wrap the dough ends twice, so take your pick. After you've knotted the dough, cover them loosely with plastic wrap, and let the nonnevotten rest and rise for at least fifteen to twenty minutes, while you heat the oil.

Heat the fryer or a skillet with oil to 350F/180C. Fry two or three nonnevotten at a time until golden-brown, but don't crowd the pan. Stack them on a plate with paper towels to drain some of the fat, and when cooled down, roll in sugar.

Enjoy warm or cold, and have a wonderful, fun and safe Carnaval!



* Or 30 grams fresh yeast.

Ontbijtkoek

It's actually called "breakfast cake", this ontbijtkoek, but Dutch spice bread seems a more appropriate term in English. Favored by young and old, ontbijtkoek is an integral part of the breakfast table in Holland. It also shows up as a quick pick-me-up around four o'clock with a cup of tea, and it performs as the key ingredient for a children's birthday game called "koekhappen", i.e. cake nipping. This is where slices of ontbijtkoek are strung on a piece of wire or string and held above the heads of blindfolded children. Like birds in a nest, they strain their little necks up, mouths open wide, in hope of catching a crumb. The joke for the grownups is of course to lower the cake within reach and then yank it up, so that the kids bite into air instead of a sweet treat. One of the commercials that still has me laughing out loud is this one for a famous ontbijtkoek brand.

Ontbijtkoek, just like that other Dutch favorite, honey cake, is not traditionally baked at home. Not many breads or cakes are any more, unfortunately, and these breakfast beauties are of course produced commercially. Isn't it sad, in a way, that the recipe I am developing is based on a benchmark product that has been produced en masse and in ways that I could possibly never reproduce at home. Just the thought is almost enough to want you to give up, but heck! I wouldn't be Dutch if I didn't at least try! And am I glad to say that the homemade version is as good, or even better, than the store-bought version!?  Go on, have a try, you'll be glad you did!

Ontbijtkoek
1 cup rye flour (125g)
1 cup all purpose flour (125g)
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom, ginger, coriander and ground cloves each
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (100g)
1/4 cup dark molasses (85g)
1/2 cup honey (170g)
1 cup milk (235ml)
Pinch of salt

Mix everything together into a smooth batter. Heat the oven to 300F, grease a 9 x 5 inch rectangular cake pan and pour the batter in. Check after 45 - 50 minutes to see if the cake is done - a toothpick in the middle should come out clean. If not, bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until done.

Cool on a rack, then wrap and store in plastic wrap for that extra sticky outside crust. Eat sliced with a lick of good butter.





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