Een ei is geen ei, twee ei is een half ei, drie ei is een Paasei!" goes a famous Dutch children's verse. We're getting ready to celebrate Pasen, Easter, with plenty of eggsaladPaasbroodPaashaasjes or even a beautiful Paastaart, an Easter cake, complete with advocaat

Not to be outdone by anyone, we celebrate Easter for two days. The first day is Easter Sunday, or First Easter Day, Eerste Paasdag. The gathering of family and friends around the breakfast, lunch, or dinner table is key on First Easter Day. Stores are closed, and children are dressed in their "Paasbest" (Easter Best) with new clothes and shoes. All the eggs are dyed in bright colors, hidden and if lucky, all found. The breakfast or brunch table will be laden with different types of bread (multigraintiger rolls, currant rolls), as well as omelets, smoked salmon, cold cuts, and cheese, and plenty of hot coffee and tea. This is not a time to rush, but to enjoy each other's company, and several times the breakfast turns into brunch which then turns into lunch. As long as it's gezellig

And as the world gets back to work and resumes normal life on the Monday after Easter, the Netherlands celebrates Second Easter Day, or Tweede Paasdag. Where most stores and businesses remain closed, Second Easter Day is seemingly THE day to go furniture shopping. The large furniture stores, meubelboulevards, are open to the shopping public. Some of these are all set up for a fun day: playgrounds for the kids and a tearoom or lunchroom for mom, to make it gezellig

And if you're skipping brunch or have friends and family over for coffee or tea later, you can also serve something sweet: a Paastaart, or Easter cake, a variation on our traditional slagroomtaart, whipped cream cake. Decorated with fluffy whipped cream, a light biscuit batter and an adult amount of advocaat, this Easter cake will put a smile on your face. 

Today's Paasstol will look very familiar to those who like to celebrate Christmas with a kerststol, a dried fruit studded bread with a thick ribbon of almond paste, and covered in powdered sugar. Both share the same recipe and sometimes even fillings: the only difference is that at Christmas we top the bread with powdered sugar, at Easter we sprinkle it with shaved almonds. But hey! if you prefer powdered sugar to apricot jam and nuts, go for it. If you don't like raisins, don't put them in - just substitute the amount with a different dried fruit. It's all good! 

Paasstol is best eaten with a generous lick of butter. Whip the almond paste out of the slice, and spread it on top of the butter. The bread is also really good toasted!


1/2 cup (75 grams) golden raisins 
1/2 cup (40 grams) mixed and chopped dried fruits, like cranberries, currants, cherries, dried apricots...
1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice, warm  - some prefer rum or a flavored liqueur
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk, warm 
2 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast 
1/4 cup (55 grams) sugar 
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt 
1 egg, beaten 
1/2 stick (50 grams) butter, melted 
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest

For the filling:
1 small can of almond paste* (or make your own

For the finish:
2 tablespoons butter, melted (25 grams)
1 tablespoon apricot jam, mixed with 1 teaspoon hot water
1/2 cup (50 grams) slivered almonds 

Soak the raisins and the dried fruits in the warm orange juice for a good fifteen minutes, then drain. Spread them out in a colander or baking sheet so that they can air-dry while you continue with the recipe. 

In a large bowl, place the flour. Make a well in the center and pour the warm milk in, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for five minutes. Stir the flour and the milk until it barely comes together. Add the sugar and the salt, stir again, and slowly add the egg, then the melted butter and the citrus zest. Continue to knead for ten minutes on medium speed, until the dough comes together. 

Let the dough rest at room temperature, covered, for thirty minutes. Give those dried fruits a quick squeeze to drain some superfluous liquid. Punch the air out of the dough, and pat it flat on the counter, spread the dried fruits over the top, and carefully knead the dough back together into a ball, either by hand or in your bread mixer, but be careful that you don't tear up the fruit! You'll probably have more dried fruit than you think will ever fit, but keep kneading and pushing them back in the dough (they tend to escape).  Knead the dough carefully until the fruits are well distributed. Grease a bowl, place the dough inside, cover, and rest for an hour at room temperature or until the dough has doubled in size. Don't skip this step as the stol will be very thick and heavy if you do. 

Gently deflate the dough and pat into an oval. Place the oval with the short end
toward you and make an indentation along the length of the dough, in the middle. Now roll the almond paste on the counter until it forms a roll almost as long as the dough. Lay the almond roll in the indentation and lift the left side of the dough over the paste. Make sure that the dough does not meet the bottom half all the way on the right: a significant shape of the stol is the bottom "pouting" lip of the bread. Gently press the edge of the top half into the dough at the bottom.

Rest the dough on a lightly greased baking sheet or a silicone mat. Cover it, and let it proof for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake: the dough should barely spring back if you poke it with your finger. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350F/175C. Bake the bread for 35 - 40 minutes on the middle rack. If the bread is browning too fast, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil. Use a digital thermometer to determine if the bread is done: the temperature should be 190F/88C and rising.

As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, brush it with the melted butter. Cool for about 15 minutes, then brush the bread with the apricot jam. Sprinkle the almond shavings on top. Wait until the bread is fully cooled down before slicing. Best served with a generous lick of butter!

Tip: If you have any paasstol left over the next day, toast a slice until nice and golden. Whip the almond paste out with the tip of your knife and spread it on the warm slice of bread. Yummm!!!!!!!!!

Vrolijk Pasen everyone!


 As you can imagine, I do a lot of reading. Cookbooks, history books, and anything else that can help me dig deeper into our Dutch food culture and our traditions. And very often I can find background information that helps me place a dish in a certain province or timeline. But the information for today's dish, Vijfschaft, eludes me. For one, there are as many variations as there are recipes. The only constant is the main ingredients: potatoes, carrots, onion, apple, beans. Secondly, it is said to be a typical dish from Utrecht...but I can't find the source. I've gone back as far as 1769 but there is no mention. Every recipe intro says the same thing: the name is unknown, it is eaten during the time of year when there was not much left of the foods stored over the winter, it was eaten during the time that there was not much farming to be done (i.e. winter), and the name "vijf" (five) either refers to the five main ingredients or dinner time, and the word "schaft" (worker's meal break) indicates the worker nature of the dish.

I can see why this dish would be suitable for workers: it is loaded with carbs which provide plenty of energy. The ingredients are also easily found and prepared: apples, onions, potatoes, and carrots are ingredients for many a stamppot, and brown beans are the main ingredient for a delicious soup. 

Because I can't really vouch for the recipe's origin, background, regional impact, or significance, there is a good side: we can make the recipe our own, and nobody can tell us we're doing it wrong :-)  The premise of the dish is that the five cooked ingredients are added to a deep bowl or dish, seasoned with salt and pepper. The two main variations seem to be that you can: 

- boil all the ingredients in bouillon or water.

- fry the onions and the apples in butter, boil the potatoes, beans, and carrots. 

From here on out, it's a free for all. You can mash the boiled ingredients roughly, with a bit of butter and some of the cooking liquid, warm milk, or appelmoes and eat it like a coarse stamppot. You can leave the vegetables whole and serve it with the cooking liquid (more like a stew), or thicken the cooking liquid and season it with mustard and pour it over before mixing it in. Or you can serve it with a dollop of butter or mayonnaise. You can also add rookworst, smoked sausage, and/or bacon. See what I mean? Many variations of the same dish - so it's all up to what you prefer! As for me, I like it two ways: either hot, with smoked sausage, with a mustard sauce, or cold the next day, chopped up and mixed with mayo, more like a potato salad. Below is the recipe for the hot dish. Serves 4. 

Utrechtse Vijfschaft

4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

1 small can brown or red kidney beans (approx.8 oz/ 250 grams), drained and rinsed

1 smoked rope sausage

1 large onion

1 large apple

2 tablespoons (30 grams) butter

2 tablespoons mustard

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Salt, black pepper

Bring the potatoes to a boil in enough water to cover, with the bouillon cube for about 10 minutes. Turn to simmer, and add the carrots, the rinsed beans, and the smoked sausage and slow boil for 10 minutes more. Check to see if the potatoes are done, then drain, but reserve a cup (250 ml) of the cooking water. 

In the meantime, peel and slice the onion in rings, core the apple, and slice into 8 slices. Melt the butter in a skillet and brown the onions, for about ten minutes on low-medium heat. Add the apple slices and fry them brown on each side, for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and set it aside. 

Mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water. Bring the cooking water to a boil, mix in the cornstarch slurry and stir until it thickens, about a minute. Turn down the heat and stir in the mustard. Taste to see if you'd like a stronger mustard taste, if so add another tablespoon. 

Mix the potatoes, carrots, beans, fried onions, and apple in a large bowl. Taste and see if you need to adjust the salt. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over the dish. Serve the warm mustard sauce on the side, together with the sliced sausage.