Rijst met krenten

Holland is a great country to grow up in, as a child. Besides plenty of playgrounds in the many parks the country is rich, we have fabulous theme parks like the Efteling or Madurodam, and hands-on museums like Evoluon, where you can learn, explore and just enjoy being a kid.

But one of the best parts of growing up in Holland is being able to read, or being read, Jip and Janneke stories. These creations, from industrious and talented Annie M.G. Schmidt, are short and witty tellings about two neighbors: Jip (a boy) and Janneke (a girl) with fantastic illustrations by Fiep Westendorp. And this month, they celebrate their 60th anniversary!

The stories started as weekly publications in the Het Parool newspaper in 1952, but quickly gained a following. The stories are short, simple and sweet. Jip and Janneke celebrate their birthdays, bake an Easter bread, visit grandma or stay up until midnight on New Years Eve. Nothing grand, nothing overly adventurous, but just two small kids living life.

Most everyone that grew up with Jip and Janneke has a favorite story. Mine is the one where Janneke's family is having company over and Jip and Janneke admire the cake that will be served after coffee. Jip smells the cake and says it is wonderful, upon which Janneke wants to smell it too. But she is a little too hasty and her little nose disappears in the frosting, leaving a small hole. After their initial dismay, they decide to make a row of small holes by sticking their noses in the cake, all along the outside. So cute!!!

Another story, and one that I used to base the recipe on today is the "rice with raisins" dog: the common nickname for a Dalmatian. Jip and Janneke visit a farm and see this huge dog, upon which Janneke exclaims; "It's a rice-and-raisins dog!" because of its white coat and black dots. The dish itself is an old-fashioned, easy to prepare and enjoyed by all, cold weather dessert.

If currants are not easy to come by, you can easily replace them with dark raisins.

Rijst met krenten
1 cup short grain rice
4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons sugar

Wash the rice until it rinses clear. Pour the milk on the rice and bring slowly to a boil, add the vanilla bean, a pinch of salt, the raisins and the sugar. Slowly simmer until the rice is cooked, about twenty minutes. Remove the bean, taste and adjust with sugar, or a little bit of cinnamon, and serve warm.

Optional: pour the rice in ramekins, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and place under the broiler so that the sugar melts and hardens for a crunchy topping.



Poffertjes... the name alone invokes visions of carnivals, festivities and palatal pleasure. Even saying it brings joy to the vocal cords. You can't say poffertjes (POH-fur-tjes) without a smile on your face, try it!

Poffertjes are an integral part of national holidays, summer festivals and fun celebrations. During the Christmas and New Year season, you will find poffertjes vendors on every Christmas market, usually right next to that other holiday treat, oliebollen. 

A recipe for poffertjes (also known as bollebuisjes or broedertjes) first appears in a cookbook from the mid 1700s. Made exclusively with buckwheat flour, water and yeast, it was considered a poor man's meal. Buckwheat only grows on arid, poor ground and provided poor farmers with the necessary substance. And you can see why: a plate full of hot pancakes, covered with powdered sugar and a rapidly melting piece of butter will give anybody enough energy to get back out there and take on the weather elements. Later recipes call for wheat flour, milk and eggs, but always keep yeast as a leavener which gives it its puffiness.

When the Dutch settlers came to America, they brought the poffertjes and the pan they're made in with them. In James Eugene Farmer's book "Brinton Eliot, from Yale to Yorktown" we read: "On the evening of the 4th of May, Jans and Hybert Weamans were seated near the trap-door of the cellar, smoking, drinking beer, and eating puffards from the puffet-pan." Puffards, puffets, bollebouches.......they're all the same name for our beloved poffertjes.

Made on a dimpled cast iron pan for the home cook, or commercially on large copper dimpled plates as seen in the pictures below, poffertjes can also be made at home on a griddle if you don't have a poffertjespan. Just place tablespoons of batter on the slightly greased surface and turn them with the tine of a fork when the outside rim has dried up a bit and bubbles come to the surface. Their name comes from the way these small pancakes act once you turn them over: they puff up.

Traditionally served with powdered sugar and a healthy chunk of butter, poffertjes are a welcome treat!

The buckwheat flour we have access to here in the United States is much darker than the light, white version that is used in northern Europe. If you can find it, substitute half of the flour for light buckwheat flour. There is a link under Shop For This Recipe.

1 cup warm milk
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
Pinch salt
Powdered sugar

Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk and set aside to proof. When ready, mix the flour with the eggs and slowly add the milk, beating well and making sure there are no lumps. Add in the pinch of salt. Cover and set aside to rise, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Heat the pan and lightly butter each dimple. Pour a small amount of batter into each dimple. I prefer to pour the batter in a squeeze bottle of which I have removed part of the tip: it allows me to control the amount of batter for each dimple.

When the sides dry up a bit and bubbles appear on the surface, use the tin of a fork to flip the poffertjes over. Take a peek here if you're not sure how to do this! This takes a bit of practice, but not to worry, even the spoils will taste good!

Serve hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar and a piece of butter.

Shop for this recipe


It's Fall!!! Time to fire up the oven again, as the evenings get colder and, for that matter, the mornings too. But, first a side note. A comment from a reader last week brought an interesting fact to mind, one that has had me puzzled for quite some time. For some obscure reason, Americans confuse Dutch with Danish. I'm not entirely sure if they do it the other way around too, as I don't know any Danish people around here that I can ask.

The thing is, I have encountered it so much, and in such different age groups, that I am beginning to think that it's taught in school. I cannot explain it otherwise.

Nevertheless, every time somebody asks me if I'm Danish or speak Danish, I can't help but think of pastries. I know it's silly, because I've been to Denmark several times and have very dear friends living there. Surely I could think of many other things besides baked goods, but no.....pastries it is. I can't help it!

Danish pastries are very similar in texture to puff pastry. Loaded with butter, they nevertheless have a light and layered presentation and pair well with fruits and custards. A traditional Dutch Danish therefore would be a koffiebroodje, or for something fruitier, an appelflap, or apple turnover. And as it happens, the orchard down the road just emailed to say that the apples are ripe for picking.....so appelflappen it is!

This is a typical pastry that you will find in bakeries, and places where they serve coffee and tea. It's crispy, sweet and filled with the goodness of apples.

2 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons raisins
1/2 cup apple juice
3 dried apricots
2 Jonagold apples
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
1 lb puff pastry (or one Pepperidge Farm package)
Coarse sugar

Add the currants and the raisins to the apple juice. Put the dried apricots in a small cup and add enough warm water to cover. Soak the currants, raisins and apricots overnight, or at least for a good four hours.

Allow the puff pastry to thaw, while you peel and core the apple. Chop the apple in small pieces. Drain the raisins and currants and add to the apples, stir. Mince the apricots until almost a pulp and fold it into the apple mixture, then add the sugar and the cinnamon and stir until everything is well mixed. Set aside.

Unfold the puff pastry and cut into squares, 4.5 x 4.5 inches approximately. Place them before you with one corner pointing downwards. Place about 1/4 cup of filling on the bottom half of the square, wet the edges of the dough and fold the top part over, forming a triangle. Carefully press the dough around the filling and on the edges, making sure they are tight.

Place the triangles on some parchment paper on a baking sheet and place it in the fridge while you turn on the oven. Heat to 385F.

Remove from the fridge, and moisten the top of each triangle with some water, then sprinkle the coarse sugar on top. Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf in the oven, and bake the turnovers for 20 minutes or until golden.

Makes 8.


Tongrolletjes met garnalensaus

For a country that's partially below sea level, surrounded by the North Sea and with a history of seafaring daredevils, you'd think we'd eat fish every day. Or if not every day, at least more often than we do. Perhaps it's because there are so many exciting things to eat from the Dutch waters that we don’t know which one to pick: mussels, eel, herring, oysters, clams, trout or plaice. This last one, during the yearly fish auction at Urk, fetched a record 63,000 Euros this summer. Often, fish companies will auction off the first catch of the season for a good cause. It gives people an opportunity to travel out to the regional auction houses and spend the day enjoying food, festivities and fun.

Sole is a fish that's traditionally caught in the North Sea, and one of the national delicacies. Its taste is not overly fishy but tends to lean towards a more shrimp-like flavor, and goes especially well with the shrimp sauce that today's recipe calls for. The meat holds up well, and the fish is suitable for a variety of cooking methods: grilling, steaming, frying or stewing. If you cannot find sole or if the price is prohibitive, try flounder instead.

Tongrolletjes in garnalensaus
8 pieces sole
2 cups fish stock
1 cup white wine
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cocktail shrimp
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Dry the fish and roll each one up, holding it together with a toothpick. Bring the fish stock to a boil, add the wine, the vegetables and the herbs and simmer for ten minutes. Carefully lower the rolled up flounder into the stock and simmer for six minutes, then remove them and drain. Pour the stock through a metal strainer to remove the vegetables and herbs.

In a skillet, melt the butter and the flour and stir together into a paste. Slowly add in the stock and stir well, breaking up any lumps, into a thick sauce. Taste and adjust with salt and a little bit of pepper. Fold in the shrimp. Remove the toothpicks, arrange the flounder rolls in an oven dish, pour the shrimp sauce on top and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over it. Place in a 350F oven for ten minutes or until hot, then toast the breadcrumbs to a golden crisp under the broiler.
Great with steamed rice and sautéed spinach.