Citroencake

We Dutch, how we love our coffee! In case you did not grow up with it, Douwe Egberts is our national coffee brand. Since their start in 1753, the company also sold tea, but it wasn't until 1937 that Pickwick was adopted as a brand name for this specific product branch. According to the 2007 numbers from the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS), we drink an average of 3.2 cups a day. The second most consumed beverage is tea, at a rate of 100 liters a year per person. Men tend to drink more coffee, women appear to favor tea, especially in the afternoons.

It's not surprising. Tea, the way it is taken in Holland, in a glass mug and plain with perhaps a bit of sugar, has something comforting, kind and gentle about it. It's a cup of tea your mom has ready for you, waiting at the kitchen table, for when you get home from school. It's what young girls drink when they get together on a Saturday afternoon to play. It's tea, a big pot of it, that women will brew when their best friend is coming over for a shoulder to cry on. A big pot of tea, and a slice of cake. Besides coffee, we love cake.

The word "cake" in Dutch is used for pound cakes and loaf cakes only. Any other cake goes by the name of "taart". One of the most favorite cakes is citroencake, a lemon flavored pound cake. The richness of the cake goes well with the slight astringent character of tea, and make for a perfect moment of bliss.....

Citroencake
1 cup butter, softened
1 heaping cup sugar
1 1/2 cup cake flour
5 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Cream the butter and the sugar together. Carefully incorporate one egg at a time. Fold in the flour and mix for another 30 seconds. Mix in the lemon extract, the vanilla extract, the salt and one tablespoon of the lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. Scoop the batter in the pan, and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until the cake is golden brown.

Leave it in the pan for ten minutes, then unmold it and let the cake cool on a rack. In the meantime, mix the powdered sugar with the milk and enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Pour the glaze over the cool cake, and sprinkle the zest on top.



By the way, the Pickwick tune that is used in their commercials is very catchy....you've been warned! :-)

Appelcarrée

Any old Dutch cookbook worth its weight will have a large variety of apple dishes: after all, it is one of our favorite fruits! The most recipes I've counted were in a Margriet cookbook from 1962, listing a whopping 35 apple recipes, from traditional ones like appeltaart and appelbollen, to more obscure dishes called appelsneeuwberg and appelcoupe. Worth investigating!

The Romans introduced the apples in the Netherlands, or at least made a valuable contribution, and we've tinkered with the fruit since. As we would. Numerous varieties with interesting names such as Notarisappel, Brabantse Bellefleur, Zoete Ermgaard and the beloved Elstar are being produced and maintained, but sometimes old trees like these disappear. If you are considering planting a tree or two, why not look into some of these old Dutch varieties?

In the meantime, company is on its way and I've pulled some puff pastry from the freezer. Today I'm making an appelcarrée, similar to an appelflap, but a little bit fancier presentation-wise.

Appelcarrée
1 package of puff pastry
3 apples, preferably a variety of flavors
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
Cinnamon (optional)
Raisins (optional)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons apricot jam

Thaw the sheets of puff pastry. In the meantime, peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces. Mix with the lemon juice and the sugar: add cinnamon and raisins if desired.

Divide the puff pastry along the folds so that you end up with six strips: approximately 3 inches wide, 9 inches long. Spread the apple filling from top to bottom on 3 strips of the pastry, leaving about a half inch on each side.

Cut horizontal (to the short edge) lines into the remaining three strips, careful to not cut all the way to the side, leave about half an inch on each side. You're looking for a louvered look: this will allow for the steam to escape while the apples cook and prevent a soggy mess. Lift and cover the apple mixture with the pastry. Use a fork to push down on the edges, on all sides, to seal the dough.

Heat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully place your three appelcarrées on the pan. Brush each pastry with egg, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove the carrées from the oven. Mix one tablespoon of water to thin the apricot jam, and brush the top of the pastries with the jam. Eat warm (preferably).









A thousand Facebook likes!

Gefeliciteerd!! We just reached our first 1,000 likes on Facebook and, as promised, we'll celebrate in a properly fashion! Stay tuned for more exciting news to come :-)


By the way, like the card? Check out the Simply Dutch website (www.simplydutch.com) for great designs, children's clothing and accessories, all from Dutch designers!

Spinazie met soldaatjes

If you have never visited Marianne Orchard's blog,  Like A Sponge, I highly encourage you to do so. Orchard, a British native who makes her home in the Netherlands, captures the Dutch spirit with kindness but with a very clear view of what makes us different or stand out, and she does this with a great sense of humor. Her latest post, Dutch Chorus at the Checkout, is very recognizable, and I trust for many of you it may too. I read her post with a smile on my face, and was encouraged to see that the thrifty spirit is still alive and well!

Marianne's purchase at the grocery store was spinazie, spinach, and it reminded me of a traditional dish called Spinazie met Soldaatjes, spinach with soldiers, these last ones being fried strips of bread, not the military kind. Spinach is a tricky vegetable to serve kids, right along with spruitjes and boerenkool, but made from fresh produce and with a splash of fresh cream, it may work just fine. And if they don't eat it, try the traditional Dutch approach of mashing the veg with boiled potatoes and a big helping of appelmoes, apple sauce! Works every time :-)

Spinazie met soldaatjes
2 eggs
2 lbs fresh spinach
2 slices of bread, day old
1 tablespoon butter
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg
Generous splash of cream (optional)

Boil the eggs in water, for 8 to 10 minutes, rinse with cold water. Let cool for a minute, then peel and slice.

Wash the spinach and remove any sand, hard ends of the stem or wilted leaves. Cut the korstjes, the crusts, off the bread and cut it into strips. Melt half of the butter in a pan, shake the water off the spinach and add to the pan, stir once or twice, cover and leave on low heat to wilt the leaves.

Stir the spinach. Heat the rest of the butter in a small frying pan and fry the bread on either side until golden brown. Taste the spinach, add a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir. If you wish, you can add a splash of heavy cream at this point, stir, and bring up to temperature.

Serve the spinazie with the egg slices and the soldaatjes.





Appelmoes

If you're not Dutch, or were not raised by Dutch parents, the fixation with apple sauce may leave you wondering. Most of us love our appelmoes, and it is very often a side dish to the main meal of the day. 

As children move on from puréed baby food and start sharing the same meal as their parents, their boiled potatoes and vegetables are often prakked together with pan gravy and apple sauce. It makes for a sweet-and-salty taste and a mushy texture, and it is great for masking the more bitter tastes of traditional vegetables such as boerenkool (kale), spruitjes (Brussels sprouts) or zuurkool (pickled cabbage). Most children will consume the sweet applesauce with their warm dinner and consequently, many an adult will continue the tradition, whether it’s with homemade applesauce or store bought. 

Children's menus at Dutch restaurants will invariably offer appelmoes on the side, and a very old-fashioned but oh-so-satisfying entrée to order is chicken with French fries and apple sauce. Kinderen Voor Kinderen, a Dutch children's choir, sang a very catchy tune about it: kip, patat en appelmoes. And it's a thing to dip your hot and salty French fry in the mayonnaise first, and then in the cold and sweet apple sauce. Don't knock it until you try it!

The weather is slowly cooling down and Fall is just around the corner. The apple trees are ready to share their bounty, so let's prepare some appelmoes! The sauce can be held in the fridge for a couple of days, or can be frozen or canned. Please follow your local Extension office recommendations regarding canning procedures.


Appelmoes
8 large apples (approx. 1.5 kgs) - preferably a variety of flavors
2 tablespoons (approx. 30 ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar, optional
¼ cup (60 ml) water
Cinnamon stick, optional

Peel, core and chop the apples. Toss with the lemon juice. Add the apples with the lemon juice, sugar (optional) and water to a saucepan with a heavy bottom and slowly bring up to a simmer. Cover and simmer the apples until done. This won't take long so don't take your eye off the pan. Leave it chunky or mash it slightly to create a finer texture. Taste and adjust the sweetness, or the flavor of cinnamon as preferred. Freeze, refrigerate or can for later use.