It is probably not surprising to read that the Dutch dairy industry is in the top five of the world's largest exporters, generating close to 7.5 billion euros a year. Up to sixty five percent of its dairy is sent outside of the country borders, with cheese and powdered milk being the main product. And the 35% that stays in the country is divided up in cheese, milk, butter, vla, yogurt, and buttermilk. Our most famous product is cheese, of course, and our most unique one our vlas. And it's still not uncommon to see people drinking a glass of karnemelk, buttermilk, with their bread lunch, or as a refreshing and rehydrating choice on a hot summer day. 

But buttermilk is not to everyone's liking, with its sour taste and thick consistency. Whereas milk, vla, and yoghurt have advanced and are now available in many flavors and with added benefits such as extra calcium, vitamin D, or probiotics, karnemelk has pretty much stayed the same - and is slowly losing market share to all the new fancy flavors. Which is unfortunate, really, because buttermilk doesn't need any additions: it contains all the essential amino acids for the body, as well as calcium, vitamin B6 and B12, and generally contains less lactose than regular milk. Karnemelk also contains less fat than milk, and is beneficial for your intestinal system. 

Besides a beverage, karnemelk is also used for various desserts, like this delicious karnemelkpudding. It is also the main ingredient for this old-fashioned but very versatile dish: karnemelksepap, or buttermilk porridge. A slightly sour porridge, thickened with flour, and sweetened with a little bit of sugar, honey or syrup, the porridge is a blank enough canvas to adjust it to your own liking. It can be eaten hot for breakfast or lunch, and hot or cold as dessert. One combination that is popular with the farming community in the North is the so-called "zoepenbrij", where buttermilk is often mixed with whole grains, like cooked barley, or oats. In that case, omit the flour, as the grains will thicken the porridge. 

The key to making this dish is to keep a close eye on the buttermilk and not let it boil too high, as the buttermilk will curdle. Constant stirring will help. 

4 cups (1 liter) buttermilk
1/2 cup (75 grams) regular flour
Pinch of salt
Sweetener to taste (brown sugar, honey....)
Nuts, berries.....

In a small bowl, mix the flour with enough buttermilk to make a pourable, thick batter. Heat the rest of the buttermilk in a thick bottomed pan at medium low heat, stirring frequently. Don't let the milk come to a high boil, just an occasional bubble that breaks the surface. Stir in the flour mix and keep stirring until it's absorbed. Add the pinch of salt. Increase the heat to medium high, and continue to stir until the porridge thickens, and more bubbles come to the surface, for a few minutes. Any time you see a light yellow, watery streak in the porridge, it may mean that it's about to curdle, so pull the pan from the heat and continue to stir. 

When the porridge has thickened, pour into bowls. Top with sugar or honey, and add a handful of nuts and frozen berries, or seeds. 

Oubliewafels met slagroom

Summertime is Kermis time! If you grew up in the Netherland as a kid, at some point or another the kermis (fair) would have come to town. The zweefmolen (merry-go-round), reuzerad (ferris wheel), the botsautootjes (bumper cars), and the rups (the caterpillar) were popular choices, the latter especially with young couples as a green canopy would close over the cars, allowing the teenagers a quick kiss away from prying eyes. 

All those gravity and g-force defying attractions were lost on me however, as the first things I would seek out is the gebakskraam (the pastry booth), the snoepkraam (the candy booth) and the schietkraam (the shooting gallery). If the gebakskraam had oubliewafels and oliebollen, if the snoepkraam had giant spekkies (marshmallows) and wijnballen (large hard red candy globes), and if the shooting gallery had tin cans as targets (they were a lot easier to hit, guaranteeing me a stuffed toy or a goldfish!), it was a great funfair in my eyes! 

I was reminded of those grand times when I read that the Kermis, as a culture, had been added to the ever growing list of Dutch cultural heritages. Memories came flooding back, and I instantly had a craving for oubliewafels from the gebakskraam at the fair: crispy, sweet waffles rolled into a large tube, and filled with sweet whipped cream. These fall into the category of tricky-pastries-to-eat, like the tompouce or the Bossche Bol, because one bite into the waffle may cause the cream to shoot out the other end, so you've been warned ;-) 

The oubliewafels are rolled a bit larger than rollegies, for example, so find a handle, or dowel with a larger circumference, approx. 1 inch (approx. 2.5 cm). You will need a waffle iron for ice cream cones or pizzelles. 

Oubliewafels met slagroom

6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter (soft)
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
2 eggs
2 cups (250 grams) flour
2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Optional: colored sprinkles

Cream the butter with the sugar until it's pale and fluffy, about five to six minutes, at medium speed. Add the vanilla flavoring, and add one egg at a time until it's absorbed into the mix. Fold in the flour a few spoonfuls at a time until the dough is soft but homogenous. 

Divide into ten equal pieces (easier if you have a scale!), and roll into balls. Place on a plate, cover and put in the fridge for about half an hour. 

Heat the waffle iron. Place one dough ball above the middle line, towards the back of the iron and press down carefully, until the dough has spread into a large circular waffle. Bake according to manufacturer's instructions, but it usually doesn't take very long for the waffle to be golden and crisp, about a minute. 

Quickly remove the hot waffle from the iron (I use a large silicon spatula to lift it off the hot plate), and roll the waffle around the handle or dowel - do it fast because as the waffle cools down it becomes hard! Press the dowel lightly down onto where the two ends meet, so that you get a little bit of a flat bottom and the ends stick together. Let it cool for a second or two, and then slide the waffle tube off the dowel. Set aside to cool. Make the rest of the waffle tubes. 

When you are ready to serve, whip the cream into stiff peaks and fold in the powdered sugar. Add it to a piping bag with a star tip, and fill the tubes. Use the tip to make a pretty rosette on each end, and top with the colored sprinkles (optional). Stack the waffle tubes on a pretty plate and serve immediately - the moisture in the whipped cream will slowly soften the waffle, making it harder to eat. 

Makes 10. 


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. 


Haarlemmer Halletjes

This week's cookie falls knee-deep into the category of "koffiekoekjes": thin, crisp, spiced cookies that don't look all that special, but that make a cup of coffee or tea a memorable occasion: they dunk well, taste delicious, and make you reach for just one more. Sometimes they don't even get a name, they're just called "koffiekoekjes" or "theekoekjes", but today's cookie does have a name: Haarlemmer Halletjes. 

An advertisement in the Oprechte Haerlemse Courant from January 3rd, 1711, states that "Eymert van der Schee, who lives in Haarlem in the Korte Veerstraet in the house called "Het Halletje"*, where the Halletjes Biscuits were first baked, and from where they have received their name, announces that these Halletjes Biscuits are nowhere else as good as those obtained from him. They are soo delicate and durable lasting, good for 5, 6 and more years, without the slightest change; whereby they, after all, could be sent to all distant lands.  Those who want to purchase these Halletjes Biscuits can do so at the aforementioned house.”

It is fair to say that Eymert was no fool: by placing an advertisement claiming that his cookies were the real deal, all the other bakers in town were immediately labeled as copy-cats. However, it should be said that Van Der Schee was probably not the original inventor of the recipe, as one Claas Jacobs baked from that same house 150 years earlier cookies under the same name. 

Nevertheless, the Haarlemmer Halletjes became famous, were indeed shipped all over the world, and are still, to this day, a must-have treat when visiting the beautiful city of Haarlem. 

Fortunately, you can also bake these at home! The following recipe is good for about 30 to 40 cookies. They will not last as long as "5, 6 and more years, without the slightest change" per Van Der Schee's statement, mainly because everybody will be able to smell them a mile away and will be wanting to know what you're up to. Just do as I do: hand out 30, and keep 10 behind. Baker's treat ;-) 

Haarlemmer Halletjes

1 1/2 cup (185 grams) all-purpose flour

4 1/2 tablespoons (65 grams) butter, cold

3/4 cup (115 grams) brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup (60 ml) water

In a bowl, add the flour. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and mix in the flour with the brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and the baking powder. By hand, rub the mix together until it resembles wet sand, then add the water and knead into a pliable dough, for about three minutes. The dough should come loose from the bowl and your hands. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and rest in the fridge for 1 hour. 

Remove from the fridge. Let the dough sit out for about ten minutes, then break off a piece and roll it between two sheets of plastic (I usually cut up a large 2 gallon ziploc bag for this), or dust the counter lightly with a bit of flour and roll the dough out, to about 1/8 of an inch (3 mm). Use a cookie cutter about 2 to 3 inches in diameter (6 - 8cm) (or square, it doesn't really matter, pick a shape you like!), and cut out the cookies. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and place the cookies on the sheet. Heat the oven to 375F/190C and bake the cookies, about 12- 14 minutes, on the middle level in the oven. 

Cool on a rack, and they will crisp up as they cool. Do plenty of tasting unless you are home alone because they will be gone before you know it! 

Sources: Bakkers in Bedrijf, Delpher

*In Haarlem, houses were often named, like The Orange Flowerpot, the Scissors, The Three Sugar Loaves, or Het Halletje, as we saw here, so the people who lived there could say " I am Jan Janszoon from The Orange Flowerpot". I bet that, in a city with hundreds of Jan Janszoons, it would be a welcome way to determine who was who! The houses often showed their name through colorful placards hanging from the facade. It must have been quite a sight!