A meal from every country – The Netherlands

This was one of my key aims: to cook, and eat (or at least try and get the children to eat) a meal from every country we visit. I also want to read a book from every country, and Ben is keen to go running at least once, drink one alcoholic drink, and set foot in them all (Lucy ran once round the car in a layby about 500m from the Franco-Belgian Border to prove that particular point).

We didn’t have time to cook a meal while she was doing that, and we will be going back to both Belgium and France so our first meal challenge is the Netherlands.

Boerenkoolstamppot

The internet tells me that Stamppot is “the most quintessential Dutch dish“. Leaving aside the question of whether something can be “most” quintessential and mindful too of the need not prevent meltdowns (mostly mine) when the children refuse to eat their supper, I thought mashed potato and vegetables seemed a good place to start.

There are multiple versions of stamppot on the net, but spruce eats says this version, with kale (something the children will eat) and sausages (you guessed it) “arguably could be considered the Netherlands’ national dish”

Buy your ingredients

Kale, potatoes, sausage. Easy, right?

Kale sprinkles

The kale was indeed easy – and it even comes pre-shredded. I’m just very glad I knew what the word was before I went to the supermarket as I’d never have identified it otherwise.

The sausage I was looking for was, apparently, called rookworst. It’s a Dutch smoked variety. Turkey ones are available, but we thought pork might be preferable. Again. Not too hard to source. In fact the local Lidl (yes, we’ve managed to find a house with a Lidl in walking distance) had two varieties, fresh in the fridge (and with a helpful picture of a pig on it to prevent confusion) and something else (dried?) in a vacuum pack. I have an instinctive horror of vacuum packed sausage so bought fresh ones.

Rookworst. I was very grateful for the pig picture.

Poatoes. Easy again. As long as you want 5 kilos. It appears the Dutch must eat a lot of potatoes.

Also onions. I forgot those so had to send Ben back for them later. He loves that.

Prepare your ingredients

The cottage we are staying has not got what you would describe as a Cook’s Kitchen. Notable by their absence are a) a potato peeler, b) a potato masher and c) a pan big enough to get 1.5kg of potatoes in. Not deterred and inspired by my sister in law (who is both Irish and a potato afficionado – the two may or may not be connected), I decided not to peel the potatoes. If she can make mash with unpeeled potatoes, I decided, so can I.

The kitchen implements. All of them.

Next problem. How to cook the rookworst. They came with no instructions. Grill? Bake? Fry?. Again the internet came to my rescue. Simmer them (Really? Simmer a sausage? Don’t try that in Lincolnshire). With a lack of pans, and inspired by this site, I just stuck them on top of the potatoes.

And do you know what? It worked! I chopped the onion and gently fried it with bit of butter before mixing in the kale. I’d have called it “wilting” the kale but it was so finely chopped already it didn’t have much texture to wilt.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Then I mashed the potatoes with some more butter, a bit of milk and some of the sausagey cooking liquid. I then threw some of the liquid all over my trousers just for fun and finished off the cooking in my pants.

The kitchen isn’t very well lit either so it was quite hard to see what I was doing by this point, so to mix the mash (in a too small pan) with the kale (also in a too small pan) I wore a head torch. Don’t try this at home…

I then put the sausages on top, found another pair trousers, removed the head torch and bore our Boerenkoolstamppot triumphant to the table. And they ate it!

Boerenkoolstamppot – Harriet style
I bought a cake. I must be on holiday.

Boterkoek

Time for pudding. And this really was simple. I bought it. It was delicious.

It turns out it has beans it it. Who knew? Cake as one of your five a day.

Hagelslag

Not content with a Dutch supper, we broke out into an Dutch breakfast this morning too.

Here’s a picture.

Breakfast of champions
All your breakfast needs
And biscuit butter too!

Yes. That is sprinkles and butter on crispy bread as recommended by one of Lucy’s friends who has Dutch cousins. It really is a traditional Dutch breakfast. Apparently you can use ordinary bread or toast too if you prefer. And also apparently this is a totally normal breakfast here. Certainly the wide choice of sprinkles available would seem to suggest a high demand…

The reluctant eaters today were Ben and me, but in the spirit of “You must try everything at least once” we had some too. It was pretty much as you’d expect.

The kids, on the other hand, loved it. I’m not sure their dentist would be so keen.

Harriet

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8 Comments

  1. When you finish the travel book, you may have to write a cookery book!

  2. Really enjoying your blog and all the photos so far. I’ve wanted to take the family interrailing for a while, and your far more epic journey has convinced me that we should go for it. So I now have a route worked out in my head, flights back to London from Split booked and very little else at the moment! Am sure it will all come together (we don’t leave until late July) and I’m actually really enjoying all the planning. We will start in Amsterdam (new direct Eurostar service from London, yay!) so have picked up lots of ideas from you already. But why is accommodation in Amsterdam so expensive?!

    • That’s fab! Go you! And I know re Amsterdam! Ben booked our accommodation on AirBnB and it was the cheapest and closest to the city he could find but still over the budget (£100 a night for six of us – have managed it everywhere except Amsterdam, Paris, Helsinki and Tokyo). One tip – may well be worth paying a bit more to make sure you are on the GVB transport networks

      • Lovely to hear from you and thanks for the transport tip – really helpful. I’m considering staying in am airport hotel as they’re much cheaper than anything else but that seems pretty ridiculous when we’re traveling by train! We’re probably only going to spend 24 hours in the Netherlands so we only need a room to dump our bags and sleep.

    • That’s great! Go you! And glad to have helped a tiny bit! I know re Amsterdam. Our accommodation was far from perfect but the nearest and cheapest we could find – but still beyond the max budget (£100 a night for six of us – have managed it everywhere so far except Amsterdam, Paris, Helsinki and Tokyo (obvs!)). One tip: may be economically worth paying a bit more for accommodation if it is on or within the GVB network. We weren’t and so in addition to our GVB day card (all central amsterdam buses, trams, metro etc) we were paying about €24 a day in buses to get to the metro station. And that’s allowing for the fact that our three younger ones (under 12) were only €1 each for the whole day. If we had known it would have been worth taking that into account and paying a bit more in accommodation….

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  3. Looks delicious! Aforementioned Hibernian potatophile was appalled when we got together and she found me “mashing” potato with an electric hand-whisk. One of the first presents she bought me was a masher.

  4. Glad the potato tip was useful! (I think I actually learned it from Seb)

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