Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Netherlands Month (Vegan Dutch Recipes)

The end of Dutch food month falls fortuitously on a very important day in Dutch history! Today is Queen's Day, a day in which folk celebrate their monarchy by eating lots of orange foods. But this isn't just any Queen's Day - today Queen Beatrix will abdicate her throne and her son Willem-Alexander will become king. He'll be the first male monarch on the Dutch throne for something like a decade. So lets all celebrate with some Dutch delights (even if none of them are orange).

I didn't get around to doing much posting in April - I turned out to be quite busy, and actually I enjoyed spending less time on my computer. So I only have five Dutch posts up. I have another two waiting on my computer to share though, so keep your eye out and I'll post them up later. In the mean time here are the Dutch dishes I enjoyed this month!

Ingredients of the month: nutmeg, cinnamon and almonds.


Naakte Kindertjes in Het Gras
This simple and sophisticated dish won my heart over with it's fabulous name - it's called Naked Babies in the Grass! It's a great option for a side dish or a pot luck as it complements almost any meal perfectly. Check out the recipe here.


 Continuing the trend of awesome names is these Lazybones Buns. Yes, there is a story behind the name so check out the post to learn more. They're a bit like a cross between a fruit scone and a hot cross bun, and they make for a pretty special breakfast - so why not break these out for mother's day? Check out the recipe here.

Dutch month just wouldn't have been right without Speculaas, they're so iconic and so delicious! These little spice biscuits went down a treat and were very easy to make. Unfortunately I didn't have a spekulaasplank so I just cut mine into cute shapes and decorated them with almonds. I even made little cats with whiskers and everything - you know you want to check that out! Check out the recipe here.

Hollandse Stroopkoek
I can never resist trying a dessert or a baked good that has beer in it! So this beer and syrup cake went immediately onto my list of things to try. It was quite spectacular, even though it looks so innocent and plain! The beer lent a fantastic depth of flavour to the cake (but don't worry, if you don't like the taste of beer you will still love this cake!). Check out the recipe here.

Gevulde Speculaas
This could very well be the best sweet pie I have ever made in my life. Maybe even the best pie I have ever made in my life. It's pastry is made from delicate spiced Speculaas dough and it's filled with luscious almonds. You really can't not love this pie! It's a tough choice, but this is my favourite of the month! Check out the recipe here.

That's it for now! I'll post those other two recipes later on and then add them into this post, so stay tuned for some more Dutch recipes. Hopefully next month I'll be more on top of the posting!

In the meantime it's time to move on to a new part of the world! I'm excited to say that someone has finally requested a South American country! So get ready to explore the {vegan} cuisine of ARGENTINA in May!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Gevulde Speculaas (Dutch Spiced Almond Pie)

This pie is one of the best things I've cooked all year - I can't recommend it enough! It's a great idea, the pastry is made from delicious spiced Speculaas dough and it's filled with gorgeous almonds. There isn't much else to say - just go and make it and you won't be sorry!

I've adapted this from a recipe on a great blog called The Dutch Table, which has loads of Dutch recipes. It's also run by a very nice person called Nicole who was more than helpful in advising me on my Dutch food month. It's so lovely to meet new and friendly people all over the world. Of course, being me - I have changed it up a bit to suit my personal taste! I just can't help myself.

Gevulde Speculaas
Adapted from The Dutch Table

1 batch of Speculaas Dough (note: preferably needs to be made the night before)
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup confectioners/icing sugar
1/3 cup water
1 pinch cinnamon

To Make
1. Hop over to this recipe and make the Speculaas dough the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Soak the blanched almonds in hot water for fifteen minutes.
3. Drain the almonds and set aside some for decorating (between 10-14 should do it). Place the remaining in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped, should only take a few pulses.
4. Tip the chopped almonds into a bowl and stir through the sugar, cinnamon and water.
5. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut in in half. Place on a floured bench space. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out half of the dough to a circle which will fit across the bottom of your pie dish (use a medium to large size shallow pie dish - preferably with a removable bottom!).
6. Transfer the rolled out pastry to the bottom of the dish. It might break up a bit as you move it, but just patch it up but pressing more dough into it (doesn't have to be neat, nobody will see it).
7. Spread the almond filling on top of the pie base. Roll out the top and place it on the top of the pie. Use any remaining pastry to decorate the top and press the almonds you set aside into the top.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and cooked on top.

This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food from The Netherlands.
Check out my other Dutch recipe posts:

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Hollandse Stroopkoek (Dutch Beer & Syrup Cake)

Another sweet treat from the orange land of The Netherlands! This one looks pretty innocent and plain. It looks just like a normal fruitcake. But it's more. It's so much more. It has quite a delicate texture, which is unusual for a fruitcake, and the flavours of the two main ingredients really contribute to a cake unlike any I've ever had before.

If you're thinking, 'I don't like beer that much', then don't let the beer put you off this cake. I'm not a big fan of drinking beer either. Yes, you can taste the beer in this cake, but it doesn't taste like drinking a beer! It simply adds a rich and hearty element to the cake - a slight bitterness to complement the sweet treacle.

I made quite a small cake for this one - as I was only having a couple of people over to help me eat it. It was so nice that I probably wouldn't have minded a full sized one, it would have meant that I had lots of leftovers! But probably best that I didn't! It doesn't rise much and makes quite a flat and dense cake. This is perfect really, because you only need fairly small slices (each slice packs a flavour punch!). I made it to fit a small 20cm diameter cake tin. If you want a full sized cake then you'll probably want to make about three times the recipe.

Hollandse Stroopkoek
Adapted from godutch.com
1 cup wholemeal flour
1  tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp treacle or stroop
1/4 cup Nuttelex (or other vegan marg)
3/4 cup beer
80g raisins
50g currants
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tbsp slivered almonds

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, allspice and salt in a large bowl.
3. Place the treacle and Nuttelex in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat until completely melted. Remove from the heat and gradually mix in the beer.
4. Add the beer mixture to the flour gradually, stirring.
5. Stir the raisins, currants, walnuts and almonds through the batter until evenly distributed.
6. Grease and line a 20cm diameter cake tin and pour in the batter.
7. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
8. To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Makes 1 x 20cm diameter cake. I recommend serving with a cup of tea!

This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food from The Netherlands.
Check out my other Dutch recipe posts:

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Speculaas - Dutch Spiced Biscuits

Dutch month is all about spices. What's that I hear you say? You love cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cardamom and ground ginger? Well, you have come to the right place because all those things are in abundance on the blog this month. When The Netherlands was requested by a reader to be my next featured country, I knew immediately I had to make some speculaas! Firstly because they're so special, secondly because they're so quintessentially Dutch and thirdly, because typically they're often already vegan - so easy peasy!

You'll notice, however, that my speculaas aren't the fabulous windmill shape of the ones you buy in the supermarket. I wish! You can buy wooden moulds designed specifically for making your speculaas into wonderful Dutch shapes - called a Speculaasplank. I looked at a couple on the internet, but sadly they don't come cheap so I had to give them a miss. Instead I cut mine into cute shapes and decorated them with almonds, not quite as cool as intricate windmills - but they tasted just as good!

Dutch Speculaas
Adapted from godutch.com

2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2/3 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground pepper (optional, not included in many traditional recipes, but I love it!)
1 cup vegan margarine (nuttelex)
2 tbsp rice milk (or other non dairy milk), plus more if needed
Slivered almonds, to decorate

To Make
1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and all the spices in a big bowl.
2. Cut the margarine into the flour mix and rub with your fingers until it forms a fine bread crumb like mix.
3. Add the milk and knead with your hands until it forms a dough. If it's too dry to form a ball, then add a little more milk. Form into a ball and then wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight for the spices to penetrate into the dough.
4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
5. Sprinkle your benchspace with plenty of flour and dust your rolling pin. Cut your ball of dough in half and roll out one of the halves about 2/3 cm thick. Use shaped biscuit cutters and then place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
6. Decorate the tops of the biscuits with slivered almonds and bake for 15-18 minutes. Continue until you've used up all the dough. You'll probably need to bake 2-3 batches to get through them all.
7. Once baked, cool on a cooling rack.

I forgot to count how many biscuits it made! Bad blogger! :(
I think it made about 30. But that will depend on the size of your biscuit cutter.

As you can see, I made most of mine with a heart shaped cutter - but I also made a few of these cute cat shaped ones!

This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food from The Netherlands.
Check out my other Dutch recipe posts:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Peek-a-Pear Tart (Vegan & Sugar Free) PLUS Cookbook Giveaway

I've been featuring Dutch recipes this month (when I've managed to get around to it, as I've been a bit behind on posting this month!) and what I've found, apart from lots of delicious spiced cakes, biscuits and bread, is a whole list of dishes with adorably cute names. Like the other day I posted a dish called "Naked Babies in the Grass", a name which - quite frankly- made me insanely happy. I've also posted some Lazybones Buns, another great name! So, even though I invented this dish myself, I thought I'd have a go at giving it a cute name in honour of Dutch food month. You can keep your eye on the blog for the rest of the month too, as I have a couple of other Dutch dishes with lovely names to post as well.

This lovely dish came about when a patient of mine turned up to her appointment bearing a big bag of luscious pears from her tree, I love my job! I also love seasonal produce, which is the theme of this month's Sweet Adventure's Blog Hop. So I thought it would be a perfect time to share the pear tart which I made with my big bag of wonderful fresh pears. I made it sugar free, using a peach that I had lying around the house for extra sweetness (because I love experimenting with stuff that I find lying around). It was delicious and quite frankly I felt damn healthy and totally guilt free eating it!

But wait!!! There is actually more!

I'm giving away a shiny brand new copy of the Masterchef Australia Cookbook! This is the first volume of the book and is a fantastic book for cooks of all levels. It's perfect for beginner cooks, because it talks a lot about cooking techniques and how to hone your skills to perfection. But it's also great for accomplished cooks looking for a challenge. Including spectacular Adriano Zumbo recipes such as Chocolate Mousse cake, Vanilla Pannacotta and a superb croquembouche. Unbelievably delicious stuff! To enter the giveaway just checkout the details below.

Disclaimer - I'm sure somebody will come out with criticism because I've labelled this sugar free but obviously the fruit contains sugar. In my opinion a dish is sugar free if I haven't added any sugars myself (cane sugar, coconut sugar, rapidura sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or any other type of sugar) but I'm simply relying on the natural sweetness of fruit.

And now... the actual tart!

4 dried dates
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup blanched almonds
2 tbsp self raising flour
1 ripe peach
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
500g ripe pears
1 tbsp lemon juice

To Make
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Soak the dried dates in 1-2 tbsp hot water for 5-10 minutes.
3. To make the base: Place the oats, almonds, flour and spices in a food processor and process to form a coarse meal. Drain the dates (keep the liquid aside).
4. Add the dates and the sliced peach to the food processor and process until well combined. It should form a thick ball of dough which is not too sticky to touch, but moist enough to stay together and not be crumbly. However, the actual consistency may vary depending on the juiciness of the peach you use.If it is too sticky, add a little more flour, if it is too crumbly and dry add a little of the date soaking water until you get the consistency just right.
5. Grease a tart tin with a removable base and line the bottom with baking paper. Press the base down in an even layer all over the bottom of the tart tin. Press it down and smooth it out with the back of a spoon and then bake it in the oven for 10 minutes (keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get brown on top).
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, meanwhile reduce the oven temperature to about 170. While it is cooling, take about 1/4 cup of chopped, peeled pear and place it in your food processor with 1 tsp water and the tbsp lemon juice. Purée until it is a smooth liquid. Set this aside and get slicing the rest of your pears (no need to remove the skin this time!).
7. Arrange the sliced pears over the base and brush the top with the pear and lemon puree. Put it back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pears are tender to pierce with a knife.
8. Serve hot (preferably with a big scoop of vanilla soy ice cream - although that will negate the 'healthy' and 'sugar free' aspects of this dessert! Do it anyway though...)

Serves 6-8.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Naked Babies in the Grass Recipe (Naakte Kindertjes in Het Gras)

Have you ever come across a dish with a cuter name? If you have I want you to tell me about it in the comments! This Dutch dish is called Naakte Kindertjes in Het Gras - which translates as Naked Babies in the Grass. I'll admit, the adorable name is the main reason I decided to feature this dish. It's a simple but satisfying dish, well suited to being a side dish or an addition to a buffet or potluck. You can see where it gets it's name right? The little white beans are like tiny babies nestled amongst very tall grass.

You can make this dish using any small white beans, such as navy, great northern or cannelini beans. I guess if you wanted to make it with lima beans you could call it Fat Naked Babies in the Grass! What I'm putting up here are some rough quantities, as you don't really need to follow the recipe too closely. I made a fairly big quantity as I was serving it up at a dinner party, so you'll probably want to halve it to make a side dish for a family of four. Use whatever quantities you like!

Now tell me - what is the most adorably named dish you have ever come across??

300g dried white beans, soaked for 24 hours
500g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp vegan margarine (Nuttelex)
Salt and Pepper to taste

To Make
1. Soak the white beans for 24 hours and then drain and rinse. Place in a large pot and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and boil until cooked (times may vary between different types of beans - but I used cannelini beans and it took about 50 minutes).
2. In the last 10 minutes of cooking add the green beans so that they'll be just tender but still a bit crunchy.
3. While they're cooking. Heat up your serving bowl with some boiling hot water.
4. Drain the beans and tip the water out of your serving bowl.
5. Add the hot beans, Nuttelex and generous amounts of salt and pepper to the warm bowl and toss it all together. Serve straight away (if you have to make it it advance, make sure you heat it up before serving to make sure the Nuttelex is properly melted).

Serves 8-12 as a side dish.

I entered this dish into the Vegan Virtual Linky Potluck.

This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food from The Netherlands.
Check out my other Dutch recipe posts:

Friday, 12 April 2013

Dutch Lazybones Buns (Luilakbollen)

Good morning all! I hope you will forgive my long stretch without posting, I have gotten into a rather bad habit lately of leaving all my posts 'til the end of the month and then being sick of writing posts by the end of the month and then taking the first week or two of the next month off the blog completely. Which, of course is a vicious cycle, because it means that all my posts get left until the end of the month again. Oh dear, what a convoluted mess. I'm going to try and break that habit next month!

So, as it happens I'm posting my first April post up today. Did you all enjoy March's Samoan food? I hope so! Unless of course you hate coconut in which case it probably wasn't your month! This month we're travelling pretty far away from Samoa, back into Europe. This month we're having.... drumroll.....

The Netherlands Month!

This month Dutch food will be happening big time at Gormandize! I hope you're ready for a really delicious month (silly sentence really, as you're obviously not hoping for a really disgusting food month).

Although a few Dutch dishes have made it big internationally (like Speculaas!), overall their cuisine is relatively unknown on the world stage and doesn't tend to get a lot of hype from foodies. Infact, the Netherlands seems to be mostly famous for drugs and it's red light district. Oh, as well as windmills and clogs. I visited the Netherlands with my family when I was about 10 years old and, needless to say, didn't experience any of it's (in)famous drug culture. I did, however, learn what a red light district was and have a ball at the windmills and clog shops.

Enough gibber-jabbering now though, it's time to talk about food! Dutch food is probably best known for it's spiced biscuits, cakes and breads and so that is exactly where we're starting. These are called Lazybones Buns, and the cute name isn't the only reason I picked them to try first out of all the Dutch recipes I googled. Having, just had Easter, I've been having a lot of delicious Hot Cross Buns. To me, Easter is all about Hot Cross Buns, and then suddenly (literally overnight), they're not available any more :( So, I sometimes have some withdrawal cravings.

These Lazybones Buns remind me quite a bit of hot cross buns (minus the cross on top of course), so they were perfect for my withdrawal. They're a bit like a cross between a hot cross bun and a fruit scone, either way they made a pretty sensational breakfast or afternoon tea snack. 

There is a lovely tradition behind these buns, and as I'm not Dutch I'm going to refer you to another source to explain it:

"Luilak these days is a very localized custom - Amsterdam and surroundings - on the Saturday morning before Pentecost. Children and teens rise very early to play pranks on those considered to be ‘lazybones,’ by ringing their doorbell and then run away. Before ringing the bell they tie the doorknob to another fixed object, and make all kinds of noises to awake people. In earlier times they would chant and parade noisily through the streets, bang on pots and pans, use rattles and sticks. The person in the family who slept in the longest that Saturday morning, by tradition was expected to treat with these buns" 
~Extract from www.godutch.com

Ok, we're almost there! I know I've been banging on a bit in this post, but I promise you there is a recipe coming soon! One more thing that I should mention is this: these buns are traditionally made with raisins and currants as the fruit. When I set out to make them I was sure there was a box of currants in my cupboard - but turns out I was wrong! So instead I've made mine with dried cranberries and raisins, and it was delicious so I recommend it :)

Luilakbollen Recipe

50g vegan butter or margarine
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used rice milk, but any will do fine)
2 tsp dried yeast
300g plain white flour
100g wholemeal flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Zest of 1 lemon
75g raisins
50g dried cranberries (or currants)

To Make
1. Place the butter small saucepan and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk and then the dried yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes, a slight foam should form on the top (if it doesn't, check the expiry date on your yeast!).
2. In a large bowl combine all the remaining ingredients. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast.
3. Mix well until it forms a ball and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes (set your oven timer otherwise you'll invariably do it for too short a time!).
4. Sprinkle some flour (or brush some oil) over the bowl and then return the ball of dough to the bowl and cover with a tea towel or some cling wrap. Leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours to rise. 
5. Turn it out onto your bench again and knead briefly, then divide into eight equal portions and roll them into balls. Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper.
6. Cover and leave in the warm spot again for a further 45 minutes (while this is happening, heat up your oven to 180 degrees).
7. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove and allow to cool slightly and then heat warm with a generous smear of vegan margarine or butter. 

Makes 8 buns.

This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food from The Netherlands.
Check out my other Dutch recipe posts: