Month: June 2012

Dutch Sprinkles n’ Bread | Hagelslag

If you often crave a dougnut but wish it could come without the bellyache, come with me to the Netherlands for breakfast. The quickest way there is with hagelslag, or a “hailstorm” of sprinkles, on buttered bread (no need to toast it). While it sounds incredibly unhealthy, dutch sprinkles are high quality treats and there’s even guidelines for what can be called hagelslag. Most are at least 35% cocoa with 100% cocoa butter (this means there are no weird fillers, like vegetable oil, as you’ll find in cheap sprinkles). For those of you more than an arm’s throw away from the Netherlands, any good quality sprinkles will do the job. For those who can’t stand it and wish to try the real thing, a quick search for hagelslag will get you what you need – there’s all sorts from white chocolate, to dark, and from anise flavor, to even berry. Tip: Next time you visit a friend, put a variety of sprinkles in a basket with a loaf of homemade bread and good quality European butter, and …

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Dutch Spice Cake on a Rope | Ontbijtkoek

This spice cake creates so much joy, it should come with trumpets and streamers. Cake on a rope. So simple, and yet so brilliant. Every child will tell you: this is the stuff dreams are made of. All over the Netherlands, the Dutch nibble on swaying ropes of cake in honor of the Queen’s birthday. No hands allowed. This wildly popular event is called a koekhappen. Weather permitting, many lucky children enjoy a koekhappen on their birthday as well. One of our readers, Sylvia, told me a bit more about the Koekhappen: Koekhappen is a great game for kids. A birthday game, but an old-fashioned game as well that is done everywhere in Holland on Queen’s Day. The Royal family usually visits a specific few towns/villages in a certain region on Queen’s Day alternating them every year and celebrate the Queen’s Birthday. It’s still a day of many traditional games, singing and showing (local) talents. Certainly do this ‘koekhappen’ with Ava. Go for it and enjoy! Here’s Ava, desperately trying not to eat the cake before I …

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Menu: The Netherlands

This week’s menu  is a compromise between Dutch taste and the inferno I’m currently living in. That’s right – it’s here: 105F degrees in the shade. This is the weather that requires me to be doing one of two things: swimming or hiding out in the air conditioning. I’m a little surprised 105F has joined us in June, but that’s what’s happening. And we’re all sweaty. While I couldn’t serve ice on ice (although I was tempted), I found a summery-festive collection of dishes to try. They’re simple and sweet, so you can spend more time laughing with friends. What sounds good to you?* Dutch Potato Salad | Huzarensalade [Recipe] This is not your grandmother’s potato salad. Unless, of course, she’s Dutch. In all seriousness, this salad is an entire meal. She’s not only loaded up with sweet corn, salty gherkins,  tart apples, smoky ham, and fresh parsley – she’s also surrounded with an assortment of salad items like cucumber, carrot, tomato, lettuce, and hard-boiled egg. Dutch Spice Cake on a Rope | Ontbijtkoek  [Recipe] A much beloved …

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Windmill. Photo by Gouwenaar.

About the food of the Netherlands

If you like windmills, green pastures, unusual architecture, a dollop of Indonesian culture, and being way, way below sea level, then our week at the Dutch Global Table is for you. But first, let’s start with the basics. We have lots of names to keep track of. The country goes by the Netherlands and Holland (Holland being reserved for when her territories are also being referred to). Regardless, her people are called the Dutch and 25% of their land is below sea level and twice that no more than 1 foot above sea level, giving the country yet one more name: “The Low Country.” It’s funny to be spending a week on the food of Netherlands during 101F days, since this isn’t really her element. In fact, there’s a wintery-crunchy-leaves-snowy-skies sort of feel to the place which is reflected in the food. Most Dutch food is hearty and homey – sausages, potatoes, soups, stewed meat (hachee), and thick brown gravies. They are known for a fantastic potato salad, loaded up with all manner of goodness …

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Monday Meal Review: Nauru

After a few minutes of rummaging through the kitchen, I find a plastic bottle in the refrigerator door, half full of water. The bottle is from Ava’s trip to the zoo a couple of weeks ago and is covered with tigers, zebras, and lions. Apparently, it’s the only bottle in the house. I remove the lid and slowly begin to fill it with iced coffee. For an odd, fleeting moment, I find myself wishing I had more plastic bottles laying around to use. I shake my head at the silliness. “What are you doing, mama?” Ava asks, standing on tiptoe to peer over the counter. Her head is now a good few inches above the counter, growing taller every day. “This is a grownup drink enjoyed in Nauru, made with coffee and milk,” I say, and offer her a tall glass of milk so she doesn’t feel left out. They drink their iced coffee out of old water bottles” I say. “It helps them make less trash.” Ava’s eyes gets big. “It’s good to use …

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Coconut Crusted Fish

I like to do what makes sense. And in Nauru fish is the natural meal, considering beautiful, fresh fish can be found just two steps outside of most people’s doors. People love to eat it any which way – particularly on the grill, deep fried and pan fried. Today we’re doing a crispy coconut crusted rockfish – a fish native to the Pacific waters as a nod to our Nauruan friends. This fish is light, flaky and has a wonderful mild flavor, rather like cod. After gentle panfrying, squeeze on fresh lime juice and welcome to happy town. Ava can show you how it’s done. She was… … a fan! Ingredients: 6 fillets of Pacific Rockfish, or other fish of choice salt & pepper For the breading: 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 1 egg coconut oil, for pan frying (about 1/4 cup for an 1o inch pan) 1-2 limes, sliced Method: First, stir together soft mountains of breadcrumbs and snowy coconut. Next, whisk together an egg. Look at this pretty shell. This egg …

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Nauru’s “Recycled” Iced Coffee

Iced coffee doesn’t sound very exotic until you realize that it isn’t so much the coffee that is totally Nauru, but how they drink it. If you pull up to a roadside shack and order an iced coffee you won’t have to … … say tall, venti, or grande … worry about what syrups, double whips, or skinnies you need to specify … spend half a fortune, before tax You will, however have a choice of … … sugar or more sugar … milk or more milk … and, of course, whether you’d like your coffee in a plastic bottle or plastic tub At only 8 square miles, Nauru uses a lot of bottles, mostly for drinking water – 20,000 per month (according to the Nauru Country Study Guide by Ibp USA). That’s 240,000 bottles a year. According to the same study, about 10% of the bottles are used to sell water or iced coffee in a localized recycling effort. So, in the spirit of Nauru, if you have some extra plastic bottles or tubs (yes, tubs) …

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Grilled Island Fries

Ok. So even in the summer I crave french fries. But I don’t crave heating up a big pot of oil inside the house. There’s a solution: grilled fries. The fine people of Nauru love their fries. While most of them enjoy deep-fried fries, we covered that with Belgium Pommes Frites. So, inspired by their island setting – where the fine people of Nauru love to grill – I thought it’d be fun to try grilled fries. And it was fun. In my research I found several ways to make these, including boiling the potatoes and then slicing (again, who wants to heat up the house with a big pot of bubbling water? Not me!). I decided to try something different. Something simpler. I crossed my fingers, shut my eyes, and hoped against hope that it would work. And it did. Here is how I did it. Serves up to 5 Ingredients: 5 large yukon gold potatoes, washed vegetable oil salt & pepper Method: First, find the largest yukon gold potatoes you can. You can …

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Menu: Nauru

See the look on our faces? Yep. This week’s menu for Nauru reflects fun, easy breezy island fare – all you need is one bite to feel the joy. The only thing we’re missing is the ocean breeze. I can’t decide if the best part is making fries on a grill, the simplicity of fresh pan-fried fish, or drinking iced coffee out of plastic bottles. What!? What. Seriously. Stay tuned for more explanation on that. What sounds good to you? Grilled Island Fries [Recipe] This week the Nauruan love of all things grilled inspires me to toss French fries on the grill. It’s a little crazy and a lot delicious. Especially once you learn the secret to doing it right every single time. Coconut Crusted Fish [Recipe] A super simple way to cook fish, dipped in egg, then coated with a mixture of shredded coconut and breadcrumbs. The finishing touch? A hearty squeeze of fresh lime juice. “Recycled” Iced Coffee [Recipe] Come with me on an iced coffee journey which begins with a smooth pitcher of cold brewed grounds …

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Coral reef on the beach in Nauru. Photo by D-Online

About the Food of Nauru

If you’re the kind of lost soul who loves isolation, knowing your neighbors, and an ocean breeze, then Nauru is for you. Clocking in at just eight square miles, Nauru is the third smallest country in the world (and the smallest island nation). With more than three hundred miles between her and the closest piece of land, well, I can’t help but be amazed that anyone found their way to Nauru in the first place, let alone make their home there. I mean, what are the odds? So let’s figure out what’s for eats on this little island. As you can probably imagine based on the size of Nauru, not a lot of food grows here. Once host to lush forests, Nauru is now stripped almost bare with poor soil. Coconut and pandan fruit are about all you’ll find. Of course, off the island you’ll find a teeming buffet, filled with as much seafood as your net/rod/spear can capture. Coconut fish is on every menu [recipe]. The majority of the food in Nauru is shipped …

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Monday Meal Review: Nepal

THE SCENE Slowly, slowly I fold the momos, turning them into little moons. I am relaxed. My fingers work, awkwardly at first, but gradually pick up a gentle, gliding smoothness as my muscles memorize the steps. Folding these dumplings feels like meditation. Whenever I try to rush the process, everything collapses and the folding becomes a source of frustration instead of peace. So I keep my movements measured and slow. I keep a towel under my elbows, to catch stray bits of filling. I continue, remembering that the process is as important as the final dish. This night we share dinner with our friends Annie, Scott and their daughter Bea. We eat with great relish – while the kids go crazy for the dhal baht and besan burfi, we adults fixate on the momos. They taste gingery and cabbagy and bright. We dunk them in sauces and smile. Eventually we move outside to sit in the starlight, by the flickering chiminea. Conversation turns to our children and the choices we make to give them the …

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Vegan Spiced Yellow Split Peas | Dhal Baht

If you wake up in Nepal, chances are you’ll be eating Dhal Baht. In fact, you’ll probably also eat Dhal Bhat as the sun bobs below the horizon. Nothing wrong with eating the same dish twice in one day. There’s a beautiful simplicity in waking up and knowing that, as certain as the sun will circle the sky, there will be Dhal Bhat. Ah, yes. There’s something to be said for consistency. And for not having to make quite so many decisions during the day. I’m not sure what in my life is that certain. Perhaps my daily cups of tea. All day long I drink glass after glass of the stuff. This fancy name simply means lentils, split peas, or other pulses (dhal) with rice (baht), but each bite reveals so much more. This might as well be the national dish of Nepal. While rice doesn’t grow well in the mountains, this is a dish from the valleys. The seasonings in Dhal vary widely, but most commonly this soup-of-sorts contains tomato, turmeric, ginger, onion, and garlic. …

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