The FBC Dutch Feast cookbook review!
Dutch Feast by Emily Wight is an extensive cookbook on Dutch cuisine listing a mix of traditional and modernized recipes inspired by local, seasonal ingredients such as gezellig (stews and mashes), borrels (fried tapas), sweets and pastries, and Rijsttafel (Rice Table, which is influenced by Indonesian flavours).
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I visited Amsterdam eons ago pre-internet and the only thing I remember about the cuisine at that time is that it was much different than the Italian/Canadian cuisine I was accustomed to. I really enjoyed reading the Introduction chapter, learning about the culinary history of the Netherlands and hoping it would spark some food memories of the time I spent there.
On A Timeline of Dutch Cuisine page, we read about how the cuisine has shifted throughout the years with potatoes still remaining a fundamental part of the Dutch cuisine.
While reading through the Stocking Your Dutch Kitchen chapter, I discovered sauces such as Ketjap Manis (an important ingredient in Indonesian and Indo-Dutch cuisine), Maggi (liquid umani), and Sambal oelek (made with hot red chili peppers, salt and sometimes vinegar), which are used in some of the recipes.
Did you know that the Netherlands exports more than 80,000 tons of cheese per year? "Cheese is a source of national pride and has been a source of moral superiority — it's wholesome, domestic, and universally beloved [excerpt from page 25]." The cheeses are often named after the town in which they're produced, such as Gouda or Edam.
The 120 versatile recipes are organized by meal types:
- Coffee Time & Daytime Entertaining
- Borrels (Dutch Tapas)
- Weeknight Dinners
- Rijsttafel (Rice Table)
- Gezellig (Comfort Food)
- Condiments & Preserves
Each chapter is preceded by a story of its contents, giving us an insight to the recipes. The recipes begin with headnotes followed by the ingredients listed on the left and the instructions on the right, making them easy to follow. Also, colour photos of most of the recipes are included.
Sample recipes include:
- Currant Bread, Sugar Bread, Applesauce Raisin Cake (Breakfast)
- Frisian Thumbprint Cookies, Rice Tart, Rose Meringues (Coffee Time & Daytime Entertaining)
- Traditional Bitterballs, Cheese Cookies, Kibbeling (Borrels [Dutch Tapas])
- Herring Fritters with Onion Sauce, Braised Meatballs, Tomato-Paprika Soup (Weeknight Dinners)
- Mussels with Beer and Red Chilies, Chicken Sate, Fried Plantains (Rijsttafel [Rice Table])
- Braised Beef with Sauerkraut Stampot, Kale and Potato Soup (Gezellig [Comfort Food])
- Stuffed Pork Loin, Pepper Nuts, Honey Rice Pudding, Bishop's Wine (Christmas)
- Appelstroop, Blender Peanut Sauce, Curry Ketchup (Condiments & Preserves)
Recipes I Made
Currant Bread (page 35)
After baking so many sweet breads during the holidays, I didn't think I'd make any more for a while until I came across this recipe for Currant Bread. It's a delicious alternative to toast in the morning. It doesn't take too long to make (two 40-minute risings) and bakes for 35 to 40 minutes. You can taste the orange flavour, which complements the currants.
You can also use it to make bread pudding or French toast or freeze it to be enjoyed at a later date. I ate a slice toasted and smeared it with butter for breakfast and then ate another slice with my coffee in the afternoon. I had intentions of freezing half the loaf but my husband and I finished eating it within days.
- 1 cup (250 mL) whole milk
- pinch saffron or saffron extract (see below)
- 3 tbsp + 1 tsp honey, divided
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, divided
- 1 large navel orange, zest and juice
- 3 tbsp neutral oil, such as canola
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups (375 mL) dried currants
- 3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
- In a pot on medium heat, warm milk with crumbled saffron threads to lukewarm, about 100°F (38°C). Remove from heat, and whisk in 3 tbsp honey and yeast. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until yeast is fluffy.
- Pour milk into bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly with egg, orange zest and juice, oil, and salt.
- Add currants and flour, and with wet hands knead to form a shaggy dough. Knead for about 8 minutes, or until dough is elastic. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm spot for about 40 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.
- Grease a 9 x 5-in (23 x 13-cm) loaf pan. Fit dough into prepared loaf pan. Once again, cover with plastic wrap and kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to rest for about 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C).
- In a small bowl, mix egg yolk and remainder of honey with 1 tbsp water. Brush mixture over top of risen dough.
- Bake for 35–40 minutes, until golden. Let sit in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wait until bread is completely cool before cutting a slice; if you want warm currant bread, reheat it or toast it after it has totally cooled.
- Good saffron has a smell a little like sweet pepper, and reminds me a bit of anise, not because of its fragrance but because of the way both are sweet and bitter at the same time. Good saffron is expensive, but you can get a lot of flavor out of not very much of the spice. To get the most mileage out of it, grind a pinch with a mortar and pestle (if you don’t have that, use your thumb and grind into the palm of your other hand) along with a"pinch of sugar, then steep in ½ cup (250mL) hot water. The result is a saffron extract. Where I call for Da pinch of saffron," feel free to use about a tablespoon of the extract. This mixture will allow you to use saffron in multiple recipes. Keep in mind that saffron blooms—releases its color and flavor—in water but does not bloom as successfully in fat. Look for saffron in stores that sell Italian or Persian groceries.
Potato-Kale Bitterballs (Page 82)
This is the type of recipe that needs to be planned ahead. Potatoes need to be cooked and mashed; kale and onions have to be cooked before adding them to the mashed potatoes. The potato-kale mixture has to be refrigerated for at least four hours before adding the rest of the ingredients such as smoked Gouda and Dijon mustard.
Once the potato-kale mixture is formed into balls, they're rolled in flour, egg and crumbs, placed on a baking sheet and placed in the freezer for one hour. Then they're fried until golden and crisp. I used canola oil as the type of oil wasn't specified in the recipe.
The bitterballs are time-consuming to make but once you taste them, you'll agree it was worth the time and effort. You can taste the Gouda, but it's not overpowering. My daughters and son-in-law came over for supper the day I made them so the bitterballs quickly disappeared. They requested I make them again.
Tomato-Paprika Soup (Page 110)
One thing I discovered while reading this recipe is that red bell peppers translate to paprika in Dutch. The red bell peppers are roasted to bring out their sweetness, and once they're cooled are added to the other ingredients in the soup. Before serving, the soup is puréed and heavy cream is added.
I loved the taste of this soup. The sweetness of the roasted peppers offsets the acidity of the tomatoes, while the cream gives it a smooth texture. This is the perfect comforting soup to ward off the chills of the deep-freeze we've been experiencing lately.
Dutch Feast is an interesting, well-written cookbook that has expanded the little knowledge I had about the Dutch cuisine and its history and makes me want to learn more about the people, country and food. Reading through the cookbook brought back fond memories of my visit to the Netherlands at a time when we simply enjoyed our food without snapping tons of pictures first.
The recipes I made so far have all been a success and I've bookmarked many others to follow. If you like to experiment with international cuisines, Dutch Feast certainly belongs on your bookshelf.
Author: Emily Wight
Softcover: 262 pages
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Dutch Feast by Emily Wight, published by Arsenal Pulp Press 2017. Photos: Tracey Kusiewicz / Foodie Photography.
A review copy of Dutch Feast was provided by Arsenal Pulp Press.
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The Dutch Feast cookbook review was written by Liliana Tommasini, author of the aptly named blog My Cookbook Addiction. Her passion for baking and cooking began at an early age. Liliana grew up in an Italian household where each meal was made from scratch with fresh ingredients and Sunday family lunches were always a celebration. She has a passion for collecting cookbooks and believes that every recipe tells a story that must be shared to nourish your soul and feed your belly. You connect with Liliana on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.