Dutch Treats
Originally published the week of September 21, 1998

All content copyright by World Wide Recipes.

The Netherlands is justifiably famous for so many things, like dikes, canals, tulips, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, windmills, cheese, wooden shoes...the list goes on. Any other country would be famous for its cuisine if it cooked like the Dutch. My theory is that they are already so well known for so many other things, that people just don't have room to admire them for their cooking. And so, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, here is our "Dutch Treat" menu (and Lordie help me with the Dutch spellings!)

These little meat balls are frequently served at parties and other festive occasions. The Dutch usually serve them with mustard for dipping, and you might want to serve them with a variety of dips, including mustards, chutneys, and barbecue sauces.

Bitterballen (Meatball Hors d'Oeuvre)

4 Tbs (60 ml) butter or margarine
1/2 lb (250 g) ground beef or veal
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely diced carrot
1/2 cup (60 ml) finely chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1 Tbs (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped parsley
5 Tbs (75 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) beef broth or milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp (5 ml) water
Oil for deep frying

Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook the meat, carrots, and onions until the meat is browned and the carrots are tender. Drain the meat in a colander, then place in a mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, lemon juice, and parsley and stir to combine. Set the meat mixture aside. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook this for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the beef broth or milk. Continue heating, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils and becomes quite thick. Combine the sauce with the meat mixture, stirring to combine them thoroughly, and chill this mixture for at least two hours in the refrigerator, until it has become solid. When the mixture has solidified, roll it into balls about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, using your hands. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs, then in the egg and water mixture, then in the bread crumbs again. Fry a few at a time in a deep fryer with at least 2 inches (5 cm) of oil at 375F (190C) until golden (about 2 to 3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.


Today's Erwtensoep is a Dutch classic, and is often served as a main dish. It makes a fine dinner on its own, with thick slices of buttered pumpernickel or rye bread.

Erwtensoep (Split Pea Soup)

1 lb (450 g) dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over
10 cups (2.5 L) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) diced salt pork
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped leeks
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped celery
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped celeriac (celery root, optional)
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped onion
1 bay (laurel) leaf
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1 smoked ham hock or pig's knuckle (optional)
1/2 lb (250 g) smoked, precooked smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, sliced into 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) rounds

Cook the salt pork for 5 minutes in a heavy soup pot over moderate heat. Add the vegetables and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender but not brown. Add the water, peas, bay leaf, salt, and ham hock or pig's knuckle and bring to the boil. Skim the foam from the surface of the soup and simmer over low heat for two hours. Remove the ham hock or pig's knuckle, shred the meat and set it aside. Discard the bone and the bay leaf. Strain the soup, pressing the vegetables through the sieve, or puree in an electric blender. Return the soup, the reserved pork meat, and the sliced kielbasa to the kettle, and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sausage is warmed through. Serves 6 to 8.


This "Dutch Treat" is a hearty meat and potato one-plate meal. Serve it with some good Dutch or Dijon style mustard and some crusty rye or pumpernickel bread.

Stampot van Boerenkool met Worst (Kale with Potatoes and Sausage)

2 lbs (1 kg) fresh kale, washed and tough stems removed
6 small baking potatoes, about 2 lbs (1 kg), peeled and cut into 1-inch (2 cm) cubes
2 cups (500 ml) milk
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb (450 g) precooked smoked sausage, such as kielbasa

Drop the kale leaves into enough lightly salted boiling water to cover, then continue to cook uncovered for 30 minutes over moderate heat. Add the potatoes and cook for 30 minutes more, until the kale is tender and the potatoes are still intact. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Transfer the kale to a strainer and press to remove as much of the cooking liquid as possible, then chop the kale coarsely. Heat the milk and butter in a heavy 2 to 3 quart (2-3 L) saucepan until almost boiling. Add the potatoes, kale, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, tightly covered. Slice the sausage into 1/4 inch (1 cm) rounds and add to the pot. Continue simmering for 5 minutes, until the sausage is warmed through. To serve, mound the kale and potatoes in the center of a serving platter, and arrange the sausage around the rim. Serves 4 to 6.


Hodgepodge - a clumsy mixture of ingredients. That's what the Oxford English Dictionary says. It says that this word is a variant on hotchpotch, which is "a dish made of a mixture of various meats, vegetables, etc., stewed together". So today's "Dutch Treat" recipe has a linguistic history. In England the dish is called hot pot, the most famous of which is the Lancashire hot pot, containing mutton, sheep's kidneys, and oyster when available. The French and Belgians have a dish they call hochepot and usually contains pig's ears and feet. And the Dutch have their hutspot. If I recall correctly from my last trip to Holland, this dish is pronounced more-or-less like "hotchpotch", making it the only word in the Dutch language which foreigners can pronounce without accidentally spitting on the person they are talking to.

Hutspot met Klapstuk (Hot Pot with Boiled Meat)

4 cups (1 L) water
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
2 lbs (1 kg) fresh brisket of beef
2 lbs (1 kg) medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) dice
3 lbs (1.5 kg) boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
3 cups (750 ml) coarsely chopped onions
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a heavy 3 quart (3 L) casserole. Add the salt and the meat and bring back to a boil, skimming the surface of the water to remove the scum and fat that rises to the surface. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 2+1/2 to 3 hours. Check the water frequently; it may be necessary to add more in order to keep the meat immersed. Add the diced carrots and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, then add the potatoes and onions. Simmer uncovered until the vegetables are soft and the liquid is almost all evaporated. Remove the meat from the casserole and set aside. Using a wooden spoon, mash the vegetables to a puree in the casserole. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the puree to a heated platter, forming a mound in the center. Slice the meat across the grain and arrange around the vegetables. Serve at once, accompanied by spicy brown mustard and a good quality dark bread. Serves 4 to 6.


Today's "Dutch Treat" is a yummy cake that is easier to make than it is to type the recipe. Try it next time you need something really different for friends or family.

Gevulte Boterkoek (Butter Cake with Almond Paste Filling)

For the almond filling:
2/3 (160 ml) cups blanched almonds, pulverized in a food processor or electric blender and rubbed through a sieve
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup (80 ml) seedless raisins
2 Tbs (30 ml) orange marmalade
1 Tbs (15 ml) finely grated lemon zest (the yellow part of the peel)

Prepare the almond filling one or two days prior to making the dough. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to thoroughly combine. Allow to sit, covered with a dish towel, at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours.

For the butter cake: 
1/2 lb plus 2 Tbs (450 g plus 30 ml) unsalted butter, softened 
1 cup (250 ml) sugar 
1 egg 2 to 2+3/4 cups (500 to 675 ml) all-purpose flour 
1 egg white, lightly beaten

In a large bowl cream 1/2 pound of the butter and the sugar together, beating with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, and add 2 cups (500 ml) of the flour about 1/2 cup (125 ml) at a time, stirring well after each addition. When finished, the dough should be firm enough to gather into a ball. If necessary, add up to 1/2 cup (125 ml) additional flour, a little at a time. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of butter evenly over the bottom and sides of a round, 8 inch (20 cm) false-bottom or spring form pan. Break off half the dough and, dipping your fingers in the remaining flour, pat it into the bottom of the buttered pan, until it is smooth and completely covers the bottom of the pan. Roll the remaining dough into a cylinder about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) in diameter. Chill for another 20 minutes. Smooth the almond filling evenly over the dough in the pan. Using a sharp knife, slice the cylinder into 1 inch (2.5 cm) rounds. Flatten the rounds a little with your fingers, and arrange them on top of the filling, overlapping them a little, and pinching the edges together so they completely cover the filling. Brush the top with the beaten egg white and bake in a preheated 325F (165C) oven for 1+1/2 hours, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and remove the outside ring of the pan. Let cool to room temperature, then run a long spatula or knife under the cake to separate it from the pan bottom and place on a serving plate.

The Dutch are famous for their pancakes, and it has been suggested that they were the origin of our good-old-American pancake. Our "Dutch Treat" today is a savory version, reminiscent of a pancake and sausage dish, only this one is fancy enough to serve guests at a breakfast buffet or luncheon.

Gevulde Pannekoek (Meat-Filled Pancake)

For the batter:
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) milk
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt

Combine all ingredients in an electric blender and blend at high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the blender and blend again for 15 seconds, until the batter is smooth. To make by hand, stir the eggs and flour together in a mixing bowl and gradually add the milk and the salt, whisking until smooth. Either way, allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.

For the filling:
4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
2 Tbs (30 ml) finely chopped onion
1 cup (250 ml) (about 1/4 lb, 125 g) finely chopped fresh mushrooms
1 lb (500 g) lean ground beef or pork
1/3 cup (80 ml) flour
2 cups (500 ml) chicken or beef stock, fresh or canned
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground nutmeg
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tsp (10 ml) melted butter

Melt 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the butter in a heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft but not brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated. Do not allow the mushrooms to brown. Add the chopped meat and cook, mashing it with a wooden spoon, until all traces of pink disappear. Scrape the entire contents of the pan into a sieve, discarding the liquid. In a separate saucepan melt the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of butter over moderate heat. Stir in the flour and mix thoroughly. Pour in the chicken or beef stock and stir constantly with a whisk until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens considerably. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the meat mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Just before serving heat a heavy 8 inch (20 cm) skillet over moderate heat until a drop of water steams for 2 seconds before it evaporates. Brush the pan with half the melted butter and immediately pour in half the pancake batter. Tip the pan gently from side to side to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the top of the pancake is dry and the bottom is golden brown. Remove the pancake to a serving platter using a spatula, putting the "uncooked" side up. Repeat the process to make another pancake. Spread the meat filling evenly over the first pancake and place the second pancake "uncooked" side down on top of the meat mixture. You may want to place a plate over the skillet and, grasping both the plate and the skillet firmly, invert them both in order to turn the second pancake "uncooked" side down. Cut into pie-shaped wedges and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.


This "Dutch Treat" really is a treat. Here's another one you might want to file away for the holidays, when you can never figure out what to give Aunt Tilly in Toledo for Christmas.

Roomborstplaat (Cocoa-flavored Brown Sugar Candy)

2 oz. (60 g) shelled hazelnuts (filberts) or walnuts
3 Tbs (45 ml) butter, softened
1/2 cup (125 ml) light cream
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) superfine powdered sugar
1 cup (250 ml) dark brown sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) unsweetened cocoa, preferably imported Dutch cocoa

Drop the nuts into enough boiling water to cover and boil for 2 minutes. Drain into a sieve and, while they're still hot, rub the nuts vigorously between two dish towels to remove as much of the skins as possible. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake them in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for 5 minutes, or until lightly brown and aromatic. Chop the nuts coarsely and set aside. Spread 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the butter evenly over the sides and bottom of false-bottom or spring form cake pan 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Heat the remaining butter and the cream in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat until the butter is melted and small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Reduce the heat to low, and gradually add the powdered sugar, cocoa, and brown sugar, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until all the ingredients are completely dissolved, then raise the heat a little and cook undisturbed for 15 minutes until it reaches a temperature of 300F (150C) on a candy thermometer. If you don't have a candy thermometer, drop a tiny bit of the mixture in a cup of cold water. The sugar should be at the hard crack stage, and should immediately form hard, brittle threads. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped nuts. Pour the mixture into the buttered cake pan, smoothing it evenly with a spatula. Set aside at room temperature for about one hour, until the candy is firm, then remove from the pan. Traditionally, this candy is never cut, but broken into irregularly shaped pieces before eating. Makes about 1+1/2 lbs (650 g).