Archive for Dutch food

Dutch food: advocaat star cake

This cake breathes Christmas for me, because it’s luxurious, boozy, and star-shaped. You can serve it as an indulgent treat with coffee, but it is chique enough to serve as dessert. It does take some time to make, but it has to refrigerate overnight to firm up, so you have to make it in advance anyway. One downside: it contains alcohol, so it is not suitable for kids and pregnant women. It also contains raw eggs, so it is not suitable for the elderly and immunocompromised either.

Advocaat is a typical Dutch “drink”. It is made with egg yolks, sugar and brandy, and is often served in a small glass with a rosette of whipped cream, and a spoon to eat it (it’s quite thick). It is quite sweet and creamy (similar to custard), and has a slight kick from the booze (14-20% alcohol). Thinner advocaat (pourable/drinkable) is made with the whole egg and goes abroad. For some reason, they don’t like the thick stuff in other countries. This thinner version is similar to eggnog.

For my advocaat, I used a whole egg, because I had no use for the leftover egg white. And indeed, my advocaat was less viscous than the advocaat I know. Officially, you use brandy to make advocaat, but it works fine with whisky, rum, cognac and wodka too. I used whisky, because I didn’t want to buy a bottle of something especially for this recipe, and it turned out delicious, although it did taste a bit more alcoholic than the advocaat you buy in the supermarket. The shelf life is a bit of a mystery, some people say you can keep it for a few days in the fridge, others say you can keep it for weeks. To be safe, I would stick with the first. The recipe below will make way more than you need, either make it all and serve the remainder at cocktail hour, or make less. I made a batch with 1 egg (I weighed the egg and adjusted the other ingredients to that) and that was enough for the half sized cake I made. Make with 2 eggs to have enough for the full sized cake.

Advocaat Star Cake

Advocaat (lots)
Slightly adapted from Eerst Koken

250 g egg yolks or whole eggs
250 g sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
300 ml booze (brandy, whisky, rum, cognac, wodka)

Mix egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a heat-proof bowl. Place on top of a pan with simmering water. Add the booze and keep whisking until the mixture thickens. Directly take it from the heat and keep whisking until it has cooled slightly. Leave to cool completely before storing in the fridge in a clean container, or using it for the cake.

Advocaat star cake (for 8-12 people)
Adapted from “Blueband Kookboek Gebak”

4 eggs, split
90 g sugar, divided (35 g + 55 g)
pinch of salt
2 sachets vanilla sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
60 g flour
40 g corn starch
10 g slivered almonds
butter or oil to grease the tin

Preheat the oven to 165C. Cover the bottom of a 24 cm round springform with baking paper, then grease the bottom and sides.
Mix the egg yolks with 35 g sugar in a large(!) bowl until pale and creamy, until it pours from the whisks in a ribbon (use an electric mixer for this, it will take a while).
Whisk the egg whites stiff with a pinch of salt. Gradually add 55 g sugar and the vanilla sugar while whisking and keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved.
Scoop the egg whites on top of the yolks, together with the lemon zest. Sift the flour and cornstarch on top and fold everything carefully together. Carefully pour it into the prepared baking tin. Level the top and sprinkle over the almonds.
Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven, leave to cool in the form for 15 minutes, then carefully take out and leave to cool completely on a cake rack.

8 sheets gelatin
2 eggs, split
100 g sugar
200 ml milk
250 ml whipping cream
300 ml advocaat
icing sugar

Soak the gelatin in cold water.
Mix the egg yolks, sugar and milk in a heat proof bowl. Place on top of a pan with simmering water. Keep mixing until the mixture thickens, then directly take it from the heat and keep whisking until it has cooled slightly. Add the gelatin sheets (squeezed, to get rid of extra water) one by one while mixing. Leave this custard to cool until it starts to get stiff.
Whisk the eggwhites until stiff. Whisk the cream until stiff. Add both to the custard, together with the advocaat, and fold together. Leave to set until it just holds its shape, but is liquid enough to transfer to the cake.
Slice the cake horizontally in half. Take the top half and slice it into 8 points, but stop 2 cm from the edge, to hold them together.
Pour or scoop the advocaat mixture on the bottom half of the cake, keeping the edge free. Place the top half on top. Carefully press the edges, so that the top opens up and forms a star. Dust the cake with icing sugar. Place in the fridge overnight (or at least 4 hours) to set.

Note: To make a smaller sized cake, suitable for 6-8 persons, half the recipe and use an 18 cm round baking tin.

Dutch food: meatballs

The cornerstones of the old-fashioned, traditional Dutch meal are cooked potatoes, jus (pan gravy), a piece of meat and cooked vegetables. For potatoes, the (slightly) floury ones are the best, because of the practice of “prakken”. There is no good translation for this word, since it is a typical Dutch activity, in which potatoes are crushed and mashed with your fork on your plate together with the jus to make a coarse or smooth purée (depending on preferences). Some people also add in the vegetables, or “prak” everything on their plate (so also the meat, and sometimes even some apple sauce). This is definitely an at-home behaviour, it is seen as not done to do it in public/in restaurants, and often people are incredibly specific about how to make their “prakje”. The jus is made by adding a bit of water to the pan in which the meat was cooked, but sometimes a jus cube or jus granules are used. The meat can be a lot of things, luxury things like steak or pork chops, but also less expensive things made with mince. One of those is the large meatball, for which I give the recipe below. The veggie can also be anything, for example carrots, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, etc.

I must say that I’m not a big fan of the traditional “prakje” plate, but I do like meatballs, and you can serve them perfectly well with mashed potatoes or fried potatoes, and a nice salad. Do remember to add a dollop of mustard on your plate to dip the meatball in, which is the tradition in my family. My recipe is non-traditional in the sense that I only add a small amount of dried breadcrumbs, and no egg or bread soaked in milk. Adding those things is a practice from poorer times, when meat was expensive and there were many mouths to feed, so it was a good thing to stretch a small amount of meat further. But I think it messes up the flavour and the texture, I rather have the meat pure and eat a day vegetarian to compensate (for sustainability reasons). It is also important to start with the mince cold, and not knead it to much, otherwise the fat will melt, which messes up the texture as well.


Meatballs (serves 4)
500 g mince (either beef or half beef half pork)
1 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp mace (or nutmeg)
1/2 tsp majoram
50 g butter

Mix mince, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, mace and majoram in a bowl, only knead until mixed and not more. Divide in 4, form a ball from each piece. Make sure to roll them quite tight, to prevent them from falling apart when baking. Melt the butter in a pan, place the balls in it, and carefully turn them over when the bottom has browned. Repeat until most of the outside is brown. Don’t worry if your balls are not perfectly round any more after this, keeping them round is a fine art (that I don’t master). Add a splash of water to the pan, place a lid on top and turn down the heat. Braise about 25 minutes, then take the balls from the pan. To make a jus, add another splash of water to the pan (if necessary) and stir to dissolve all the sticky bits. Serve the balls with a potato dish and vegetables of your choice, and a dollop of mustard.

Dutch food: poffert

Poffert is a traditional regional dish from the province of Groningen (where I come from), although a similar dish can be found in other parts of the Netherlands. It is a cross between a steamed pudding, bread and bundt cake/gugelhopf and is very filling, especially because it was served with a generous pat of butter and lots of brown sugar or stroop. That was why it usually was eaten as a main, and in winter. It was often cooked when the whole family needed to work on the land, and there was no time to cook. The batter was made, placed it in the pan and a few hours later there was food, while she could do other things. By richer people it sometimes was eaten as dessert or snack, and nowadays it is more of a special treat. But you know that a dish is popular when there is a a small village (about 15 houses, 3 farms and a small shipyard) named after it: de Poffert is located between Hoogkerk and Enumatil. The village was named after the tavern called de Poffert, that was there because de Poffert used to be an important quay for tug-boats, especially during the sugar beat campaign in fall (there was, and is, a sugar refinery in Hoogkerk). The captains used to eat loads of things made with flour, hence the name of the tavern.

Real poffert is cooked au bain marie in a special ‘pofferttrommel'(literally poffert bin), a bundt shaped pan with a lid. Some people line the tin with slices of bacon before filling it with batter, to prevent sticking. Nowadays people often cook the poffert in an oven instead of au bain marie (in my opinion you make something else than poffert in that case), and use other kinds of dried fruit as well, or even make a savoury variant with bacon and smoked sausage. It is not necessary to have the special ‘pofferttrommel’ to make poffert, you can also use a heat-proof bowl or a bundt pan that you cover with aluminium foil or baking paper secured with a bit of kitchen rope. There are even people that use a small pan that fits inside the larger pan.

Poffert is normally eaten with (molten) butter and brown sugar or stroop, but you could also use apple butter instead of the stroop. Some people serve theirs with cinnamon and brown sugar, but I think poffert does need the moisture from butter or something else. Not traditional, but delicious options are a splash of cream, vanilla sauce or toffee sauce.


Poffert (for a bowl or tin that can hold 2 liter, serves 4 generously)

250 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
scoop of sugar
100 g raisins
200 ml lukewarm milk
1 egg
accompaniments of choice

Mix all the ingredients to form a nice batter. Pour it into your pofferttrommel or the tin/bowl you are going to use. Place into the large pan with warm water. Place the lid on top and leave to rise for an hour. Then turn on the heat and cook the poffert in about an our. Control with a sateh stick if the poffert is ready, the stick should come out clean. Serve warm with your accompaniments of choice.

Note: you can also make poffert with self-raising flour (quite a luxurious variant) instead of yeast, and sometimes half wheat and half buckwheat flour was used.

Dutch food: endive gratin

First a little clarification about endive (also called Belgian or French endive), since it is called very different in different parts of the world. In the Netherlands endive is called witlof, while we use the word endive (andijvie) for what they in some part of the world call escarole, but escarole is sometimes called endive too in some other parts of the world. The endive I mean now are the small heads of cream-colored, slightly bitter leaves. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up; after harvesting it has to be kept dark as well to prevent it from turning green and very unpalatable bitter. The harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking, because it is very hard and unpalatable bitter.

Endive was developed in Belgium, but nowadays is grown on large scale in the Netherlands too. It stands on place 3 in the list of most eaten veggies in the Netherlands, so it is very popular. The favourite things to do with it are making a salad and making endive gratin: heads of endive rolled in ham and cheese placed in a baking tray and covered with mashed potatoes. Some people make this gratin without the potato purée, and don’t use the cheese in the rolls but make a cheese sauce with it to pour over the endive-ham rolls, sprinkle everything with cheese and then grill it, but the variation with potato is how I ate it when I grew up, so I stick to that. Originally, you cook the endive, but that makes it quite mushy and watery, therefore I grill it. It keeps its texture better, and because of caramelisation the endive gets less bitter as well.

Endive Gratin

Endive gratin (serves 4)

4 large heads of endive (or 8 small ones)
8 slices of ham
8 slices of cheese
1 kg potatoes suitable for mash (I like to use slightly floury potatoes)
100 ml milk
knob of butter
salt and pepper
optional: some dried breadcrumbs

Remove the ugly outer leaves of the endive and the stem, slice the head in half and remove the core. Place the slices of cheese on the slices of ham and lay them out on your workspace.
Peel the potatoes and cook them in salted water. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan. Place the halved heads of endive in it and fry until slightly caramelized, then turn them over and do the same on the other side. Preheat the oven/grill.
Mash the potatoes and make a nice purée with the milk, butter, salt and pepper.
Place a halved head of endive on each slice of ham/cheese (or 2 halves, if you used small heads), then roll. Place all the rolls in a baking tray, then scoop the purée on top. I like to make a nice ridge pattern with a fork and sprinkle some dried breadcrumbs over it to make the top extra crispy. Place under the grill for a crispy layer on top, or cook for a bit longer in the oven if you like your endive a bit more cooked.

Dutch food: culinary secrets in North-Netherlands

I wrote before about culinary secrets in Groningen, and I though it would be nice to also write about some of my favourite culinary places outside the city. But… I start with 1 shop in Groningen that wasn’t there (in this format) when I wrote the other post.

De Stadsakker
This shop started as a speciality shop for urban agriculture, selling everything you need for small and big gardens, like tools, seeds, books, herb plants, everything for storing and processing your harvest, and more… and most of it is sustainable as well! As a proud owner of a tiny city allotment I love this shop, but for people with large gardens it is also the perfect place to garden-shop, and even if you have only a small balcony with a few plants you will find things of your liking. The owner is an experienced and enthusiastic gardener herself, so she gives great advice herself. This season there is also the “De Stadsakker Kwekerij”, a 2 hectare piece of land at the edge of the city Groningen, where vegetables are grown that are sold in the shop, and for the vegetable boxes for the people that helped by crowdfunding to start “De Stadsakker Kwekerij” (they are also subsidized by the city of Groningen, which is very active concerning city gardening). I believe that they want to make it possible to subscribe to a vegetable box next year. We funded a little bit, so we get 3 boxes in total this season. We already got 2 boxes, and were extremely happy with it: delicious vegetables of high quality, super fresh and I love it that they are grown this close to where we live. So when you are in need of good, seasonal vegetables, this is the place to be!

De Stadsakker | Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 38 | 9712 EK Groningen

Another grower of local food. Meinardi is specialized in (white) asparagus and strawberries, but they also grow and sell other fruits and vegetables. They process part of their harvest into all kinds of delicious jams, syrups, wines, sauces and more. They also sell regional products from other producers. And in their shop in Winschoten they also sell freshly baked bread/pastry and freshly made salads. This is the only place I buy white asparagus, because I know for sure that they will be fresh and delicious. And their strawberries are unrivalled, always sweet, aromatic and juicy. Luckily, they sometimes sell those on the market as well, because it is a bit of a drive to go to their shop just for some strawberries. Of course all their other products are delicious as well, but you really need to try it yourself!

Shop Noordbroek | Zuiderstraat 16 | 9635 AL Noordbroek
Shop Winschoten | Zuiderveen 83 | 9674 TB Winschoten

Molen mulder pot
This is my go-to place for flour and other baking ingredients. I love it that, if quality allows it, they source their ingredients locally (accredited by Gegarandeerd Groningen), and they mill and mix everything themselves. They sell different flours and baking mixes, all of very high quality. If you’re not living near Groningen (but in the Netherlands), make sure you check out their website, because they have a webshop!

Mulder Pot – Kropswolde | Woldweg 70 | 9606 PG Kropswolde

Café Hammingh
This café is located next to the Reitdiep, the waterway connecting Groningen and Zoutkamp. The landscape around the Reitdiep is beautiful, and has been a great inspiration for many artists (among which the famous “De Ploeg” artist collective). The café has been build in 1876 and has been managed by the family Hammingh until 1982. The building has been kept in the authentic style. This café is the perfect place for coffee and cake or a lunch when you’re exploring the Groninger countryside. They mainly serve local specialities and typical Groninger food.

Café Hammingh | Hunzeweg 32 | 9893 PC Garnwerd

‘t Zielhoes
Noordpolderzijl is about as northern as you can get in the Netherlands without being on the Wadden islands. It used to be a fishing port, but due to water management and changes in the fishery business the fishing boats changed location. Nowadays it is still a harbour connected to the sea, but mainly for pleasure boats. Furthermore it is a lovely place to go for wide views of the salt marshes and the sea, and to have a walk along the dike. It is also a starting point for mudflat hiking (go with a licensed guide!). I love to go here to get some fresh air, usually it’s quite windy in Noordpolderzijl, so it’s the perfect place for that. And if you’re refreshed enough, warm up in ‘t Zielhoes. There used to be a lock at Noordpolderzijl, and the old lockmasters home is still there, but nowadays it functions as a nostalgic café that serves nostalgic food and local specialities. Perfect to warm up over a mug of hot chocolate, but also perfect for when you got hungry from the sea air.

‘t Zielhoes | Zijlweg 4 | 9988 TD Usquert

‘t Ailand
Lauwersoog is a small village on the banks of the Waddenzee. The surrounding area is a beautiful national park, it is a fishing port as well as a pleasure port/marina, the boat to Schiermonnikoog (one of the Wadden islands) departs from here, there is a camping/bungalow park, but above all it is a lovely place to go to when you want to go to sea (although it would be even better if there was a beach). It is a popular place, so there are several restaurants. Most of them are the standard coffee-from-a-machine and fried fish kind of place, so not really worthwhile, but ‘t Ailand is different. Don’t go here when you expect perfect service and things to go orderly, but when you can stand a bit of chaos, definitely go here. The “restaurant” is situated in a hangar-like building, but inside they really made it cosy. And the best thing of all: they have a rooftop terrace, where the sea wind blows through your hair and you can smell the fresh sea air. The food is simple (you order everything at the bar) and mainly fish. If you don’t like fish, go somewhere else… although you might even like fish when it is as fresh as you get it here (not fishy at all). The fish is extremely fresh (brought into the port by their own fishing boats or boats that are also part of the “goede vissers”) and sustainable, and the fish on the menu is the fish that they catched. They keep it very simple, just the plain fried fish with some salad, home-made fries and mayonnaise. You can order one kind of fish, but you can also order a fish varia, which gives you 3 or 5 different kinds. They also sell incredibly delicious small prawn croquettes. When you go here, go hungry!

‘t Ailand | Haven 49a | Lauwersoog

Dutch food: poffertjes

Poffertjes are the miniature versions of pancakes, but contain more sugar and more rising agent, so that they get all light and puffy and are a bit sweeter. Traditionally they are served with butter and icing sugar, less traditional but also very delicious with fresh fruit and whipped cream, or as a savory alternative with herbed crème fraîche and smoked salmon (like you would do with blini’s).
Poffertjes stalls are common in the colder seasons, and at fairs and festivals. Here you by a portion of poffertjes (usually 12 or 24) with butter and sugar, served on a small cardboard plate complete with a small fork. They are usually prepared freshly for the customer, as it should be, because poffertjes should be eaten freshly baked. That is also why I don’t like the ready-made poffertjes you can buy at supermarkets, they are yucky. You microwave them to make them warm again, which makes them even tougher than they already were. Poffertjes you buy at a stall are usually eaten as a snack, while poffertjes you eat at home are usually eaten as meal. They are also very popular at children’s parties, because they like the sweet taste and the small size of them. Officially they are not eaten for breakfast (just as it is not usual to eat pancakes for breakfast in the Netherlands), but I do like them as a special weekend treat for breakfast.
Poffertjes are easily made at home, but you do need a special pan for it with small indentations in the bottom, either for on the stove or electric. Having a squeeze bottle makes filling the indentations a lot easier. Some people make their poffertjes with a mix of plain and buckwheat flour, and raise them with yeast, but I use an easy recipe with plain flower and baking powder. This ensures that I can make poffertjes whenever I want, with pantry ingredients, and I don’t have to wait until the batter has risen. If you do like to use yeast, try the recipe at this link (optionally swap 1/2 of the flour for buckwheat flour).


Poffertjes (about 30-40)

250 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp sugar
250 ml milk
2 eggs
butter or oil, for baking
butter and powdered sugar, to serve (or other things you like to serve them with)

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the milk gradually while mixing to make a smooth batter. Add the eggs and whisk well.
Heat the poffertjespan on medium heat. Grease the indentations of the pan with a little butter or oil (I like to use a pastry brush for this).
Stir the batter, then pour (part of it) into a squeeze bottle. Fill each indentation of the pan with the batter, nearly to the edge. When the top is nearly dry, start turning, starting with the ones you filled first. Leave to cook for a bit (how long depends on when you turned them, after the first batch you will know when), then remove from the pan, starting again with the one you filled first. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve immediately with butter and powdered sugar, or other accompaniments.

Note: there are several options for baking these. You can bake a batch and eat immediately; bake all batches then eat; or bake while other people are eating. I use the first method, because I like my poffertjes as fresh as possible, and there is no point in me baking and my husband eating.

Dutch food: bean soup

Bean soup is a traditional Dutch full-meal soup, similar to pea soup. Because the original is quite heavy and wintery, and because it would be a bit boring to put a recipe online that is so similar to one that I already have on this website, I decided to jazz it up with some spices and some roasted red paprika’s to make it more summery. The recipe is a cross between goulash soup and a Serbian bean soup that I found in a cookbook. Normally bean soup is made with brown beans, but I’m not completely sure that those are available abroad, or how they are called abroad. Sometimes white beans are used as well, I used the borlotti beans that I had leftover in my cupboard, but I think you could use any bean (or even lentils or chickpeas) you like.

Bean Soup

Bean soup (serves 4-6)
250 g dried beans
olive oil
100 g of smoked bacon, cubes
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tin (70 g) tomato purée
2 tsp sambal badjak
1 L water
2 beef stock cubes
2-3 bay leaves
6 cloves
2 juniper berries
3 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of majoram (or oregano)
1 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce

2 red paprika’s

Soak the beans: place them in a large bowl and cover with water generously. Leave to soak for 24 hours.
Heat a large Dutch oven with a splash of olive oil. Add the bacon and onion, until the bacon releases its fat and the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, fry for another minute. Add the tomato purée and sambal, fry for a few minutes to de-acidify and release the flavours.
Throw away the soaking liquid from the beans and rinse them. Add them to the pan together with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and cook for at least 1 hour, but preferably longer. I simmered mine for 3 hours. Stir occasionally, to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Slice the red paprika’s in strips and grill them in a hot skillet. Add to the soup at the end of cooking time.
Serve immediately, or cool down (keeps for a few days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer).

Note: Beans contain a toxic substance (phytohaemagglutinin), therefore you need to soak them for at least 5 hours, discard the soaking liquid, and boil them for at least 30 minutes at 100C. This means that the toxin is not deactivated when you prepare beans in a slow cooker (which typically only reaches a temperature of 80C). Canned beans can be eaten directly, as they already have been processed this way.

Dutch food: Dutch Snacks

I’m not really into the whole football thing, but I do watch the world championship matches in which the Netherlands play, to stay up to date. To make it a bit more interesting, I decided to make a Dutch snack board, with all kind of classic Dutch snacks and appetizers. On a traditional Dutch birthday party you usually arrive in the afternoon, get pie and a cup of tea first, then coffee and a bonbon, and then snacks and drinks; you leave at the end of the afternoon/beginning of the evening. Sometimes coffee/chocolate isn’t served, and sometimes (especially when the party is in the evening) there is no pie served either. In some families it is habit that the guests stay for dinner.
The snacks below are the traditional ones you could expect on a (birthday) party, although nowadays people also serve other things, for example all kinds of things inspired on other cultures, like tapas. The amount and variety of snacks served depends on how much guests there will be and if it is an informal/small party or something big.

Dutch Snacks

From left to right, top to bottom: smoked beef-egg rolls, cucumber slices, ham-herbed cream cheese rolls, salami-cream cheese rolls, cheese, liver sausage, salami-gherkin rolls, cheese with pickled onion, grilled sausage with cheese, devilled eggs, ham-asparagus rolls.

On the board

Cubes/wedges of Dutch cheese
The world-famous Gouda cheese comes from the Netherlands. It comes in different ages, ranging from young (quite soft, creamy and mild) via matured to extra old (hard, crumbly, piquant). There are also many cheeses available that have an addition, for example cumin, clove, fenugreek or nettles; nowadays lots of cheesemakers also experiment with other flavours like pesto, herb/spice mixes and wasabi. I would suggest to serve a young mature (a cheese that everyone likes) and something special in addition. Unfortunately, the name Gouda isn’t protected, so abroad most Gouda doesn’t taste like it should. If you want to try real Dutch Gouda, look for ones that are called “Noord-Hollandse Gouda” (Noord-Holland is a province in the Netherlands), “Boerenkaas” (farmhouse cheese) and “Gouda-Holland”, these have a Protected Geographical Indication status, which means that they can only be made in the Netherlands and can only use milk produced by Dutch cows.

Garnished cubes of cheese
Use a cocktail stick to garnish cubes of cheese with pickled onion (on the board), gherkin, olives, confit ginger, pineapple, mandarin, peach or grape.

Slices of sausage
You cannot have a Dutch snack board without sausage. There are many kinds of sausages available in the Netherlands, for example “gekookte worst” (literally cooked sausage, similar to rookworst or Frankfurters, but always served cold), “leverworst” (literally liver sausage, abroad sometimes known as liverwurst; a finely ground sausage made with pork liver, meat, fat and spices; available firm (as on the board), or spreadable (often eaten as bread or cracker topping)), “metworst” and “droge worst” (literally dried sausage; spiced air-dried pork sausage, similar to salami, lots of regional varieties available), “grill worst” (grilled sausage, can be made with different kinds of meat, the outside is liberally spiced, can contain bits of cheese (like on the board) or sateh sauce) or “Zeeuws spek” (bacon from the Dutch province Zeeland, bacon marinated in a spice mixture and grilled).

The thinly sliced cold meats that we generally use in the Netherlands as a bread topping are also great for making snacks. Salami can be filled with a tiny gherkin (or quarter larger gherkins lenghtways), or can be spread with herbed cream cheese and rolled. Ham can be filled with some cooked white asparagus, either from a jar or freshly cooked, or can be spread with herbed cream cheese and rolled. Rookvlees (literally smoked meat, salted smoked beef) can be filled with quartered cooked eggs. All these rolls can either be served with a cocktail stick pricked in them, or with a container of cocktail sticks on the side, so that people can prick the snacks they choose themselves. Without cocktail sticks these snacks are a bit unwieldy.

Commonly a few slices of cucumber. Sometimes more vegetables (think crudité) are given with one or more dips. There are dipping sauce mixes available in the supermarkets, or some people make their own simple yoghurt/mayo dip.

Devilled eggs
I make them by taking out the yolks from halved boiled eggs, mashing them with some mayonnaise to make a thick paste, season with salt and pepper and scoop this back in the egg whites. To make them a bit more posh you could add some chopped fresh herbs like parsley and chives, and pipe the filling instead of scooping it into the egg whites. Over here some more variations can be found.

Not on the board

These snacks are commonly served as well, but weren’t on my board, because it only was for a few people.

Savoury snacks
For example different flavours of potato chips, different kinds and flavours of nuts, salty biscuits, pretzels, cheese straws and cheese palmiers (we call them cheese butterflies).

Herring on rye bread
You can put both salted and pickled herring on rye bread. Some people add some raw onions on top, but not everyone likes this.

Small toasts/crackers with topping
There are lots of different crackers available in the supermarkets. The most well known are melba toast and water biscuit/saltine crackers. Toppings can be all kinds of things, for example cheeses (brie, camenbert, port salut, roquefort, etc), salads, pate, (smoked) fish or ossenworst (raw beef sausage). Sometimes these “toastjes” (literally small toasts) are pre-made by the host, but usually the toasts and toppings are placed on the table so people can help themselves.

Raw-ham melon rolls
I think this combination became more popular in the seventies or eighties, when foreign flavour combinations became more popular, and these ingredients became available as well. I like this one a lot, because it is lighter and fresher than most of the other snacks. Unfortunately, I could not find a nice, ripe melon, so I could not make this for my snack board.

A warm snack
Often there is a warm snack for the end of the afternoon. This can be a “bitterbal” or something else from the deep-fryer, small frankfurters with something to dip them in (usually mustard and/or curry sauce), or small meatballs (sometimes with sateh sauce).

Dutch food: Stroopwafelarretjescake

Why would you make something with dry, plain and boring biscuits if you can make it with rich, caramelly, flavoursome stroopwafels? Arretjescake is a traditional Dutch treat, originally made with biscuits, sugar, fat for deep-frying (either beef fat or something plant-based) and cocoa powder, although the exact ingredients are different according to the region, and the same kind of cakes are made in other countries as well. It is not a cake in the traditional sense of the word, and it has to firm in the fridge instead of being baked. It became popular in the Netherlands after the recipe was in a promotional booklet from an oil/fat/margarine factory. The “Nederlandsche Oliefabrieken (NOF) Calvé-Delft” used the booklet, made in comic book style and figuring Arretje Nof as the main character, to promote the use of their products (hence the name of the cake).

I had to search quite a bit for a recipe, because I wanted one that used real chocolate for taste. I also wanted it to contain no eggs, because I was to serve it to a company with some kids present (which can’t safely eat raw eggs, just as pregnant woman, the elderly and immunocompromised people cannot). I also did not want to use beef fat because I was not sure if there would be any vegetarians present, and I dislike the use of margarine-like products so I did not want to use plant-based hard fat for deep-frying as well. But to keep it authentic I wanted to use some kind of hard fat, so I used extra virgin coconut oil. It worked great and gave the whole thing a tiny, mild flavour of coconut. I loved this, and haven’t heard from anyone that didn’t like it, but when you are an intense coconut hater I can imagine that even this tiny bit of coconut flavour is too much. Futhermore I chose a recipe that did not use extra sugar, because using stroopwafels instead of biscuits makes it already sweeter than it would normally be.

It is definitely best to serve this cake in tiny portions because it is so rich, and either directly from the fridge or only about 15 minutes left on room temperature, because it tends to melt quite fast. The fast melting can be a nuisance, but also makes it extra tasty because it makes the cake extra melt-in-the-mouth. Because of the liquid in the chocolate mixture, the stroopwafels get softer and almost melt into the chocolate mixture, and the sweet and creamy chocolate and the caramelly stroopwafels combine perfectly. If you want to make this in advance, you can. Just make sure you cover it well and keep it in the fridge, it should last for a few days.


Inspired on a recipe from Dr. Oetker 1000 Die besten Backrezepte

100 g dark chocolate
200 g milk chocolate
75 g coconut oil
100 g cream
8 g (1 packet) vanilla sugar
400 g (1 packet) stroopwafels

Prepare a muffin tin (20×26) or a cake tin (25×11) by lining it with cling film. Use a muffin tin when you want to serve the arretjescake in small squares (as I did), use a cake tin when you want to serve it in slices.
Chop both chocolates and place it with the coconut oil and the cream in a heat-proof bowl. Place this above a pan with boiling water to melt everything au bain marie. Stir occasionally and take from the heat when molten. Add the sugar and mix well.
Start by placing a layer of stroopwafels in the tin. Cut them according to the size of your tin, I used 2 stroopwafels cut in halve and a whole one placed in the middle. Alternatively you can use mini-stroopwafels or chop up the stroopwafels and place a layer of this in the bottom of the tin. Pour over a thin layer of the chocolate mixture. Place another layer of stroopwafels, then again pour a thin layer of chocolate on top. Repeat until you’ve used up both the stroopwafels and the chocolate mixture.
Place the stroopwafelarretjescake for at least 5 hours in the fridge, but preferably overnight. Use the cling film to release it from the tin after cooling, cut with a sharp knife and serve immediately.

Dutch Food: Sprits cookies

Spritsen are traditional Dutch cookies, that have been baked in the Netherlands from the 16th century onward. Their name (spritzen is German for spouting) comes from the fact that the biscuits are formed by spouting them with a sprits-spout, although nowadays usually a piping bag is used. They are crisp, crumbly and buttery and are eaten either plain, or half covered in chocolate.


From “Blue Band Kookboek Gebak”

200 g butter
125 g fine sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (8 gram)
1 egg
pinch of salt
300 g flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a baking tray.
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla sugar together. Add the egg and mix until incorporated and the batter is fluffy. Add the salt, flour and baking powder and mix until incorporated. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large star shaped tip. Pipe zigzags (like on the photo) on the prepared baking tray, spaced about 5 cm apart to allow for spreading. Alternatively, pipe circles of about 4 cm.
Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool for 30 minutes on the tray, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.