Fall Cooking

This year I have tried to do more cooking with typically Dutch ingredients. Fall is amazing because pumpkins are available everywhere. I discovered last year how much I love pumpkin. I’ve made pumpkin black bean chili, pumpkin curry, and pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin chickpea stammpot is next on my list to make. This year I decided to expand the variety of vegetables I cook. I began with an aardpeer soup.

Aardpeer – I discovered this vegetable after seeing it in a recipe. Aardpeer is a small, ugly root with a bark-like skin. Peel off the skin then roast them or blend them up in a soup. Roasted they take on a nutty flavor but I found that in soup they taste similar to potato. Mike was underwhelmed by the flavor.

Aardpeer. These are about the length of my pinkie.
Aardpeer. These are about the length of my pinkie.

Boerenkool, or kale to English speakers, is a Dutch staple. They will put it in everything from stammpot to ovenschotel (a hearty casserole style dish). I recently made a boerenkool stammpot with fennel seeds. It tasted strongly of fennel which is great – if you like fennel. Next time I’d replace the fennel with another herb or seasoning. At some point I want to try boerenkool in a quiche or casserole.

Next on my list to try:

Venkel (fennel root) – A friend swears it is much milder and tastes better than the seeds. He suggested to chop it up and roast it or saute it. This is almost always available at the store or market and the Dutch put it in everything from salad to casserole or even by itself as a side dish.

Also popular this time of year are

Paddenstoelen* (mushrooms) – The Dutch will often refer to them as champignons** (yes, they use the French word and no, I don’t know why). Originally I thought this was to differentiate between the plain button mushrooms (paddenstoelen) and chanterelles (champignons) but then I saw a bag of button mushrooms labeled champignons. So who knows? I really enjoy the flavor of mushrooms and would cook them more if Mike liked them.

Mussels – Given my dislike for shellfish and paranoia about cooking seafood I will not try to cook them.

*Interesting side note in Dutch padden are toads. So paddenstoelen are literally toad chairs which is similar to the English toadstools.

**To my Dutch friends reading this: if you know why people use champignons instead of paddenstoelen let me know.

Herfst

Fall or herfst in the Netherlands is full of gold leaves, pumpkins, and (like the rest of the year) rain. Now that I have experienced all four seasons in the Netherlands, I can safely say fall is my favorite. The market and stores are full of small pumpkins (only a few pounds). After seeing them everywhere (and finding some recipes I wanted to try), I bought a pumpkin. One night I made a nice pumpkin risotto and a pumpkin curry another. Savory pumpkin is definitely the way to go. I wish I had tried them sooner.

pompoen

Believe it or not this is the first year I have cooked or carved a pumpkin. Over Halloween I carved my first jack o’lantern. Mine is the one in the middle. It wasn’t as difficult to carve a pumpkin as I had imagined but it wasn’t exactly easy to guide the knife either.

pompoen gezicht

While I have been enjoying the pumpkins, I do miss being able to get fresh apple cider and donuts.