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Seasonal Recipes

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SINTERKLAAS RECIPES

Speculaaskruiden

You can buy them ready-mixed in the Netherlands or you can try making your own. They consist of:
cinnamon
powdered cloves
nutmeg
powdered coriander
allspice
aniseed
powdered ginger
powdered cardamon
mace

The proportions are a matter of taste, as are the spices you use, and each baker has his own "secret" blend. The trick is to be careful with the very strong spices, and leave out the ones you don't like!

Pepernoten

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. water
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons of speculaaskruiden*
a pinch of salt

Knead all ingredients into a soft ball. Butter two baking sheets. Form about ninety marble-sized balls and place them on the sheets. Flatten each ball slightly. Bake about 20 minutes in a moderate oven (350 F / 180 C), they will be dark brown, very hard and crunchy when cooled.

Speculaas

3 cups flour
a pinch of baking powder
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
some milk to soften the dough
2 teaspoons of speculaaskruiden*
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup almonds: blanched and slivered. Keep some almond halves for decorating

Knead all ingredients into a soft ball, except the almonds for decorating. Roll out on a floured board to 1/4 inch thickness and stamp out shapes with different butterprints or make a 'gingerbread doll' or cookie. Bake about 25 minutes in a moderate oven (350 F / 180 C), or until an even dark brown.

Bisschopswijn

1 liter red wine
1 lemon
1 orange
20 cloves
2 tbsp. sugar
1 cinnamon stick
a pinch of mace and saffron (optional)

Wash and dry the lemon and orange. Insert 10 cloves into each. Put the wine, sugar, lemon, orange and cinnamon (and the mace and saffron tied in muslin, if you are using them) into a pan. Cover and bring slowy to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow the wine to simmer very gently for approx. 1 hour. Remove the spices and the fruit. Heat the wine again, but do not let it boil. Serve in heat-resistant glasses. Bisschopswijn or mulled wine is a traditional drink on "Sinterklaasavond".

Borstplaat

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light cream
1 1/4 tbsp. butter and some butter for brushing the molds
3 tbsp. fruit-flavored extract or 4 tbsp. instant coffee or 2 tbsp. cocoa

Place tin rings or other open molds on a large piece of wax paper. (Lids of tins may be used as substitutes). Brush paper and molds with softened butter. Put sugar, cream, butter and the coffee or cocoa flavoring in a saucepan (if fruit extract is used, it should be added later). Bring to the boil slowly without stirring, until you get a syrupy substance; this takes about five minutes. A drop of this syrup dropped into a cup of cold water should form a little ball or pea. Remove pan from heat at once (stir in fruit extract). Stir to cool and pour into the prepared molds when the syrup becomes very hard to pour, to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch; the smaller the molds, the thinner the 'borstplaat'. Cool in the molds, then remove. Serve with coffee or tea.

Meringues

3 egg whites
375 grams castor sugar

Preheat the oven at the lowest mark. Clean your mixer and a large bowl with vinegar and paper towels to remove all traces of grease. Beat the egg whites in the clean bowl. When the egg whites are stiff, add two tablespoons of sieved castor sugar. Keep mixing for another minute. Fold the rest of the castor sugar through the mixture. Spoon small mounds of the mixture onto a greased baking tray. Bake the meringues in the preheated oven (still on the lowest mark) for 2 hours. Leave the meringues to cool on a wire rack.

Marzipan

Mix 250 grams of ground almonds with 400 grams of sieved icing sugar. Knead the almonds, castor sugar and 3 or 4 tablespoons rose water into a supple dough. Wrap in plastic or aluminum foil and allow to rest in a cool place overnight. Make figurines of the marzipan.
If you wish, you can color the marzipan with food coloring.

Taai Taai (Gingerbread)

Mix 300 grams honey with half an egg. Knead this into a supply dough, with 300 grams sieved flour, 12 grams baking powder and 10 grams ‘speculaas’ spices. Allow the dough to rest for at least 12 hours. Roll the dough between two greased sheets of baking paper, to approx. 1 cm thickness, and cut out shapes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 200 degrees in a preheated oven.  

CHRISTMAS RECIPES

Almond Pastry Ring

Almond paste
3/4 cup blanched and peeled almonds
cup sugar
1 egg
peel of 1 lemon
(Ready-made) puff pastry

Decoration
Apricot preserve, icing (with a little lemon juice) and, for instance, candied red and green cherries, candied orange peel, chocolates and red ribbon.

The filling is best made a month in advance! Grind the almonds and mix well with the lemon rind, the sugar and the egg. If the paste is too solid, you can add some water.

Make your own puff pastry or use ready made sheets. Roll the pastry into a long strip of 4mm thick and 10 centimeters wide. Shape the almond paste into a roll which is about the same length. Place this roll on the dough, a little above the center. Loosely wrap the dough around the roll, moisten the sides to stick together. Turn the roll; the join is now at the bottom. Shape the roll into a circle (or a letter). Brush with beaten egg. Bake in a 450 F oven for 15 minutes, until golden-brown. When done, brush the ring thinly with the preserve and, while still hot, coat with the icing. Leave to cool and decorate with the candied cherries, candied orange peel, chocolates and ribbon.

Advocaat (Dutch Eggnog)

10 Eggs
1/2 Level teaspoon salt
275 g Sugar
4 dl Cognac
1 1/2 level teaspoons vanilla essence

Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with the salt and the sugar, until the mixture is thick and creamy. Beat in the cognac, very slowly and put the mixture into a double saucepan. Heat gently, whisking all the time until the advocaat is warm (not hot) and thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla essence. Pour
into a jug. Advocaat is served in a glass and eaten with a teaspoon. It can also be topped with whipped cream.

Christmas Stollen

250 grams sieved flour
25 grams yeast
125 grams butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 dl milk
5 grams salt
25 grams sugar
200 grams steeped raisins
100 grams steeped currants
50 grams candied peel pieces
20 grams chopped candied orange peel
80 grams almond paste
peel of 1 lemon
caster sugar

Grease a baking tray with butter. Mix the raisins, currants, candied peel and chopped candied orange peel in a bowl. Mix the almond paste, the egg yolk and the lemon rind in a second bowl. Shape this latter mixture into a roll.
Make a yeast dough of the flour, the lukewarm milk, butter, yeast, salt, sugar and the egg. Leave this to rise for 10 minutes in a warm place, under plastic foil. Work the filling, including the raisins, currants, etc., through the dough. Leave to rise for another 10 minutes. Shape the dough into an oblong bread. Put the almond paste inside the bread and fold closed. Cover the dough with plastic foil and stand to rise on the baking tray for 10 minutes. Bake the Christmas bread in a 190 C oven for 40 minutes. As soon as you have taken the bread out of the oven, brush with butter and dust with caster sugar. Stand to cool on a wire rack. The bread keeps for a fortnight in a plastic bag.

Christmas Cookies (Kerstkransjes)

2 cups flour
2/3 cup butter or margarine
cup sugar
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. baking powder
grated peel of lemon
salt
1 egg
rock sugar
cup of shelled almonds

Knead flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, lemon peel and salt into a soft ball and leave to stand for one hour. Roll out sections of the dough on a floured board to 1/8 inch thickness and cut our circles with a 2 inch tumbler. Place cookies on a buttered baking sheet, then cut out the centre with a small round object such as a timble. Remove these centres and use them to make more cookies. Coat dough "wreaths" with beaten egg and sprinkle them with a mixture of rock sugar and blanched, chopped almonds. Bake about 15 - 20 minutes in a 350 F. oven until golden brown. Leave to cool an sheet until no longer soft. Remove and cool further on wire rack. Pass gaily-coloured ribbons through the holes and hang them on the Christmas tree.

 NEW YEARS RECIPES

Duivekater (A Sweet Bread)

500 grams flour
100 grams sugar
75 grams butter or margarine
2 dl water
40 grams yeast
1 lemon
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt

Legend has it that ‘Duivekater’ was an offering bread originally which was prepared in the period between Saint Nicholas and Epiphany. Grate the lemon peel. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Sift the flour above a bowl, make a well in the middle. Add the yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar and a splash of warm water. Beat this mixture with a fork until smooth, add the rest of the water and add 1/4 of the flour. Knead the dough for 1 minute and cover with some of the remaining flour. Leave the bowl in a warm place for approx. 20 minutes. Add the rest of the sugar, the grated lemon peel, the butter and the salt. Knead the dough well for 8-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic foil and leave to rise at room temperature for 1 hour. Grease a baking tray. Dust the working surface, the dough and your hands with flour. Flatten the ball and roll into a 40-50 centimeter oblong shape with pointy tips. Transfer it to the baking tray, cover with a dry cloth and leave to rise for 15 minutes. Slash both tips 3 times for a length of approx. 10 centimeters and curl in the strips which result. Carve figures into the dough with a sharp knife. Brush the dough with beaten egg and leave to rise for a further 15 minutes. Preheat the oven for 10-15 minutes at 200 C. Brush the dough with some more egg and bake the Duivekater golden-brown in the middle of the oven in 25-30. Cool the bread on a wire rack.

Oliebollen (Deep-fried Doughnuts)

50 grams raisins
50 grams currants
2.5 dl milk
250 grams flour
5 grams salt
12 grams yeast
1/2 egg
(optional: 25 grams finely cut candied orange or apple peel)
oil

Wash and dry the currants and raisins. Dissolve the yeast in a little lukewarm milk. Mix the flour with the salt, make a well in the middle. Work the rest of the milk, the egg and the yeast into the flour. Beat well until you have a smooth batter, continue beating for a few minutes until the batter falls off the spoon in blobs. Stir the currants, raisins, candied peel and/or apple peel through the batter. Cover with a moist cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for approx. 1 hour (e.g. on a radiator). Fill half a (chip) pan with oil and heat to approx. 170 C (330 F). Grease two spoons and shape balls of the batter, drop into the hot oil. Fry for approx. 3 minutes, turning as necessary until done and golden-brown. Do not fry too many at a time; the temperature of the oil should remain constant, otherwise the doughnuts will turn out greasy. Drain the doughnuts on absorbent paper and serve hot with caster sugar.

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