Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Dutch Culinary Art - 400 Years of Festive Cooking" - Carrot Soup in honor of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge's trip to the Netherlands

Date I made this recipe:  October 13, 2016 – Duchess Catherine visits the Netherlands

Dutch Culinary Arts – 400 years of festive cooking by Janny de Moor, Nico de Rooij, and Albert Tielemans
Published by Dutch Culinary Art Foundation
ISBN:  90-902442-6-3; copyright 2009
Purchased at the Strand (Bookstore), NYC, 2013
Recipe:  Carrot Soup (Wortelsoep) – p. 64

Unlike the Queen of England, I am often easily amused.  This week's amusement, and the reason why I cooked from this "Dutch" cookbook, is because the foreign media went nuts reporting on this "breaking" news:  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (married to Prince William), took a solo trip to the Netherlands for the day.

I know, right?  Breaking!  Riveting!  How did she do it!  Travel by herself?  The hell you say!

The stated purpose of said solo trip, I think, was to meet with the King of the Netherlands and to take in the sights of The Hague and Rotterdam, which included visits to art galleries.  Catherine has a degree in the history of art, which is not to be confused with a degree in Art History which is what we "heathen" Yanks call it, and so traveling to art galleries makes sense for her, does it not?  It does.

The "unofficial" purpose of this trip was to see if she could hold her own without other royal family members around to support her.  Guess she passed and that is a good thing:  I was so worried for her. ;)

But who are we kidding?  We may be interested in art, and she may be interested in art, but the press and the public are pretty much only interested in "Who is she wearing?"

I would hate to be her.  I would hate to have every outfit I wear, every hairstyle I adopt, and every accessory I choose be evaluated and found wanting.  I mean, on any given day, I can be a walking wounded when it comes to looking presentable but I am not a Duchess am I?  Nay, I say!

That said, I cannot, in good conscience, move on to talking about the cookbook without noting a few of my "go-to" celebrity websites I visit for all the dirt on what our gal, Catherine, is wearing.

  • – These two guys, Tom and Lorenzo, crack me up with their biting wit and spot-on commentary about celebrity fashion of which they consider "Cathy Cambridge" one.  And "Bill (William)."  In general, they like her outfits but do wish she would give up the ghost on her beige pumps which she wears with just about everything.  I agree.  Other royal women have branched out in the shoe department so why not her?  Anyway, Tom and Lorenzo's commentary –some might say bitchy sarcasm – cracks me up but at least they do have enough sense to treat "Cathy" with respect even if they wish she was wearing something else.  (A recent posting:  "Cathy Cambridge's Dusty Roses" where they discuss a rose colored flowered dress she wore last week for an outing with "Bill.")

  • People Magazine –   People magazine has been discussing royals and royalties since their founding, yet from the get-go, People has insisted on referring to the Duchess as Princess Kate and despite outraged comments from readers, they don't seem to be too inclined to refer to her as anything else.  (Not that the other side of the pond is any better:  The [London] Daily Mail continues to refer to her as "Kate Middleton." Sigh.)

For the record, she is not a Princess.  I mean technically yes, but if I may, let's walk through the British monarchy and play "What's in a name?"

In England, if a non-royal (Catherine) marries a royal prince, she could adopt his name and be known as Princess William.  I don't know why that is but it is and good for her for not going that route because it's...silly.  As an example, Prince Michael of Kent is the Queen's cousin.  His wife is known as Princess Michael of Kent, even though her first name is Marie Christine.

Quite often, when British royalty marry, the new couple is granted another title like Duke [of Earl!] or the Earl of "Earldom" in which case, the women are known as [first name], Duchess/Countess of "Whatsis."  So even though William is a prince, he is also the Duke of Cambridge and Catherine is known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  William's Uncle Edward (Prince Edward) was given the title Earl of Wessex when he married and so his wife, Sophie, is Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Uncle Andrew (Prince Andrew) is the Duke of York and former wife, Sarah Ferguson, was Sarah, Duchess of York. (Great—now I have that classic song, Duke [Duke, Duke, Duke] of Earl on my mind!)

And so in conclusion, dear reader, given all that, Princess Kate is not Princess Kate and shall never technically be Princess Kate (or Princess Catherine) and that's that, and People is wrong for doing so! Bother! Moving on...

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, toured some of the Netherland's finest art galleries while on her solo journey, and much was made of the fact that she wore the "same" earrings as the woman in Johannes Vermeer's famous paining, The Girl with the Pearl Earring (which was also a title of a movie with the same name starring Scarlett Johansson).  The very same as in "what freaking [royal] nerve!"  Or perhaps the opposite -  a nod to her hosts, the Dutch, or she was simply feeling in a pearl kind of mood that day, we don't know.  We do know though, that she saw many more works than just the pearl earring painting and it was probably fun for her to see these things up close and personal instead of in a textbook.  In fact, the next time I'm in the Netherlands, I'd like to spend some time touring art galleries as I haven't had the chance on other trips.

And so speaking of art (You see, we got here eventually!), this cookbook, Dutch Culinary Art, showcases all kinds of artwork related to food and includes paintings by the masters as well as posters, cookbook covers, advertisements and the like.  It also includes some photos to bring us a better historical perspective.

The book is also divided into time periods that add to our overall understanding of Dutch culinary trends and Dutch history.  It starts with "Two very old dishes," and then breaks out into "Ten recipes from 1900-1909," and then "Ten recipes from" subsequent decades all the way until 1999.  There are also two special menus from 2000-2009 when the book was published.

Today's carrot soup recipe is from the chapter: 1920-1929 – The end of lower-class cookery.  The book it came from is De Vegetarische Keuken Door or, The Vegetarian Kitchen Door.  Color me surprised that a vegetarian cookbook existed that far back.  I learn something every day!

As you might expect, the chapters from the 1930-1939 and 1940-1949, are all about economizing during both the Depression and World War II.  I always remember Anne Frank's account of dining while hiding from the Nazi's, and all the challenges they had in obtaining food in her book, The Diary of a Young Girl.  As a side note, I toured the Anne Frank House while in Amsterdam many years ago but had a severe migraine and only remember wanting to just lie down someplace with a cold pack on my head.

By the time we get to the 60's and 70's, other countries' cuisines started to creep into Dutch restaurants and kitchens and so in these chapters are recipes for Spanish and French food.  There's even a recipe for "Creole Lobster Tail" although I have to say that none of the ingredients resembles anything close to an American Creole dish.

Hilariously, "Kate's Mustard Soup" recipe can be found on page 140.  It's a simple dish but I passed on making it as that would have been too obvious, right? Plus, the recipe didn't interest me at all.

Neither did all the recipes for eel – practically a Dutch national dish – or the recipe for "Jellied cured side of pork."  Pass.  A recipe for "mild sauerkraut soup" sounded tempting for about two seconds but didn't make the cut.

Several recipes that might have made the cut also fell at the last minute because I would have needed to find and then used "double cream."  I Googled this item and found that not only is it difficult to find in the US, but heavy whipping cream is not the best substitute as it is too light which sounds crazy but is true.  Heavy whipping cream contains about 36% of butter fat, but double cream contains 48-60% and I just didn't know a way to "fix" this.

Since this soup recipe called for a mere two tablespoons of double cream (or one tablespoon since I made half the recipe), I didn't think I would ruin it by using heavy whipping cream and I didn't.  Problem solved! Plus, and I am so chuffed about this, the recipe called for carrots, potatoes and leeks, and I just happened to have just enough of all three for this recipe.  I feel like such a thrifty chef!

I must confess that my first taste of this very easy soup was rather bland and I wasn't sure the final dish would be any better, but you know what?  It grows on you.  I also wasn't sure that adding cream to a dish containing lemon juice would work either, but I was once again wrong.  Andy declared it quite delicious which is always a relief as he would tell me if I flunked the day's cooking attempts.

And so we had ourselves this Dutch carrot soup and it was good.  Because it was a pureed soup, it wasn't necessarily filling, but we managed as we always do.

As to the cookbook, I think this is a fun book to have on hand if you like a) the Netherlands, b) cooking art and c) cooking.  This one ticked all the boxes and I learned a few things to boot, including all things Dutch, and hopefully after playing "What's in a [British royal] name,"  you learned some things as well.  Can't beat that, quite, quite, quite.

Carrot Soup – serving size not given but half the recipe made several cups
9 oz carrots, scraped (Ann's Note:  I put them in a mini food processor)
7 oz potatoes, peeled
1 ¾ oz white of leek
4 cups water
Salt and pepper
1 tabelspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons double cream (Ann's Note:  use heavy whipping cream)
Cubes of stale white bread, fried or grilled

Cook the chopped carrot, potato and leek  in the water with a little salt and pepper until very soft.

Sieve the soup, mash the vegetables, stir the puree into the vegetable broth and season well with salt and pepper (or if you like soy sauce, marmite and salt, no pepper!)  Keep hot without boiling.  Just before serving stir in lemon juice and cream, and sprinkle generously or sparingly with parsley.

Top with fried or grilled bread cubes.

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