Back to my roots.. in the kitchen

Back to my roots.. in the kitchen

So it’s full on dutch fall-weather at the moment, with the sudden bursts of rain, gashes of wind and sudden temperature drops (last week we went from 22°C to 5°C in three days.. crazy!).

Don’t get me wrong, I love this season. from the smell of the fireplace to the crispy coldness on your face when you leave the house in the morning. But I would rather like it to stay sunny. Sunny fall days can be amazingly beautiful, whereas the cloudy days are just plain depressing. (though, obviously, in comparison to hurricane Sandy, this is peanuts.)

The colder and rainier it gets, the more I return to my ‘foodroots’, that is, the dutch winter-cuisine  Because we dutchies sure know how to cook wholesome foods for rainy (or snowy) days. Some can be a bit laborious or time consuming, but it’s always worth it. Since I’m in the middle of exams, I’m trying to come up with good excuses not to study (Procrastination is a bad thing, kids. Don’t try it at home), cooking is always my go-to excuse. Because well, I’ve got to eat, right? And sure, I could whip up something in 15 minutes, but while I’m in the kitchen anyways, I might as well make something worth my time in the kitchen. Which I then try to prolong as much as possible.

My cupboard is pretty stocked, but my freezer is in fact not, so there wasn’t a lot of meat to choose from.
And I know, I know, why not vegetarian then? Mainly because I was in the mood for meat. Also, vegetarian dishes don’t take as long.

After some rummaging through my provisions and a badgering the bf with numerous food-possibilities (to which he all replied: ‘yummy’ and said that everything I make will taste good, so how could he possibly choose?) I decided to go with a dutch classic: meatballs with beetroot/potato mash. And gravy, there’s got to be gravy.

The recipe for meatballs is something that is always up for discussion. People are constantly trying to create the perfect meatball, but I’ve got news for them: there’s no such thing as a perfect meatball! Taste is so personal, my idea of a perfect meatball can differentiate completely from anyone else’s. The taste, that is. We’re all clear on the fact that they have to round and juicy. And there has to be gravy, I can not emphasize this enough.

So, as it usually works for me, I just wing it. And

For the beet/potato mash (serves 2 or 3)
  • about 600 grams (1 lb 5oz.) floury potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 jar or can of 340 gram (12 oz.)  precooked beets, in slices or diced. You could buy fresh beetroots and cook them yourself, but it will take up a lot more time
  • some milk/butter/cream whatever you prefer to smoothen the mash
  • freshly ground sea-salt and black pepper
  • OPTIONAL: bacon bits, baked until crisp
Cook the potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes, and add the beets for the last 5 minutes. Mash everything, and if necessary, add some milk/butter/cream, until the mash has reached the smoothness you prefer. Add the bacon bits, taste, and add salt and pepper.

For the meatballs (4 large, 6 medium-large, or 8 medium sized)

  • 400 grams ground beef (you could use half beef and half pork, it will make the meatballs juicier  but I                       just really like the flavor of beef)
  • a splash of milk
  • a splash of Ketjap Manis
  • 1 egg
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • nutmeg or mace (the spice, obviously, not the spray)
  • 3 or 4 cloves, ground up
  • some smoked paprika powder
  • cayenne pepper, for the extra kick
  • about 3 rusks, crumbled up and pushed through a sieve
  • freshly ground sea-salt and black pepper
In a frying pan, quickly fry the diced shallot in some butter, just until translucent. Add all the ingredients together and mix with your hands, towards the point where you get one consistent meat-mixture  If it turns out to wet or sticky, add a little more rusk. If it turns out to dry, add a little more milk.
Divide the mixture into equally sized pieces, the amount of pieces depends on how large you prefer your meatballs. I went with six. Roll them in the palms of your hands, while applying a little pressure, until you have created a convincing looking meatball (make sure there aren’t any cracks, otherwise they will fall apart)
They look pretty convincing, don’t you think?
Next, place them on a plate and let them sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes. This will give you enough time to peel your potatoes.
After the 20 minutes, melt a decent amount of butter in a slow cooker. When the butter starts to bubble, add the meatballs, one by one, and turn down the stove to a low heat. Carefully turn the balls, until they are browned all over.
Browning them first will give you more flavor, which is always a plus!
Turn up the heat, and add approximately 2 glasses of water to the pan. Stir, and make you sure you scrape the bottom while doing so. Add some bay leaves, extra cloves and perhaps red wine.
A good gravy is another rather personal thing. I added some mustard because I rather like mustard-sauce, but feel free to add whatever you like.
Ready to be simmered into heaven..
Anyway, turn down the heat, place a simmerplate under your pan and let simmer with the lid on. At this point you can start boiling your potatoes. Make sure you turn the meatballs over every now and then, so they are broiled through and through. After about 30 minutes, take the lid of the pan, and slightly turn up the heat so the gravy can boil down to a thicker consistency. Make sure to stir occasionally, so the gravy won’t stick to the pan.
Yum yum, almost good to be eaten!
When your gravy has reached the desired consistency, divide the meatballs, pour a generous amount of gravy on the meatballs and mash, and enjoy!
It may not look pretty, but oh my, it tastes divine!


We sure did. They turned out absolutely amazing, flavorful and so tender they melted on your tongue. Meatball-success accomplished!
Now it’s back to the books for me. Or perhaps I can free up some time to make soup.. I’m sure I’d study a lot better after I’ve had some soup, wouldn’t you agree? I’m starting to think the bf may have been right about me when he commented I have the attention span of three consecutive goldfish..
Anyway, I’m going to try to focus now, we’ll just see how long that will last.
Until next time!

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