Food

Curried Beef, Leek, and Potatoes

Leeks are one of the most underused vegetables in the United States. Which is a real shame, because it is one of my favorites, and one of the only veggies Loek and I can agree on. I think perhaps leeks are intimidating to most Americans because we never learn to cook them properly. In another post, I will have to show you how I clean and cut leeks, but for this recipe I cheated and used pre-cut leeks. This recipe has special meaning for me because it is the first meal my future mother-in-law made for me. Here is what you need:

Ingredients: Yields 4 servings.

  • 2 cups of chopped leeks. Conventional wisdom will say only the light green and white parts, but if you get a few leaves in there it is okay.

 

  • 500g or 1lb of lean ground beef

 

  • 1tbsp plus 1tsp curry powder

 

  • 1 beef bouillon cup. I use Maggi brand

 

  • 3 cups of peeled boiled potatoes. Pre-cooked is fine

Directions:

Place your ground beef is a large, deep skillet. Brown on medium high heat until almost all done and drain. Move all meat to one side of the pan and add in the leeks. Cook for 4 minutes, moving the leeks around on their side.

Mix the meat and leeks together. Add curry powder and mix. Cook for 2 mins.

 

Add in the bouillon cup, stir around to distribute the flavor. Add in 1 ½ cups of water and simmer for about 10 minutes.


 

 

Place on top of cooked potatoes. Then mash with a fork and voila!

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The Hunt for Worcestershire Sauce

So, here is a rundown of what finding things I need here in Holland normally looks like: I’ll look around for a few weeks, can’t find it, and finally break down and tell my mom that I need it in my next care package. I wait a few more weeks, the item arrives, suddenly I see it all over Utrecht. This has happened more than enough times for there to be a distinctive pattern. I in turn, feel guilty that I made my mom send me something that is apparently readily available here.

I am determined not to let this pattern continue. Which is why, when I began craving Shepard’s Pie two weeks ago, after my Future Mother in Law made one of those one pot meals the Dutch are famous for. Dutch Ovens, anyone? I went on the hunt for one of the important ingredients to my Shepard’s Pie... Worcestershire Sauce. I looked high and low at both of my local supermarkets and found none. I even rode the bus to a Plus Supermarket in De Meern, just so I might be able to find it! And, because as of this week, the supermarket that is closest to me, a 30 minute round-trip walk vs. an hour is closed for remodeling.

I even went so far as to ask my expat buddies on twitter. Who seemed to think I was insane, because it is readily available to them. To make matters worse, every recipe I have looked at this week has called for it! So today, exasperated, I decided to get my butt on the bus and ride to the city center so I could look at the grocers there. Or at least, go to the expat store, and probably pay about 6.00 euros for it.

My first stop was the Albert Heijn attached to the Centraal Station. I figured this was a good bet because it is bigger than the stores in my neck of the woods. After searching and searching, I finally spotted the words: Lea & Perrins, glaring at me in an unfamiliar bottle on the top shelf. Upon further inspection, it did indeed say Worcestershire Sauce. I was temped to grab several bottles, but I just bought one. (Can’t justify the space in our barely there kitchen.) Now that I see it, I wonder if maybe my eyes were looking for the familiar label all along, instead of actually looking for the product itself. Maybe there isn’t a Leidsche Rijn conspiracy against me. Perhaps, I was just too blind to see what was staring at me for the last two weeks.

I guess the moral to this story is, even in a strange land you can find something if you want it bad enough, you just have to really open your eyes and look! Except, maybe skittles. Now, to use my new found treasure to make Hachee(Dutch Beef Stew) tonight. If it turns out well, I might just post the recipe up here. Now, if only I can learn to properly say Worcestershire Sauce, we will be in business!

On Cooking

I love food! It is one of the great passions I have in my life. I love reading about food, talking about food, cooking and baking, experimenting with new flavors, grossing my friends out with my fearless pursuits of interesting exotic flavors, and of course consuming it. (Just don't let me near a red bell pepper, there is nothing more disgusting on this planet than a bell pepper, and the red ones are their own breed of disgusting). Some of my favorite memories come from food, I was fortunate enough to be able to bake my two best friends wedding cakes.

It should come at no surprise then, that over the years, I have acquired a pantheon of cooking supplies. Cookbooks, dishes, measuring cups, decorating tips, whisks, flower nails, and my prized Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer. Naturally, with limited space and bringing just 4 suitcases under 50lbs a piece, certain sacrifices must be made. Instead of transporting about 20 cookbooks to The Netherlands with me, I have been painstakingly writing out the recipes that I like from each of them. Yes, it is time consuming, but I have managed to put all the recipes I want into a two inch binder! I do the same thing with the uncounted multitudes of cooking magazines I had in my possession. All those recipes can be found on the magazines' websites- I've wasted a lot of money over the years. I made Loek check to make sure we have access to each site in Holland and then I write down the title of the recipe I want to try later, along with the issue that it came from. Of course, there are some cookbooks that just contain to many fantastic recipes so I brought those with me and left them with Loek when I was in Holland in April: The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. 

As for the rest, it is simply not coming with me. As much as it pains me, I simply do not have the room. Instead of taking the assorted measuring spoons and cups I had, crammed into several drawers,I purchased on set a piece of truly fantastic peices. I bought a beautiful flower shaped set of measuring spoons and a set of stackable measuring cups in the shape of Matroyshkas dolls. This way, I can measure my American recipes in cups and tablespoons. Everything else, can be bought there gradually, which will be better since my oven is going to be the size of a microwave, and my kitchen in a much more condensed space. My beloved mixer is going to my mom. I hope to eventually get another one for my Dutch apartment, but Loek is in shock of the price and space is limited. 

Thanks to a few new expat friends, I do know to bring baking powder, soda and karo syrup with me, as these things are hard to find in most Dutch grocers. I am sure that cooking using the metric system is going to be its own special challenge and I pledge to keep you posted about it here on my blog. 

*And, why yes, I did make that cake! 

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