Local Heart, Global Soul

November 30, 2012

Ingredient Search: Shortening

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In my quest to recreate a “proper” Kiwi-style meat pie in the Netherlands , I’ve come up against a few obstacles.

One of them was obtaining metal baking forms to get the classic pie shape. After searching high and low in the Netherlands (understandably) without success because there is no meat pie culture here,  I put it these baking forms my shopping list for our next trip to New Zealand and subsequently bought some in Christchurch New Zealand.

The other thing I was having trouble finding was shortening… a.k.a. lard.

Incorporating a small amount of shortening/lard into your shortcrust  pastry is what gives a flaky crisp bite to the crust rather than a soggy weak doughy mush… but finding shortening was turning out to be more of the hassle than I first thought.

First I asked in the supermarket… big mistake. I was directed to a block of  “bakboter ” which I know is a sort of cooking butter that I know my aunts like to fry meat in. I really didn’t think sounded right for my pastry at all but the lady pulled over a colleague and they both  insisted that this is what shortening was in the Netherlands.  I took some home and made pastry with it on more than one occasion… the pastry survived and was edible but it was light-years away from my Kiwi meat pies in taste.

Knowing that my pastry still wasn’t right my next step was to contact a butcher… and confirmed that what I needed wasn’t bakboter, but  “reuzel” (translates literally as pig or beef fat, lard, shortening).

I now have reuzel sourced from several butchers… if you want to get hold of some, be warned that some butchers no longer stock it because demand is so low these days.

Some would order it for me, one butcher said he only stocks a packet or two at a time and we got the last packet.  Another butcher had two packets and we took both. In all instances the reuzel  was frozen, so be prepared to buy it when you can get  back home in time to get it  into your freezer before it thaws.

One packet cost about Euro 2,50 for 250 grams, the other two at roughly the same weight (pictured in blocks) was a bit cheaper.

Ok, it’s fat, but shortening is also fat (just with a more politically correct name) and yes I have made several test-runs of pastry with shortening in it. The taste was a lot like the classic Kiwi meat pie that I’ve been missing from home.

Bearing in mind that making the pies is labour intensive and is nowhere on any health-food list,  I won’t be making them very often, but when I do I want them to taste like the real thing  and not some lacklustre  imposter, so I figure that the use of a little bit of shortening can be excused now and again.

So if you want to make  savoury pie with a crisp and flaky shortcrust pastry,  get friendly with your local butcher and find yourself some reuzel .

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My recipe called or half shortening and half margarine…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 24, 2011

Ingredient Search: Food Colouring and Flavouring…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Two of the things that home bakers  find hard to obtain in The Netherlands are food colourings and artificial flavourings.

In very recent times, there has been a small explosion in the amount of baking items on Dutch supermarket shelves, cake decorations different sorts are available, and pre-packaged icings (glazes) are available in a few limited colours, but if you just want the actual food colours so that you can make a Birthday Cake or playdough etc of your own design and colour scheme then you won’t be finding the food colourings anywhere close at hand in the baking section or anywhere else in the shop either.

I’ve bought food colouring back with me from my trips to New Zealand and have also gotten it from expat shops like “Thomas Green’s” http://www.thomasgreen.eu/shops/nl/denhaag   and “Kelly’s Expat Shop”     http://www.kellys-expat-shopping.eu/  here in The Hague but have also found myself wondering: “Where have the Dutch traditionally gone to get food colouring when they needed it? ”

The answers appears to depend very much on where you live in The Netherlands…  and the answers are many and varied.

Your first stop in your Food colouring search may well be your local neighbourhood Bakery. “De Banketbakker”  (The Patissier).

Banketbakkers usually make Birthday cakes to order and use food colouring in their marzipan work etc, but they tend to buy their food colouring in commercial quantities  so if you come armed with small bottle(s) with your request,  they may be  inclined to sell you a small amount.

Each local baker is different so maybe build up a repore  with the bakery first and take care to not  go at the shops busiest  time of day when the customers are four deep at the counter and  maybe your request will be met with a  favourable response.

You won’t have to have lived in The Netherlands long to have discovered a local ‘Toko“. The actual word “Toko” means “shop” in Malay, but ask any Dutch person how to find one and you will be directed to a shop that sells Indonesian, Surinamese and other various Asian products.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Quite often there will be a  small deli of freshly made Asian (usually Indonesian)  food for you to buy too.

Some Toko’s sell food colouring but since they are all individually owned and run and what’s stocked is up to individual owners, you will have to take pot luck with this one and try a few. Geography plays a big part in success if this one, but who knows? … you might just hit the jackpot at a Toko close to you.

I have heard that some Turkish supermarkets also stock food colouring… it’s much the same hit and miss deal as with the Toko’s, with the one difference that there are a heap more Toko’s spread throughout the Netherlands than Turkish supermarkets.

One strange place to look (yes I think it is strange) is a nationwide chain of shops called “Pipoo’s”. It’s strange because Pipoo’s are a primarily a Craft Shop and are usually where you would get craft paper, pens and the like. Suddenly cake baking and decorating is apparently an art form, because Pipoo’s have a small but rather amazing selection of cake making supplies.

Either pop along to a Pippo’s near you or browse their internet site (Dutch language only and it’s not really intuitive, so here are a few hints)

Pipoo’s  http://www.pipoos.nl/  (click on: “webwinkel”->“taart en cupcakes” ->” bakmixen en fondants” (page2+) for ready to use rolling fondants and marzipan in various colours)   To find any of the 30+ branches thoughout the Netherlands:  http://www.pipoos.nl/winkeladres.php?Sort=13

Click on “bakvormen uitstekers”  if you are looking for any unusual cookie forms and rollers and on “toebehoren”  ( pages 3,4,5 etc   for food colour pens and “verf poeder” (colour powders) and liquid food colours.

Several other places cropped up when I did my research:  “The Jumbo” supermarket in Zwolle is said to have food colouring, as are the small chain of   “de boerenbond” shops    http://www.boerenbond-welkoop.nl/advies/advice.html?id=72496 (yes I know, another strange one as  it seem that this is an extra section in a shop where you’d normally pick up a garden shed, tools and rubber boots)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Of course the Internet is on hand   … if you know the correct search terms.

For  colourings try: de geur- en kleurstoffen,   evensmiddelenkleurstof,  voedings kleurstof,  kleurstoffen

For flavourings try: smaakstof

I did a quick search and came up with these, but you should be able to find something near you.

Cookie Cottage (Utrecht) http://www.cookiecottage.nl/

Taartwinkeltje (Eindhoven) http://www.taartwinkeltje.nl/  (large ranges in different size selections)

De Zuidmolen  (Groesbeek)   http://www.de-zuidmolen.nl/

de Peperbol (Amsterdam) http://www.depeperbol.nl/ (concentrated and in powder form)

Duikelman (Amsterdam) http://www.duikelman.nl/  (extracts, fondants, ready to use icings, Wilton decorations)

A.J. Van der Pigge   (Haarlem)   http://www.vanderpigge.nl/ (Note: I could only find the colour blue on their website but there is a note to say that the website is under construction so there’s a fair chance that not all stock is on the website yet.  Heck if you live near this one I’d say it’s worth a visit  just  to enjoy the fabulous beauty of an old fashioned drugist!)

Oldenhof  (Hilversum)  http://www.kookwinkel.nl/  (click the “Food” tab)  They have extracts, fondants, ready to use icings, and colourings.

I can’t personally vouch for any of these later links, I haven’t been to any of them: but if you have, or even better, if you can extend my list of places in The Netherlands where Food colouring and Flavourings can be obtained then I’ve love to hear from you in the comments so that I can make a comprehensive list here as a resource for  my readers.

Many Thanks to reader Anastasi who recommended both  http://www.jamin.nl    (many branches nationwide) and  www.deleukstetaartenshop.nl  (6 shops nationwide) for colour pastes and baking supplies.

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