Amsterdam is a city most people visit for just a few days. For some people visiting Amsterdam is a spur of the moment decision, for others a trip they’ve been planning for a long time. Whatever kind of traveler you are, it can be hard to find your way around Amsterdam. There is so much going on: bikes everywhere, all those canals and don’t get me started on the language.
One thing we missed when we were traveling, was really knowing where to find the best brunch, bites or beers in the cities we visited. If you ever felt this way and you’re visiting Amsterdam any time soon, this one is for you. We made you an Amsterdam eatinerary. This eatinerary takes you out of the city center and into parts of Amsterdam that are not to be missed.
This place is very cool. It has an amazing breakfast/brunch menu, the service is outstanding and the food is beautiful. There is a queue outside and they don’t take reservations. We only had to wait ten minutes before we were seated but if you have to wait longer, do it. It’s totally worth the wait.
Biertuin means beer garden. Which is exactly what this is: a garden filled with tables where they serve beer and good food. This is a spot where you’ll want to stay all evening so don’t make any other plans.
If you’re ever coming to Amsterdam and have any questions on where to stay, what to do and where/what to eat, don’t hestitate to send me a message!
[disclaimer: This piece is part of the momondo experiences series. Momondo asked us to find a unique local experience and to write about it. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Sparrow in Space possible]
Cumin-spiked carrot and chickpea salad – This is a personal favorite. Nick kind of likes it but not as much as I do. Instead of just cooking the chickpeas I roast them in the oven with some salt, cumin powder and olive oil.
Hoisin caramelized salmon and sesame soba noodle bowl – This salmon is so good! I was never a broccoli or brussels sprouts fan but ever since this recipe I am converted. I also add some raw shredded carrot, because I love carrot. Side note: I discovered our dog Zena is very passionate about raw broccoli and will do anything to get some. It’s like doggy crack.
Mini polenta pizza’s – Polenta, I’m not sure if I like you but made into a tiny pizza you are quite delicious. Instead of rainbow chard I used spinach.
We try to make a new recipe every day. With the help of Pinterest and a lot of awesome food bloggers, we collect recipes and try them. Most recipes get used only once, but these are some of the recipes that we have made again (and again). Try them and let me know what you think. I hope you love them as much as I did!
Usually, Nick does all of the baking. He’s really good at it and enjoys doing it. But there are days where I crave something sweet and Nick isn’t around to bake me something magical. On those days I get out my rolling-pin and try my hand on a recipe. This time I tried making Sticky Cinnamon Scones. The recipe I used didn’t have any measures for the filling, so this is roughly what I used. If it doesn’t work out the first time, experiment a little. Once you get it right, it’s really good.
Sticky Cinnamon Scones
350 grams of self-raising flour
100 grams of cold butter
150 ml of buttermilk
a bit of salt
1 egg, beaten
80 grams of melted butter
4 table spoons of brown sugar
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
a hand of raisins
a hand of any kind of nuts you have lying around. chopped roughly. I used walnuts and almonds.
Heat your oven to 180°C.
Melt the butter for the filling, and mix it with the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside
In a big bowl, mix the flour with the butter and salt until it looks like coarse sand. Now add the buttermilk bit by bit until you get a supple dough.
Roll the dough into a ball and flour your surface. Roll out the dough until it’s about half a centimeter thick, while trying to keep it square. The thinner your dough is, the better.
Brush the melted butter/sugar on the dough. Cover the dough with the nuts and raisins.
Now roll up your dough so that it resembles some sort of sausage.
Grease up a baking dish. Cut the dough sausage in six equal parts and snuggle them together on their sides in the baking tin. Brush with some beaten egg and bake your scones for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Serve the scones with cold butter, whipped cream or unsweetened crème fraîche. They are also very yummy when you eat them piping hot straight out of the oven (totally burned my mouth on one).
One of the things we wanted to do differently when we got back from our trip was to spend more time growing and making our own food. We haven’t been able to grow anything yet because it’s winter but we’ve been busy making most of our food from scratch. Our favorite home-made recipes so far are tortillas and this yoghurt.
The recipe for this yoghurt comes from Home Made Winter, where we also got the recipe for the Ontbijtkoek. For our first batch we followed the recipe, for our second batch we experimented a bit. For our next batch, we’re going to try adding some flavors. We’ll keep you posted.
1 liter fresh organic milk (you can use goat milk to make goat yoghurt, or raw milk from a friendly farmer for extra thick yoghurt)
200 ml of fresh organic yoghurt. You will need store-bought yoghurt for your first batch. Make sure it has live bacteria cultures.
Disinfect your containers by boiling them or putting them in the oven at a 120°C for over 10 minutes. Do not do this with plastic containers. We used Weck jars because they’re the standard for this kind of stuff in the Netherlands and readily available.
Heat up 1 liter of milk in a pan until it reaches exactly 40°C. Use a cooking thermometer to make sure you get the temperature right. Turn off the heat.
Add a little of the warm milk to the yoghurt and mix until it’s fluid, making sure there aren’t any lumps.
Mix in the yoghurt mixture with the warm milk.
Fill the jars with the yoghurt mixture.
Heat the oven to 40°C and put the jars in without their lids. Let them sit in the oven for about six hours. Resist the temptation to open the oven door. The yoghurt needs some quiet time to make love to those live bacteria cultures you put in there, so leave it alone.
After six hours you can take the jars out. Cover them with a lid or plastic wrap and put them in the fridge over night so the yoghurt can cool down and stiffen.
Our first batch was pretty nice, but it gets better every time you make new yoghurt with your previous batch.
Now this recipe makes about 1,2 liters of yoghurt, but when you try to make Greek yoghurt you will end up with less. To do this, strain your batch through cheesecloth for an hour or three while it’s cooling down. Mix well when you think it’s thick enough.
A dear friend gave us this cookbook Home Made Winter for Christmas and we love it. It’s not just a bunch of recipes, it’s a collection of things you need to know when making everything from scratch. We also own Home Made which tells you how to Home Make just about everything. It’s by a Dutch woman so it includes a lot of typical Dutch recipes. Such as this Ontbijtkoek-recipe.
Ontbijtkoek (click here for pronunciation) or pain d’epiche is literally translated breakfastcookie and it’s a lot like gingerbread. In Holland, people eat it for breakfast, lunch or as a snack. Because it’s kind of sticky, people eat it with butter.
We’d never made ontbijtkoek before, but we like how it turned out. Here’s our version of Ontbijtkoek. We altered the original recipe a bit. I like my ontbijtkoek spicy.
400 grams of self-raising flour
2 teaspoons of ginger powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of coriander powder
a pinch of allspice
a pinch of salt
200 ml of whole milk
100 grams of brown sugar (see note)
75 grams of honey
75 grams of maple syrup
Heat up your oven to 150°C. Butter up your baking tin.
Get out your mixing bowl and add all the ingredients. Mix it with a whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour it into your baking tin. When your oven is ready, put your Ontbijtkoek in the oven for about an hour.
When done, let it cool on a rack. Cooled down? Wrap it up to make sure it stays nice and sticky. As with most cakes, it’s better the day after baking so control yourself!
Note: This recipe calls for basterdsuiker. Basterdsuiker is a typical Dutch product. It is made by adding invert sugar and caramel to fine white refined sugar. This mixture helps to achieve certain textural structures and keeps baked goods moist. There are three varieties, white, brown and dark brown. Although there is some discussion about this, I’m of the opinion you can use muscovado sugar to replace it.
It took me quite a while to realize this is a hard dish to shoot. I made it, ate it and I loved it. I made it again, prepped everything, waited for the light to be just perfect in our kitchen (the roof of our kitchen is all windows, it’s a dream). Anyway, I waited for the light to be just right and took some test shots. Nothing yet. I took a couple of hundred pics. Nope. Still nothing. It was only when I started editing them that I realized this dish was missing some greens. I could have started over but there weren’t any greens in the recipe and this recipe is mucho tasty like this.
Our friend, who is the chef at Aangenaam, a local organic restaurant, started a new business venture not so long ago. It’s called Aangenaam Thuis (thuis means: at home). It’s for people who want to cook tasty and healthy but lack time or inspiration to go to the supermarket and put together a meal. They deliver a bag to your house, stuffed with practically everything you need to make two healthy meals for two people, including the recipes. All ingredients are fair trade, organic and some of them local. They offered us a bag to try! Here’s one of the recipes so you can try it at home:
250 grams of ground lamb meat
1 eggplant, cut into slices of a little less than a centimeter
500 grams of potatoes, each potato cut into eight pieces
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
juice and zest of an organic lemon
Preheat the oven at 200°C. Put the potatoes on a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil, rosemary and coarse sea salt. Put it in the oven for 40 minutes or until nice and golden brown.
In the meanwhile, get out your grilling pan. Drizzle some olive oil on the eggplant slices and grill them evenly on both sides. Put the eggplant aside when you’re done grilling.
Put some olive oil in a medium-sized pan and fry your onions slightly. Add the garlic and cinnamon and sauté until the garlic starts to color.
Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, ground lamb and oregano. Sauté until the ground lamb is browned. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When your potatoes look like they only need 10 more minutes in the oven, get your eggplant ready! Lay them in an oven dish and fill them with the ground lamb meat. Roll them up and put them in the oven for about 8 minutes. Take out the eggplant rolls and potatoes and enjoy.
// Vegetable lentil soup – this is so good and filling and warm. Hands down the best lentil soup I have ever had.
// Spinach date and almond salad – a summertime favorite, but it’s good in fall as well. Shutterbean is one of my favorite resources for good recipes. We have tried a lot of her recipes and she has never let us down. All of her recipes are tasty.
// Coconut rice with peas and more – holy crap. I could eat this everyday. It’s comfort food at it’s best. It has loads of veggies, no crazy calories and the feeling of indulgence.
I don’t know about you but I get really angry when I’m hungry. Sometimes after a long day of work, I don’t want to think about what to make for dinner. I just want something to eat. For those days, I like to have a few recipes I can fall back on. The only condition is that they are tasty. I switch up recipes every other month or so, but some recipes stick. These are four of my current favorite fallback recipes. There is one more recipe that I really really love. It has the best pasta in the world, gnocchi. Full recipe including pictures coming soon!
What are some of your go-to recipes? Let me know and I’ll try them!
Last Saturday was my birthday. I turned 28 and I find it hard to believe. I’m no longer in the younger part of my twenties. I don’t mind getting older, but it does feel weird. It doesn’t feel like I’m 28 at all. But I am. This 28th year of my life is going to be the most awesome year so far. I have nothing planned, but I’m absolutely positive it will be spectacular.
Last week was quiet on the blog. We moved house, sort of. We’re staying with friends until we can move in to our new house in the beginning of December. Sometimes I wonder how we do it. We’ve been living like gypsies the last couple of years. Three years ago we started saving to fund our travels. We moved house 5 times in 1,5 years, each time to a cheaper house. Then we left to travel the world for a year. We never stayed anywhere longer than a month, most of the time only staying for a week. When we got back to Europe, we lived with a great family in Vienna for a week and a half, before moving in with Nick’s dad back in Holland. And now we’re sleeping on two mattresses on an attic without a door or shower. I would lie if I said it’s easy. But I also would be lying if I said I hated it. Maybe because I know it’s not forever.
Back to my birthday: Nick made me a pretty bad ass cake and gave me this book I’ve been eyeing for months. I picked out a recipe and got baking today. It’s not my birthday anymore but it’s not like you need a birthday to eat cake.
For all the Dutch people reading this: you can try this cake today at the awesome Meneer Paprika in Haarlem (where we also work!). Their new website will be online soon, made by us. We’ll share it with you once it’s ready.
Orange and Polenta cake
adapted from Home Made
for the cake
juice of 1 lemon
100 grams of polenta
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar
100 grams of almonds, finely chopped
250 grams of light caster sugar
for the garnish
100 ml of apricot marmalade
The baking of the cake
Pre heat your oven to 180°C.
Put two of the oranges in a pan with enough water and boil them for an hour. When they’re done let them cool completely.
Get out your food processor and put the two oranges in whole. Add the lemon juice and pulverize. Stir in the polenta, baking powder and vanilla sugar by hand. When it’s mixed, add in the almonds as well.
Get another bowl and whisk the eggs with the sugar until you have a white foam. This takes a while so I suggest you don’t do this manual. Make sure the bowl is fat-free before you start.
Gently mix the polenta mixture with the airy egg foam and pour it into 26 cm cake pan.
Bake the cake for 35 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes, put it on a cooling rack, and let it cool completely.
Now start with the oranges for the topping.
Cut off the top and bottom of the orange, making sure you cut off the white part. Now you can cut off the sides from top to bottom easily. Slice the oranges into neat slices.
Cover the cake with the slices overlapping. Heat the jam in a small pan on medium heat and when it’s warm gently smear it over the oranges. Put the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating.
We first made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and even though it was tasty, it wasn’t as good as the Pho we had in Vietnam. So we made it again. And again. Until it was just right. It looks like a lot of work and it isn’t the easiest recipe in the world. You need to put aside some time to make this, but you won’t regret it.
I remember ordering Pho for the first time. It was in a small restaurant in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon. We went there early in the morning, as we heard they had good wifi. We really needed to finish a project for a client. All day long I had been eyeing the Pho on the menu. As you can imagine, I was super excited when dinner time came around. Pho taste unlike anything I have ever tasted before. It’s salty, fatty, full of spices, light, warm, refreshing, filling. I wanted to share this Pho recipe with you because it started my love for Pho and I hope it starts yours too. Next time I’m making this, I’ll try to control myself and make a picture before I eat it.
Ingredients For the broth
2.5 kilo of beef leg bones. We got them for free at our local butcher
5.5 liter of cold water
2 medium onions, cut in quarters
a 10 cm piece of ginger, cut in half lengthwise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
6 star anise
6 whole cloves
1 black cardamom pod. You can buy this at most Asian stores but if you can’t find it, leave it out.
1,5 tablespoons of salt
1,5 tablespoons of sugar
60 ml of fish sauce
Soup ingredients 700 grams of pho noodles. You should be able to find these at your local Asian supermarket.
450 grams of beef sirloin (entrecôte)
1 onion, sliced in very thin slices (see-through thin)
a load of cilantro leaves
Garnishing Fresh mint and Thai Basil sprigs
a handful of bean-sprouts
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut in quarters
Pre-heat your oven broiler on the highest setting and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Take your quartered onions and halved ginger and place them on the baking sheet and put it in to the oven. Make sure to turn them occasionally so they become charred evenly on all sides.
While your onions and ginger are in the oven, boil the bones to remove impurities. Add the bones to a large stockpot and just about cover the bones with cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Skim off the scum and foam that rises.
Drain the bones into a colander and rinse them well with warm water. Scrub the pan with soap to remove any residue and fat. Place the bones back in the pan and add 5.5 liters of cold water. Bring to a slow boil.
Put a dry frying pan on low to medium heat and add cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves and the black cardamom pod. Leave it to roast for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the spices are starting to smell really good, place them in a cotton muslin bag/herb sachet/piece of cheesecloth and tie it up into a bundle with butchers twine.
Add the ginger, onions and the pouch of herbs to the boiling bones. Add the salt, sugar and fish sauce and let it simmer for about 3 hours. If any foam rises to the surface, scoop it off with a skimmer.
In the meanwhile, put your beef sirloin in the freezer for about 15 minutes. It will harden a little, making it easier to slice. Thinly slice the beef across the grain into thin slices and put them in the fridge.
Take the onion you sliced and place it in some water for about 20 minutes. This will tone done the raw flavor of the onion.
After 3 hours, get pliers to take out the bones, onions, ginger and herbs. Take your pan and strain your broth through a fine mesh strainer, optionally lined with a cheesecloth. Skim the fat from the top of the broth with a spoon. This is easier if you let the broth cool, as the fat will solidify. Nick is not too bothered with fat, so he just left it because it adds a lot of taste. Put the broth back on the stove and let it simmer on the lowest heat.
Get your pho noodles out and let them soak for as long as needed according the instructions on the packet.
Fill each bowl for about 1/3 with noodles. Add some slices of the raw sirloin. Top with hot broth and add some sliced onions and cilantro. (I like a lot of onions in my Pho).
Serve with well stocked plates of garnishing. Squeeze over the lime and enjoy this perfect soup.
If you’re really hungry, make these as a side dish
When I first told Nick I wanted to shoot this dish for the blog he straight up laughed in my face. ‘You don’t even like it’. He was right. But I had a plan. ‘What if we make a better, tastier version’. Nick, who is always up for a challenge, looked at me and said ‘Challenge accepted’.
It took us a whole day in the kitchen, but I think we did it.
As soon as it gets cold, Dutch people huddle together and cook winter classics such as Boerenkool stamppot (kale with mashed potatoes, bacon and smoked sausage), Hutspot (Carrots and onions with mashed potatoes, bacon and smoked sausage), Zuurkool stamppot (sauerkraut with mashed potatoes and you guessed it: bacon and smoked sausage) and of course Andijvie stamppot (endive with mashed potatoes, bacon and sausage). As you can tell, the Dutch kitchen is quite boring and I’ve never really liked it. But there is something about local cuisine. It should be preserved as it is part of our heritage.
We proudly present: Endive with mashed potatoes, the tasty version.
An original Nick & Angie recipe
For the hotchpot
400 grams of Endive, cut in small strips
1.5 kg of potatoes
a gulp of milk
a large piece of butter
red wine vinegar
For the leak
4 tablespoons of mustard
a large piece of butter
For the caramelised onions
10 medium-sized onions
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
For the poached egg
regular white vinegar
The cooking of the food
We’re going to start with the caramelised onions since they take the longest. Cut the onions in rings or half rings. Put a heavy pan (I used a big, cast iron pot) on the lowest heat on one of your medium-sized burners. Melt the butter, but don’t let it brown. Put in the onions. Stir regularly. Caramelising onions can take up to an hour. If they’re nice and brown, deglaze them with a few lugs of balsamic vinegar. You can alternatively use red wine vinegar.
Put the oven on 180°C. While the oven is heating up, peel your potatoes. Cut them in pieces of equal size. Put on some water and as soon as it’s boiling, throw in the potatoes. Parboil for about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain them in a colander and leave them for about 3 minutes.
Cover a baking tray with baking paper and toss the potatoes on the tray. Spread them out evenly. Pick your weapon of choice and crush the potatoes. Don’t completely mash them, you want them to break into pieces, not purée. Mix about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a handful of roughly torn sage in a bowl, toss it, and spread it over the potatoes. Put some pieces of garlic between the potatoes. No need to peel the garlic. Slice some butter into small cubes and put it on the potatoes. Place the tray in the oven for about 40-45 minutes.
In the meanwhile, fill up your kitchen sink with ice-cold water. Cut your endive in small strips and put it in your sink. Let the endive sit in your sink for 15 minutes to half an hour, giving the sand and dirt time to sink to the bottom. Take it out without disturbing the dirt, put it in a colander and put it aside to drain.
Don’t forget to stir your onions. If they aren’t getting any darker, you can put the heat a bit higher.
Take your leaks, wash them and cut them into fairly big pieces. One leak should become 4 or 5 pieces. Put a skillet on medium heat and heat up some butter until browned. Put in your leaks. Place some cubes of butter and all the mustard on top of the leaks and cover the skillet. Let it stew for about 10 minutes. No need to turn or stir, just leave them be.
When the potatoes are finished, put them in a big pot. Get out your masher or ricer and mash them. Add milk and butter until it becomes a smoothish mixture. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Don’t forget to taste! Mashed potatoes usually need a lot more salt than you think. Now add in the endive bit by bit and mix up. Make sure to keep a good potato:endive ratio. Too much endive and it becomes a weirdly starchy salad, too much potato and it’s too soggy.
Fill half of a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Break an egg in a little bowl, making sure the yolk stays intact. Add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the boiling water. Make sure the water boils lightly and stir it to form a little whirlpool. Carefully pour the egg into the water while it still swirls slowly. Let it softly simmer for about 3 minutes and take it out with a skimmer. Let the excess water leak off on a piece of paper towel. Serve while still hot.
Put the hotchpot on a plate, put a poached egg on top and add caramelised onions and leaks. Enjoy a Dutch classic!