Spotlight on… hagelslag!

This is something I was very familiar with when I was growing up. My mother, being Dutch, used this product a lot and so I thought it was normal. It wasn’t until much later on that I realised that English people didn’t use Hagelslag so much, only really as a cake decoration!
There are lots of different sorts of Hagel including a very delicious aniseed variety. It’s called gestampe muisjes, which translated means little mice stamped on! because the aniseed seeds are crushed into a powder and then spread on bread.
I had to be careful when I was small not to sneeze or blow too hard when eating the gestampe muisjes because otherwise they would blow up my nose and into my eyes.

Dutch Community

If there’s one grocery item that the Dutch simply cannot do without, then it has to be hagelslag – delicious chocolate sprinkles that come in a variety of interesting shapes and tempting flavours, and are typically sprinkled over a slice of fresh bread and butter. But did you know that you can also use this popular Dutch treat as an irresistible ingredient in some of your favourite recipes? You’ll find a few mouth-watering examples below!

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Easter Treats -Crispy Crackles – Recipe


These little cakes are just right for a snack during Easter-tide and they look good on the Easter table too.

Here are the ingredients:

2 ozs butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

2 ozs Cadbury’s drinking chocolate

2 ozs Kellog’s Cornflakes


For my American readers, I’m not quite sure what you would substitute for the golden syrup? Maybe molasses? What do you think?

For the drinking chocolate, you could use a sachet (or two) of instant cocoa powder.


The recipe says 16, but I usually make 12. Line a muffin tin with paper cases.



Melt the butter, syrup and drinking chocolate in a medium sized saucepan over a slow heat. Stir a little while it’s melting. When melted, pour over the cornflakes in a large mixing bowl. You can substitute Rice Crispies here if you prefer.


When the cornflakes are covered (I like to leave some of my cornflakes showing), use a tablespoon to spoon the mix into the muffin cases and put a Cadbury’s mini egg on top. Leave to cool.

Cools very quickly.


They are ready to eat in less than half an hour.



This was a recipe from Oma’s kitchen.



Cherry and Coconut cake from Oma’s Kitchen.




This is a favourite in my cottage. Here are the ingredients:

8 ozs self-raising flour

4 ozs soft margarine (I like Flora best)

4 ozs caster sugar

2 ozs dessicated coconut

handful of glace cherries (yes, they’re sticky)

1 egg

6 tablespoons full of milk

pinch of salt



Weigh out the flour and put into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt.

Rub in the margarine until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Don’t overwork it.

Add the coconut and cherries and mix carefully with a fork so as not to break up the cherries too much.

Break the egg and add to the mixture with the milk. Stir in until it looks like this:


At this point you can adjust the mixture if it is too dry. Don’t add too much milk to start with. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

Put the mixture into a paper case, in a loaf tin at the centre of the oven.


Cook at Gas 4 for one hour. When you take it out of the oven, use a skewer to test that the cake is cooked. If the skewer is placed in the centre of the cake, it should come out clean. If it doesn’t, put the cake back for a further 10 minutes. Test again.

If the cake is done, remove the paper case and place onto your prettiest china dish, preferably oblong shaped, like this:


Now, will you join me for a nice cup of coffee and a slice of the cake? I promise you’ll get a bit with a cherry in it 🙂



This was a recipe from Oma’s kitchen.



Heart warming beef stew from Oma’s Kitchen.


This stew is ideal for using up left-over beef from Sunday’s joint (if you’re lucky enough to have one).


Leftover beef, sliced into bite sized pieces. Use enough to almost cover the base of the meat dish or whatever you have left.

Leftover roast potatoes, sliced (if any).

1 large parsnip, peeled, sliced

2 large carrots, peeled, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped into large pieces

1 head of celery, chopped to taste

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons mixed herbs

1 OXO cube or other proprietary stock cube you have in the cupboard.



Don’t wash up the meat tin that you cooked the joint in on Sunday. The flavour for the stew is in the leavings. You should have a slight covering of meat fat and juices on the bottom. If there is too much fat, skim off the excess.

Let the beef to cool down, covered, in the refrigerator overnight on Sunday night and then cut up into bite sized pieces in the morning.

Layer the beef pieces in the bottom of the meat tin that you used to cook the beef in on Sunday.

Add any left-over roast potatoes, sliced and scattered.

Cut an onion up into largish pieces and put in a saucepan with one pint of water. Simmer gently while you do the following:

Peel and cut up a parsnip, two carrots and a head of celery. Scatter over the beef. It doesn’t have to be these vegetables, it can be whatever you have available. Other alternatives to try are left-over baked beans, butter beans. Swede (rutabaga) and turnips are also very tasty and nutritious.

Remember if you use celery, that it has a very high water content and will thin out your gravy.

Put some herbs over the vegetables and meat.

Now go through the pictures for the next instruction:


You don’t have to use the best carrots for a stew. Use a proper peeler to take the skin off because a lot of the goodness is just under the skin of the carrot.

If the celery is new and fresh you won’t need to peel it, just cut the end off, wash thoroughly and chop into bite sized pieces.



Onions simmering gently in one pint of water until softened. Don’t pour the water off. You’re going to use it for the gravy.



Once you’ve put the herbs over, put two dessertspoons of gravy powder over the ingredients.


Next add the onion/water mixture evenly over the rest of the contents.


Peel and slice up two large potatoes and decorate the top of the stew with them. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Next you will need a dried stock cube. I use OXO beef cubes for this recipe. If you can’t get OXO, use something similar.


Sprinkle the stock cube, by crushing it, over the potatoes.


Cover the stew with tin foil and place in the centre of a slow/medium  oven for 2 1/2 hours. I use Gas 2

After 2 1/2 hours, remove the tin foil, turn up the oven to medium for the last half an hour. I use Gas 3 or 4 for a crisper top.

After this, the stew is ready to eat.  I eat it with fresh, crusty bread.

Looks good doesn’t it!



This was a recipe from Oma’s Kitchen.


Comfort Time


With the bad weather continuing, it’s comfort time in the kitchen. We’ve had all the usual suspects, toad in the hole, see above and roast leg of lamb.  Thank you Sainsbury’s for selling these legs of lamb at a price I could afford for two weeks. It was delicious.


Apple crumble has been a favourite. Apples are so good for us and apple crumble is so tasty.  I like mine with double cream.  How do you like yours?


I did get out a few weeks ago and bought a new cupboard to put my glasses in.  It’s such a joy to go straight to the right cupboard and find just the glass you want. Previously my glasses have been wherever they would fit and I could never find the one I wanted. Now that problem has gone away and I’m sorted!


I’ve enjoyed all the reading I’ve done during the bad spell of weather but I’m ready now for some light entertainment in the garden. I hope my back’s up to it after all this enforced containment!


Chicken and Ham Pie

This pretty little porcelain bird is just waiting for a pie to sit on.

My father-in-law gave me the pie funnel many years ago and I’ve managed to keep it without breaking it thus far…

Lardons are required.

Here they are again, waiting to be cooked…

First I fry them off in their own fat.

Then I mix them with some chopped up chicken which has already been cooked.

Next I add a tin of Campbells condensed mushroom soup.

Put the mixture in a pie dish with the pie funnel in the middle.

The purpose of a pie funnel is to let the steam out of the pie while it is cooking. This prevents the pastry from going soggy.

 Put a prepared pastry lid on top of the mixture, opening a breathing hold at the top of the funnel.

I painted the top of the pie with an egg wash and cooked the pie in a hot oven for half an hour.

Once, ready to serve, I put the little bird on the top of the pie funnel and take the pie to the table where hungry people are waiting to eat it.

We ate it with new potatoes and mixed vegetables.

There wasn’t much left afterwards!

This is a recipe from Oma’s kitchen.


Bedfordshire Clangers

So what’s in the pot? Can you guess?

This is a recipe very local… It’s called Bedfordshire Clangers.

Here they are cooking…………

Two little beauties boiling in their muslin parcels.

Every 40 minutes I have to top up the water, so I set the alarm so I don’t forget. Don’t want the puddings to go dry.

After 2 hours boiling, I take them out of the pan, using the string rope so I don’t burn my fingers and set them aside to cool a bit.

Where the string meets in the middle, the pudding will divide naturally. So I will have four puddings all together or two for greedy people. Traditionally there would be meat at one end and jam at the other but I have only meat and onion in mine today. The idea was that you started up one end with the meat, gravy added and then you worked your way down to the jam end which you would eat with custard.

I served mine with mashed swede this time. My son and I love mashed swede with butter in.

It’s advisable to open the dumpling up as soon as possible to let the steam out so it can cool down a bit. We like to pour HP sauce over it. American equivalent would be steak sauce but it’s not the same. HP sauce is available in Fresh Market.

After all that cooking and eating, it’s time for a mug of tea to wash it all down and maybe a snooze.

This is a recipe from Oma’s Kitchen.

The main ingredients are as follows:

1 lb of self raising flour

8 ozs of suet

cold water to make the dough

a pinch of salt

one onion, chopped

a packet of lardons, added to the onion

some fresh herbs to taste


Make up the dough by adding the suet to the flour in a large bowl. Add the water until the dough is pliable (you can roll it out)

Roll out four circles.

Cook the onions and add the lardons.

Put herbs in with the ingredients, either in the meat or in the pastry.

Put the mixture in the centre of the circle and close the dumpling up.

Roll it into the muslin square.

Hint: If you flour the muslin square first, it will seal the dumpling as soon as you lower it into the boiling water.

When you have the dumplings tied up, leave one end of string dangling so you can grab it later on and lower the dumplings into the water.

Get it back to boiling and put the lid on, half cock.

Keep the water topped up and the pot boiling for two hours.

Good luck if you want to try it.

It’s not for the squeamish and it is very high in cholesterol BUT

it is very delicious!


Traditional English Christmas Cake

It’s time to start the preparations for Christmas, here in the cottage, but I’m not talking chocolates. Take a peek inside the tin and see what I’m cooking today…

Here are the ingredients for an 8 inch round or a 7 inch square tin:

10 ozs currants

7 ozs sultanas (golden raisins if in America)

4 ozs raisins

2 1/2 ozs glace cherries (quartered)

2 1/2 ozs whole almonds (blanched and chopped finely)

2 1/2 ozs mixed peel

grated rind of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of Brandy

7 ozs of plain flour (all purpose flour if in America)

1 level teaspoon of mixed spice

2 ozs ground almonds

6 ozs butter (room temperature)

6 ozs soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon of black treacle

4 eggs

and this is the method:

Prepare the dried fruit; cut the cherries in four.  Blanch the almonds, chop finely.  Mix the prepared fruits, almonds, peel and lemon rind together in a mixing bowl and pour over the brandy. (If liked leave overnight.)

Sieve the flour and spice and add the ground almonds.

Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the treacle.  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat in thoroughly, adding a little of the sieved flour with every egg after the first.

Fold in the remaining flour mixture with the prepared fruit etc., half at a time, gently and thoroughly until well mixed.

Line the inside of the tins with a grease  proof paper insert and brush inside with melted margarine.  Place the mixture evenly into the prepared tins.  Tie several thicknesses of thick paper or newspaper around the outside of the tins.  (This prevents the cakes from over-browning.)  Smooth the top of the cakes with the back of a wet spoon.

Bake on middle shelf of a very slow oven (electric 290 deg. F., gas no. 1.)  Allow approximately 4 hours for a 7-inch square or an 8-inch round cake.

Remove from the oven.  Leave in tin to cool slightly, turn out, remove paper and cool on a wire tray.

When quite cold,wrap in double grease proof paper and store in an air-tight tin until required.

Don’t forget to feed the cake with some Brandy! You will need to poke holes in the top of the cake with a skewer when it comes out of the oven and is still warm. Then, using a tablespoon, spoon over 3 spoons of Brandy, or you could use three capsful. Watch with delight as the Brandy soaks into the cake.  It will make a slight sizzling sound. The feeding will need to be done again, once or twice before Christmas arrives.  The Brandy will add to the delicious flavour of the finished cake and also help to preserve the cake if you can’t eat it all at once.

This is a very rich cake so small slices should be given (and often!).Next time I’ll come back and tell you how I decorated it.

This was a recipe from Oma’s kitchen.


Home-made Tomatoe Soup from Oma’s Kitchen

In the winter months I make a lot of this soup. It tastes great and if you make enough of it, it will feed the family for four or five suppers.  Here are the ingredients:


Tomatoes, quantity dependent on how many you’ve got or how many you want. The best ones to use are the Italian tomatoes because they have the most flavour. They also taste best if they are ‘going over’ a bit because then the sweetness is released.

1 large onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper (optional)

flat dessertspoonful of salt (don’t overdo it.)

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 small tin of tomato paste (optional). I put one of these in if the boiled mixture looks a bit insipid. I like the soup to look really red.

1 squirt of tomatoe ketchup

a grind of pepper

1 teaspoon crushed chillis (optional). Do this if you want an extra kick in the soup.

Half pound of pork meatballs (optional)

Handful of rice, long grain

NB if you add the meatballs, bear in mind that the soup won’t keep for as long. I keep the soup in the fridge between eatings. Always boil the soup every day, whether you eat any or not. This will kill any bacteria and keep the soup safe to eat.


Put the tomatoes into a pan, large enough that the tomatoes come up to the middle of it. Add cold water to cover. Add other chopped ingredients and boil gently for half an hour.

Smells delicious at this stage.

When the boiling is done, leave to cool with a lid on.

When cool enough, put the mixture through a blender to purify, leaving a few bits of vegetable to chew on in the soup.

Return the soup to a large pan, add a knob of butter and if desired, some meatballs.  Pork taste best.

Ten minutes before serving for the first time, add a handful of long-grain rice. This will thicken the soup and soak up some of the flavours. Each time you reheat the soup, the rice will become thicker.  You may need to add more liquid (water) as the days go by.

Enjoy with crusty bread.




I am half way through my stay in Tennessee now and thought I’d try another southern recipe.  This one comes from Louisiana and it’s called Jambalaya. It’s the first time I’ve made Jambalaya so it was a real experiment as far as I’m concerned, but it turned out really nice. Next time I will do it a little differently, but that’s what cooking is all about isn’t it.

It was the very first time I’ve cooked with garlic or cayenne pepper so that was a step into the dark. I don’t like garlic at all myself, but since it would not be in any way authentic without it, I bravely put the garlic clove into the chopper and chopped away.  I had to hold my nose while it cooked but it didn’t seem to affect the taste at all.

Here are the ingredients:

2 pounds of chicken parts (I left the chicken out this time, using just shrimp because there were only two of us. Next time I will use chicken as well but not as much as this.)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (don’t be tempted to use more than this.  Believe me, you won’t need it!)

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (this surprised me. I would have thought olive oil would be more appropriate, but no! vegetable it is. I used Canola)

8 ounces andouille or other spicy smoked sausage such as kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch slices. (I left this out, again because there are only two of us. When I get back to England I will do it again and use Chorizo, which is a Spanish sausage. I don’t know what andouille sausage is, but I guess it’s a bit like Chorizo.)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped.

1 stalk celery (I left this out because I didn’t want the mix to be too watery.)

2 cloves garlic, minced. (I used one)

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 cup of long-grain rice. (I cheated and bought a packed of Jambalaya rice. I thought if I messed up on the main part, at least we’d have rice to eat.)

1 16 ounce can of whole tomatoes in juice. (Again I left this out because I would have had a mountain of food otherwise).

1 cup of fish stock.

1/2 cup water.

1 bay leaf

1/2 pound shrimp

4 green onions. In England we call these Spring onions. See picture.

1/2 teaspoon of hot-pepper sauce or to taste.

‘This dish had humble beginnings as a poor man’s catchall for leftover meats, fish and sausages and plenty of rice.  Today it is one of the most revered dishes in Louisiana, and both Creole and Cajun cuisines proudly claim it as their own.’ From the cookbook ‘The Best of New Orleans’ which Larry bought for me when he went there recently.

I put peas into the recipe because I like green vegetables.

Here are the shrimp. I used frozen shrimp because that’s easier but you are supposed to use the whole shrimp, complete with tails.

This dish reminds me very much of the Spanish dish Paella, which has similar ingredients.

Here it is cooking:


Basically you throw it all in the pan and cook it till it’s done. Always best to start with the part that needs the most cooking. In this recipe that would be the chicken, but since I didn’t use it this time, I started with the vegetables, adding the shrimp afterwards.  It’s a mistake to overcook the shrimp because they go tough.

Here is the rice cooking: Easy – just follow the instructions on the packet, which are basically adding the rice to water, bringing to boil and simmering till all the water is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

…and on the plate: looks good doesn’t it and plenty for two people.  This was my portion.  It went down a treat.