This dish is inspired by the experience of Maja Kuzmanovic, who moved to the Netherlands in the early 1990s. This is an account of one of her early encounters with Dutch cuisine:

“When I got invited to dinner by a family living in the Dutch countryside for the first time, I experienced a slight culture shock. The father of the family plopped a large pile of mashed potatoes on his plate. He explained that this was very healthy because it had carrots and onions in it, although I couldn’t quite discern either of those vegetables. He proceeded to cut a large sausage into small pieces and mix it into the potatoes. Then came the apple sauce, which also disappeared into the potato pile. After a couple of minutes of mixing and mashing, he finally used a spoon to make a valley (or a “kuiltje”) in the centre of the potato-vegetable-sausage-apple sauce mixture and poured meat gravy into it. “Here, this is our good Dutch ‘stamppot,’” he exclaimed. He dipped large fork-fulls of the mash into the gravy and rapidly stuffed them into his mouth. I was amazed. This was something I’d always wanted to do as a child, but was never allowed to – it seemed like playing with food and making it into something that most adults in my family would frown upon! Even though it looked quite amorphous and soggy, it was remarkably tasty and nutritious. Perfect stodge to face the dark and wet winter in the low lands.”

For Open Sauces we wanted to enjoy the process of raw chopping and stamping for as long as possible, so we made three different “stoemps”: a traditional carrot and onion; a slightly “Balkanised” sauerkraut and paprika; and a newfangled olive and tarragon. We also wanted to make a stoemp that the vegetarians among us could enjoy, so we made a smoked tofu sausage with a jus based on chocolate and “Trumpets of the dead” mushrooms. We served them all separately on a simple white plate, and let the diners mix and match.

1 “sausage” (slice of smoked tofu) per person

Note: we used smoked tofu with sunflower seeds from Taifun – http://www/taifun-tofu.com)

Grill dry in a grilling pan, on the barbecue, or under the grill in the oven.

  • 80 g New Tree ‘Pleasure’ chocolate (or another ~75% Cocoa or Extra Bitter Dark Chocolate)
  • 1 Handful Powdered “Trumpets of the dead” mushrooms (Craterellus cornucopioides)
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water (to dilute to a desired consistency)

Break the chocolate into small blocks and melt au bain-marie. Add butter. Slowly add the mushroom powder, salt and pepper to taste. Dilute with water if you want a thin jus and a less intense taste.

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 500 g carrots
  • 1 onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sweat the onion in a bit of butter. Add potatoes and carrots and a little water (just covering the vegetables). When soft, strain and mix in the other ingredients. Mash with a potato-masher, or in Dutch: Prak met een stoemper.

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 500 g sauerkraut
  • ~1 tablespoon paprika powder (to taste)
  • A few tablespoons of cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes. Shred sauerkraut fine and fry it for a few minutes in sunflower oil with paprika powder. Mix the potatoes and sauerkraut with cream and spices. Mash.

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Yoghurt to taste
  • 1–2 handfuls black olives
  • 1 handful tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes. Chop and mix in the other ingredients. Mash.

We bought purple potatoes, tarragon and New Tree Pleasure chocolate at a Brussels supermarket (Delhaize). Any dark chocolate would work. Potatoes (there was only one, nameless sort), tofu, carrots and onions were sourced from Den Theepot (http://www.bioshop.be/winkels/brussel.html). We used black olives from the Molenbeek market in Brussels. Paprika powder came from a supermarket in Pula, Croatia, but it can be found in most supermarkets. “Trumpets of the dead” were picked by Nika Kuzmanovic in the forests of Istria, Croatia. They can be bought fresh in some supermarkets, at markets and in specialist stores like Champigros (http://www.champigros.be/). You can dry and powder them yourself. Cream, yoghurt and butter came from the Crémerie de Linkebeek (Oudegraanmarkt 4, 1000 Brussels). We used table salt and pepper at hand in our kitchen.

(an sidebar recipe)