Fall arrived this year on September 1st, with a crispness in the morning air that was completely absent the day before. My thoughts--always preoccupied with food--turned immediately to hearty soups, stews and things baked in the oven. Summer in Belgium is all about barbecuing, but fall is when traditional Flemish foods shine.
I was wondering what to make for dinner last night, and thinking that I really should use up the half a head of cabbage lurking in the fridge. Suddenly it came to me: Stoemp! The perfect mid-week dish for a gray, fall day. It's so easy to make, and has the added benefit of making boring ol' white cabbage much more interesting.
What's stoemp, you say? It's mashed potatoes with another vegetable smashed in. Popular choices are carrots, spinach and leeks, but you could use almost anything as long as it combines with potatoes. It's such a simple yet brilliant concept, I wonder why I had never heard of it until I moved to Belgium. I mean, who doesn't like mashed potatoes? Adding another vegetable makes the humble potato kinda sexy--and even more nutritious.
I found a recipe for Stoemp Met Prei (stoemp with leeks) in English. The basic cooking method is to prepare mashed potatoes as you normally would, then add in a second cooked and mashed (or chopped) vegetable. Use a little cream, milk or stock and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. The classic accompaniment to stoemp is grilled sausage, but it's also good with pork chops. (We had pork sausages, grilled in a pan, last night.) Enjoy!