6th December is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. In Flanders (Belgium) and the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas is called Sinterklaas. In Belgium, children up to 12 years of age receive their gifts in the morning of 6th December, while kids in the Netherlands get their gifts from the De Goede Sint (The Good Saint) the night before (5th December), on condition that they have been good all year. It is believed that The Good Saint keeps record of the good and naughty behaviours of the children.
Does he not sound familiar to us? 😉
Yup, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why… but hey no… it’s not Santa Claus, but Sinterklaas came to town!
By the way, the name Santa Claus is derived from the older Dutch name Sinte Klaas, because Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of children.
Santa Claus is also known in both Belgium and the Netherlands, but he is known as Kerstman or Christmas man, ie not a Saint but just a good and jolly fat man who brings lots and lots of presents to kids all over the world on Christmas Day.
Here’s an animated version when Sinterklaas (the Saint) meets Santa Claus (the jolly fat man)
Oh by the way, I have been good all year, too … because Sinterklaas visited us at work!
Yesterday morning, I received the following message in my inbox ….
Last night Saint Nicholas secretly visited our HUB. He has brought some candies for you because you have been good.
Here’s what I got from De Goede Sint 😊
So is it Speculoos or Speculaas?
According to Google translator, Speculaas is Dutch for Gingerbread. Incidentally, Speculoos is detected as a French word and is used by Wikipedia as the source word to define “Speculoos” in English. The definition of Speculoos by Wikepedia differs to the “arguments” between the Flemish-speaking Belgium and the Dutch from the Netherlands.
Speculoos or Speculaas – both terms are correct, but it’s the ingredients that went in the product that made the difference. The Dutch – as we all know with the history of the Spice Trade in Asia between the 15th and 17th centuries – battled a bloody conflict with Spain and England to gain control of the spice trade after the Portuguese. Erm…. who do you think won? Well, the winner is judged by the usage and consumption of spices in today’s kitchen, of course! 😉
I daresay the Dutch are more daring with their spices than the Belgians. The Dutch named their gingerbread, Speculaas, which includes the following spices: cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and white pepper. On the other hand, the “shy-er” Belgians with their less daring palates can only take the cinnamon and a bit of ginger and caramalized sugar to form the crunchy biscuits they called, Speculoos. And there you have it, the difference between Speculoos and Speculaas.
Stewed meat or stoofvlees is very popular or perhaps even the signature dish of Belgium. A classic Belgian meat stew is often cooked slowly over medium-low fire with a good glug of Belgian beer. I have cooked Flemish beef stew many times which I learnt from my late MIL. Over the years I have experimented cooking the dish by using different types of beer, which has got to be Belgian, of course😄
Did you know that beers have colour? The colour is controlled by the malt that is used to brew it. Beer in Belgium varies from pale lager to lambic beer and Flemish red while generally beers are categorised as follows: White, blonde, amber, brown and black. The darker the colour, the bitter the taste.
I have always used cubed beef stew meat, however, this time, I chose to use cubed Turkey meat by adding two very Belgian ingredients – speculoos and Maredsous 6 Blonde, an abbey beer. The number 6 represents the level of alcohol content, ie 6 %.
(Adapted and improvised from a Colruyt recipe catalogue entitled Pork stew in Floreffe beer with my own method of preparation)
• 1 kg pork stew (I used 2 kg cubed Turkey stew)
• Onions, chopped (I used 4)
• Butter (to brown the meat)
• Gingerbread cookies (I used 9 Speculoos cookies)
• 1 Tbsp mustard (I used 2)
• 1 Tbsp honey
• 2 Tbsp flour or just enough to thicken the sauce
• 33 cl Floreffe Blonde (I used 2 x 33cl Maredsous 6 Blonde)
• 1 Tbsp vinegar (to taste)
• Cloves (I used 6 cloves)
• Thyme (I used a few sprigs of fresh thyme)
• Bay leaf (I used 2)
• Salt and pepper to taste
Method (own) –
1. Melt some butter to lightly brown the turkey meat. Sprinkle the flour and stir well.
3. Crumble the Speculoos cookies. Stir well to combine the ingredients before pouring the beer along the edge of the stew. Throw in the fresh thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
4. Transfer the stew to the Slow Cooker. Switch the button to high for 1 hour and then to low for 2 hours. Thirty minutes before serving add the vinegar. You will know when the stew is ready when the sauce is no longer runny and the beer has completely evaporated and the sauce has slightly thickened. And the aroma! So Christmassy with the sweet smell of the spices whiffing passed my nostrils😜
December may have 31 days, but to me, it’s the “shortest” month of the year due to the year end rush. And before we realised, it’s the New Year… Arghh!!!
Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. With Christmas in less than 3 weeks from now, I would like to share this recipe to the following Christmas themed blog-hop cooking challenges –
Bangers & Mash’s December’s Spice Trail Cooking with All-spice (WITHDRAWN. For more information, see N.B)
Happy St Nicholas’ Day! Hope you have been good😄
N.B. I would like to apologise to Vanesther of Bangers & Mash for incorrectly linking this post to her December’s Spice Trail – cooking with Allspice. I had mistaken allspice to mixed spice (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg). Allspice is a spice in its own right, completely different than mixed spice, which I must admit I did not use in this recipe. I have withdrawn my submission of this post to The Spice Trail Challenge for the month of December. Thanks, Vanesther, for pointing that out.