Wednesday, 26 December 2012

New Year's Day Buffet Croquettes

Almost every year, on New Year's Day we hold an open house for family and close friends. It is a chance for people to come and have a drink to toast the new year, share stories of the year past, and of course, enjoy wonderful snacks. I always have a variety of different styles of foods, but there are some things we could not do without, such as Indonesian chicken - usually wings for the buffet; my smoked salmon brie wedges, and traditional Dutch croquettes. There are always lots of raw veggies with dips, fruit platters, meat and cheese platters, crackers, and sweets. I usually have butter tarts, mince tarts, gingerbread cookies, candy cane cookies, and whipped shortbread. I have been know to include the 'hurry up cake' or brownies and blondies, as well as Naniamo bars in regular and mint (Domino bar) varieties. We also have a wide variety of  hot and cold beverages - both alcoholic and non - and chocolates and candy everywhere. When we lived in Mission, BC, the children went to a pre-school which had a pastry fundraiser every year. They sold mini quiches, and spanakopitas, which I would add to the buffet. I think you can buy those things at some big box stores -(Superstore or Costco). I have begun to make mini quiches, using frozen pastry shells, but I am not trying spanakopitas. At least, not yet.

I would like to share the recipe for Dutch bitterballen, or croquettes. They are almost the same thing, all that changes is the shape. They are basically a very pasty, thick gravy, with spices, herbs, and pieces of meat - well done is best. I know many of you who know me will say, "REALLY?!! Well done?!!" as I usually prefer beef to be rare, but there you are. The paste must be thick enough to shape. Then they are dipped into an egg mix, and rolled in breadcrumbs, then deep fried until crisp, golden and hot. Usually served with a mustard dip, they are wonderful! These are labour intensive, and take a long time, but I think they are worth the effort. There is an alternative - you can buy frozen croquettes at the Dutch cash and carry store in Calgary for $16 a dozen. I can make about a hundred for that price.

Please remember that I do not actually measure anything, so all measurements are approximate.
What you need for the filling: 300 gr of cooked beef ;1- 2 tbs onion powder or very finely minced onion; 1-2 tbs garlic powder, or a Tbs of minced garlic from a jar; 2 -3tbs dried parsley flakes; salt and pepper to taste; 2 cups of  unsalted or low sodium beef broth; 2 tbs butter or margarine; about 2 - 3 cups of flour.
What you need for the coating: 4 eggs and 1/2 cup water; 2 -3cups of breadcrumbs.

What you do:  Cut meat into 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch strips, then into 1/4 inch pieces. Heat butter or margarine in a large pot, and add several tb of flour to make a roux. Add the broth, spices, and all the flour and whisk to eliminate all lumps, and then bring to a boil, so all the flour cooks to make a very thick paste. Add the pieces of meat and stir well. Pour the mixture oout into a 8x8 or 9x13 pan. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.  Remove the mixture from the fridge and cut into bars about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide. You can roll them between your palms to make log shapes. (To make bitterballen, roll mixture into 1 and 1/2 inch diametre balls.)
Break 2 eggs into a flat dish, and add 1/4 cup of water. Place 1 cup of the breadcrumbs into another plate or bowl. Dip each bar into the egg wash, then roll into the bread crumbs. Repeat twice. Add more eggs and water or breadcrumbs as needed. Place the croquettes onto a cookie sheet and place into the freezer. When frozen solid, place into a plastic bag or container to store. Can be stored for up to one year.

To serve: remove as many croquettes as needed. Heat the oil in the deep fryer to 375F. Cook croquettes for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown and heated through. Serve hot with mustard to dip.

As always - enjoy!

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