Tag Archive for Party Food

Dutch New Year’s Rolls: Kniepertjes

You can read a bit more about these delicious cookies in a post I wrote earlier. I tried a new recipe, which is definitely much tastier than the other one, so this one will be my go-to recipe from now on.


Kniepertjes (makes 16-32, depending on size)
From “De Banketbakker – Cees Holtkamp”

170 g flour
170 g caster sugar
85 g butter, molten
170 g water
10 g vanilla sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt

Make a smooth batter with all the ingredients. Leave to rest for at least an hour.
Heat your flat waffle iron, and lightly grease if necessary. Pour some batter on the iron, depending on the size of the iron this needs to be a teaspoon, up to 3 tablespoons for a large iron. Cook until lightly golden. Immediately roll the waffle, small ones can be rolled around a wooden spoon, larger ones around a rolling pin or broomstick. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Leave to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Serve filled with whipped cream, but only pipe the whipped cream in just before serving to prevent sogginess.


Pintxos are slices of bread topped with some nice ingredients, skewered together by a pincho (hence the name). They are a speciality of the Basque region of Spain. Often they are eaten as an appetizer, together with a glass of wine or beer. But it is also completely normal to go from bar to bar, eating and drinking, with a group of friends. This makes the pinxtos the complete meal, eaten over the course of many small bites.

I first came across pintxos in Barcelona. Of course they were called pinchos in Barcelona, because pintxos is the Basque spelling, and Barcelona is in the Catalonian part of Spain. But I immediately fell in love with the concept, and I still am. It is the perfect way to sample all kinds of lovely ingredients in a simple and tasty way. A display of pintxos looks incredibly inviting. And I like the social way of nibbling and chatting away with your friends. So when we thought about what to serve on New Year’s Eve, I decided to make a selection of pintxos.

You need good bread for pintxos. If your bread isn’t right, it will muddle the flavours of the ingredients you top it with. I wouldn’t use toasted bread, this would make it quite hard to eat. That is also the reason why you have to slice the bread quite thinly. I used a good baguette, but maybe something like ciabatta would work too. Often the toppings are quite simple, but you can make them as elaborate and complicated as you like. Use good ingredients, they can’t hide behind something, the flavour has to be good.


On the photo (top to bottom, left to right):
– grilled sliced of goat’s cheese with a drizzle of honey
– slow cooked red paprika with boiled egg and anchovies
– aioli, slow cooked green paprika, spicy sausage
– jamon iberico, slow cooked green paprika, anchovies, boiled egg, mayonnaise
– tuna salad (canned tuna packed on oil, drained, with a drizzle of lemon juice, some mayonnaise and a bit of salt)
– aioli and sauteed mushrooms

Other possibilities:
– manchego, membrillo, walnut
– grilled goat’s cheese, jamon iberico
– manchego, jamon iberico, slow cooked paprika, boiled quail’s egg
– jamon iberico, fried quail’s egg
– aioli, shrimps
– tomato and sardines
– pimiento filled with tuna salad
– smoked salmon and egg mimosa
– egg salad
– mascarpone with berry sauce and chopped nuts
– …

Croquetas de Jamon

A delicious appetizer (maybe for your new years eve party?); a crisp outside and light and creamy filling. They need to be served immediately after cooking.

You can substitute the jamon for anything you like to flavour the béchamel. Try cooked chicken breast and cooked egg, chopped prawns, flaked cooked bacalao, wild mushrooms or grated well-flavoured cheese. Or maybe add some herbs. Or don’t make them Spanish style and fill them with something completely else.

The croquetas on the photo are slightly odd shaped. I was a bit impatient, I did not cool the mixture long enough, so it was quite impossible to handle. Normally, they are cork-shaped.


Croquettas de Jamon (serves 8 as a tapas/makes about 24)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s Spain”

85 g butter
115 g flour
500 ml full fat milk
100 g good quality thinly sliced Spanish air-dried ham (like jamon Iberico or jamon Serrano)
salt and pepper
flour, egg and breadcrumbs for crumbing
vegetable oil for deep-frying

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, then gradually stir in the milk, little by little, so that you end up with a silky smooth béchamel sauce. Bring to the boil and cook gently for about 5 minutes while stirring to cook out the flour.
Stir through the jamon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl, then press some clingfilm on top. Place in the fridge for at least 6 hours (yes, really!) but ideally overnight, until really firm.
Take about 1.5 tbsp of the mixture and roll it into a cork-shaped barrel with lightly floured hands. Place on a large plate or something, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Take three shallow dishes, put some flour in the first, a whisked egg in the second and breadcrumbs in the third. Heat the oil for deep-frying to 190C. Take the croquetas from the fridge, cover with flour, coat in the egg and then dip into the breadcrumbs. Lower them in the hot oil and cook 2 minutes, or until lightly golden. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper, then serve immediately.

Buñuelos de Queso

Buñuelos de Queso, or deep-fried cheese puffs. A delicious appetizer (maybe for your new years eve party?), lovely cheesy and with a spicy, smoky kick from the pimentón. But you must eat them fresh from the fryer, otherwise they will be very sad and deflated, instead of lovely crisp and puffy. Because the recipe is basically choux pastry flavoured with cheese and pimentón, I imagine you could also bake them in the oven instead of deep-frying them, I haven’t tried this and it will give a different result, but it is a bit healthier and you don’t have to deep-fry that way. With all the beating involved, it is one of those recipes that does need a bit of elbow grease.


Buñuelos de Queso (serves 6 as a tapas)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s Spain”

100 g butter, cubed
250 ml water
150 g flour
1 tsp pimentón dulce
pinch of pimentón picante (or more, if you like it spicy)
4 eggs, beaten
200 g finely grated Manchego
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for deep-frying

Put the butter and water in a pan on medium heat, until the butter is melted. Then bring to the boil and add the flour and pimentón. Beat (with a spatula) until the flour is incorporated and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Then place back on low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Then add the egg bit by bit while whisking to make a smooth, glossy paste. Stir through the cheese and the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat your fryer (or oil in a pan) to 180C. Drop heaped teaspoons of the batter in the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd them, they will puff up quite a bit. Fry for about 4-5 minutes, or until puffed up, crisp and golden. They should turn over themselves, but if not, give them a nudge. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately, piping hot.

Marinated Feta and Olives

I secretly like those tubs in the supermarket with olives, some herbs and garlic, some feta and a drizzle of oil. Unfortunately, those olives are of varying quality, and the oil they use is never very nice. So one day I decided to make something similar myself. I bought some nice olives and good feta cheese, took the bottle of special and extra tasty extra virgin olive oil out of the cupboard, foraged some thyme from my garden and finished it with some thinly sliced raw garlic, a sprinkle of red chilli flakes and a little salt. I mixed everything together and left it for a few hours before serving. Delicious!


Blini with cream cheese and salmon

Blini with cream cheese and salmon is a classic, perfect on parties or as appetizer. Do keep in mind that blini are nicest when you serve them fresh. I used plain cream cheese, but you could season it with herbs (chives would be delicious) or horseradish. I used hot-smoked salmon, alternatively you can use cold-smoked salmon, but also smoked mackerel. I’m not a big fan of using caviar since it’s not really sustainable. But if you can find (imitation) caviar that is, go ahead. You could also top the blini with herring salad, or guacamole (as a vegetarian alternative). You could even do a sweet variety, with honey-sweetened cream cheese and fruit as topping. But you do need something to put on top of them, plain they are quite boring, they come to life with a topping.


Blini with cream cheese and salmon (makes about 40)
from “Marie Claire De Ultieme Keuken – Michelle Cranston”

100 g flour
70 g buckwheat flour
3/4 tsp dry yeast
pinch of salt
200 ml milk
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp sour cream (or yoghurt)
butter/oil for frying

50-185 g cream cheese (amount depending on how generous you want to be)
200-400 g smoked salmon (amount depending on how generous you want to be)

Mix both flours, yeast and salt. Add the milk and mix well. Leave to rise for 1 hour on room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.
Mix the egg yolks and sour cream through the batter. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the batter. Leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Grease a frying pin with butter or oil, scoop dollops of the batter in it and turn over when bubbles form on the surface. Cook for another minute, or until brown. Medium heat usually works best.
Dollop cream cheese on, and place the smoked salmon on top. Serve immediately.

Baked ricotta

When you bake ricotta, the structure changes completely. Unbaked ricotta has a quite grainy texture, the baked ricotta becomes silky smooth, while still having that fresh, milky flavour. And where unbaked ricotta is scoopable/spreadable, baked ricotta is delicately firm. You can cut it, instead of scoop it, but only very carefully, or it will crumble. Because it is so delicate, it will taste very, very creamy.

I served my baked ricotta as part of a main dish, with pasta, tomato sauce and fried aubergine, as a variation on pasta alla norma. But you could also sprinkle it with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice and more olive oil after baking, and serve it with bruscetta as a party snack or appetizer. Maybe add some chilli flakes, semi-dried tomatoes, olives, or roasted paprika. If you omit the salt and pepper, you could even make a dessert version, with honey, walnuts and figs.

I’ve tried this both with ricotta that I left to drain overnight, and ricotta that I didn’t drain. Although both end up nice, I prefer the drained version, because it browns better/faster, is less wet, and becomes even smoother than the undrained version. So if you have the time, drain your ricotta. Some recipes ask you to mix the ricotta with a few eggs and the seasoning, and to cook it in a ramekin, but I like my version better because of the shape. Also, the texture will be completely different, a lot more airy from the eggs. I prefer this silky smoothness.

Baked ricotta
1 tub of ricotta
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start the day before you want to serve the ricotta. Line a sieve with a cheesecloth (or clean tea-towel), rinsed well under cold water and squeezed to get rid of most of the water. It is also possible to use a carefully rinsed coffee filter. Place the sieve over a bowl. Open the tub of ricotta, inverse it on top of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze the tub to release the ricotta in one go. It is important to keep it whole. Gently place the container back over the ricotta (I found this the easiest way to cover up the cheese), and place the whole thing in the fridge. Leave overnight to drain.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Transfer the ricotta to a lightly oiled baking tray, the ricotta is vulnerable, so be careful! Use a pastry brush to very carefully dab oil all over the ricotta, again being very careful not to damage the shape. Place in the oven and bake 45-60 minutes, or until nicely golden. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Dutch food: filled oliebollen

You can make oliebollen, the traditional Dutch snack for new years eve, plain or with raisins/currants/apple as filling, but you can also bake plain oliebollen and fill them after baking. Slice them open and pipe pastry cream in them to make a Berliner bol (not to be confused with the German Berliner), finish with a swirl of whipped cream if you like. All kinds of fruit fillings, for example cherry, pineapple, banana, boerenjongens (brandy-soaked raisins) and strawberry can be found as well, and sometimes pastry cream and/or whipped cream are added as well. But actually, I don’t really like this filled oliebollen at all. When you buy them at the oliebollen stands they are usually prepared way in advanced, which makes them soggy and less tasty. At home, it is difficult to cater to everyone’s preferences, and because they need to be freshly made, you spend more time in the kitchen than with your guest. And last but not least: they are impossible to eat. When you take a bit, all the filling squirts out, and there is nothing to do about that. Clumsy as I am, the filling then always lands on a place highly unsuitable, then you have to clean it, etc. Not much fun in that. So give it a try if you’re curious, they still sell all these variations at the oliebollen stands, so there must be people who like them, and maybe you’re one of those. But I’ll stick to my home-made, freshly baked, plain and raisin-apple oliebollen for new years eve!

Berliner bollen

Dutch food: Dutch Snacks

I’m not really into the whole football thing, but I do watch the world championship matches in which the Netherlands play, to stay up to date. To make it a bit more interesting, I decided to make a Dutch snack board, with all kind of classic Dutch snacks and appetizers. On a traditional Dutch birthday party you usually arrive in the afternoon, get pie and a cup of tea first, then coffee and a bonbon, and then snacks and drinks; you leave at the end of the afternoon/beginning of the evening. Sometimes coffee/chocolate isn’t served, and sometimes (especially when the party is in the evening) there is no pie served either. In some families it is habit that the guests stay for dinner.
The snacks below are the traditional ones you could expect on a (birthday) party, although nowadays people also serve other things, for example all kinds of things inspired on other cultures, like tapas. The amount and variety of snacks served depends on how much guests there will be and if it is an informal/small party or something big.

Dutch Snacks

From left to right, top to bottom: smoked beef-egg rolls, cucumber slices, ham-herbed cream cheese rolls, salami-cream cheese rolls, cheese, liver sausage, salami-gherkin rolls, cheese with pickled onion, grilled sausage with cheese, devilled eggs, ham-asparagus rolls.

On the board

Cubes/wedges of Dutch cheese
The world-famous Gouda cheese comes from the Netherlands. It comes in different ages, ranging from young (quite soft, creamy and mild) via matured to extra old (hard, crumbly, piquant). There are also many cheeses available that have an addition, for example cumin, clove, fenugreek or nettles; nowadays lots of cheesemakers also experiment with other flavours like pesto, herb/spice mixes and wasabi. I would suggest to serve a young mature (a cheese that everyone likes) and something special in addition. Unfortunately, the name Gouda isn’t protected, so abroad most Gouda doesn’t taste like it should. If you want to try real Dutch Gouda, look for ones that are called “Noord-Hollandse Gouda” (Noord-Holland is a province in the Netherlands), “Boerenkaas” (farmhouse cheese) and “Gouda-Holland”, these have a Protected Geographical Indication status, which means that they can only be made in the Netherlands and can only use milk produced by Dutch cows.

Garnished cubes of cheese
Use a cocktail stick to garnish cubes of cheese with pickled onion (on the board), gherkin, olives, confit ginger, pineapple, mandarin, peach or grape.

Slices of sausage
You cannot have a Dutch snack board without sausage. There are many kinds of sausages available in the Netherlands, for example “gekookte worst” (literally cooked sausage, similar to rookworst or Frankfurters, but always served cold), “leverworst” (literally liver sausage, abroad sometimes known as liverwurst; a finely ground sausage made with pork liver, meat, fat and spices; available firm (as on the board), or spreadable (often eaten as bread or cracker topping)), “metworst” and “droge worst” (literally dried sausage; spiced air-dried pork sausage, similar to salami, lots of regional varieties available), “grill worst” (grilled sausage, can be made with different kinds of meat, the outside is liberally spiced, can contain bits of cheese (like on the board) or sateh sauce) or “Zeeuws spek” (bacon from the Dutch province Zeeland, bacon marinated in a spice mixture and grilled).

The thinly sliced cold meats that we generally use in the Netherlands as a bread topping are also great for making snacks. Salami can be filled with a tiny gherkin (or quarter larger gherkins lenghtways), or can be spread with herbed cream cheese and rolled. Ham can be filled with some cooked white asparagus, either from a jar or freshly cooked, or can be spread with herbed cream cheese and rolled. Rookvlees (literally smoked meat, salted smoked beef) can be filled with quartered cooked eggs. All these rolls can either be served with a cocktail stick pricked in them, or with a container of cocktail sticks on the side, so that people can prick the snacks they choose themselves. Without cocktail sticks these snacks are a bit unwieldy.

Commonly a few slices of cucumber. Sometimes more vegetables (think crudité) are given with one or more dips. There are dipping sauce mixes available in the supermarkets, or some people make their own simple yoghurt/mayo dip.

Devilled eggs
I make them by taking out the yolks from halved boiled eggs, mashing them with some mayonnaise to make a thick paste, season with salt and pepper and scoop this back in the egg whites. To make them a bit more posh you could add some chopped fresh herbs like parsley and chives, and pipe the filling instead of scooping it into the egg whites. Over here some more variations can be found.

Not on the board

These snacks are commonly served as well, but weren’t on my board, because it only was for a few people.

Savoury snacks
For example different flavours of potato chips, different kinds and flavours of nuts, salty biscuits, pretzels, cheese straws and cheese palmiers (we call them cheese butterflies).

Herring on rye bread
You can put both salted and pickled herring on rye bread. Some people add some raw onions on top, but not everyone likes this.

Small toasts/crackers with topping
There are lots of different crackers available in the supermarkets. The most well known are melba toast and water biscuit/saltine crackers. Toppings can be all kinds of things, for example cheeses (brie, camenbert, port salut, roquefort, etc), salads, pate, (smoked) fish or ossenworst (raw beef sausage). Sometimes these “toastjes” (literally small toasts) are pre-made by the host, but usually the toasts and toppings are placed on the table so people can help themselves.

Raw-ham melon rolls
I think this combination became more popular in the seventies or eighties, when foreign flavour combinations became more popular, and these ingredients became available as well. I like this one a lot, because it is lighter and fresher than most of the other snacks. Unfortunately, I could not find a nice, ripe melon, so I could not make this for my snack board.

A warm snack
Often there is a warm snack for the end of the afternoon. This can be a “bitterbal” or something else from the deep-fryer, small frankfurters with something to dip them in (usually mustard and/or curry sauce), or small meatballs (sometimes with sateh sauce).

New Year’s Eve Buffet

This year (or should it be last year?) I made a small buffet for New Year’s Eve. I just love those old-fashioned trays overflowing with all kinds of snacks and garnishes, so this was a small tribute to those. It is quite an assortment of different things, but it doesn’t take that much time, because I chose some ‘instant’ products (like the chocolate and the cheese) and the rest is quite easy and therefore very fast to prepare.

The buffet contained:
– Champagne
– Homemade oliebollen
– Luxurious chocolates
– Ciappe (Italian crackers) with St. Augur and old Gouda farmhouse cheese
– Bohemian Salad
– Green Bean Salad
– White asparagus (jarred) rolled in cooked ham, quartered eggs rolled in smoked beef and rosettes of prosciutto
– Filled eggs

New Year's Eve buffet

The bohemian salad consisted of 150 g gouda cheese (emmentaler as an alternative), 150 g salami, 100 g gherkins and 3 cooked medium sized potatoes, all cubed and mixed with mayonnaise and seasoned with parsley, salt and pepper. It is a very delicious buffet salad, but next time I would cut the cubes a bit smaller to make it easier to have everything in 1 bite, and I would add a few more potatoes to make the salad a bit more substantial and less rich.
The green bean salad was made by dressing cooked and cooled green beans with creme fraiche, salt, pepper, chives and a finely chopped shallot. This dressing is also great with other vegetables.
The filled eggs were made by cooking eggs, halving them, carefully removing the yolk, pureeing the yolk with a fork, mixing it with a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, seasoning with salt and pepper and piping the yolk-mayo mixture back into the egg white halves.

New Year's Eve buffet closeup