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10 Dutch Appetizers

Favorite Festive Foods from the Netherlands.

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Most of us dread entertaining. It's so easy to get overwhelmed and there's nothing worse than being stuck in the kitchen while everyone's having a good time in the other room. But you can take the ewww out of entertaining by simply preparing a few things in advance and pairing them with some store-bought items, such as charcuterie, a generous cheese plate consisting of a variety of good Dutch cheeses, grainy mustard and crackers, and bowls of beautiful black and green grapes. Here are a few of our personal party favorites (in random order):

 

1. Dutch Shrimp & Cucumber Sandwiches

Photo © Karin Engelbrecht

These pretty sandwiches combine refreshing cucumber with delicious Dutch shrimp ('Hollandse garnalen'), those moreish greyish-pink morsels native to our waters. You can buy the shrimp already peeled, deveined and cooked at fishmongers and supermarkets all over the Netherlands, but you can easily substitute them with whatever small shrimp or prawns are native to your area. Use skewers to keep the sandwiches looking neat and tidy and present on large platters.

2. Dutch Croquettes (Kroketten)

Photo © Uitgeverij de Kookboekhandel

Croquettes (called kroketten in Dutch) are breaded saugage shaped snacks with a ragout center. There are almost endless varieties of croquettes, but the most popular include beef croquettes, veal croquettess and shrimp croquettes.

3. Frikadellen

Photo © KM Publishers

Well-known Dutch chef, Albert Kooy's 'frikadellen' (also known as 'frikandellen') are grilled (not deep fried) and slightly more grown up than your average snackbar version of this skinless sausage snack. He serves it with chicory and sweet and sour ‘mustard fruit’ (cauliflower, carrots and pearl onions preserved in a mustard syrup).

4. Gerookte Makreelpate (Smoked Mackerel Spread)

Photo © Ellen Schelkers

A quick and easy recipe for a moreish smoked mackerel paté with celery leaves and horseradish. Spread on small squares or triangles of good Dutch rye bread and arrange on serving platters.

5. Gouda Cookies

Photo © John Crow

Excellent on any cheese plate and a great snack, these Gouda cheese cookies always prove popular at parties. Serve with grapes and a Dutch cheese plate or simply on their own.

6. Kaassoesjes van Boerenkaas (Boerenkaas Puffs)

Photo © www.boerenkaas.nl

These cheesy choux pastry puffs, featuring delicious 'boerenkaas' (a raw milk Gouda), are a fun party snack with a distinctly Dutch flavor. If you can't find boerenkaas where you live or if you're not keen to order it online, substitute another medium-aged Gouda.

7. Indo-Dutch Satay

Photo © Ellen Schelkers

The Dutch have embraced the food of their former colony, Indonesia, as their own. Nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Dutch town without an Indonesian restaurant. Indonesian ingredients are available at every supermarket and Indonesian meals have become a staple of everyday Dutch cooking. Make mini satays by threading two blocks of meat onto halved satay skewers.

8. Spring Pea Soup

Photo © Karin Engelbrecht

I called this soup Spring Pea Soup because it's as fresh and green as a Dutch spring day. Because it's made with frozen peas, you can enjoy it throughout the year. For parties, I like to serve this vegetarian appetizer in double shot glasses, topped with crème fraiche and freshly chopped chives.

9. Kaasstengels (Dutch Cheese Stems)

Photo © Ellen Schelkers

These puff pastry cheese twists couldn't be easier to make and are ideal for those leftover bits of puff pastry that always seem to clog up the freezer. They make a great party snack and go really well with cheese and wine.

10. Witlof, Bacon and Goat's Cheese Bites

Photo © Karin Engelbrecht
Witlof (also known as Belgian endive or chicory) makes a great edible spoon for party snacks. All you need to do to make this is fry off some bacon, cut up a little witlof, and assemble the dish with a bit of cubed or crumbled goat's cheese, nuts and some herbs.
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