I have not been blogging lately because I have been busy practicing. Practicing recipes for my friends’ Kasia and Danny’s wedding shower. They have been dating for, long enough. I have planned Kasia’s shower over and over again for all of that enough. I have nighttime menus, brunch menus, girls only menus, couples shower menus, I’ve even planned menus at restaurants and seating arrangements too. If you need a shower menu just ask me, I can help. When asked by the other hosting couples to come up with a menu for the actual shower, a couples stock the wine cellar themed shower, I chucked all my menus and came up with a new one. So Jim and I have been furiously practicing, cooking and eating a lot things over and over again trying to get everything the best we can. The fridge is engorged with leftovers. The dogs are quite sated. When we finally get to this party we are going to be seriously burned out our food. But it does give us the opportunity to take cooking very seriously.
The menu is Spanish-y, all hors d’oeuvres, passed and stationary. One item I really want to serve is croquettas. In the interest of time and labor it had been my plan to purchase them. After scouring at least 6 different stores and most of Buford Highway I could not find anything. I had luck on the internet, but 80 croquettas cost $50 plus another $40 for shipping. Seemed extravagant for some flour and milk. With only a week and a half to spare I told Jim, ‘We have no choice but to make these things ourselves’. I spent an hour or two researching croquetta recipes on the internet. They had to be pescatarian friendly to meet the guests of honor dietary restrictions. I did not like the vegetarian recipes I found and was not in the mood to mess around with salt cod; I was wary of using mushrooms and their water logged selves on my first trip out, so I decided to use a standard recipe for jamon croquettas I had found on both the Washington Post website and at latienda.com and I would substitute the meat for canned tuna. I left work early and found everything I needed in my pantry, 10 minutes later I had croquetta dough? paste? filling? resting in the fridge. I went for a run and a trip to the bank, came back rolled them into croquetta form and 15 minutes later plopped them in the freezer, went to the grocery store, picked up the kids from camp, came home. Jim’s son asked ‘What’s for dinner?’ I said ‘Remember the croquettas you had at Jessica and George’s restaurant in Baltimore? We’re having those, with chicken mole and salad’. Squeals of delight all around. Jim asked ‘When did you make croquettas?’ I replied ‘Really it wasn’t nearly as labor intensive as I expected.’
I rolled half in bread crumbs and half in panko and we all took the Pepsi challenge to see which was preferred. The children DEVOURED these things and asked for more until they were all gone. The testing and tweaking continued over several days; my hair might permanently smells like fry oil but I think it's ready.
Tuna Croquettas with Smoked Paprika Aioli - Makes 12 +/-
- 1/2 of an onion chopped finely (about 1/2 cup)
- 5 oz. can tuna in oil (drained)
- 2 anchovies in oil
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 pinch smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 egg yolks (room temperature)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 3 tablespoons canned chopped fire roasted tomatoes (I find these at Whole Foods or the YDFM)
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced, about 1/2 teaspoon
Saute the onion in olive oil, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Halfway through cooking the onions add the anchovies and let them dissolve by mashing them, making a paste and evenly distributing them throughout the onions. Add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time by whisking it in, making sure the prior tablespoon of flour is incorporated before adding the next. Next add the milk by whisking it in. Heating the milk so it is at room temperature will make it less likely to crack the roux, I microwaved mine for 20 seconds. Like the flour, I add this in 3-4 steps, making sure the prior dose is incorporated before adding the next. Once incorporated cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add in the tuna, paprika, parsley and pepper. Place in the fridge to cool for 2-3 hours. Once chilled, make an egg wash with the egg whites and water, whisk with a fork until combined. Using about a two teaspoon sized piece of dough roll into oblong dumplings, roll in bread crumbs, then egg wash, bread crumbs again, place on a plate covered with wax or parchment paper. When all are assembled place in freezer on plate with wax paper about another 2 hours, at this point they can be fried or stored in a freezer bag for another time. Heat vegetable oil in a pan about 1/2 an inch deep to about 300 degrees. Fry croquettas turning once, about 3 minutes total, drain on paper towels.
To make the sauce, add the egg yolks and tomatoes to a blender with a tablespoon of the oil, start on low, stream in the oil and spices, increase speed to medium, then add the lemon juice. Blend for about a minute or two until it becomes a mayonnaise.
Notes: The aioli will accommodate 2-3 orders of croquettas.
For the sake of uniformity and presentation I used an actual teaspoon (which held 2 a teaspoon measurement) for scooping the dough, then I boxed it by pressing on the sides and top and forming them to the width of my palm.
I don't like being accosted by raw garlic, it ruins my day. I usually roast mine in the oven with a little olive oil so it softens the garlic and the flavor and then use I it in any recipe calling for raw garlic.