Holiday magic – no matter what you celebrate – Asbach cheese ball, Canadian cheddar cheese balls, Bitterballen (veal croquettes)


carolyne_june 12The holiday entertaining season presents an opportunity for us to try new and different recipes. Your guests will long remember these ones: ENJOY!

Asbach Cheese Ball

254 g cream cheese

120 g Canadian medium cheddar cheese, grated

70 g blue cheese

1 clove garlic, minced and crushed

1 g chopped fresh chives (soak dry chives in the Asbach)

15 ml Asbach Uralt brandy (note that in Ontario, Asbach Uralt has been delisted so just use your favourite brandy)

45 ml sour cream

Cream the cream cheese at room temperature for about five minutes, using the dough hook of your kitchen machine. Still using the dough hook, add the other ingredients and combine well. Heap the mixture onto a piece of cello wrap and wrap well. Store for an hour or so in the refrigerator or until the consistency is such that you can work with it. Form a large ball and roll in crushed walnuts. Chill or freeze until party day. Serve at room temperature.

Variations: Make 1 ½-inch balls from the cheese mixture and roll them in walnuts.

Asbach Cheese Dip: Add a little more sour cream to the above recipe (about half a small dish) and stir well. It’s a super dip to serve with chips or crackers, but especially good with homemade croissants.

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Balls

1 c Canadian cheddar cheese, grated

1 T parmesan cheese, grated

1 T Romano cheese, grated

1 egg, separated

¼ c seasoned coarse fresh breadcrumbs

¼ t French’s prepared mustard (or Dijon for a completely different taste)

salt to taste

pinch cayenne pepper

For rolling – very fine seasoned breadcrumbs

Mix all of the ingredients together except the egg white. Whip the egg white until very stiff but not dry and fold into cheese mixture. Form into bite-size balls and roll in very fine seasoned breadcrumbs. Deep fry a small quantity at a time for just a few seconds.

Regular seasoned breadcrumbs are made by adding your favourite herbs and spices. I use 1 t. thyme, ½ t. poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to 2 c of breadcrumbs.

Variation: Roll cheese balls in ground walnuts instead of fine crumbs. Perhaps try Panko crumbs. Delicious!

Bitterballen (veal croquettes)

Traditionally served at New Year’s or Christmas, these delightful “meatballs” will have all your guests coming back for seconds and thirds. They are good year-round, not just for special occasions.

The bitterballen are deep-fried and served piping hot with hot mustard; keep them warm in the oven until serving time or make them ahead and reheat in 300 F oven for about half an hour prior to serving. The name is misleading, because there is nothing bitter about them. The name comes from the occasions on which they are served, when “bitters” are frequently offered along with drinks, particularly gin. This is traditionally a Dutch treat, but the following is my own creation and we serve it all year round to family and friends who drop in.

Bitterballen freeze well, so you can always have some on hand. They will keep for several days in the coldest part of the fridge, although they will not keep indefinitely because of the cream content. So you really don’t think much of veal? Kind of blah and tasteless, you say? Your husband wouldn’t eat veal, so no sense even trying this recipe? Well, if you insist. Funny, I’m sure he’d be back for seconds at my house.

1 lb. ground veal

¼ lb. ground pork

salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

garlic salt



1 egg, beaten

¾ c course breadcrumbs, brown or cracked wheat

chopped parsley

2 tbsp. cream

seasoned breadcrumbs

beaten eggs

oil or lard for deep-frying

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl and form 1-inch balls (rather large). Cover with oiled waxed paper if you aren’t going to deep-fry them straight away. Roll balls in beaten egg and then in seasoned breadcrumbs. Deep-fry. Test oil with cube of dry bread. Bread should deep-fry to a beautiful golden colour on both sides in about 60 seconds; or with thermometer, oil should reach 375 F, not hotter or it will smoke. I always deep-fry using corn oil.

You should always use a deep cast-iron pot or a heavy baked-enamel pot for deep-frying, if you don’t have a deep-fryer. Never try to deep-fry in an aluminum pot and do not have liquid fat deeper than half way up the side of the pot. Bitterballen will cook in about 3-4 minutes on each side. Makes about 30. (Plan on 4-6 per person because they’ll be back for seconds.)


The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. Puff Soldier Sticks – “Yule Love” available any time of year…

    This idea is nothing new to many, but perhaps new to those who have not spent much time in the kitchen.

    I’m thinking perhaps those away from home, perhaps the college kids who have access to an oven, wanting to pop up with a quick way to entertain their pop-in friends in a quick yet upscale way, might find this a useful habit to acquire.

    If you have a modern upscale toaster oven or countertop oven that will allow very high heat, you can use it to make puff pastries. Some don’t get hot enough to cause the dough to puff. To help the puffing process, put the cut soldiers in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.

    The soldiers, topped, filled, or plain are a perfect accompaniment to watching the game, too. So quick and easy; takes no time at all, and are best enjoyed hot from the oven. You could make loads of the puff soldiers a few hours ahead and just quickly reheat, sprinkle with cayenne or dust with paprika and or coarse salt.

    To serve as a sweet, fill or top with chestnut purée added to Chantilly cream, and perhaps dust with hazelnut powder, ground in your small kitchen machine. Ground almonds or walnuts would do. Don’t grind too long or you will get nut butter.

    And for those at home running out of ideas, perhaps, an instant save the grace opportunity to offer just a little something to those who have already eaten their fill at someone else’s place.

    Start by preheating the oven to 400 F.
    From your always on hand freezer storage, retrieve a package of store-bought butter-made puff pastry.

    Working quickly, using a long sharp knife, cut the pastry into long thin strips, a bit like thick straws, about finger-width. Cut each strip into four inch pieces. Place the soldier strips onto a lightly buttered sheet pan, leaving a little puffing space between. each, and brush each piece with just a little egg wash. Work quickly. Bake for about ten minutes or until puffed and golden colour.

    Using flat side to flat side, make a puffed soldier-sandwich, filling with anything that suits your fancy. Could be liverwurst from a tin, or homemade chicken liver pâté.

    You could up the ante by adding a crispy blanched asparagus spear or a slice of firm fresh Bosc pear. Maybe use even a figgy flower made from your black mission fig brandy jar marinated fig by splitting a small fig, slicing in half and half again, not all the way through. Pull the fig gently open and top the puffed coated soldier.

    Creamed or whipped Canadian goat cheese with minced fresh chives and chopped fresh dill works. You could add a little sour cream and or a few crushed, homemade candied nuts from your pantry jar. Serve as is or add a thin string of Norwegian smoked salmon from your freezer package.

    You could fill or top a puffed soldier with Chantilly Cream (easy on the sugar), into which you have added several mashed, just the yolks of several hard-cooked eggs and a little Dijon. Smear on just a bit; if you have it on hand, use Petite Maison White Truffle Dijon, topped with a tiny smear of Wildly Delicious brand Red Beet and Onion Marmalade, or use my homemade kumquat marmalade; if you got a Christmas care package from home while you’re away studying; choose from among what was sent.

    If you have handheld beaters and a can opener, you could whip a half cup of full fat cream and stir into it a full tin of drained, mashed with a fork, west coast red salmon, or if you have access to being able to scald and thicken cream, start by preparing a minced shallot, and sautéing in just a little unsalted butter, then add a little (half and half will do) cream, perhaps a half cup to the very hot but not burning sauté pan. On high heat, scald and thicken.

    Sprinkle with Litehouse brand flash frozen parsley, as sauce thickens. Sprinkle with a little thyme, salt and pepper, and stir in a mashed “poached” sweet garlic clove. Add finely chopped frozen Norwegian smoked salmon napkins you have then mashed with a fork. You could use tinned frozen lobster or King Crab meat. Stir gently and spoon onto the puffed soldier sticks.

    There’s loads of things you can top each puff with. Or fill and make a puff soldier sandwich. Ideally serve the puffed pastry soldiers hot, straight from the oven. Consider gathering in the kitchen, just standing around, maybe tippling your favourite beer.

    These puffed soldier sticks are a fabulous tuck-in to offer alongside a hot bowl of homemade soup, served by the fire after a walk in the snow or after a ski or skate.

    When you initially cut the puff pastry strips, you could twist the sticks a couple of times, or using the long straw-like strips, braid three strands together, and make bigger baked pieces, perhaps three-bite size, just to serve plain with a little crunchy coarse salt as soon as they come out of the oven.

    Made so quickly and devoured even faster, you will use this idea often, all year ’round.

    If per chance you operate a bed and breakfast, or often have overnight guests, perhaps instead of serving toast with breakfast, prepare a batch of puffed soldiers to serve alongside freshly scrambled eggs, and maybe let guests help themselves from a buffet table, or serve the soldiers hot from the oven in a napkin wrapped basket. If you have metal ovenproof bowls, line each with a cloth napkin after removing hot from the oven and this will keep the puffed sticks warm while serving.

    Anyone at your house under the weather? Great breakfast in bed to dip in a cup of hot homemade chicken soup, or serve on the side. A great bedside treat that can be eaten at room temperature to take as a hospital gift for those allowed to eat such things. What a special gift, indeed, wrapped in a pretty cloth napkin in a covered container. These will stay fresh overnight. Nothing says loving like something from the oven, and this fills the bill for sure.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience


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