A fancy spin on croquetas

This week celebrity & Master Chef Steven Saunders from the award-winning Little Geranium in La Cala de Mijas makes gluten free homemade croquetas! Beethoven’s 9th!

We have won some really prestigious awards this year like Best Luxury Restaurant and Best International restaurant in Spain and this week we were nominated for two more.

One is a European Enterprise award and the other a vegetarian choice award. Last week I wrote about Michele ́s step sister staying with us, she is a vegetarian.

She is still here and everyday I am coming up with something different, crikeys knows how! Anyway, one of her favourite dishes that I have prepared at home were my simple cheese croquettes with a harissa dip.

In Spain we call them croquetas and in France I have always made a similar thing called Gougeres which are little choux pastry balls filled with cheese. Either way these are delicious and the Spanish method is pretty simple, in fact so simple that I asked myself …why would restaurants buy frozen croquetas when they are so simple to make?

My mother who was called Joy, used to make them using all different types of cheeses, some blue and some with cheese and chillies. We all liked the recipe so much that I decided to use them as my little amuse de chef in the restaurant. As you know an amuse is a small course to get your taste buds tingling before all the other courses, its like a warm up!

Since post lockdown I have seen an increase in vegetarians in the restaurant. Actually, there is an increase in anything and everything slightly different and the more complex it is, the trendier it is! The other evening, we had a table that was gluten free, one of them a gluten free vegan, two were vegetarians but one could eat fish but no shellfish, one was allergic to mushrooms and lactose but was vegetarian.The same evening, we had a table allergic to truffle with one that couldn’t eat meat, fish or dairy products but didn’t want vegetarian. It turned out that she only ate chicken and salmon neither of which I have on the menu so I have to shop for all these things and then prepare all day and then……. guess what? They cancel!!

As I walk around the tables at the end of the evening some people say…you look a bit tired! Hardly surprising! all of these diet complications means that I have to prepare so many different menus and it literally takes me all day.We ask people politely to book and rarely take a walk in, because I prepare the menu that they have chosen in the day. How it works is when you book online Michele calls and discusses it all and then she gives me a list of requirements which often looks like Beethoven’s 9th symphony! I can sympathize with Ludwig; his symphonies were so complex and his work so intense that he was deaf. I don’t think I am going deaf but I maybe going mad!

I often wonder where else do they go to eat? Now I am not complaining because we need clients right now but it’s a fair point. Can you imagine these clients turning up to a Spanish restaurant and saying, one of us is gluten intolerant, one is allergic to tomatoes, potatoes and peppers but is vegetarian and the other is a vegan but doesn’t eat mushrooms, oh and then 1 can’t eat fish or shellfish no red meat and allergic to rice and frozen food!

If I stick to a vegetarian amuse it kind of suits everyone. If I make them using corn flour, use gluten free breadcrumbs it suits the gluten frees, but then it stops there because if I don’t use butter or milk, ultimately, I won’t be adding cheese! So hey, I will do a gluten free version that also suits the veggies but won’t ever suit everyone, nothing possibly ever could! So here is a fancy spin on croquetas!

Ode to Joy simple Homemade Gluten free croquetas

Ingredients to make enough for 4 to 6

50g of corn flour
½ onion chopped finely
25 g butter
250 ml of milk
100 g of grated cheddar cheese
50 g of grated gruyere cheese
1 heaped tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon thick cream seasoning
For coating
50 g of corn flour
2 eggs beaten
150 g of gluten free breadcrumbs
Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat and add the onion and stir until translucent. Keep on a low heat and stir in the flour and gradually add the milk until you have a thick glossy sauce.
Now add the cheeses, the parsley, the thick cream and season and stir well until the cheeses start to melt.
Tip into a bowl and refrigerate for minimum of four hours or overnight.
When the mix is cold you can now mould them into small balls or croquette shapes and then dip into the flour, into the beaten eggs and finally into the breadcrumbs.
You can now put them back in the fridge covered or even freeze and reserve.
When required heat the deep fat fryer to 190c or use a saucepan with sunflower oil and a temperature gauge.
Cook for about 1 ½ minutes until golden brown, serve with a spicy dip like the one below.
Harissa dip
1 tablespoon of Harissa spices
150 ml of thick cream juice of 1 lemon or lime
seasoning pinch of hot red pepper
Heat the cream and reduce a little on the heat.
Add the spices and stir well and allow to infuse on a low heat for a minimum of 30 minutes. Now add the pinch of hot red pepper seasoning and the lemon juice, taste and serve warm in a little dish.
In the restaurant I serve the croquetas in little balls on a little Lebanese tabouleh with a little of the sauce served on the side as an amuse de chef.
Follow Steven on Instagram ….@saunderschef
The Little Geranium, Winner of Best International Restaurant Spain…2020
www.thelittlegeranium.com For bookings: Michele@thelittlegeranium.com
Thank you for reading this article, “A fancy spin on croquetas”. For more from Steve Saunders, click here to visit the Euro Weekly News website.
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Steven Saunders

Steven Saunders FMCGB - The Little Geranium - La Cala de Mijas & Marbella