Time and time again, it is the memories of sharing meals with our loved ones that linger in our hearts long after the meal is over and the dishes are put away.
For Bridgewater Lifestyle Village resident Carleen Van Neilestijn, Dutch croquettes bring back memories with her late mother-in-law and husband.
“I met my husband as a teenager, so from the age of 16 I supported my mother-in-law and watched her make a lot of Dutch food, including croquettes,” he said. she declared.
“My mum was a good cook but it was a completely different kitchen – I had the best of both worlds.
“I quickly learned how to make Dutch croquettes and started making them really well – it’s ultimately my job to make them for events.”
There are many variations of Dutch croquettes, but Van Neilestijn’s has chunks of beef smothered in a creamy roux sauce, wrapped in a layer of crispy breadcrumbs.
They can be served in an entertaining platter or in a meal with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.
Croquette is a staple of Dutch cuisine. Ms. Van Neilestijn even said that in Holland you can get them from vending machines.
However, in the Van Neilestijn house, it was made for special occasions like Christmas because it took two days to make.
The dish was a labor of love for Mrs. Van Neilestijn who often prepared it for her late husband as it was his favourite.
“I didn’t even eat it because I don’t eat red meat,” she said.
Now 82, she says she doesn’t cook much, but when she does, it reminds her of “times gone by”.
“We’ve always been a pretty close family – there were six kids,” she said.
“My mother-in-law was the matriarch of the family.
“I was the only one who really started cooking Dutch food because I met my husband so young.”
The family recipe is now featured in the Family Favorites cookbook, which features 18 recipes from owners and staff of Serenitas lifestlye communities across the country.
The recipes featured in the cookbook are a way to share the stories behind the recipes and preserve those recipe legacies.
“I hadn’t cooked Dutch croquettes in a while, so to make sure it was good for the cookbook, I made it,” she said.
“I asked if there were any Dutch people in the village who wanted some – well they disappeared very quickly.
“They were all happy to have a meal they hadn’t eaten in a long time.”