My croquette obsession and a recipe that celebrates it

SoCali Vegetable Croquettes made with collard greens and Jersey sweet potatoes

Oh the virtues of the croquette.

I absolutely love them.

Croquettes were a staple menu item when I was a child. I grew up eating mackerel croquettes – probably because salmon was a bit pricey. Mom often made them for Sunday breakfast before church and she served them with buttered white rice.  That is a memory I will never forget.

While most of the time mom made croquettes from canned mackerel, I learned that they could be made of anything from minced meat, rice, potatoes and vegetables. Mom would pan fry her croquettes in a little Crisco shortening or lard. Perhaps that’s the reason they tasted so good.

When I look back,  my fondest food memory is perching myself beside the stove top and anxiously waiting until Mom scooped a croquette out of her well-seasoned cast iron skillet with a dinner fork. Once she placed the tester on a paper towel to drain, I would barely let it cool before picking it up because I wanted to devour it before my siblings came into the kitchen. That first, hot, tasty bite was moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. And for me, it was the perfect prelude to what was to come.

My Food Network Experience

Veronica Hendrix mixing up chicken croquettes on Food Network show “Clash of the Grandma’s.”

Late last year, you saw me make chicken croquettes on the Food Network show, Clash of the Grandma’s. And by the way, that recipe is featured in my latest cookbook.

The response from the viewers was amazing. A fried, crunchy, bite-size croquette made with chicken and vegetables made viewers drool. What viewers didn’t know at the time  was those croquettes were a composite of my childhood and family history. That’s why making them looked so effortless, and they were.

As a nod to my mom, my southern sensibilities and my love of croquettes, I developed a special croquette recipe that includes two of my favorite ingredients: collard greens and sweet potatoes. Just because it’s a vegan’s delight, completely dairy free doesn’t mean it isn’t packed with flavor and sheer satisfaction.

Carnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan? It doesn’t matter. This croquette is for you.

The croquette recipe

For this recipe, creamed corn and coconut flour are the perfect ingredients to bind it all together. The use of fresh tarragon enhances the warmth of the collard greens and Jersey sweet potato. This recipe is a tasty departure from traditional salmon, chicken or potato croquettes.  I call it “SoCali” to pay homage to my native Southern California roots and my Alabama family heritage. And one more thing –  these golden brown little beauties could be the talk of your next soirée.

Thanks to the great folks at Cut’N Clean Greens for providing the collard greens to make this recipe. I’ve said enough. The recipe is below. And as always in parting, cook fearlessly and eat well my foodie friends.

SoCali Vegetable Croquettes

  • Servings: makes 20-22 croquettes
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

A delicious vegan and dairy free croquette made with collard greens and Jersey sweet potatoes.


Ingredients

1~ 10 ounce package Cut’N Clean collard greens
1 teaspoon garlic
1 1/2 cup chopped red onions
2 medium grated carrots
2 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
2/3 cup cream corn
2 cups baked Jersey Sweet Potato mash (I used the microwave in this recipe)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black or cracked pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon white sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons coconut flour
Corn, canola, peanut or Grapeseed oil for deep frying
Panko bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Prick Jersey sweet potatoes with a fork and bake or microwave them (which are white inside) until soft when skin is pressed. When done, remove skin and scoop out a total of two cups of Jersey Sweet potato filling. Place filling in a bowl and lightly mash, leaving lots of texture.  Note: Microwave time can vary between 7 to 15 minutes depending on size and density. Baking time is approximately 45 minutes in a 400° F  oven.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet set on medium heat. When oil is heated, add chopped onions and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly unit till translucent. Add garlic and Cut’N Clean collard greens. Season greens with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and sugar.  Mix well and stir constantly over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until greens are tender and bright green.
  3. Stir in chopped tarragon and carrots. Remove from heat and cover for 15 minutes.
  4. Once greens mixture is cooled, place on cutting board and give it a rough chop, just to break up the larger cuts of greens.
  5. Add chopped greens mixture to the  mixing bowl with the Jersey Sweet potatoes. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut flour and 2/3 cups of creamed corn. Blend until mixture comes together.
  6. Using a measuring table spoon, scoop up mixture and form into round balls. Coat each ball in Panko bread coating.

Frying croquettes

If you use an electric deep fryer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how much oil to use. If using a sauce pan or small Dutch oven (as featured in this method) fill pan halfway with oil.

  1. Preheat your oil to somewhere between 350° F  to 375° F. Oil that’s ready for frying will bubble around the stick end of a wooden spoon when it’s inserted. If your oil begins to smoke, you know it’s too hot.
  2. With a slotted spoon or slotted spatula, carefully lower one test Panko coated croquette into the oil. Once it enters the hot oil, things happen fast.  Be sure to stir with the slotted spoon while cooking — this will fry your croquette more evenly. Use this single croquette as a test to see how much time it takes to achieve your desired brownness. Just 30 seconds may be enough or you may need up to 60 seconds.
  3. Remove the test croquette from pan when done and drain on a  plate or sheet pan lined with a paper towel.
  4. After your test croquette, lower no more than three Panko coated croquettes into the oil. Stir with the slotted spoon while frying.  After 30 seconds or more, remove from oil, drain and repeat until all are deep fried.
  5. Serve with your favorite ranch dressing. Or for a smoky and spicier dipping sauce, thoroughly blend a teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper or a tablespoon of hot sauce into a cup of ranch dressing.

TIP: Make sure to remove stems from Cut’N Clean Greens before cooking.

 

Baked Jersey Sweet potato, scooped out and ready for use.

 

Saute of red onions, garlic, collard greens seasoned with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and sugar.

 

Fresh tarragon and grated carrots are added to the greens mixture.

 

Greens mixture chopped and mixed with Jersey sweet potato, cream corn and coconut flour.

 

Croquettes formed and rolled in Panko bread coating.

 

Croquette frying in hot oil.

SoCali Vegetable Croquettes plated. Enjoy!

Yes its in there

Chicken croquettes anyone?

Now you can get my family recipe for those amazing chicken croquettes you saw me make on the Food Network Show “Clash of the Grandmas.” They are golden brown and crispy on the outside; they are moist and delicious on the inside.

So many have asked for the recipe, now you can get it  inside my new recipe book Collard Greens and Caviar eRecipe Pop up Book, which features my most closely held and coveted recipes teased on my social media sites. The recipe book is now available on Amazon.com in Kindle download and paperback.

What else will you get? Recipes for my  Tarragon Panko Coating Mix, and  my Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Praline Topping. As a bonus, I’ve include a section called “Pantry Basics 101” to  help you stay stocked and ready to magic in your own kitchen.

Enjoy the video below and see my inspiration for making the chicken croquettes on the show.

Now – go forth, cook fearlessly and eat well my foodie friends!

Los Angeles Food Blogger Mixes It Up on Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show December 11, 2016

That blogger is moi!

Now that the Food Network has made the official announcement about my appearance on an upcoming episode of Clash of the Grandmas – yes I said Grandmas – now I can officially announce it to you.  See the information below about my debut on the Food Network show which includes details from their official media announcement. I hope you get a chance to watch me in action. Oh – make sure to use the hashtag #ClashofTheGrandmas if you want to chime in on social media. Now that would be super cool!

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Veronica Hendrix,  Los Angeles based journalist, food blogger of  the widely read food blog  Collard Greens and  Caviar, cooking coach and cookbook author, will make her debut on the Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show, Sunday, December 11, 2016  at 10:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time).

clash-of-the-grandmas-contestants-12-11

Left to right: Joan Channon (Hawi, Hawaii), Dale Roland (Groveland, Florida), Neera Sharma (Columbus, Ohio) and Veronica Hendrix (Los Angeles, California)

Hendrix, a native Angeleno and grandmother of a 3 year-old grandson, competes on the hour long show against three other grandmas from Hawaii, Florida, and Ohio. This “on fleek” episode challenged contestants to make dishes that were on point with the latest food trends. This was a perfect episode for Hendrix whose personal style, culinary perspective, and youthful outlook shatter all expectations of the “traditional grandma.”

The panel of show judges on this episode are former NFL player and Food Network star Eddie Jackson; Lifestyle expert and POPSUGAR.com Reporter/Producer Brandi Milloy; and Food Network Star, Celebrity Chef and Television personality Jamika Pessoa. The show was taped in Los Angeles.

Up for grabs in the kitchen battle is $10,000 and Hendrix and her staunch competitors battle mixing bowl to stove top in intense elimination rounds that tested their cooking chops, creativity and nerves.

croquettes-two-shot-2

So Cali Chicken Croquettes  I  made in the first round. These moist and crispy, deep fried bites were called “the next big thing” in food trends by one judge [Photo credit: Veronica Hendrix home kitchen]

With 45 minutes or less in each elimination round, here’s the challenge rundown:

  • Round One – four contestants make an after-school snack featuring each of their grandkids’ favorite ingredients.
  • Round Two – three contestants make spicy fried chicken and grits using quick grits and a baking mix.
  • Round Three – the final two contestants battle for $10,000 and make a savory dish that looks like a dessert.

“It was an incredible experience that tested my skills and creativity. The inspiration of my mom, and the spirit of the many women and men in my family whose food nurtured me and generations was with me in that kitchen,” said Hendrix. “My competitors were fierce, and I learned so much about myself with each challenge.  I really am a fearless cook!”

So how did Hendrix handle the challenges?  Did she win the coveted prize? She can’t say, but make sure to watch Los Angeles’ favorite food blogger in action on the Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show on Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 10:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) and find out.

Social media

Follow Veronica on Instagram @collardgreenscaviar, Twitter @collardscaviar @vhend, and on Facebook at Collard Greens and Caviar.

About Veronica Hendrix

Veronica Hendrix is a journalist, a food blogger, columnist, cookbook author, cooking coach and healthy cooking advocate. Her column Veronica’s View covered a myriad of social and political issues and appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and other online outlets for 12 years.

Today her widely read blog Collard Greens and Caviar (collardgreensandcaviar.com) features food stories and recipes of personalities behind the food, and has featured chefs, radio personalities, home cooks and her own personal foray into the kitchen. The stories are smartly written and entertaining. Veronica co-wrote the popular Taste of Soul Cookbook for Bakewell Media, a recipe book that celebrates the largest annual food festival west of the Mississippi.

She is the author of a cookbook that highlights the use of her Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning mix she created after a doctor’s diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Veronica also produced a half hour talk show called “LA Woman,” which aired on Los Angeles City View Channel 35. She is a Los Angeles Emmy nominated producer, has been a reporter for USA Today and KLCS News in Los Angeles. She is a 15-year member of the National Association of Black Journalists-LA and the Association of Food Journalists. Veronica is a native of Southern California, has two adult sons and a 3- year-old grandson.