Month: May 2013

What about the chicory? Hate it or love it?

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Karacsony2010 052The endive is considered one of the most essential vegetables in the Belgian kitchen. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed with minced meat, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw for salad. The tender leaves are slightly bitter; the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste. The harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking to prevent bitterness and at cooking may be useful to add a pinch of sugar.

Since I lived 15 years in Belgium I was kind of obliged to learn how to cook the Belgian endive or in the Flemish part it is called witloof. I have to confess when I accidentally chose as a side dish first I was very disappointed because of its bitter taste. Then for a while if I could I avoided it. But slowly I became on good term with the chicory and started to prepare soup and salad. Since I have found an excellent endive recipe I am almost at the border of addiction.

My best recipes

Stuffed guinea-fowl in porto caramelized endives

Ingredients: 1 guinea-fowl, 4-6 endives, Porto wine, bay leaf, thyme, 1 chicken bouillon

For the filling: 2 slices of bread, cream cheese, such as Philadelphia or Kiri, 1 onion, chopped parsley, 150 gr chicken liver, 1 egg

First prepare stuffing. Add egg, finely chopped onion, chicken liver, (optional) cream cheese to breadcrumbs and season with chopped parsley. Put everything in the food processor and blend well. 2. Loosen the skin of the guinea fowl and place the stuffing in the cavity. Then rub it with salt and pepper. 3. Secure fowl with kitchen string and start to sauté in the melted butter, initially over a high heat then a low one. 4. When both side of the fowl is golden brown pour over chicken boillon. After 20 minutes add the endives (previously cleaned and cut in half) and pour over Porto wine. Simmer fowl and endives together. After about 25 minutes the guinea-fowl and endives should be tender. 5. Prepare potato purée and serve with some salad.

A gratin of chicory in béchamel sauce with cheese This recipe is a Belgian classic.

Ingredients: 4 bulbs of endive, 4 slices of Parma ham, Gouda cheese, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg powder

For the white sauce: 1 tbs butter, 1 tbs flour, 150 ml milk, 100 gr grated cheese.

1. Trim the bottoms of endives so that the leaves remain 2 to 3 inches long. Cut each endive in half. 2. Wrap ham around endives and place them into a buttered oven-proof dish. 3. Make the bechamel sauce from the butter, flour, milk or water. Flavour with nutmeg. Salt softly because the parmaham is already salty enough. 4. Pour the bechamel sauce over endives, grate some cheese over the top and put into the microwave for 7 to 10 minutes. 5. Serve with fresh French bread.

Curry flavoured chicory  with lambs

You need four endives, 1 bayleaf, 4-5 cloves, 1 dl chicken bouillon, 1 dl porto wine, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 pinch of sugar, 1 teaspoon curry

Clean the endives cut out stems. Melt butter in a pan and add halved endives. Sauté for 3 minutes then season with salt and pepper, flavor with bayleaf, cloves and curry. Pour over chicken bouillon and porto wine and simmer over lower heat until endives are tender. Excellent side dish with lamb or chicken!!!

Belgium Schwarzwald 023Endive soup It is an excellent, light soup and easy to prepare.

Ingredients: 2 endives, 1 carrot, 1 l chicken bouillon, 2 cloves of garlic, butter, pepper to taste

(You can add two or three pieces of mushrooms as well)

Clean vegetables, then julienne the carrot. Melt butter in a saucepan, add garlic, carrot and chopped endives. After 3 minutes pour over bouillon. Cook for 15 minutes under covered lid. When the soup is ready put in a food processor and mix well. Serve with sour cream or cream and crouton.

Belgian endive is also known as French endive, or witloof in Belgian Dutch, witloof in the United States, chicory in the UK, as witlof in Australia, endive in France, and chicon in parts of northern France and in Wallonia.

The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Since then endive has been cultivated for culinary use by cutting the leaves from the growing plant, then keeping the living stem and root in a dark place. Today France is the largest producer of endive however Belgium exports chicon/witloof to over 40 different countries as well. In market places it is often sold wrapped in blue paper in order to protect it from light and so preserve its pale color and delicate flavor.

 

Forel Provencal on potatoes-tomatoes bed

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Fish provensal 004This Mediterranean fish recipe is in its flavors and employs a method of cooking fish by keeping it moist in a zesty sauce.

The recipe works also great on the BBQ.  Lay the fish down on some foil, cover in the olive oil mixture, turn over when half cooked and keep them covered.

Absolutely the best BBQ fish you’ll ever make, impressive taste for such a simple dish….

Ingredients: 1 forel for each person, (cleaned, cleared off the scales) potatoes, two pieces for each persons,

6 big tomatoes, 6-8 cloves of garlic, 2 onions, 1 teaspoon of rosemary or sprigs, 1 teaspoon of oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil, 1 lemon, bunch of parsley

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place forel fillets on a large sheet of aluminum foil and season with Greek spice mixture or salt and pepper, flavor with rosemary and oregano.

Peel potatoes or leave the skin on them. Cut in half and place around fish on the baking tin (on the alu foil).

Half tomatoes, slice onions into rings and scatter over potatoes. Toss garlic cloves over potatoes in their rind on them.

Combine olive oil with lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cut tomatoes in half, bestrew with a bit of brown sugar, press garlic over them and sprinkle tomatoes with olive oil. Flavour with salt.

Place tomato mixture around fish. Carefully seal all the edges of the foil to create a large packet. Place the packet on a baking sheet.

Bake  everything in the preheated oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 30 minutes.

German asparagus soup

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Agnes 008In Germany May is the season for eating asparagus. I prepared a white asparagus soup on the other day from puréed asparagus and broth, with some cream added. The heads of the asparagus spears were held back until the last minutes of cooking.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. chopped onion (1 small), 2 tbsp butter, 1 1/2 -2 lb. white asparagus, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces, heads reserved, 6 c. broth, either chicken or vegetable, 1/2 c. half and half cream/sour cream, salt, to taste, fresh ground pepper, to taste, dry white wine, to taste, parsley for garnish, cheddar cheese, croutons, ham slices

Preparation:

Peel white asparagus before chopping it into small pieces.

Sauté the onion in the butter until soft. Add the pieces of asparagus (minus the heads) and steam for 5 minutes. Add the broth and boil gently for about 30 minutes, or until the asparagus is very soft. Flavour with a pinch of sugar.

Purée the soup in batches in the blender or with a hand blender and return to pan.

Bring to a simmer and add the reserved asparagus heads and some cheddar cheese. Cook at least for 5 more minutes, or until they are fork-tender. Turn down the heat and add sour cream. Do not boil further.

Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper as needed. You can add a few spoonfuls of white wine, or juice of a lemon (2 tbsp) if you think the soup needs acidity. Top with croutons and sliced ham. Garnish with parsley or spring onion rings.

Chocolate stamps from Belgium

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chocolate-stampsThe Belgian post office has released chocolate-flavored stamps. According to a Belgian stamp collector, Marie Claire Verstichel, who sniffed the chocolate, the flavor was disappointing, but they smelled good!

Come on, they taste better than regular stamps I am sure! Now I hope in Belgium the letters will be slide into Belgian waffle-flavored envelopes.

So far the Belgian post office released 538,000 stamps on that have pictures of chocolate on the front but the essence of cacao oil in the glue at the back for taste and in the ink for smell.

A set of five stamps costs 6.2 euros ($8) but might leave a customer hungry for more.