I lived in Belgium for quite a long so I had had enough time to get acquaintanced with the chicory. In spite of its bitterness I got to like it and now there is no week without eating it as a soup or salad or even ice cream! But it’s true there are only certain cuisines which appreciate it. For instance the Liguria and Puglia regions of Italy and also Catalonia (Spain), Greece and Turkey. In Ligurian cuisine the wild chicory leaves are ingredients of preboggion and in Greek cuisine the horta; in the Puglian region wild chicory leaves are also combined with fava bean puree in the traditional local dish Fave e Cicorie Selvatiche however in Albania the leaves are used as a spinach substitute, mainly served simmered and marinated in olive oil, or as ingredient for fillings of byrek.
I learned in Belgium that by cooking and discarding the water the bitterness of the chicory can be reduced, after which the chicory leaves may be sautéed with garlic, anchovies and other ingredients.
Here comes one of my favorite dish with the chicory the witloof soup (a.k.a. chicory, or Belgian endive) which is usually made with onions or leeks. Sometimes potatoes are also added to soup, as well as chicken or vegetable stock, and cream. I set out to make a vegan version of witloof soep. I think I’ve had some success with this recipe so I have added it to my growing collection of Belgian inspired recipes:
4 medium heads of endives-chicory
1 small leek, 1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil
2 cloves of garlic
6 cups (about 1.5 Liters) water, 1 carrot
2 vegan bouillon cubes
salt and pepper to taste
optional garnishing: créme fraiche and lavender, 100 ml cream
1.Remove the dark green top of the leek. Chop up the leek and press out the garlic cloves and get rid of the bitter “hearts” of the witloofs.
2. Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot and toss in the leek, bay leaf, add garlic and witloof (and I usually add grated carrot as well). Stir constantly to coat with the hot olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes. The witlof should begin to brown and the leek begin to soften. Add the water and bouillon cubes next. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Remove the soup from heat and allow to cool.
5. When the soup has sufficiently cooled, blend it thoroughly. Return the blended soup back to the stovetop, and stir in the cream. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
6. Before serving, season with salt and pepper. If you want to be fancy, you can add a small spoonful of crème fraiche to each bowl of soup just before serving. Suggested garnish: chives, parsley, lavender.
I discovered this thick, creamy typical German summer and autumn season soup on the other day in a little Bavarian village called Bernried. I asked the recipe from the chef of the Three Roses restaurant and I prepared it at home! It was a big hit.
I like biking, my goal was to make a tour around the lake Starnberg which is unfortunatelly famous for Ludwig’s the king of Bavaria’s death (he was drowned in the lake about 125 years ago) but that’s an other story. So I was very proud of myself because only with two stops I achieved the 100 kilometres in five hours! So I really deserved to eat in the evening this very rich German chanterelle soup.
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. (about 4 cups) fresh chanterelles,
trimmed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves chopped
100 ml cream, 1 tablaspoon of cornstarch, 100 ml sour cream or créme fraiche
5 cups hot chicken stock, freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Try not to wash mushroom just clean with a paintbrush in order to get rid of the soil. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender and slightly browned, 5-10 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, add greens, onions, and garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and greens have wilted, about 5 minutes. Ticken the soup adding the one spoon of cornstarch. Stir it well until it absorb totally. Add oregano and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes more.
3. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Mix the cream and sour cream well and add to soup reserve some for the serving. Toss some chopped parsley and eat with ravenous appetite!
The zucchini or courgette is a typical summer squash. In a culinary context, it is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower.
The zucchini is originated from America but it occurred in Europe only in the very late 19th century, probably near Milan-Italy; and the early varieties usually included the names of nearby cities in their names. The alternative name courgette is from the French word for the vegetable, with the same spelling, and is commonly used in France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom
In culinary use zucchini unlike cucumber, usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés. Zucchini can also be baked into bread similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura. Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes. Mature (larger sized) zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads.
In 2005, a poll revealed that the zucchini to be Britain’s 10th favorite culinary vegetable. Here are two recipes:
Zucchini cupcake with caramel frosting
- 3 eggs, 1-1/3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1-1/2 cups shredded zucchini
- For the caramel frosting
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, cubed, 1/4 cup 2% milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1-1/2 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and extract. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini.
- Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
- For frosting, combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm.
- Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes and decorate.
Courgette with thyme and white wine
Ingredients: 2-3 pieces of fresh zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 C. dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
The 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!!!
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.
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.
Walpurgis night is a traditional spring festival in large parts of Central and Northern Europe. It is held on 30th of April or 1st of May. It is usually celebrated with dancing and with bonfires. It is exactly six months from All Hallows’ Eve.
In Finland, Walpurgis day (Vappu) is one of the four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Midsummer.
In Germany, Walpurgisnacht, Walpurgis Night (in the folklore) the night of 30 April (May Day’s eve), when witches meet on the Brocken mountain and hold revels with their Gods and await the arrival of spring.
In Sweden, Walpurgis Night (in Swedish simply Valborg) has more or less become a de facto half holiday, thus people need some special treatment. The next recipe is a Swedish herring salad made for Walpurgis night. This colorful and healthy version of herring salad (Sillsalad), rich in both taste and omega-3 fatty acids. This recipe is also lovely when poached salmon is substituted for the herring (but then, it is call ed Laxsalad!).
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup wine-pickled herring -or- tinned smoked herring
- 10 to 12 new potatoes, skins on
- 3 green onions (scallions)
- 1 cup pickled beets
- 1 cucumber
- 1 green apple (like Granny Smith)
- 1 bunch fresh dill (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
- 3 to 4 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
Scrub the new potatoes well and then boil just until fork-tender, about 30 minutes (depending upon the size of your potatoes). Cool and cut into 1/8” slices.
Place pickled herring in colander and rinse lightly under cold water (omit this step if using tinned smoked herring). Pat gently with paper towel to dry and cut into 1” pieces.
Dice green onions and julienne pickled beet slices into thin strips. Peel, seed, and then chop cucumber into 1/2” pieces. Wash apple well, core, and cut into 1/2” pieces or slices, leaving the skin on. Coarsely chop the fresh dill, leaving a few long stems for garnish. Peel and cut the hard-boiled eggs into wedges.
For Lemon-Caraway Vinaigrette Dressing: Whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and caraway seeds.
Arrange first 7 ingredients on a serving platter, sprinkling with chopped dill and garnishing with hard-boiled egg wedges and lemon, if desired. Serve lemon-caraway vinaigrette dressing on the side.
Yield: 6 servings as a main-dish salad; 15-20 if part of a buffet or smörgåsbord table.
As far as I am concerned I discovered the herb in Germany about three years ago but in spite of the lots of medical benefits, I didn’t become fond of it. Well, until yesterday when I got a bunch of ramsons from my neighbour’s garden and I decided to prepare a fennel soup seasoning with this new kitchen star. It tasted garlicy, no wonder as the plant has a strong garlic aroma, but without the side effects of the garlic, (such as smelly breath) and with the combination of the fennel, my family voted for that to keep the recipe and make it again.
Few more words about the herb
The Germans call the ramsons bear’s garlic, but in English it is also known as buckrams, broad leaved garlic, wood garlic and wild garlic, among other local names.
The wild garlic is a wild herb and it is native to Asia and Europe. The plant has both culinary and medicinal uses. I’s a very invasive plant and if left to grow uncontrollably, it usually creates a full blanket of dense growth in the area. One needs to be cautious while picking the wild garlic because of its similarity to other bell shaped flowers (are easily mistaken for Lily of the Valley, which is extremely poisonous and possibly deadly! The plant can easily be mistaken for other two poisonous wild growths too). One of the best ways to distinguish wood garlic from other wild growths is by rubbing the flower between fingers. If it releases a strong garlic aroma, it is the right plant. It is important to not consume the herb unless it has been properly identified. As a food, ramson is considered very healthy and its consumption is encouraged almost everywhere in the world. The plant has leaves that are fully edible and are used raw in salads and also as an ingredient in soups, spices, stews and other preparations. When added to homemade pesto, leaves of wild garlic add a powerful flavor to the sauce and make it more aromatic. Chefs generally opt for ramsons instead of basil to flavor pesto.
Wild garlic is a favorite of both brown bear and wild boar. The brown bear has quite a taste for the bulbs and has a habit of digging the ground to reach them. Cows that feed on wild garlic leaves produce milk that has a very strong garlic-y flavor. It is used to make a garlic butter that has been very popular in Switzerland since the 19th century.
When boiled, wild garlic can be eaten as a vegetable or added as an ingredient to other vegetarian dishes. In Russia, stems of the plant are preserved by salting and consumed as a salad. Bulbs and flowers of the wood garlic plant are quite delicious and added to various food preparations.
My beloved fennel bulb wild garlic soup
Ingredients: 2 fennel bulbs, oil and butter to cook
1 red onion, 2 cloves of garlic,
salt and pepper to taste,
1 tbsp of corn starch,
1 chicken stock, 1 bunch of wild garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds,
1 teaspoon of dill and freshly chopped parsley
sour cream to taste
Directions: Trim the fennel leaves (discarding any woody stems). Melt butter and oil mixture and add the onion, fennel leaves, garlic cloves and soaté them, add black pepper. Dense with 1 spoon of corn starch and pour over one and half liter of chicken stock, simmer for 5 minutes.
Let it to boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Bestrew with dill. Serve with sour cream on top and finelly chopped parsley. You can eat with crunchy bacon slices as well.
Ingredients for the courgette dish:
2 medium sized courgettes, grated /peeled on unpeeled (both are possible)
1 onion finelly chopped
1 teaspoon of dill
200 ml or 100 ml cream/100 ml milk or 100 ml sour cream
salt, pepper, paprika powder
1 tbsp of cornstarch or flour
2 tbsp butter or oil to fry
1. Wash and clean courgettes, peel or leave the skin on them. Grate them. Salt and pepper to taste. Chop onion.
2. Heat oil or butter in a saucepan and add chopped onion and grated courgettes. Cook for three minutes then add flour, stir it in and pour over a bit of water or milk.
3. Bestew courgette with the dill and paprika powder. Cook further about five more minutes.
4. Add sour cream or cream to courgettes .
5. Salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.
Ingredients for the Hungarian hamburgers:
300 gr minced meat (pork and beef mixture)
half of an onion chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
a dry or toasted two slices of bread soaked in water
1 tbsp of semi-sharp mustard
bread crumbs for frying
1. Chop onion and fry it in a little oil.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef/pork meat, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, and fried onion and egg.
3. Soak bread until it is absorbed. Squeeze water from bread then add to minced meat.
4. Mix everything together using your hands. Shape the mixture into 10 hamburger patties.
5. Coat hamburgers in the bread crumbs. Heat oil or fritture and fry each hamburgers for 5 minutes per side, or until well done.
6. Serve with the courgette dish.
500g Piedmont beef fillet, trimmed
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp baby capers
handful of rocket leaves, roughly chopped shaved parmesan cheese, to serve
Parmesan olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
1. As the beef needs to be sliced as thin as possible, ask your butcher to slice it for you. If you do want to give it a go yourself, wrap the fillet in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes to firm up. Using a very sharp, large knife, thinly slice the beef and cover the slices with plastic wrap as you go to prevent it from drying out. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Place yolks and lemon juice in a food processor and blend to combine. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream until the mixture becomes lighter in colour and thickens. Stir in the dill and season with salt and pepper.
3. To serve, arrange beef on cold plates, heap with rocket, drizzle over dill mayonnaise, then sprinkle with capers and a few shaves of parmesan. Heat one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of butter in a heavy-based frying pan over high heat until very hot. Serve over beef and drizzle with a little parmesan oil.
3 pre-ccoked beetroots, 100 g Parmesan cheese shaved, and balsamic vinegar cream, orange slices and mint leaf for decoration
Cut beet roots in fine, thin slices. Salt and pepper to taste, bestrew with grated Parmesan and sprinkle with the Crema di Balsamico. Serve on rocket salad bed and decorate with fresh orange slices and mint.
Ingredients: 2 potatoes, ½ tsp salt, 1 egg, 2 ½ inch carrot, ¼ cup corns, 2 inch English/Chinese cucumbers, 2 black forest ham slices, ¾ cup (12 Tbsp.) Japanese mayonnaise, salt, fresh ground black pepper
Directions: Peel potato skins and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces. (They should be roughly about the same size so that they’ll be done cooking around be the same).
Put potatoes in a large pot and pour over 1 liter of water. Cut carrots into quarter (or half) and then slice it thinly. Add to potato and cook vegetables together until the skewer can go through the vegies smoothly. Drain water and put vegetables into a bowl.
Prepare boiled egg. Remove the shell and mash the egg with a fork in a small bowl. Set aside. Peel the cucumbers (leave some skin on to create stripe pattern) and cut into quarter. Then grate it.
Dice the sliced hams into small size. Add hams and veggies into the mashed potato bowl. Grind some pepper over and mix well. Add mayonnaise and boiled eggs and fold carefully together. Let it cool and keep in the fridge till it is ready to be served.