Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Belgian Endive

Belgian endive is also known as French endive, witlo(o)f in the USA, chicory in the UK, as witlof (the Dutch name) in Australia, endive in France, and chicon in parts of Northern France and in Francophone parts of Belgium. It has a small head of cream-coloured, bitter leaves. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up.  The plant has to be kept just below the soil surface as it grows, only showing the very tip of the leaves. It is often sold wrapped in blue paper to protect it from light and so preserve its pale colour and delicate flavour. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw. 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. Belgium exports chicon/witloof to over 40 different countries. The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s in the Josaphat valley in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Endive is cultivated for culinary use by cutting the leaves from the growing plant, then keeping the living stem and root in a dark place. A new bud develops but without sunlight it is white and lacks the bitterness of the sun-exposed foliage. Today France is the largest producer of endives. (from Wikipedia)

So I tried to cook some endives, I write tried cause I had a huge problem witht eh cheese sauce. The recipe sounds easy but for some reason I just could not get it to work, so I just through the cheese on top and cooked it.
Here are some photos and the recipe if any one can tell me what I did wrong that would be great.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 whole Belgian Endives cored
1/4 cup chopped green peppers
1/4 cup red peppers
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup grated mild hard cheese
2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
8 slices of black forest ham
chopped parsley
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F - In a frying pan, lightly saute the endives, remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with peppers and set aside.
2. Add flour to the oil and stir over heat until lightly browned. Add seasoning and cheeses and blend with a whisk until cheese melts. Stir in peppers.
3. Grease an ovenproof casserole. wrap each endive in a slice of ham. Place in dish, cover with the cheese sauce and cook for about 20 minutes or until dish is bubbly and brown. Garnish with chapped parsley and serve hot.

My problem was #2 my cheese got brown and hard!!! I tried it 3 times!!! I also had my endives wrapped in ham before i started the cheese which i think is a good idea then you can pour the cheese on right away.

Belgian endive's
Endives wrapped in ham
Phone to call your mom every second and say it is not working
Finish product - I just emptied the package of cheese on the endives and cooked them. 
Joe thought they were yummy!  


Fran├žoise said...

How could do something wrong if it tasted great???
If you wanted to make a cheese sauce then it seems to me you needed to add some milk to your flour mix, cook it gently for a few minutes and then add the cheese and stir it till melted. Finally pour the whole thing over the chicons. But your way sounds fine too.
I was inspired to buy some (ridiculously expensive) Belgian endives and I am going to try your way.

Jill, Joe and Foxy said...

that is the same thing my Mom said there is some step or milk missing from the recipe. I will have to check another recipe out. Bonne Chance with your expensive endives.