At the start of this new year we have decided to translate some of our blog posts in English.
Our blog, which started as a complement of our site foodstyling.be, online since 2012, is about explanation and illustrating mostly Belgian, French, and Italian recipes.
We started at that time as food stylists for magazines and cookbooks, we evolved as recipes authors and photographers.
We think the time is right to share our recipes and images to an English speaking public.
As we are no native English writers, please forgive us some mistakes.
Don’t be afraid to ask us for explanations if you don’t understand everything.
So, let’s start with a first recipe, which is typical Belgian, although with some twists.
Belgian chicons au gratin
The chicons, Belgian chicory, au gratin, is a star dish for Belgian winters which we are happy to share with our English speaking readers.
The constraints of publishing force us from time to time to use ingredients well before their season. This week we had to cook white asparagus. Unfortunately, they came from Peru and they were tasteless, full of water and without any taste. It was rather a shame, the result was frankly disappointing, but it is still an additional reason to advocate the use of seasonal products grown naturally and preferably locally. There is no pleasure in eating asparagus, strawberries or cherries in February, especially if these products are expensive and tasteless.
Here is a recipe of chicons (endives in French and chicory in English) au gratin. They are tasty, cheap and seasonal!
Chicons au gratin is a traditional Belgian recipe that we have modified a little. Our endives are braised instead of being boiled in lots of water, and we dare to use fresh grated Parmesan instead of Gruyere. We hope you can follow and forgive us this slight break with Belgian traditional cuisine.
Ingredients: 1 kg of chicory, the juice of a lemon, 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar, 30 g of butter, 8 not too fine slices of quality ham, 150 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
And for the bechamel sauce: 50 g of flour, 35 g of butter, 1/2 liter of milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Let us first cook the chicory. Remove the slightly wilted leaves and wash the chicory. Arrange them side by side in a large casserole. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and sprinkle with pieces of butter. Add a little of water and cook the chicory over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes, this dish requires well-cooked vegetables. Drain the chicory while preserving the cooking juice for the béchamel sauce.
Melt the butter, mix the flour with the melted butter and cook for 10 minutes, on low heat, stirring and without allowing to color. Gradually add the milk to the roux, always stirring the mixture and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Add the chicory cooking juice to the sauce and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and possibly a little lemon juice to add a bit of taste.
Roll each piece of chicory, drained well, into a slice of ham and arrange them side by side in a gratin dish. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and sprinkle all with a nice layer of Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 180 °
Serve this dish with mashed potatoes or simply with bread.