Thursday, October 9, 2008

Witlof from Belgium

This is a typical Belgian meal: 'gegratineerd witlof met puree' or 'gratinated endives with mashed potatoes'. My mom used to make it only in winter because the endives were only available then.
Nowadays there is not much difference anymore between the seasons and you can get most fruits and vegtables all year round.
Anyway, when I was a child, I always looked forward when my mom made this dish.
I loved eating the crispy crust, the smell of the cheese sauce and the taste of the soft endives.
As a grown up, I still love it and I make it from time to time, especially when the weather is getting colder. There are probably numerous ways to prepare them, but I'll show you mine.
These are the ingredients:
First you need to cut out a little triangle at the end of the endives. This end has a bitter taste and I always remove it. Then you put them in a pan and add water and salt to it. Let it boil until they are done. Pour off the boiling water and catch it in another pot since you use some of this liquid to make the cheese sauce. Let it cool off and meanwhile you can make the sauce.
Add a little bit of milk to the pan and add two spoons of flour. Stir this until there are no flour lumps left. I never follow the basic recipe to make a bechamel sauce since it always gives me lumps. I do it this way and I use no butter - I never fail doing a bechamel sauce this way. :) Put the heat on the pan and stir in the milk with flour until it gets thicker. Add some of the boiling liquid to it until it becomes a nice smooth sauce. Add some grated cheese and stir some more. Leave it until you're finished with the endives.
The endives contain still lots of water from boiling. You need to get most of that water out of it before putting it in the oven otherwise it will get soggy. Take a clean kitchen towel and press the water out of the endives. Then wrap them in a piece of ham and put them in a baking dish.When they are all in the baking dish, you can add the cheese sauce. Put some breadcrumbs on top of them, a few pieces of butter and some grated cheese. Put it underneath the grill until the crust is golden brown.
While you boil the endives, you best boil some potatoes too. Mash them and add some cream, butter, salt and nutmeg to them. The cream will make them really soft and yummy.
Put in a baking dish, add some breadcrumbs on top of them, a few pieces of butter and some grated cheese. Put underneath the grill until it's golden brown.
Dinner is being served... bon appetit! :)