Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dutch Inspirations!

All of a sudden I have fallen in love with one of the most hated vegetables in the country- Belgian endive! Long gone are the days when I ignored the vegetable. I can no longer leave the market without at least a kilo of these luscious heads of ‘white gold’ and I only have one person to thank- Yolanda van der Jagt!

Yolanda’s book, Lekker Hollands, has become one of my favorite cookbooks as far as the Dutch kitchen is concerned. When I first opened the book, I was quite surprised to see that the foreword was written by Jamie Oliver. Now that alone was already a good sign! Yolanda and Jamie worked together at the River Café in London and her innovative dishes are reminiscent of Jamie’s style. Like Jamie, she has a keen sense for interesting flavor combinations and just reading her recipes makes you want to run into the kitchen- fast! I love the fact that she is quite the vegetable fan. Her book totally opened up my eyes to the possibilities of doing different things with vegetables such as:

- celeriac: had some for lunch today, julienned, with apple and raisins, also love it in my mashed potatoes.

- parsnips: I never thought of making a traditional Dutch hutspot with anything but boiled carrots and potatoes until Yolanda came along and showed me how to make a roasted hutspot- with parsnips ( the original veggie used in the dish) carrots and white bean mash.

- kale: deliciously different as a crostini topping!

- leeks: wrapped in bacon, covered in tomato sauce, sprinkled with thyme and baked in the oven.

- red peppers: caramelized and served with... vanilla ice cream, for dessert!

- and of course, Belgian endive. Oh how delicious it is grilled and served with a vinaigrette of shallots, bacon and balsamic vinegar!

Last weekend I decided to turn to Yolanda once again for a little inspiration and served endive in a savory tart. First I sautéed the endive in a little butter and also did the same with some red onions. Then it was just a matter of sticking a few sheets of puff pastry together (shop- bought), throwing the veggies on top and scattering bits of chèvre and bacon here and there. Couldn’t have been any easier! I served the tart with a salad of lamb’s lettuce and a bottle of Pouilly Fumé. It was SO, SO good!

PS: Yolanda's book is only available in Dutch. Yolanda, the world needs a translation! ;)

Here's Yolandas recipe (adapted by me):

Endive Tart with Goat Cheese
Serves 2-3

-6 squares of puff pastry (about 45g per square), or a piece of about 30 x 20cm
-2 tbsps butter
-5 red onions, halved and thinly sliced
-500g Belgian endive, 1 cm cut off of the ends, halved and then sliced thinly
-1 tbsp dried thyme
-100g chvre (soft goat cheese)
-4 strips of bacon
-1 beaten egg
-freshly ground pepper

  • Preheat oven to 210C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the puff pastry on the tray and leave it to defrost at room temperature.
  • Melt 1 tbsp of the butter, add the onions and let them cook gently for about 20 minutes.
  • Melt the other tbsp of butter in another pan and cook the endive gently for about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Press the edges of the puff pastry together to form a rectangular sheet. Layer the veggies over the pastry leaving an edge of about 2cm.
  • Scatter the thyme, cheese and bacon over the tart, brush the edges with the egg and bake it for 20- 25 minutes until golden brown.


Terry B said...

A great post, Paola! I too have become a fan of Belgian endive after discovering a great salad at Lucien, a lovely French bistro in New York. In fact, I liked it so much I had to try my hand at recreating this lovely Belgian endive and blue cheese salad.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Paola, that tart looks delicious! And you've added goat's cheese - one of my true passions. :)

MEM said...

You might check out Molly Stevens' recipe, written about definitely changed my mind about endive!

Paola said...

Hi Terry, Thanks for stopping by! The combination sounds great!

Thanks Patricia! I share your passion! ;)

Thanks for checking out my blog, Mem! Unfortunately, I can't read the article you mention. Very curious though!


MEM said...

Ah, HTML. Maybe letting you cut and paste is easier:

and also check

blog on!

Hillary said...

I'm so glad to read about others who love Dutch food and The Netherlands/Belgium as much as I do! I love it there.