“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Endive Right In

Wow. First of all let me just give myself a big pat on the back because according to my site stats, as of right this minute (10:07 pm British Summer Time, March 30th 2011) this blog has had 4,320 page hits in the past 30 days! Woo hoo!!!

Sorry. I'm calm now.

Another thing to get excited about is that somebody correctly answered the Name This Food! question so quickly I barely had time to blink. A reader named Iris correctly identified this

as Belgian Endive.

So what is Belgian Endive, and why is it Belgian? How does it differ from any other kind of endive?

Endive  (Cichorium endivia) is a leaf vegetable belonging to the daisy family. Endive is also a common name for some types of chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Endive belongs to the chicory genus, which includes several similar bitter leafed vegetables. There is considerable confusion between Cichorium endivia and Cichorium intybus.
Species also include Cichorium pumilum and common chicory (Cichorium intybus). Common chicory types include radicchio, puntarelle and Belgian endive. So if anyone had guessed at chicory, they'd also be right.

There is a website entirely dedicated to endives, at http://www.endive.ca/ 

Belgian endive is also known as French endive, witlof in Dutch or witloof in Belgian Dutch, witloof in the United States, chicory in the UK, as witloff in Australia, endive in France, and chicon in parts of northern France and in Wallonia. 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 (etiolation). 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 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. These days, France is the largest producer of endives.

Well, that's all well and good, I hear you cry. But what can we do with it?

Well, apart from all the lovely salad uses for this plant, how about some soup?

Cream of Belgian Endive Soup

serves 4

2 Belgian Endives, cored
1 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste
chopped chives
dill sprigs for garnish

Mince the Belgian Endives, reserving a few small leaves for garnish. Saute the onion, garlic, and minced Belgian Endives in the butter for three minutes. Add the potatoes and chicken broth and simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Put this in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the milk, salt, and pepper and blend. Serve hot or cold. Garnish with the small Belgian Endive leaves, chives, and dill. 

Meanwhile, over at Food Network, Emeril Lagasse has a lovely recipe for Braised Belgian Endive. BAM!

OK, so now we need a new Name this Food! food...

Name this dish!

Kooshti sante!


  1. That's got to be cassoulet. BAM!

    Is it cheating if I cook for a living? I use Belgian endive every day.

    I found your site through the post "Edible Fractals" while looking for pictures of romanesco, cabbage and other, well, edible fractals.

    I enjoy your writing and the quizzes make me feel smart. Which I like. Nice blog.

  2. No, Iris, it's not cheating, in fact i welcome the input of other cooks/chefs. And yes, it is cassoulet. BAM! Thanks for the compliments, I'm glad I make at least one person feel smart! It is indeed an honour to have you among my readership.

  3. Just took a looksee at your workplace, Iris, and I will definitely make time to pop in if I am ever out that way again - I lived from 1991 - 2000 in Lake Stevens, near Everett so the Seattle area is very familiar to me, in fact I would go so far as to say it is my spiritual home, I really miss it. Ah well. Maybe someday soon.

  4. Do you make it back often? Yes, the melancholy green raininess seems to bring out the introspective in all of us. I just read an article that called Seattle the nicest, most passive-aggressive city in the country. Sounds about right.

  5. I remember Almost Live did a classic parody of The Fugitive, set in Seattle. They talked about the 'viciously polite element' and the politically correct people. Right on. I haven't visited since 2003 unfortunately. I miss going to Fremont and wallingford and Archie mcPhee's, the Erotic bakery, Chandler's on Lake Union with their whiskeyed crab soup, Molbak's, The Maltby cafe, Remlinger Farms, Snoqualmie, Lake wenatchee, etc. etc...


Come on and chew the fat!


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