keito potato

Belgian Herbed Carrot Soup
May 5, 2012, 1:05 pm
Filed under: recipes, soups | Tags: , , ,

A lovely soup, flavored with the classic Belgian trio: leeks, thyme, and bay leaf.  This was the first course at the Belgian meal with my vegetarian cooking group last weekend.  We started by making a simple vegetable broth (the one I previously posted), and then built this soup following the recipe from Ruth Van Waerebeek’s Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook.

These days, it’s common to make pureed carrot soups with ginger and curry flavors, but I tend to prefer pairing carrots with fresh green herbs.  Apparently, traditional Belgian cuisine highlights the best of Medieval European cooking skills.  This means that they utilized fresh local European herbs before the spice trade.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts

1 large onion

6 cups vegetable broth (you can use my easy basic broth recipe, or used boxed broth)

1 – 1/2 pounds carrots

1 large baking potato

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 – 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 cup milk

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh parsley


Wash and thinly slice the leeks into rings.  Slice the onion.  Peel and slice the carrots into 1-inch slices.  Peel and cube the potato.  You don’t need to be precise in your chopping, since you will puree the soup at the end.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks and onion.  Cook, stirring until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, the carrots, potato, thyme, and bay leaf.  Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very soft, 35-40 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool a little.  Discard the bay leaf.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

Puree the soup with a stick immersion blender.  Stir in the milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reheat the soup and serve sprinkled with minced parsley.  

Belgian Endive Tart
May 2, 2012, 12:01 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , ,

This tart is in the same family as quiche, but more exquisite.  Puff pastry is topped with caramelized Belgian endives, quiche-style egg custard, gruyere cheese, and parsley.  It was the main dish at my vegetarian cooking group’s Belgian meal this weekend.  Belgian endives are slightly bitter in a refreshing way.  When they are caramelized they are still slightly bitter, which is immensely pleasing and complex in combination with the buttery puff pastry and nutty gruyere cheese.

photo by Joel Weaver

I’ve adapted the recipe from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek.  I’ve made the tart vegetarian by eliminating the ham, and have replaced the pie crust with a puff pastry crust, which makes it more special.  You can buy puff pastry in the frozen section of most grocery stores.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto


1 sheet puff pastry

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

4-5 Belgian endives

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

2 large eggs

1 cup half-and-half

freshly ground nutmeg

2 ounces Gruyere cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Defrost the puff pastry for about an hour.

Cut off the core end of the endives.  Thinly slice them into slivers. 

Melt the butter in a large heave skillet.  Add endives, salt, pepper, and powdered sugar.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice.  Cook, covered, over medium heat until the endives are soft and slightly caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Stir from time to time to make sure they do not burn.

In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Then beat in the half-and-half.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a generous grating of nutmeg.

While the endives are caramelizing, you can pre-bake the puff pastry.  Your puff pastry will most likely come in a long rectangular shape.  If you are using a large round tart pan, you will need to use a rolling pin to roll the pastry into a square that will fit in the pan.  Place in the tart pan, and tuck the ends under the edges. 

photo by Joel Weaver

photo by Joel Weaver

 Pre-bake the puff pastry in a medium-heat oven for around 10 minutes, until it is starting to puff even in the middle a little.  If you won’t pre-bake the puff pastry, the custard will make it soggy.  Remove the puff pastry from the oven.  If the middle has puffed up, it will collapse a little when you pour the filling in.  You also might want to think about baking it with “weights.”  Arrange the caramelized endives over the bottom of the crust.  Pour the egg mixture over.  Grate the gruyere cheese, and sprinkle it over the egg mixture.  Top with the chopped parsley.

photo by Joel Weaver

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

Bake at 350F until the custard is set and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 18-25 minutes.

Let the tart set for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  Cut into wedges and serve while still warm.  It is still wonderful at room temperature, if you are thinking of bringing it to a picnic.

photo by Joel Weaver

Endive leaves filled with blue cheese, cognac, and walnuts
April 30, 2012, 2:08 pm
Filed under: recipes, starters | Tags: , , ,

Blue cheese, cognac, and walnuts complement each other perfectly.  Here they’re combined as a spread, and then piped into Belgian endive leaves for an appetizer.  This classic blue cheese and walnut spread is often served on toast or crostini, just like the crostini paired with this soup.  As delicious as it is on toast, you might find that endive is a more refreshing and healthful platform for the spread compared to starches like bread.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

You don’t need to buy a piping set to pipe the mixture into the long and slender endive leaves.  The cheaper method for piping is to use a ziploc bag, and snip off one of the corners to use as a piping tip.

This makes an easy and delicious appetizer for parties.  You can make it hours in advance, and the endives will still stay fresh.  The endive leaves are also visually stunning on a platter.



2-3 Belgian endives

4-5 ounces blue cheese, at room temperature

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1-2 tablespoons cognac

1/3 cup walnuts


Toast the walnuts in the oven until fragrant.  Chop roughly.  

Remove the core end of the Belgian endives, and separate the leaves.

In a small bowl, mix the blue cheese, butter, and cognac together to form a smooth paste.  Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Spoon the blue cheese mixture into a small ziploc bag to use as a piping bag.  Using scissors, snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag.  Use this open tip to pipe the mixture into the Belgian endive leaves.