Every single time I buy endives at the grocery in the US — which is not frequent as they very rarely have them — I have to tell the clerk what the are, after giving them a second to frantically search through their produce book.
And I don’t blame them, because I had never had an endive before studying abroad in Paris during college. I lived with a host family, and by that I mean a deeply eccentric bohemian Parisian lady who had beaded curtains, multicolored walls, and large framed pictures of African children catching the rain in their mouths framed beside a copy of Les droits de l’homme. Ours was not a chummy relationship like some other study abroad students have with their host families, but we respected each other and got along without conflict, other than the time that she asked me to use less toilet paper. But oh could she cook! I have rarely, if ever, eaten French food that was as good as what I ate at her table. So many vegetables that I had never eaten, sauces that were amazing, and soups that made me like soup. Sometimes I would watch her cook, and I found the secret simple enough: cook everything in either wine, butter, cream, or all three. Yes that sounds like a heart attack, but miraculously I weighed less at the end of my time there than I have ever since. (Ok, so the metro was also on strike for a lot of my stay so I walked a lot too.)
When she first put les endives à la Roquefort, endives with Roquefort sauce, in front of me, I was skeptical. But it quickly became my favorite meal, the one I craved when I came back.
After the wine and cheese party that James threw me last week, we have a lot of extra cheese around and one of my French colleagues gave me a big hunk of Roquefort. James avoids the stinky cheeses, but I could not have been happier to find endives and baguette at Eastern Market and then come home for my Parisian comfort meal.
- Roquefort cheese (blue if you must substitute)
- cream, 1-2 TBS per endive
- sugar ( a pinch)
- ham, or bacon (I left this out when I made it the other day because we didn’t have any)
- Bring water to a boil. Add endives and a pinch of sugar. The endives are very bitter, but boiling them in slightly sugared water cuts it nicely.
- Boil endives until tender, but not overly soft, about 10-15 minutes.
- Drain endives, and set them up on their end (points down) so that excess water drips out.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. You should make this over the stove… but sometimes I’m lazy and do it in the microwave. Combine cream and cheese (about a TBS sized chunk of cheese per TBS of cream — more if you want it stronger) and melt, stirring to break up cheese.
- Wrap endives in ham or bacon and cover in as much sauce as you want. (Confession: after I took thatt picture with the modest amount of sauce, I dumped a bunch more on. Because I love it.) The sweetness of the ham with the bitter endives and the pungent cheese is PERFECT.
- After eating, mop up all the cheesy saucy goodness with crusty bread. Even if you think it isn’t polite — just do it.Variation: make a salad by dicing endives, granny smith apples and walnuts. Toss with olive oil, crumbled Roquefort, a little balsamic vinegar, and a pinch sugar.