Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flemish Food-Cooking

After our tramp around Ghent, we returned to the house and commenced to cooking. While the water for the soup heated, we refueled--my favorite way--with a little wine and cheese and bread. The first course of asparagus soup is made with spargal, a white variety of asparagus, produced by the plant underground. It has a mild flavor and gives the asparagus soup an ethereal white color. Karolien’s recipe calls for butter, leeks, asparagus, potato, sock, parsley and cream. The leeks are sautéed in the butter til tender, and the potato and asparagus is added with water and stock and cooked til soft. The whole thing is pureed and thickened with cream (or milk) and served with salty little North Sea shrimps.

The main course consisted of potatoes, baked cod and sautéed chicon, also known as Begian endive. Chicon is the bitter green part of the super-plant chicory. Chicory has edible roots that can be roasted as a coffee substitute, produces healthful bitter greens, is used as a dynamic accumulator of nutrients in permaculture gardens and has beautiful flowers. These chicon were grown underground (as is traditionally Belgian) to prevent them from turning green, and have a delicate flavor. They were sliced, and the hard inner core removed, and sautéed in butter for a few minutes. They became a bit crisp around the edges and tasted buttery, delicate and slightly bitter.

Karolien mashed the cooked potatoes with a little butter, milk and egg. They were light, creamy and perfect in texture. The egg adds something mysteriously good! The fished was baked with tomato wedge and sprigs of sage (for no longer than 9 minutes, says the fish guy) and came out of the oven flaky and tender. We enjoyed the whole feast over a bottle of organic (or Bio, pronounced “bee-yo”) sauvignon wine. A delicious light and healthy repast! We ended the meal (although there wasn’t much room for it) with cubes of bread pudding and mattentart. I don’t remember much after this. The wine, the walking, my full tummy and my 36th hour of being awake and taking in the rich, wonderful world on two continents put me deep in dreamland soon after the table was cleared.

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