Around this place called the internet, I’ve read that some people read cookbooks like novels. I’ll be honest: that’s not me. I love books, I love all books. Libraries and bookstores are dangerous places for me. I worked at a bookstore for 18 months and let me tell you, I spent more time getting lost in the books I was supposed to be shelving than I did actually shelving. Eventually they just kept me in the café.
But cookbooks? I like flipping through them, I like browsing recipes and salivating over the pretty photographs, but I don’t read them cover to cover. Maybe that’s a problem. Maybe I’d learn more about braising techniques and dish presentation if I did.
Now culinary magazines, I can do.
France, according to a few of my professors has a higher number of culinary magazines, journals, and revues than anywhere else in the world. Some day I’ll do a comparison of numbers between France and the US, because if this fact is true, the sheer number of magazines per square meter in this country must be incredibly high.
In my frantic effort to find an internship for the coming year, I’ve been buying magazine after magazine after magazine. Sitting down, reading them through, and taking notes.
And occasionally coming upon a recipe that I just can’t resist.
It’s a month to Christmas and that means preparation. I don’t mean shopping for a mass of brightly wrapped gifts, but preparing for the meals that go along with the holiday. Magazines are coming out stacked with ideas; many are even putting out special issues filled with extra recipes for all budgets and tastes. You know the kind. Caviar recipes placed next to gratin potatoes.
This is dish is one from the holiday issue of Saveurs, a French food mag with lots of excellent, yet not overly complicated dishes. And some original ideas. From their October issue, my husband and I made roast rabbit with chorizo, which was subtle and spicy all at once.
But this is something completely different. Sweet, bitter, sour and fresh. A blend of flavors that come together smoothly, yet don’t over-power the palate.
Endives braised in citrus with pistachios, pain d’épices, and dried cranberries.
Two things about this recipe you should know:
1) The cranberries are my own addition and added a nice sourness that matched well with pain d’épices.
2) Pain d’épices: Sometimes translated as gingerbread, but this is not the traditional American hard cookie shaped as little men. It’s a real spice bread, in fact that’s the literal translation. It’s soft, has slight orange and honey overtones and it screams classic French Christmas. If you want to make this recipe I highly suggest searching out pain d’épices where ever an artisan baker may be. Or you can bake your own using this recipe by David Lebovitz.
Though this refreshing and pretty endive recipe was in their “accompagnements” or sides section, I made it as a main and it was filling and satisfying enough with a small, very fine slice of Parma ham on the side.
The ham was perfect with it, but duck or foie gras would also go well.
Don’t know what to do with the rest of your pain d’épices?
Blue cheese is amazing and classic combination of powerful moldy cheese flavors along side the sweet and spicy bread. Don’t make that face. Try it.
Try them both. These braised endives combined with the refreshing orange and lemon are a perfect and unique early winter, late autumn meal.
- 8 Endives
- 2 oranges, non-chemically-treated
- 1 lemon, non-chemically-treated
- 75g salted butter
- 75g pistachios, shelled, peeled, unsalted
- 75g dried cranberries (optional)
- 2 slices Pain d’épices (see above)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 pinch powdered ginger
- salt and pepper
- Prepare your oranges. Zest both oranges and put the zest in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Strain it and set it aside to cool. Juice your oranges. I did this by hand, simply crushing them up until there was nothing left.
- Finely chop half the pistachios – you can do this in a food processor or by hand – and set aside.
- In a large frying pan, melt your butter over medium heat and make sure the pan becomes thoroughly coated. Place the endives in the pan and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low, sprinkle on the sugar, then the orange juice, then a pinch of ginger. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 180°. Zest the lemon. Finely chop or crumble the pain d’épices. Oil a casserole dish.
- About midway through the 15 minutes, uncover the endives so they caramelize.
- Combine all remaining ingredients: the orange zest, lemon zest, dried cranberries, pain d’épices, and the rest of the pistachios in the casserole dish and mix up a bit by hand. When the endives are done gently place them on top of the mixture – and be careful because these are slippery and fragile and the leaves may fall apart. Pour whatever juice/caramel mixture is left in the pan and then place in the oven to cook for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm.