The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Sofie’s Witloof

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Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words. This week features Sofie, who has turned to her Belgian roots to cook up witloof, endives wrapped in ham and cooked in cheese sauce. A perfect winter dish! Enjoy!


As a little kid I was fairly open to the food that my parents fed me even if it were Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or endives. So whenever my dad made witloof, a Belgian dish of ham-covered endives cooked in cheese sauce, I always finished it and went back for seconds. It’s a simple dish that can be considered Belgian comfort food. In my family we don’t really have a traditional dish that we always make on holidays or birthdays but there are a few dishes, including this one, that I have enjoyed since I was a little kid. My father grew up eating it and he has made for us for many years. When my dad first came to the US 30 years ago, it was very difficult to find endives, but now they’re easy to find at most grocery stores.

Endives, unlike other leafy vegetables, have white leaves because they are grown underground. Taste-wise, they are unlike other vegetables; they are both bitter and sweet. This particular dish is very different from the usual ways that Americans eat endives, raw and on top of salad. But in Belgium they are almost always cooked.

This dish is quite meaningful to my parents. It is one of my mom’s favorite Belgian dishes and it was the last dish that my dad had with his grandmother. And since my dad has made it for me since I was a little girl, I will continue to eat it throughout my life. — Sofie

Belgian Endive with Ham and Cheese (Witloof)
Recipe by Sofie’s dad, Stefan
Serves 6-8

Endives

  • 12 endives

In a pot, boil the endives for 20 minutes. Drain the water. Let them cool and then squeeze any extra water out of each endive.

Cheese Sauce
Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound of grated Gruyere

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, making sure not to burn it. When melted add the flour and stir till it is a thick golden paste. Slowly add all of the milk while continuously whisking. Bring the sauce to a low boil. Continue stirring till the sauce thickens. Once it thickens stir in the salt and remove from heat. Immediately add the grated cheese and stir until it is a smooth sauce. To achieve this silky cheese sauce make sure it is no longer on the heat otherwise it will be lumpy.

Putting everything together
  • Cheese sauce
  • Cooked endives
  • 12 slices of cooked ham

Preheat oven to 350. Wrap each endive in a slice of ham and place them next to each other in an ovenproof pan. Pour the cheese sauce over the endives and place them in the oven for 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has passed you can turn on the broiler to brown the top, be careful not to burn it though.
Serve with mashed potatoes.

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Mateo’s Bandeja Paisa

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Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words. This post is contributed by Mateo who comes from Colombia and he decided to make a dish from his region, Paisa.

Bandeja Paisa by Mateo
The bandeja paisa is a culmination of various ingredients, generously served on large plates or platters popular in the Paisa region of Colombia, my home country. Having been born in Colombia, I was blessed with the ability to experience its raw culture and with it, the delicious food. This particular dish contains many ingredients and although slight variations may exist, the one I learned to love consists of beans, rice, chicharrón, steak, plantain, fried egg, and an arepa.

Bandeja paisa covers a great deal of the food pyramid and surely requires an empty stomach to fully devour it. As a child, I would always have to share the dish with my brother, unable to eat it all by myself. Consequently, the bandeja paisa represents stability in the household and gives rise to a feeling of gratitude for all of the things we have.

Luckily for me, bandeja paisa has become a common dinner at my home. But of course, due to its size and preparation time, my mother has made some adjustments to the ingredients (just rice, beans, chicharrón, and an egg). Nonetheless, this blend of different elements just works. From a young age, I can remember devouring the beans with rice and always preserving the last bit of crunchy chicharrón until the end.

More than anything, the bandeja paisa brings my family together, connecting us beyond our original borders, making it the ultimate comfort food.

Recipe for Bandeja Paisa by Mateo’s mom,
Serves 4

Ingredients
• 3 cups red beans
• 1 yellow plantain (maduro)
• 1 green plantain
• 1 tomato
• 2 scallions
• Salt
• Oil
• 1 cup of white rice
• Water
• Steak
• Chicharrón
• Arepa
• 1 egg for each person
• 1 avocado

Directions
Beans
Wash the beans and remove any faulty ones. Place them in a large pot. Add enough water so that the beans are covered. Place pot on high flame until the beans are soft (about 1 hour 30 min). Grab a green plantain, peel and cut into small pieces and add to the pot of beans. Consistently stir for about 25 minutes. Add salt to taste and leave to cook until the plantains are soft. On a separate plate, wash two stalks of scallions and a tomato. Cut the scallions and tomato into little pieces. Add oil onto a frying pan and let the scallion and tomato cook for about 5 minutes under low flame. Then add into the bean pot.

Rice
Get one cup of rice, wash it, and add it into a pot along with 2 cups of water. Add salt to taste and 3 spoons of oil. Cook the rice on medium fire. When the rice begins to absorb the water, place a cover on the pot and lower the flame. The rice is ready when it is fluffy.

Steak
Wash meat, add salt (other meat spices/sauces are up to you). Add oil to pan, and heat up the pan. Place meat on pan after the pan has heated up on medium fire (5 minutes on each side).

Chicharrón
Wash the chicharrón, cut crevices into the meat so it is fully fried. Add salt to taste. Add enough oil into a frying pan to deep fry the chicharrón. Keep the chicharrón on medium fire until it is crunchy (make sure to place a top on the pan!)

Maduro (yellow plantain)
Wash the maduro, peel off the skin, and cut the plantain in half (the long way). Deep fry the plantain until it obtains a brown color (5 minutes).

Egg, Arepa & Avocado
Use one egg and add oil on a pan and fry it. The arepa is placed on a grill pan, on medium flame for about 10 minutes. The avocado is sliced into four pieces and can be shared with 4 dishes.

All of these elements are then placed on a large plate or platter. Enjoy!