Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

July 31, 2011

A Belgian Dinner

After experiencing a lull in my cooking endeavors, I finally snapped out of it and went full speed ahead with an all out Belgian dinner.

Separately or together, George and I must have visited Belgium at least twenty times. Before opening Café de Bruxelles in New York, we stayed a month in Brussels to do research, buy Belgian lace curtains and other decorative items. Naturally, our dinner tonight was accompanied by recollections of good times spent in Belgium, now sadly divided into Flanders and Wallonia.

I apologize for serving a Portuguese wine instead of a Belgian beer. No excuses. The Vinho Verde is my latest discovery. It is the perfect summer wine that pairs well with this light meal.

Preparing the meal looks more formidable than it is. Most of the prep can be done ahead of time. In fact, the shallot-parsley vinaigrette can be done a few days in advance.


Salade d’Ardennes (Salad from the Ardennes)
Scallops on a Bed of Belgian Endives
Wine: Vera Vinho Verde, 2010, Portugal
Dessert: Grapes

Prep: Shallot-Parsley Vinaigrette
(make 2 cups)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 egg
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
1 medium sized shallot (about 1/3 cup), minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Place the mustard, vinegar and the egg in a blender. With the engine running, add the oil until it is incorporated. Add the shallots, parsley, salt and pepper. Refrigerate till ready to use. (Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks)

Authentic Salade d’Ardennes contains the region’s famous smoked and air-dried, jambon d’Ardennes. Prosciutto or Serrano hams are good substitutes.

Recipe Salade

1 small head of red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
Some frisée or escarole
6 grape tomatoes, halved
2 oz. Prosciutto, cut into ¼-inch strips
½ cup shallot-parsley vinaigrette
Opt. home-made croutons

Combine the salad greens in a salad bowl with the tomatoes and Prosciutto. When ready to use, incorporate the shallot-parsley vinaigrette.

I keep forgetting how delicious braised Belgian endives are. It takes only a few minutes to cook them. In this instance, they are the perfect accompaniment to the tender scallops.

Recipe Scallops

3 endives, cored and sliced lengthwise into ½ inch long strips
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon lemon juice, more if needed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup light cream
6 sea scallops, halved
Chopped parsley for garnish

In a mixing bowl, toss the endives with the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over high heat. Add the endives and cook, stirring until tender and slightly caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside. Pour the cream into the skillet and simmer until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour over the endives.

Melt the remaining butter in the skillet over high heat. Add the scallops and sauté, turning them over, until they turn opaque and slightly browned for 2 or 3 minutes.

Arrange the endives on individual plates and top with the sautéed scallops. Garnish the outside of each plate with chopped parsley.

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