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Raymond Blanc at Kew

The new Raymond Blanc cookery book 'Kew on a Plate' is a great new addition to any cooks repertoire for 2 reasons, 1. it also shows you how to grow the ingredients and gives great tips and advice & 2. it is mainly vegetarian which gives a great balance and options for your #MeatlessMonday. I love this cook book.

Tonight as I am, again, dining alone, I thought I would try out an old french recipe which my mother makes all the time, but using Raymond Blancs recipe.

Braised or cooked chicory makes a fantastic starter or main side dish. I love chicory raw or cooked and it's surprising that as a salad, it doesn't just disappear to mush when its cooked.

So this recipe would make a starter for 2 or a side dish for 4 people.

Firstly, you need to cook the chicory, so in a large saucepan cover the chicory with water, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of sugar and a few peppercorns. Pick a saucepan which fits a smaller lid as well as a lid that fits. The smaller lid will keep the chicory submerged and the larger lid will keep the steam in. You will need to gently boil the chicory for 30-45 mins. Once cooked, drain and cool then gently squeeze the remaining water out.

Pre-heat the oven to 190c

While the chicory is cooling and draining, make your sauce.

35g butter

35g flour

450ml milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

100g Comte cheese or very mature cheddar (if you dont have mature cheddar, add some parmesan to your milder cheddar)

salt & pepper

50g Comte for the topping

4 slices of good quality ham or for a vegetarian option add chard or spinach.

Make your bechamel by melting the butter, then add the flour a cook this out. Add the milk a little at a time whisking all the time to avoid lumps. Once its velvety smooth and thick, add the cheese and mustard and salt & pepper and mix well until all the cheese is melted.

In an oven dish, roll each chicory in ham and then pour the cheese sauce over the top, and finish with cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until brown on top.

Serve warm, not hot and would be lovely with a roast chicken.


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