Meatless Monday: Braised Belgian Endive & Sauteed Kale

Nik's Perfectly Imaginary Ideal Day

10 a.m. Wake up (read horoscope, check email, play on twitter & Facebook, feed and walk puppy)

10 a.m. -11 a.m. lay about, reading magazines (Bon Appetit, Glamour, Essence, Lucky, Vogue, Town & Country) , smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee from the Starbucks
around the corner

11 a.m.-11:15 a.m. take a shower, get dressed and head over to the farmer's market to buy vegetables for the week

1:30 p.m. make lunch: fall fruit salad with candied pomegranate seeds, shaved beef tenderloin with lavender and sage on buttery focaccia and braised Belgian endive

2:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. go home & nap (well, really just lay down with my eyes closed)

6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. catch up on blogs, watch tv, return missed calls, confirm plans for the evening ahead

9:30-10:30 p.m. eat dinner, drink wine, beer, and plan the night's outfit

10:30-11:30 p.m. go to local wine bar, order tapas, and wait for gaggle of friends to arrive

11:30-2 a.m. go bar hopping, event crashing, and have a good time out on the town

No mention of work (because in the Perfectly Imaginary World, we're all independently wealthy) no mention of tasks (because we're all lazy SOBs) , no mention of anything at all whatsoever laborious (because it's enough hard work waking up in the morning!)

How I wish this was true!

The only part of this schedule I could muster today was lunch.

Brown sugar & cinnamon dusted steak, braised Belgian endive
& sauteed kale with caramelized pears

My favorite part of this meal was the endive. This was my first time making them for myself. I'd only had them raw in salads, savoring their bitter crunch alongside bits of briny olives, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, or creamy bleu cheese. A cousin to radicchio, a branch of the chicory family tree, cooking them with butter, sugar, and lemon mellows their bitter tang and softens them.

Braised Belgian Endive
Serves 4-6

3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar (doesn't need to be packed)
8 heads Belgian endive, browned or damaged leaves removed and halved lengthwise
1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth/stock or water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, place the endive in the pan, cut side down. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes, lowering the heat if the butter starts to burn. Sprinkle in the brown sugar. Turn the endives over and brown the other side, about 3 to 5 more minutes. Turn the endive back over and add the chicken broth/stock or water, cover and cook until tender and the endives can be easily pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add a few more tablespoons of water.
Uncover and add the lemon juice and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

Kale is a great fall leafy green to add to your table. Collards, escarole, and cabbage can all be substituted if you're not ready to venture out and try kale.

Caramelized Pears

6 Bartlett or Bosc pears
1 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup water

Halve, core, and dice 6 Bartlett or Bosc pears. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt butter and sugar in skillet. Put pears in butter/sugar mixture and cook until they begin to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover; simmer until pears are tender, 5 to 10 minutes (depending on ripeness), adding more water if sugar begins to burn. Remove pears from skillet. Set aside.

Sauteed Kale
adapted from here (Thanks, Bobby)

2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the water and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.
Toss in caramelized pears. Serve.

This perfectly real lunch is dedicated to Kalyn's Kitchen...this week marks the three year anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging. Kalyn herself, is hosting the event this week. So, go on over and check it out!

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. I love caramelised pears any way you care to serve them - but with the kale sounds like a fantastic combination of the sweet fruit and the minerally earthy vegetable. Great work!

  2. Nikki, what a great imagination you have. If you ever find a way to make it come true, can I join you? We'd have so much fun.
    I love the caramelized pears. I'm going to try that. I get to make dinner for myself on Saturday, so that means I can make and eat anything I want. Thanks for the ideas.

  3. I'd certainly sign up for that day!

  4. I've had you in my blogs to visit (via coco cooks) for waaay too long. I'm delighted to have made it just in time for "fairy tales" lunch.

    Thank you so much for sharing:)

  5. yup -that would be a perfect day...those pears sounds delish!


  6. foodycat: I was so excited about my idea, I forgot to rinse the greens properly & there was unpleasant grit :( but not toooo much.

    teresa: Yes, my friend, if our paths ever remotely cross, I'd be delighted. I can't wait to hear what you come up with for your solo dinner!

    kat: Your days don't sound too shabby, either.:)

    louise: Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon!

    d: I'm going to attempt this perfect day today (except I have a cooking class to teach...gotta make that MOnEY!)

  7. Nice day you have planned out. I like the designated nap time :) That's key.

    I have no idea what makes Belgian Endive Belgian... does it talk fussy? Caramelized pears and kale though, now that is awesome to the max :)

  8. I haven't seen too much cooked endive either. This looks really intriguiging. I think you have given me some inspiration for dinner tonight.

    Sorry you didn't have your totally perfect day.

  9. Well, if you could only do one part of the day, the food would be the best part!
    Sounds like a great day to me but I'd throw a massage in there somewhere....

  10. Your perfect day is my perfect day! Except I might wake up a little later.
    Ohh. I want some Starbucks.

    I've never tried endive like this before. If it wasn't so gosh-darn expensive!

  11. Your perfect imaginary day sounds quite like mine would! Aaahh, to imagine!

    Your lunch looks delicious!

  12. adam: naps are essential. I need my beauty sleep.

    Belgian endives really are from Belgiam. And they really don't talk shit like the other vegetables. They're kinda tame.

    rachel: That brings a smile to my face, the fact that I might have inspired you. Yeah, you always see it with olive tapenade smashed on the end of it. I hope your meal turned out delicious!

    mrs: THe food is about the only part of the day I get to do. You should see the stack of magazines I have to read. It's nearly 2 feet high.

    A massage...I totally need one of those...

    em: Oh yay! I like how we have the same perfect day. I'd get caramel macchiattos for us. With extra shots. No no...maybe white mochas. Hell, I don't know. I do know that we'd have fun.

    Are your endives each or by the pound? I got 8 tiny ones for like $4.

    aggie: I imagine...

  13. Brown sugar & cinnamon dusted steak, I NEVER would have thought of something like that, WOW! I'm actually intrigued by this. Perhaps maybe with a little Tequilla marinade to with that? Hmmmm, now my mind is going crazy with possibilities. I've never heard of endives, but then again, I'm not a veggie person. I have learned something today, nonetheless.

  14. complaint mgr: That's how it starts. You see something somewhere & you & your mind take it to the next level. Isn't it awesome? Yeah, endives are in the produce section. They're kinda expensive sometimes, but worth it to try them.

  15. It sounds like a very lovely lunch! I especially like the sound of kale with pears (I'm a big fan of pears!)

    I'm laughing though, because I do have to confess that the rest of your "perfect" day is making me realize I'm pretty old!

  16. You? Old? I don't know about that... :)


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