One of the things blogging gives me is the opportunity to meet other bloggers, be it in person or via their blogs. One of my favourite bloggers is Jamie at Life’s A Feast. Perhaps it was the title of her blog that grabbed my attention — yes, life is to be enjoyed and shared and celebrated, much like a wonderful meal with family and friends. Plus, Jamie shares with her readers wonderful snippets of her life before getting to the recipe.
I admit openly that I was in a rush to read the recipe Jamie shared on Friday because it included one of my favourite cheeses: la cancoillotte. I had everything else in my fridge/cupboard…except the endives which I was planning on buying at the market on Saturday. Besides, the weather forecast for Nice this weekend had me yearning for comfort food. Jamie’s Endive, Lardons, Pecans & Cancoillotte Gratin fit the bill perfectly. (The recipe also includes a peasant boule courtesy of Abby Dodge.) Not only is a gratin comfort food general, la cancoillotte is comfort food of the cheese variety from D’s home region, Franche-Comté. (For my North American friends, think instant fondue.)
On Friday, I showed the recipe to D. His reaction was slightly less than enthusiastic. Of course, he noted the cancoillotte but the pecans? Pecans? He actually said “it sounds okay I guess, but I don’t know about those pecans.” I told him that the recipe said walnuts could be used instead. In response, he simply shrugged.
On Sunday, after a lazy breakfast and an even lazier late morning, I finally made my way to the kitchen to put together the gratin. When I say that this is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever followed I would not be exaggerating. Comfort food, after all, is easy. It is the physical embodiment of work from the heart.
While the endives were braising and the lardons browning I set to shelling the walnuts. Everything went smoothly and I was soon assembling the gratin. A quick peek at the recipe served as a quick reminder — remember to add the garlic — then into my little Pyrex dish went the endives and company. (I had some leftover walnuts and which I used as a topping for a spoonful of the cancoillotte. I think I found a new treat.)
Fifteen minutes later D and I were à table with a few slices of bread and a glass of Auxerrois. (I would have preferred a less sweet wine, perhaps a Sylvaner or a Riesling, but the Auxerrois was a fine enough pairing.)
The gratin was absolutely delicious. It was a wonderful balance of flavours and textures, salty and bitter, creamy and crunchy. The small amount of garlic was enough to flavour the cancoillotte. The walnuts not only cut the pleasing bitterness of the endives, it seemed to make the already creamy cancoillotte even creamier. The lardons/bacon does what it does best and added a lovely salty base to the gratin.
And what did my husband think? If you could have seen his face, the way his eyes lit up after he took his first bite you would have had your answer. He didn’t have to say it but he did: “oh my God, this is so good. No, it’s really good.”
Thank you Jamie.