The forced endive, a pleasant feature of the French table, is an easy enough thing to achieve over here. Grow a suitable cultivar from seed in the kitchen garden, then lift a few plants around now, pushing them into a big pot of damp compost, and cut the green tops off, leaving an inch proud. Invert a pot on top, block the drainage hole with a slate, put it in a cellar or cool shed, and wait. In a month, pale, firm and shapely cones will arise. Cut, chop, apply a vinaigrette dressing and sprinkle with walnuts. Simple and lovely.

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