Cooking Leeks

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Leeks – Alison McKee

Leeks have a great affinity with potatoes and many traditional dishes such as Scottish Cockie Leekie soup and the Welsh Cawl Cennin are based on broths containing leek and potato. The secret to making a tasty Leek and Potato Soup is to make sure the vegetables are ‘sweated’ in butter, but not coloured, and to add a flavoursome stock. If you are feeling a little indulgent add oysters. Leek And Potato Soup (with Oysters!) Vichyssoise a chilled and creamier version of leek and potato soup is said to have been created by French chef, Louis Diat early in the 20th century at the Ritz, New York and is regarded as a component of American cuisine not French!

Leeks are much more than just a soup ingredient. Try roasting leeks trimmed into lengths with olive oil and fresh thyme. Roast until caramelized. Add ¼ cup currants and dress with a Walnut Oil Vinaigrette. Steam baby leeks or leeks trimmed into lengths over a layer of fresh bay leaves in a steaming basket until tender. Drain and arrange in baking dish. Melt 50gm butter with 1 teaspoon of orange zest. Baste the leeks with the butter and grill until brown. Serve with the orange butter spooned over. Sauté sliced leeks in butter then add one tin of cooked Butter (Lima) beans. Heat and add grated parmesan to taste. Season. Serve with roast meats.

Leeks are robust enough to braise especially in wine. The wine keeps the leeks firm for a longer time than if they were braised in stock or water. Trim the leeks into lengths and cook in butter over a low heat, approximately 5 mins until the leeks are coated with butter. When softened add one clove of finely sliced garlic and one tablespoon of flour. Cook gently on a low heat for a few minutes. Add red wine to cover and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until the leeks are tender. Season and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve, again, with roast meats.

Nothing beats a Chicken and Leek Pie as a family favourite. Adapt the recipe on Foodlovers by using pre-purchased pastry, convenience stock and substituting a whole chicken for boneless chicken thighs if you are short on time. Make your favourite Quiche recipe using sautéed sliced leeks, Parma or shaved ham and grated Gruyere or Emmental cheese. Alternatively create a rustic tart by crumbling goat or cow’s feta cheese over caramelized leeks and pitted black olives on a sheet of pre- purchased puff pastry. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until golden.

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