Take a leek
- Mr. Taster
I just had a transcendent homemade mac & cheese experience. I made Alton Brown's recipe (see link) but I changed the recipe a bit by carmelizing some leeks and yellow onions (and cayenne pepper) before adding to the pre-cheese bechamel sauce mix. WOW, it was truly spectacular.
So now I'm on a leek kick... I've got a large one in the fridge right now. What standout entree (or side dish) recipes with leeks do you like? I'm thinking fish & veggies for dinner tonight, to balance out all the carbs and fat we ingested last night.
Thanks for your suggestions!
There is a great recipe for leek and cauliflower risotto on Epicurious - it's really delicious...
If it's just you, then one large leek may be enough for this dish. This may not appeal to everyone, but I enjoy steamed leeks topped w/ minced hard-boiled eggs and anchovies, dressed w/ a basic vinaigrette (red wine vinegar, shallots, lemon juice, EVOO, dried tarragon).
Trick is to clean out the grit while keeping stalk as intact as possible for steaming. I have done this by cutting an "X" into each base and washing out as much of the dirt as I can. You can cut stalk cross-wise but not length-wise. To stretch out the dish, you could either add steamed carrots and/or beets. Should go nicely w/ fish IMO.
Along the same lines, I like to make pizza with bechemel sauce, leeks (or spring onions when in season) sauteed in butter, and pine nuts. Sometimes I use my own dough, but often I just make it on lavash for a quick meal.
I also make a good leek and goat cheese tart that I got out of the Wine Spectator years ago. Their site is now subscription only so I can't link to the recipe. If anyone really wants it I'll type it up.
Leek and Goat Cheese Tart
Adapted from Wine Spectator, October 31, 1999
10-inch tart shell*
2 medium-sized leeks, white part only, cleaned
3 tbsp butter
12 oz fresh goat cheese**
3 eggs plus one additional egg yolk
1 1/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 tsp salt
few grinds of fresh black pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Blind bake tart shell: line with foil, weight down with dry beans or pie weights, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and weights and let cool.
2. Slice leeks into coins about 2-3 millimeters thick. Sweat in butter over low heat until very soft but not brown.*** Let cool.
3. Whisk together goat cheese, eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. Stir in cooled leeks. Pour mixture into tart shell.
4. Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes, until the top is just barely browned and springs back when pressed in the center. Let cool about a half hour before serving. Best served at or just above room temperature with a glass of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
*You can just buy a premade shell, or make your own. The recipe below is one of my favorite pie/tart shell recipes.
**Although not required, I like to use a blend of cheeses. I'll usually use about half plain (but still good) goat cheese like a Bucheron or Laura Chenel. With the other half I'll go with something more potent like Humbolt Fog. Just be sure to remove any bloom, rind, or ash.
***As you stir the leek coins around, the rings will separate and you'll have just a jumble of many-sized rings. That's just fine. If however you want a very beautiful tart, you can very carefully sweat the onions on one side, then carefully flip each one over onto the other side to finish, so that when cooked they are still in one piece. Then instead of stirring them into the mixture, just pour the cheese mixture into the shell and carefully place the leeks on top, pressing down slightly so a bit of the cheese oozes up around them. I did this once, and it was beautiful, but it took so much more time that I haven't bothered again.
Inspired by Alton Brown
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, chilled
2 tbsp corn meal, chilled
1/2 tsp salt, chilled
8 tbsp (one stick) butter, diced into 1/2" pieces, chilled.
1/4 cup ice water (and perhaps more, see below)
1. Put flour, corn meal, and salt into a chilled food processor bowl. Add one-third of the butter and pulse until it becomes a coarse meal. Add another third and repeat. Add the final third and pulse until butter becomes pea-sized chunks.
2. Drizzle (or better yet, spray with a spray bottle) the water and pulse only very briefly once or twice. Pick up a small handful and squeeze it together. The pastry should hold together in a ball when you let go, but break easily when shaken or poked. If it is too dry (crumbles as you open your hand), put just a few more teaspoons of water, briefly pulse, and try again. Try to avoid pulsing too much.
3. Squeeze pastry into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Roll into a disk and lay into a tart or pie shell.
This will make 1 10" tart shell or 1 9" pie shell.
Speaking of Alton Brown, I tried his mac and cheese recipe for the first time a few nights ago and did not like it at all. Only change I made was to substitute gruyere for the cheddar. I vastly preferred Martha Stewart's (which I similarly changed by using 4 1/2 cups greyere and 1 1/4 of pecorino or parmegiano). See recipe below.
The recipe for braised leeks (p. 495) in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French cooking is astoundingly good, as is the recipe for the Gratin of Leeks with Ham (p. 155) (use the mornay sauce variation). I'd attempt to post the recipes, but feel that it would be sacrilige to paraphrase Julia.