Leeks and Onions

The other day I had the grand plan of recreating a dish I had in Paris.  It was an unmitigated disaster.  The key ingredient was the artichoke.  I had never prepared one before and I may never again.  The dish was a lovely tender bottom half of an artichoke with amazing smoked salmon, a poached egg, and a mustard sauce.  The last three I was able to do.  However we now have a pot that is blackened and I’ll have to attack that with oven cleaner.  I hope that works.  I was steaming the artichoke and it ran out of water.  Sigh.

So I moved on to other things.  I decided it was time to get the leeks and onions into the ground.  We like to rotate our little crops each year and that was the plan for the leeks and onions.  Mother Nature had other plans as one bunching onion plant is regrowing and some seeds that didn’t sprout last year are coming up now.  Which is pretty cool but that bed is staying the same as last year.

Leeks and Onions 1 2013

For the leeks I dig out two small trenches to plant them in and mix in organic compost and fertilizer.  A lot of gardeners will bury the leek as it grows to blanch it.  I only do that a little bit until the leeks are pretty sturdy as I like the dark green.  More flavour.

Leeks and onions 2 2013

I plant them carefully and they are so delicate at this point.  Hard to believe they can get up to 5 feet long and you can use them as bats.  🙂

The bunching onions are much easier.  After mixing in the compost I just plug them in willy nilly.  I left space to plant more seeds in a few weeks to stagger the harvest.

Leeks and onions 3 2013

Our garden is well on it’s way now with the bulbs and flowers starting to grow.  The peas are poking through and I think spring is finally here to stay!

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Rustic Leek and Potato Soup

It has been quite cold lately and that calls for good comfort food.  I had frozen about as much as I could of the crazy sized leeks and we still have some in the garden!  So I decided to come up with a leek and potato soup.  A lot of recipes call for cream and I wanted something lighter as we had dodgeball that night and we didn’t want heavy stomachs.  And I didn’t want to dirty a lot of dishes.  🙂

We like the dark green parts of the leek as it has a wonderful flavour and adds a bit of colour to the soup.  I chopped up about 3 cups of leeks and 3 cups of potatoes. I always keep the skins of the potatoes on as most of the nutrition is right under the skin.  Besides it looks nice.  I also chopped about a cup of mushrooms.

In a large saucepan I heated up the olive oil and sauteed the leeks and mushrooms.

After a few minutes I put in the potatoes to saute.

It is important to keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.  Then I added about 4 cups of chicken stock and brought it up to a boil.  I also added about 1/2 a cup of dry sherry to start with.  I added a few more splashes to get the flavour right.

It needs to simmer on a “fast” simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.  I usually wait to salt and pepper it until the end as simmering it really gets the flavours together then you know how much salt and pepper to put in.

This is a simple soup full of flavour.  It takes about a 1/2 hour to make and is perfect for a cold day.

Leek and Mushroom Pie

Our leeks are insane this year!

From root to tip it was just shorter than me and I’m 5’4″ tall.  And it’s a bit over 2″ diameter.  Massive!  This one alone will provide several meals.  For this meal I decided to make Leek and Mushroom pie with a bit of chicken.

I dice up leeks, the chicken, and mushrooms and sauteed them in olive oil to cook about half way through.  Then I add about 4 cups homemade chicken stock.  I bring to a simmer.  To thicken I add corn starch.  As everyone has a preference on how thick you want it to be, gradually add corn starch dissolved in a bit of water until you have the thickness you desire.  Make sure you bring it to the boil each time.  Also, you want to taste to make sure the seasoning is keeping up with the corn starch.  I just use salt and pepper.

Next you add ingredient that ramps up the flavour of the whole dish…

Apple cider!  Fortunately this brand gets imported here as it is really good.  I would like to try this dish when we’re back in Dorset with all the local ciders.  I add about a cup to the dish.  It will get all bubbly as you bring it up to a boil but will die down.

Spoon into ramekins, larger size if you have them.  Melt some butter and brush onto phyllo dough and fold into quarters.  Place on top of the pie.  I usually layer a few on for flaky goodness.  🙂  Pop into the toaster oven until golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!