Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Taking a leek

Ah, the humble leek. It is a beautiful vegetable. Smooth. Slender.

And more than just vichysoisse. MUCH much more.

Until I saw the movie "Sophie's Choice" in 1984, I didn't know much more than that about leeks, but I was captivated by the vegetable when I heard Kevin Kline explaining the leek's nutritive powers to Meryl Streep. They are the food of the Gods, of Emperors, and of smart people who love a mild, onion and garlic taste.

Living in Germany in the fall and winter, I could find leeks at the local market in bunches from local farmers. I tried them with a recipe from The Joy of Cooking -- and I love them that way, just sauteed alone, in butter.

A discussion came up on the CD Website Thursday that prompted me to post there two of my favorite leek recipes. One is a for a rich leek and cauliflower soup -- surprisingly low in fat and calories, but smooth and velvety. It is the only iteration of cauliflower my ex ever would eat. (Me, I love it all kinds of ways.)

The second is for a Polenta Tart, a recipe Mary (my Daddy's Significant Other) prepares for us. She sweetly made it for me a few weeks back, and I enjoy it very much.

Both recipes are surprisingly easy -- and the centerpiece of both is the lovely leek. Make sure you slit them open to the light green, washing thoroughly. They're grown in sand and need thorough cleaning. And DON'T cook the green part -- it's dangerous.

I so envy Fern -- she has garden fresh leeks to experiment with. It's not fall enough here to have any really fresh ones. But they sell them at Kroger. Buy a bunch, and try these. They're delish.

From the 1996 New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas

Leek Polenta Tart TNT

2 t. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c, leeks diced
1/2 red onion chopped
(You can omit onion and make that 1 cup of leeks. Or put in one cup of each. It won't hurt at all. It is good that way, too.)

One quart veggie broth (I'm not a vegetarian, so I use chicken broth with equal success).
1 t. butter
1 c. ground yellow corn meal (GF)
1.5 oz fresh goat cheese
1 oz. smoked gouda cheese, diced in small cubes
1 oz. grated parmesan cheese

Saute the leeks, garlic and onion in the ollive oil til lightly brown and tender. Set aside.

In a separate saucepan, bring broth to boil and stir in cornmeal. Stir and cook on medium heat until thick, about 20 minutes. (I use Arrowhead Mills.)

Add the leek mixture to the polenta, then add goat cheese. Stir til combined. Add the gouda and parmesan. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Turn into a buttered deep dish pie pan and chill 45 minutes or overnight.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Invert tart on a baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes or until crisp on sides and warm throughout.

Serve as is, or top with tomato sauce.

Modifications: I personally don't like this with smoked gouda, so I have added gruyere cheese instead.

...and now the soup!

TNT Leek-Cauliflower Soup

2 T. butter
I bunch leeks, white and light green tops, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 head cauliflower, broken into small pieces (or a large bag frozen cauliflower will also work)
2 whole russet potatoes, peeled and diced in a small dice (not little round ones)
6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (or home-made)
2 cups buttermilk (lowfat or fat free OK)

Sautee Leeks in butter for 10 minutes, add garlic for three minutes, then add cauliflower and potatoes. Cover with chicken broth and cook for 10-12 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Puree with a stick blender until smooth and thick. Stir in buttermilk. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. I have NEVER done this, but I'll bet it would be wonderful with the addition of a tablespoon or so medium curry powder added to the leeks.

Much love, and have a beautiful fall Saturday!



Carrie said...

I must admit that I have never eaten a leek. But your blog post title is absolutely hilarious!! I must try them sometime now! Thanks for the very educating and interesting post Ginger! I'm making your cabbage one night this week!!

ornery's wife of Miller Manor said...

Mmm. These look good. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I am bookmarking yours!

celticjig said...

What?? The green part is dangerous? I will have to google that. I have been eating the green parts of leeks forever. I have some cool photos of wild leeks from our farm on my site - I think in June. I did try the Carolina red rice - it was like jambalaya, lol, I thought it would be an actual red grain of rice! Nobody makes their She-Crab soup without a roux, so I will just have to create some at home using those little sushi eggs....oh well. Charleston was great and hot!