Archive for March, 2007

Leeks – vegetable of the month recipes

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007
my leeks Leeks are the national vegetable of Wales. I was brought up in South Wales. Every St. David’s day (1st March) in my primary school we acted a play where Welsh soldiers defeated English soldiers and forced them to eat leeks. I never quite understood what was going on there, but it must mean March is a good time to cook and eat leeks. In any case, if you have leeks growing you need to pull and eat them soon or they will start to go to seed and get tough! I am very proud of my leeks this year because instead of buying half grown plants from a garden centre I started them myself from seed in a seed bed! They do however need careful cleaning to get rid of the mud and grit. The basic rule for cooking leeks, in my opinion, is to keep them away from water, unless you are actually using them in a soup. Cooked gently in butter, or even microwaved, and flavoured with a bit of lemon juice they are lovely but boiled leeks have a nasty slimy texture. Leeks combine beautifully with eggs and cheese.

Leek and Smoked Salmon Carbonara
This quick and easy pasta recipe is inspired by the Italian Carbonara sauce for spaghetti and the brilliant Scottish breakfast of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.

Clean and chop about a large cup full of leeks (just the white bit you can use the coarse green leaves for soup stock). Put on a large pan of salted water to boil. Braise the chopped leeks gently in butter. By the time the water has come to the boil the leeks should be softened. Throw some pasta shapes into the boiling water (about two/three handfulls per 2 people, depending on the size of your hand). Chop a couple of slices of smoked salmon and crumble a slice of goats cheese, add these to the leeks and continue to cook gently, stirring to make sure the cheese does not stick. Have a couple of beaten eggs ready waiting in a bowl. When the pasta is cooked combine with the leek mixture and then pour on the beaten eggs. Continue to stir over a gentle heat until the pasta is coated with egg, and the egg has begun to ‘scramble’. Serve immediately with a bowl of chopped parsley for garnish.

Leek and Cheese Flan

Line a 7″ flan dish with shortcrust pastry cover with greaseproof paper weighted down with dried beans and bake for about 10 – 15 minutes so that the pastry starts to set. Meanwhile microwave, or braise in butter, a large cup full of leeks and grate a couple of ounces of cheddar cheese. In a bowl beat a couple of eggs and make up to about 1pt with a mixture of single cream and milk (you don’t have to have the cream, but it is a much more luxurious flan if you do). Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon full of mild large grain mustard to the egg&milk mixture.

Spoon the leeks and cheese into the partly baked pastry case and fill it with the egg and milk mixture. Bake in a moderate oven (gas mark 6, 350 degrees F) until the custard is set – at least 45 minutes. Delicious hot or cold.