Category Archives: Leeks

Spicy Leek Soup

A recipe from John:
last leek
Springing a Leek
It’s the end of May and spring is well in hand although today is wet and cold. This grizzled old veteran of a leek was the last man standing from a field of 100 planted out last summer – let’s say he was the Centurion. He was harvested just before he could bolt and push out a woody flower stalk.
For today’s cold weather I wanted a variation on the usual leek and potato soup so I spiced this up with Cumin, Garam Marsala and a little hot Cayenne Pepper. I was aiming for something with lots of flavour and a bit of a kick, but not too curry-like. As I was planning to use the blender, I included all of the green leaves of the leek which gave the final dish a deep, mellow green colour.
  • One big old leek
  • Three fat cloves of garlic
  • One medium onion and/or a couple of shallots
  • Two small potatoes
  • Two small chillies
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam marsala
  • 1 tsp cayenne chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of dried coriander leaf
  • Salt, pepper, dash of Worcester Sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  1. Fry the garlic and onions for 5 minutes in a large frying pan, then add the (diced) potato and continue to fry for a few more minutes.
  2. Add all the leek (fairly well chopped down) to the frying pan and allow to reduce for a few minutes.
  3. Then add in the spice mix and allow this to coat the vegetables in the frying pan.
  4. Place the vegetable stock in a large pan and add in the ingredients from the frying pan.
  5. Simmer the whole lot gently for around 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Then use a hand blender to smooth the mixture.
  7. Check the taste and add additional seasoning if needed, or some water if the texture is too thick.
  8. Finally, garnish with finely chopped fresh chilli and serve – this should make four good portions.

Spicy leek soup

Tuna, leek and mushroom plait

tuna leek plait

Apologies for the terrible quality of the photos on this one, I made it a while ago now, it was late in the day and my phone struggled to cope with the lack of light. Also hunger meant I failed to create interesting and artistic arrangements for the final shot. You’ll have to take my word for it that the smell was so good that the instinct to eat overtook everything else, and this photo was a bit of an ‘oops’ after thought. Just keeping it real!

I have made this recipe a few times now, and it is a winner. Tuna and leeks wrapped in puff pastry, a good comforting, homely dish. And pretty easy and forgiving, even if the pastry isn’t wrapped that well, it still turns out fine once baked.

Instructions:

Take 1 large leek, or a couple of smaller ones and slice a knife vertically down the shaft. Wash thoroughly under a running tap to remove any dirt between the layers. Slice into thick rounds and then sauté gently in a pan with a little butter and oil. Slice a handful of mushrooms, add these to the leeks and continue to cook over a gentle heat until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and stir in one tin of drained tuna.

puff pastry sheet

Take 1 sheet of puff pastry, or if using a block, roll it out into a rectangle. Measure the width of the pastry and divide it into 3, then with a knife gently score lines down the width to make 3 sections. It helps to be fairly accurate with this bit.

plait in progress

Place the leek mixture onto the middle section of the pastry, leaving an inch or so at the top and bottom. Then cut diagonal lines from the middle outwards on the outside sections, as shown. The top and bottom diagonals can be cut off altogether. Brush the outside areas of pastry with a little beaten egg.

Fold the top and bottom bits over the leek mixture, and then fold over a strip from one side and then a strip from the other side, alternately, tucking the final ones underneath if there’s excess. You can ease the pastry into place here and there to cover any gaps. This process is a little bit trial and error. I managed it perfectly the first time I did it, and then this time it went slightly awry, but don’t worry too much, like I say it still looks great once baked.

plait pre-baked

Finally brush the whole thing with more beaten egg, transfer to a baking tray (sometimes easier to start it off on one) and bake in a moderate oven for around 40 mins or until golden brown.

You can adapt the ingredients of this to pretty much whatever you fancy, or just needs using up in the fridge. Always worth keeping some puff pastry in the freezer!

Creamy potato, leek and squash gratin

leek and squash gratin 2

The leeks are still being harvested from the plot, but that’s about it now. I’m down to the last of my butternut squash, all of my potatoes are gone (apart from a handful I’d forgotten about and were discovered chitting themselves in the back of my cupboard. I say chitting, I just mean sprouting really) and also gone are the onions and garlic. Shock, horror, I’m having to buy these in the shop now.

Damn the hungry gap, it seems to have come early this year, and I didn’t even grow any purple sprouting broccoli this winter. I’m cursing myself for that. I still have some dried beans, and some frozen produce; chillies, parsnip chunks, plums and blackberries. In fact, blackberries will feature in my next recipe, but for now here’s a comforting gratin that goes lovely with pork or sausages.

I won’t give quantities, it all depends on how many people you need to feed, and how much of each veg you happen to have, it doesn’t really matter too much. I used 2 largish potatoes, 3 small leeks, and a small amount of squash, maybe a third of a regular sized one.

Slice the potatoes (I left the skins on) as thin as you can, and do the same with the squash (but make sure you peel that!) Wash and slice the leeks, then chop them down a bit further. In a casserole or gratin dish, crush a garlic clove with your thumb and rub it over the base of the dish. Add a layer of sliced potatoes, followed by a layer of squash and then leek. Season with salt and pepper and a few dots of butter, then do another set of layers. You could top the dish with a final layer of potatoes if you want, but I decided to stop at the leeks and added some grated cheese to the top. Pour over a small pot of cream (single cream, or double, I happened to have single) cover and bake for around 45-50 mins on a moderate heat. Take the cover off and continue to cook for another 15-20 mins for the cheese to turn golden brown on top.

If you want to adapt this recipe, you can pretty much layer up any sliced root vegetables and alliums.

This is how the first layer looked on construction:

leek and squash gratin 1

Mini leek, bacon and stilton love-heart tarts

mini leek tarts

I made tarts a lot when I was a child, but they were always of the sweet jammy variety. It’s possibly the first thing I remember making in the kitchen with my mum as a youngster, and one that I always wanted to make again. I’m pretty sure mum did most of the work making the pastry, and my contribution mainly involved spooning the jam into their cases, while getting it all over my fingers, wiped over my corduroy dungarees, smeared over the side of my face while I attempted to push my hair back, in fact everywhere except where it was supposed to go, and then spending a lot of time licking the spoon. I still passed them off to the rest of the family as ‘mine’.

As an adult, a marginally less messy one, I have made lots of savoury tarts and quiches (my mother is a pastry queen and she has taught me well) but for some reason I’d never considered combining the two and making mini savoury tarts until I spotted some on Pinterest. Ah ha! The perfect mouthful of a snack for popping into the allotment basket, along with a flask of something hot, for that half time break.

I couldn’t resist adding a little heart shaped lid to these, my valentines gift to you. Should make around 12-15 tarts, maybe more if you don’t add the lids.

mini leek tarts in progress

For the pastry weigh out 200g of plain flour, add a pinch of salt and either 100g butter or (as I do) a 50/50 mix of butter and lard. Rub the fat into the flour using your hands or a mixer until it resembles breadcrumbs and then add 1 egg and a splash of water. Combine until you have a nice smooth dough, but don’t overwork it. Shape it into a ball and wrap in cling film, place in the fridge for around 20-30 mins to chill.

For the filling, finely chop 1 large or 2 thinner/smaller leeks, gently sauté these in a little butter in a pan until soft, then remove from the heat and leave to one side. In the meantime place 4 rashers of bacon under a hot grill until cooked, remove and allow to cool before chopping into small pieces.

Once the pastry has chilled, unwrap and roll out to around 5mm or 1/4inch thick. Use a large pastry cutter to cut out circles, and line the craters of a greased cupcake tin. You don’t have to add lids, but if you do cut these and put to one side. Fill the pastry cases with some of the cooked leek, a little bit of bacon and a few crumblings of stilton or other strong cheese.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 large beaten egg with around 150ml of double cream or I used créme fraiche loosened with a splash of milk. Grate in a bit of nutmeg (optional) and season with a little salt and pepper. Pour this carefully into the filled cases until just up to the edges. Place a heart or other shaped lid on top and brush with a little milk or beaten egg.

Bake in a moderately hot oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until just turning golden brown on top.

Of course, you could also make these with a jam or curd filling, just be careful with those sticky fingers!

Leek Welsh rarebit and cheesy leek toasties

welsh rarebit

I think this might be my favourite new way to eat leeks, I can’t believe I haven’t made this in previous years with all the leeks we grow, and plain cheese on toast will forever seem bland for me from now on.

The combination of leeks with cheese, cream, mustard and a little beer is just perfect, and this makes a nice lunchtime alternative to soup (as much as I love soup). It may not be the healthiest recipe so far, but so comforting, and hey it still counts as one of your five-a-day!

Ingredients

  • 2 leeks (ours are quite short and fat)
  • roughly 15g butter (or a tablespoon)
  • 1 heaped tsp plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp mustard powder
  • 100ml beer (stronger the better) or you could just use milk here
  • 1 tbsp cream or creme fraiche (optional, but makes it creamier)
  • 100g strong cheddar, grated
  • 1 tbsp soft cream cheese (I used Boursin with garlic and herbs)
  • bread for toasting (preferably thick and crusty)
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Leek Welsh rarebit:

Slice and then more finally chop the leeks. Melt the butter in a pan over a gentle heat and add the leeks, then cook them gently until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the flour and mustard powder to coat the leeks, then pour in the beer. Stir into a thick paste, then add the cream, cream cheese and half the grated cheddar. Stir the mixture together and continue to cook for a few more minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool very slightly. Toast the bread lightly on one side under a hot grill, flip over, top with the cheesy leek mixture and then scatter over the rest of the grated cheese. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce if using, and put back under the grill until brown. Serve.

cheesy leeks

This mixture should be enough to cover 3 slices of bread, so obviously just increase the quantities if you want to feed more people. If you have some left over, pop it in the fridge for another day and you can use it to make the following alternative.

cheesy leek and ham toastie

Cheesy leek toasties:

Make the leek mixture exactly as above, but once cooled put it in a bowl or tupperware and pop into the fridge to completely cool down. You can leave it for a few days okay until you want to use it.

When you’re ready for a toastie, butter 2 slices of bread and make a sandwich with the leek mixture, BUT make sure the buttered side is on the outside. Then either place the sandwich into a lightly oiled pan over a gentle heat, or put under a moderate grill (you don’t want the bread to toast before the filling heats through) until the bread is golden brown, flip over and toast the other side.

As you can see I added a slice of ham below the cheesy leeks, completely optional.

Update: I forgot to add a credit. This was from The Garden to Kitchen Expert, by Judith Wills & Dr. D. G. Hessayon, which came from my local library. It’s a slight adaptation, a bit less flour and butter with the addition of cream, and beer instead of milk and cider. I can easily see this book being renewed a few times over, before accidentally slipping into my Amazon basket.

Pork, leek, and bean casserole.

pork and bean casserole

A good hearty casserole for a wintry Sunday night in January. What could be better? I used leeks and parsnips fresh from the plot, along with some borlotti beans that were grown and dried at the end of last summer. You can also use a can of fresh beans if you don’t have these.

This would be a perfect dish for a slow cooker if you have one. I wasn’t organised to get it going early enough, but I still cooked it fairly long and slow in a cast iron casserole dish in a moderate oven.

Please don’t worry too much about the quantities in this, I have given what I used for guidance only, use your judgement and whatever you have to hand.

Ingredients:

  • about 3 handfuls of dried borlotti beans (soaked overnight, or min 8 hours)
  • 460g cubed pork
  • a little oil for browning the meat
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp mustard powder
  • 50ml cider or cider vinegar
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 400ml veg stock (chicken is fine too)
  • 50g chorizo (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC (less for a fan oven).
  2. If your beans were soaked from dry, drain them, put them in a pan of fresh water and bring to the boil. Once they’re boiling vigorously, give them a good 10 mins.
  3. Put the pork in a shallow dish, large bowl or even a food bag, and cover with the flour, mustard and some seasoning. Toss to coat thoroughly.
  4. Fry the pork in oil to seal the meat and brown a little at the edges. Put into the casserole dish.
  5. Pour the cider or vinegar (or you could use white wine) into the pan and scrape up all of the bits that have stuck to the bottom. This might take a bit of time, depending on how non-stick your pan is – mine really isn’t so took some serious scraping. Pour this over the pork.
  6. Add a bit more oil to the pan and gently sauté the onions, garlic and leeks, then add these and the parsnips to the casserole dish, along with the chorizo if using.
  7. Once the beans have done their 10 mins of boiling, drain them and rinse, then add to the dish.
  8. Pour the stock in, cover with a lid and put into the oven for about 2 hours.
  9. Serve in a bowl with crusty bread to dunk in.

Credit: my own recipe, but inspiration came from Nigel Slaters recipe for Pork, leeks and green peppercorns, Tender, Vol I. I substituted the mushrooms for beans, and left out the herbs, peppercorns and the cream. I did debate wether to add a swirl of cream at the end, but I’m just trying to be healthy.

This is how the borlotti beans look after their soaking, but before cooking. Sadly they loose their beautiful mottling once cooked. But they take on a tanned hue and become so nutty and sweet. They are the king of beans.

borlotti beans

Rustic Cottage Pie

 

cottage pie

A recipe from John:

This is a basic cottage pie recipe which I’ve adapted to use the leeks that we have growing in abundance on the plot. I would normally include peas in a cottage pie, but in this case I’ve used leeks instead and it worked well. I grew up in Lancashire and I have fond memories of the Lancashire hot pots that we would devour as growing kids. So, instead of the usual mashed potato for a cottage pie, I have done sliced rounds of potato layered on the top of the pie filling – in the style of a hotpot.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 400g minced beef
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 small carrots
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 50g cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cinnamon (pinch)
  • Worcester sauce (dash)
  • Tomato puree (1 tbs)
  • Olive oil (3 tbs)
  • Mixed herbs
  • Beef stock (500ml)
Method
This is a really simple recipe, just fry the onion for 3-4 minutes. Then add the minced beef to the pan and brown that with the onions which takes 5-6 minutes more. Then add the sliced leeks and carrots and allow them a couple of minutes with the other ingredients and the oil in the frying pan. Then add the stock and the seasoning. Let that simmer while you peel and slice 4-5 medium sized potatoes. Finally add the filling to a casserole dish and layer the potato slices on the top in a spiral pattern. Cook in a medium oven for around an hour. Then take off the lid and sprinkle a little cheese, olive oil and mixed herbs on the top. Then return to the oven for a further fifteen minutes with the lid off to brown and crust the top, and melt the cheese. Then serve.
cottage pie afters
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