So, I keep meaning to make a dessert for new recipe day, and then I keep eating too much junk/chips/cookies during the day to really justify making a dessert for my new recipe. Alas. On the plus side, this gave me another fun and exciting thing to do with leeks! I really love leeks, although I’m still working on finding new and exciting ways to cook them, especially in ways they aren’t overpowered by stronger flavors. So, since I had a leek, and I was searching for spring vegetables, I found this recipe, which I didn’t really adjust all that much.
1 leek, halved and sliced
1/2 bell pepper (any color, I used red), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pinches dried thyme
wine wine (maybe 3 tablespoons)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
First step is making the polenta. Sauté the leek bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil. when they start to soften (5 minutes-ish) add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste, and a couple tablespoons of white wine (I never measure, just pour some direct from a bottle). Then saute until just shy of done. So, the original recipe said to stick the polenta on top of the veggies, but that really doesn’t work with the soft/fresh polenta. So, the best thing to do is stick the polenta in a small baking dish, with the veggies on top, then the goat cheese and bake at 400 just until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.
This turned out really well. My taste-related issue on my end was that I wish I had cooked the leeks for a little less time, but that’s about it. I had massive issues with the assembly, as I used too big of a baking dish, tried to spread soft polenta on top of the veggies, and then just sorta shoved the veggies to one side, the polenta on the other, sprinkled the whole thing with goat cheese, and baked it that way. But it tasted good. Song of the Week: Put on your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly! So for reasons I’m still not totally sure about, I started listening to this on repeat recently this week. But it’s a fun, cheerful, song and I do enjoy it so, why not?
This recipe came about due to an alcohol-buying mistake. I had an open bottle of red wine that had a weirdly smoky aftertaste, so I didn’t want to keep drinking it. But it was perfectly good wine, so I figured I should at least cook with it. Annoyingly for me, most recipes calling for a red wine sauce involve meat. But then I found this recipe for poached eggs in wine sauce and decided to give it a try. Albeit with a less complicated sauce.
1 cup or so red wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 pinches dried thyme
1 tbsp flour
Melt some butter in a small saucepan and saute the leek and garlic for a few minutes. Melt a bit more butter and mix it with the flour into a paste. Add the thyme, stock, and red wine. Mix so the butter-flour paste is thoroughly dissolved in the liquid. Simmer the mixture until the volume has reduced by about half. I boiled mine a little too long I think. It started getting vinegary-tasting so I added a bit more red wine and that fixed it. Set aside. Poach however many eggs you intend to cook. To poach an egg you (in theory) crack open the shell and gently slide the egg into the water, where you boil it for a few minutes until the desired done-ness. Well, keeping the egg a coherent blob is surprisingly difficult, but you can use a spoon to try to gather the white which will spread out in the water. Once the eggs are done, stick an egg on a piece of toast and spoon the sauce on and around it. Serve warm.
This turned out pretty well actually. It looks a bit messy, but its actually tasty, and I like the sauce with all the leeks and garlic in it. Those are always good things. I didn’t actually toast my bread first, and that was a mistake – toasted bread will be better. So, if you have red wine you want to cook with, or just want a non-meat accompaniment to it, I would suggest trying this recipe out. Obviously you serve this with more red wine, and a nice green salad to make a decent meal. Song of the Week: Moscow Nights by the Red Army Choir. Last week was Russian (Orthodox) Christmas (for which my family eats Chinese food – long story) so a Russian song felt appropriate. And while Tchaikovsky is my favorite Russian composer and one of my top three favorite all time composers, I decided to share something different. I also really love this song, and I think its a beautiful rendition.
Once again the need to use something that had been in my fridge for a while provided the basis for this week’s recipe. I don’t remember why I bought it precisely, but I bought a leek awhile ago and needed to do something with it, and I found a recipe for “Leeks Vinaigrette” in the French Market cookbook. Well, since I needed to use the leek, and miraculously had everything on hand (except mustard, I don’t like mustard and avoid it like the plague) I figured I should roll with it.
1 medium leek, halved and sliced lengthwise into ribbons
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 hard-boiled egg
Put the leeks, tossed with a little olive oil, in a smallish pan. Cover and steam for about 10 minutes, or until the leeks are limp but still have some crunch. While the leeks are cooking, mix the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and a splash of olive oil together. When the leeks are done, toss them with the vinaigrette and let it sit for a few minutes. Once the leeks have marinated a little, stick them on a plate and sprinkle some parsley on top. Chop the hard boiled egg into little pieces and add that on top as well and serve.
Really good. It’s not spectacular, quite frankly it’s far to basic to be a wow of a dish. But it’s good and with a few slices of bread and cheese makes a lovely and fast meal. It’s a good – I made something cool and elegant-looking with few ingredients and work – dish (totally a thing). I had this with a Reisling, and I think it’d go pretty well with any number of white wines. Honestly, this felt more like a spring dish than a fall one from my perspective. Song of the Week: Habits as done by Postmodern Jukebox. This was insanely hard this week because I’ve basically be obsessively listening to Postmodern Jukebox and Sam Tsui all week and choosing between those two insanely difficult. But Habits won (watch and you will understand). But just go on YouTube and lose yourself in both of their channels.
So – I don’t know how many people actually care about British politics, but over this past week Scotland had an epic vote regarding whether they should be an independent country or remain part of the United Kingdom. Good sense prevailed and Scotland remains part of the UK! In celebration, I decided I should make a meal with one dish each from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales in order to celebrate. The menu ending up being Glamorgan Sausages for Wales, Bannocks for Scotland, Buttered Cabbage for Northern Ireland, and Glazed Carrots and Stilton cheese (separate, not together) for England. Since the cabbage and carrots are fairly straight-forward and easy (and this was a lot of food) – I’m just going to go through the bannocks and the glamorgan sausages.
Bannocks (Or Oatcakes)
3/4 cup old fashioned oats, finely chopped into flour
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2-3 tablespoons butter
Take the oats and turn them into something resembling flour. This can either be achieved with a food processor, or by chopping them very finely with a knife. Since I don’t have a food processor, I did the latter. It’s totally doable, but takes awhile. Stick the oat flour into a bowl, and mix with the normal flour and the baking powder. Cut in the butter, then add in the mix. Mix – it should be a slightly stiff, slightly sticky dough. If it needs more flour, add some and add some oats (unchopped). Roll out into something resembling a circle. Then you can either pan-fry it in butter, or bake it in the oven at 375. I actually tried both methods, and both are good, so its really up to you.
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup strong cheese, shredded
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
Oil for frying
Saute the leeks in a little butter just for a couple minutes so they can soften a bit. stick in a large. Stick in a large bowl with the bread crumbs, cheese (I used an English cheddar), parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix them all together. Then add the egg and mix it in. Stick the whole thing in the fridge and let it chill for awhile (30 minutes to an hour). Once the mixture has thoroughly chilled, pull it out and shape into little cigar/sausage things. Dip the little sausages into the egg, and then roll in the breadcrumbs until they are completely coated. Pan-fry them in oil, making sure to flip them over so both sides get fried. Stick them on a paper-towel-lined plate and serve while still warm.
The Result: British food gets a totally unfair rap – all of these dishes were delicious. Ok, the cabbage was merely decent, bit still. I topped the bannocks with the Stilton cheese, and it was so good. I also ate the leftovers with butter and honey for breakfast the next day – something I highly recommend. And the sausages were super good! I didn’t make enough – which is always a good sign with a new recipe as it means I just kept eating them. And of course, you must have this meal with an English ale – I chose Newcastle, which is one of my standard go-to beers. This meal is proof that British cuisine is not crap, and vegetarians do in fact have some options. Song of the week: Victoria by the Kinks. The Kinks are a grossly under-appreciated British-invasion rock band, and this song is their semi-sarcastic ode to the Empire. Listen to it and then listen to more of their music – you won’t be sorry.
It’s always nice when someone volunteers to be your permanent food guinea pig. I usually get nervous cooking for people, but one of my friends, has no problems trying out my new recipes (he was the one who tried the experimental trifle) The only condition is no eggplant. So since I owed him a dinner anyways, it seemed logical to do both in one meal. Rather than do something completely new, I decided to err on the side of caution and make a variation on a recipe I’m fairly comfortable with – quiche.
1 cup flour
1/3 cup salted butter
some cold water
Put flour in a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or a fork if you don’t have one) until it is all incorporated, and the dough can almost clump together. Add the water, a little at a time, stirring it in with a knife and your hands until a nice dough has formed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until the topping is done. Always make dough from scratch. My friend actually asked me if I was using store-bought dough or not … I was very nearly offended that he would even ask. Let the dough sit for a while (it lets the butter get all streaky and incorporated better). Then roll it out into a circle and line a pie plate with it.
2 medium leeks
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 pinches dried thyme
8-10 kalamata olives, quartered
1 1/2 cups milk
lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
Take the leeks and thinly slice the white parts. Saute the leeks and garlic for a bit. Once soft, put them in a bowl and toss with some chopped spinach (I usually use the frozen stuff that I’v thawed in the microwave), the parsley, thyme, and olives. Let the mixture cool. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk and lemon zest.
Assembly: Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese on the bottom of the pie crust. Place the leek filling as an even layer on top of that. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the filling. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, or until cooked through and set. It should not wiggle at all when you move it.
The result was extremely good – a solid 8 1/2. I was surprised at just how lemon-zesty it was, since there was less than one lemon’s worth of zest in there. It was, I think, the right level of olive-y though. Enough that it is a dominant flavor, but not so much that it qualifies as overpowering. The leeks really weren’t that flavorful. I’m not sure if its just cause leeks are fairly delicately flavored, or if it was just a function of the recipe. I think maybe caramelized onions might be a good substitution in the future. I had this with a Belgian IPA (my friend’s contribution to the meal) but I think it would pair best with white wine.