Posts Tagged ‘Leeks’

This weird looking thing is romanesco and it’s awesome.  I’m not a huge broccoli or cauliflower fan, but this is their more delicious sibling.  Plus, it’s probably the only nuclear green food without artificial ingredients.  I’ve only recently started cooking with it, and now can’t stop.  Mostly I’ve been roasting it, but it was fabulous in some roasted garlic aioli during the Super Bowl, and it’s really good on this pizza.

Romanesco Pizza a la Arugulove

1 pizza dough (this is my latest favorite recipe)
a couple heads of romanesco, broken up into florets
1 lemon, zested and juiced
a couple leeks, washed and thinly sliced
A bunch of kalamata olives, pitted and diced (I probably used about 1/3 of a cup before chopping)
A tablespoon or two of capers, chopped up a bit, if you can
A handful of fresh parsley, minced
4 ounces of goat cheese
Olive oil, salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 450.  Toss the romanesco in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the leeks, and saute until soft, about 7-10 minutes.  Towards the end, add the lemon juice, and simmer until cooked off.  Place the olives, capers, and parsley in a bowl.  When the leeks are done, add those and mix together.  Spread out on the pizza dough.

At this point, I was tempted to bake and eat just like this.  I may do it too, for my next party.

But, this time, I persevered.  I pulled the romanesco out and spread it on the pizza.  Add the crumbled goat cheese and the lemon zest.  Stick it back in the oven and bake for another 12 minutes or so.  Pull out and enjoy with a glass of crisp rose or sauvignon blanc.

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I had an insane week, running around to meetings all over the place.  When Friday came, I just wanted some good food and a giant glass of wine.  There wasn’t much in the house, but I had a head of escarole crammed in the back of the fridge that I had forgotten I bought last weekend at the farmers market.   Still good!  My lucky day.  With a bit of pancetta and a couple of leeks on hand, I figured I could toss a quick pasta dish together.

I really think you can’t go wrong by just tossing a bunch of spring produce into a pot, and this dish proved to be no exception.  Yum.  Best of all, I could prep and cook the vegetables in the same amount of time it took to boil the water and cook the pasta.  After just 20 minutes, I was eating my yummy spring dinner and drinking my wine.  The bonus was lots of leftovers for easy weekend lunches. 

Pasta with Pancetta, Escarole, and Leeks

1 pound pasta (I used linguine)
1-2 heads of escarole (1 was fine, but next time I’ll do two because I like lots of greens in my pasta)
4 ounces finely diced pancetta
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
olive oil
salt, pepper, and grated parmesan to serve

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, wash the escarole and chop into thin ribbons, and prepare the leeks and garlic.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and the pancetta.  Saute for a couple minutes and add the leeks, sauting for another 5 minutes or so until they start to get soft.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Around this point, the water should be boiling, so add your pasta.

Add the wine to the leeks, scraping up any brown bits from the pancetta from the bottom of the pan.  Add the escarole, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Stir every three or four minutes or so. 

Just before you drain the pasta, take the lid off, add a half cup or so of the pasta water to the escarole, and continue to simmer.  Drain the pasta and add it to the escarole mixture, mixing well.  Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve with grated parmesan.  A glass of wine too – I went for St. Supery’s sauvignon blanc, perfect with the dish.


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Last weekend, we went to a housewarming party for friends.  It was a late night, filled with good food and lots of wine and rhubarb mojitos.  So, on Sunday morning when I woke up, I was quite happy I had a fridge full of good, local breakfast making supplies to help take the edge off.

The sausage comes from Fatted Calf in Napa, which can do no wrong.  The frittata I made with local eggs, leeks, garlic, parsley, and homemade ricotta.  Just warm up some olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute a finely sliced leek for a few minutes and add two cloves of minced garlic.  Beat up 4 eggs, a splash of cream, a bit of minced fresh herbs, and a 1/2 cup of ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper and pour over the leek mixture.  Keep it on the stove for a minute or two until the bottom sets up, then stick it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the eggs have cooked through.   Sprinkle a bit of parsley and you are good to go.

Even better when you’ve got slices of local blood oranges to go with it.

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The challenge with relying on the farmers market is that you never know what you are going to get.  When I made my trip yesterday, it was my first in nearly a month and things had changed a little.  Some of the vendors that I rely on weren’t there and a few others were carrying a different mix of produce.  I had gone with the expectation that I’d make some sort of vegetable enchiladas with my favorite roasted tomatillo salsa.  Except no tomatillos or chilies were to be found yesterday.

So, I loaded up my backpack with a bunch of stuff and tried to think through a plan on my walk home.  A quick look in my Flavor Bible confirmed my suspicion that fennel and apple would taste nicely together and I set to work.

I relied on this recipe from Food & Wine in executing my vision.  The fennel sausage comes from The Fatted Calf and all the other produce comes from various vendors at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.  The salad is a mix of arugula, radicchio, and delicious local walnuts, dressed with a lemon vinagrette (though my olive oil is not local).  While the cider is from the Farmers’ Market as well, the wine I used, admittedly, was purchased at Trader Joe’s, but hails from Healdsburg.

Braised Sausage with Fennel and Apple
Inspired by this recipe from Food and Wine

4 fennel sausages, approximately 1 pound total
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1-2 heads of fennel, thinly sliced.  Mine were quite small so I used two, but if you find a big one, it’s probably enough.
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1 cup of cider
1/4 cup of dry white wine (or more cider, chicken stock, or even just water)
a pat of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Place the sausages in a large skillet.  Add a half cup of cider and a half cup or so of water…just enough so they are at least halfway covered, but not so much that they are completely covered.  Simmer on medium high heat for about 7-8 minutes or so.  Remove from pan, cover, and set aside.  At this point, there may still be some liquid in the pan, but either way, it’s OK.

Reduce heat to medium and add a pat of butter.  Add the leek and saute for a few minutes.  Add the wine and let that simmer, scraping up the carmelized bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the apples and fennel, and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.  When they start to soften, add the remaining cider.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for another minute or two, until it starts to reduce.

Add the sausage and any juices that are on the plate.  Cook for another minute or two, until the sausages are warmed up again, and you are ready to serve.

I garnished mine with a few fennel fronds just before serving.  I really liked the dish.  I’ve never been a big fennel fan, but I liked it here.  I think the apples made it sweet and the fennel cut the sweetness of the apple, so it didn’t taste sugary.  Great combo!

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Happy new year!  I’ve been travelling around visiting family for the holidays and very behind on my blog posting.  Hopefully, you all were busy with your own holiday plans to miss me too much. 

I made this soup right before Christmas, and since it used all local ingredients, it’s my submission for the Week 7 Dark Days Challenge (sadly, I missed week 6 because of travels).  I got the idea from fellow Dark Days Challenge participant, Married With Dinner, who made Emeril Lagasse’s Potato Leek Soup a few weeks back.  I’ve never made potato leek soup before, but this version looked so good that I had to try it out.  It was absolutely delicious.  Next time, I am going to make a double batch and freeze half of it.

Everything I used here except the salt and pepper are local.  All the produce comes from the farmer’s market.   For stock, I used homemade vegetable broth that I had made and froze a while ago, using an onion, carrot, leek trimmings, herbs, and whatever other things happened to be in my produce drawer that afternoon.  The bacon comes from Fatted Calf, the dairy from Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma, and the wine is a sauvignon blanc that my husband picked up at St. Supery in Napa on a recent trip. 

Potato Leek Soup
Recipe by Emeril Lagasse

1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns (I just ground up a bunch)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock  (I used vegetable)
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced  (I used Yukon gold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper (I skipped)
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used half and half)
2 tablespoons snipped chives


The original recipe calls for creating a bouquet garni using some leek trimmings to make a packet that you fill with the peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme.  That is way too much work for a Tuesday night, so I just skipped that step.  I just tossed the bay leaves and thyme right into the broth and fished them out before blending, then just ground in lots of fresh pepper.  So much easier for essentially the same thing.   Just be sure to count the bay leaves as you put them in and take them out because you don’t want to grind one of those up.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped up pieces of bacon.  Stir occassionally, cooking for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. 

Add the leeks and stir gently until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the bay and thyme, or the bouquet garni if you are using, the stock, potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and falling apart.

Remove the bouquet garni or fish out the herbs.  Working in batches, puree the soup, using a a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.   Stir in the cream or creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Sprinkle some of the snipped chives on top to serve. 

Particularly delicious on a cold night with a glass of the wine you poured in (can’t let it go bad!) and a hunk of bread from a local bakery.

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For my local dinner this week, I went for something simple – breakfast.  It really must be one of the easiest meals to do locally – eggs and bread really form the basis of most good breakfasts.  Eggs, butter, and cream from farms in Sonoma, baked with leeks and thyme from the farmer’s market, served with toasted Acme bread and bacon from Fatted Calf.  To wash it all down, a Bloody Mary made from Happy Girl Kitchen‘s Spicy Tomato Juice and Hangar One vodka from Alameda’s St. George’s Spirits.

The inspiration for the eggs comes from The Wednesday Chef, who blogged about this egg recipe which comes from Camino Restaurant, in Oakland (even my recipe is local this week!).  I tweaked it a little to avoid having leftover leeks and because I wanted two eggs, so I’m putting my variation here.  It was really, really good.  This might be my new favorite way to cook eggs.

Eggs Baked in Cream
Adapted from Camino
serves 2

1 tablespoon butter
1 really large leek or two smaller ones, sliced, light green and white parts only
2 sprigs thyme, leaves roughly chopped
4 large farm-fresh eggs
About 2 tablespoons half-and-half
Salt Coarsely ground black pepper

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the leek, a splash of water ,and a pinch of salt.  Cook until the leeks are soft, about 2 minutes.   Add the herbs and divide the mixture evenly between two 1 cup ramekins.

Crack 2 eggs into each ramekin on top of the leeks.  Add half-and-half to each so it just covers the egg.  Sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground pepper.

Cook until the white is set, 10 to 14 minutes.   Be careful because it won’t look cooked because of the cream on top.  But, at about 14 minutes, the yolks were just about 75% cooked through.  So, go a little less if you like your yolks yolky.

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As I said last week, I’m participating in the Dark Days challenge, committing to cook and blog about one meal each week that is sourced locally through March 31. 

Since I really enjoyed the Moroccan spiced stuffed acorn squash I made a month ago, I wanted to try doing a different take on stuffed squash.  This time, I went with delicata squash, which I have never had before.  It was really good.  It wasn’t as sweet as butternut or acorn, but it didn’t have that vegetal taste that I don’t like about other squashes, like spagetti squash.   The flesh was creamy and rich, plus the shape made it perfect for stuffing with goodies.  I made up a stuffing based on what local ingredients I had on hand, and it all turned out great.  On the side, I served broccoli rabe, which I just sauted in olive oil, garlic, and a minced mildly spicy chile.

Everything in this dish is local except for the olive oil, and the flour used to make the bread.  After some conversations with others doing the challenge, many agreed that that was OK, so long as the bread came from a local bakery, particularly one that met the other criteria of the challenge (sustainable, organic, and ethical).  Thus, my breadcrumbs came from bread I had purchased at the fabulous, local Acme bakery.  The cheese was Laura Chenel goat cheese in Sonoma, which is also where the egg came from.  All the produce came from various vendors at my local farmer’s market. 

Stuffed Delicata Squash with Leeks and Goat Cheese

2 delicata squash, sliced lengthwise
2 cups bread crumbs
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg
olive oil
a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley
crumbled goat cheese (as much or as little as you’d like)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Lay the squash flesh side down in a baking dish and roast for 30 minutes or until soft.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat a frying pan on medium high heat and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes or so, until they become soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Remove from heat and pour into a heat proof bowl.

Add the bread crumbs to the leek mixture.  Add the egg, and stir to combine.  If it still looks a little dry, add another splash of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to season, some chopped parsely, and the crumbled goat cheese.  Mix well so everything is evenly distributed.

Lightly salt and pepper the insides of the squash and stuff them with the mixture.  Put them back in the baking dish and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown and the stuffing is cooked.

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I am the pie crust queen!

I have now made pie crust #2, this time in savory form, and it worked like a charm.  I still can’t roll it out in a nice shape to save my life, but I have truly conquered my pie crust phobia.

As the main event in my dinner party, I prepared a leek and goat cheese galette.  Our guests were vegetarian, but even if you are not, you should make this.  It was awesome.  The leeks get all creamy and rich and the cheese is nice and tangy.  We devoured it.

I found the recipe on the Garden of Eating blog, but as it turns out, it originated in a cookbook I own, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  Since this recipe was so good, it has inspired me to pour through that book and make more things from it.

I wasn’t sure if leeks were in season, but I managed to find them at the farmer’s market, so apparently they are.  The book suggests using onions or scallions if leeks are not available.  You do need a ton of leeks – 6 to be exact – but don’t skimp.  They cook down and you make a rich sauce for them, so they really are not overwhelming at all. 


Goat Cheese and Leek Galette


6 large leeks, including an inch of the green
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp chopped thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup cream or craime fraiche
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsps chopped parsley or 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1/2 to 1 cup soft goat cheese to taste, about 4 ounces

I forgot the thyme and didn’t miss it.  Also, I found I needed more wine, probably about 3/4 cup so don’t drink the bottle before you are done cooking.

Galette dough (Not wanting to tempt fate, I used Martha Stewart’s pate brisee recipe, but the original one that is supposed to accompany the dish can be found here.)


Thinly slice and wash the leeks. You should have about 6 cups. 

Melt the butter in a large skillet or saute pan. Add the leeks, thyme (which I forgot and didn’t miss) and 1/2 cup water. Stew over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft and tender, about 12 minutes.

Add the wine and stir, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add a splash or two more of wine if needed, and continue cooking until it’s reduced.  Add the cream and cook until it just coats the leeks and little liquid remains. Season with salt and pepper.

Let cool for  at least 10 minutes.  At this point, since I was not ready to assemble the tart, I just removed the pan from the heat and covered it for a couple hours. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough for one large galette on a counter or upside-down cookie sheet and transfer to a greased baking sheet.

This time, it looked a little less misshapen than last time, but I still do not understand how one rolls out a circle.  Sigh…


When you are ready to assemble, stir in all but 1 tbsp of the beaten egg and 2 tbsps of the parsley (or all the tarragon) into the leek mixture.  Spread the leek mixture on top of the dough, leaving at least a 2-inch border around the filling. Crumble the cheese on top then fold the dough over the filling (again, depending on how large a border you leave, you can close it up completely or leave some of the filling visible in the middle).

Brush with the reserved egg and bake until the crust is browned – 25-30 minutes.  Remove, scatter the remaining parsley over the top, and serve.

The end result was really good.  I may be buying up leeks every time I see them to try this thing again.  It really makes a fantastic vegetarian main couse.



Previously:Summer Dinner Party, Part I: Sweet Basil Cocktail, White Bean Dip, Salt & Sugar Pickles

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