Archives for posts with tag: leeks

I’m a big-time snacker.  Little bites of cheese, bread, and veggies is what I call deliciousness.  When my husband is on-call for work, I relish in the thought that I don’t have to cook a proper meal for dinner.  I can eat whatever I want.  What I want usually involves me raiding my always stocked cheese drawer in the fridge and picking up some nice crusty bread.  It’s not the healthiest of dinner options, but it’s my kind of meal.

This spread was inspired by those awful (actually, not so awful) premade onion dips you can buy at the grocery store.  They are full-on 80’s food nostalgia.  Back in the day, we would pop open some “helluva good” onion dip and some ruffles chips and we were set.  Those neon orange cheese curls would complete the picture of my favorite foods circa 1989.

Let’s fast forward 20 some odd years and though I would like to say I don’t like cheese curls – I still love them.  But, my overall taste palate has evolved beyond neon orange junk.  I used leeks in this version of onion dip.  Classy, I tell you. 😉  Instead of just sour cream I added goat cheese, because I love its tang combined with the sweetness of the caramelized leeks.

*I just wanted to say sorry for my lack of posts, I hope to be more frequent.  Sometimes we get writers’ block and need to find our way back. 🙂

Caramelized Leek and Goat Cheese Spread

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

olive oil

2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts, washed throughly

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, de-seeded and finely chopped

scallions and chives chopped, about 1/4 cup

zest of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons of its juice

5 ounces softened goat cheese

2 tablespoons sour cream or Greek Yogurt

salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

In a sauté pan, heat some olive oil on medium low-heat and add in the leeks with some salt and black pepper.  Cook slowly for about 20-30 minutes, or until the leeks caramelize.  Allow the leeks to cool down to room temperature.  Meanwhile whip together the goat cheese, sour cream, and lemon juice with an electric mixer or with a whisk.  Fold in the scallions, chives, jalapeño, and lemon zest.  When the leeks have cooled down add them in as well.  This spread can be eaten right away or chilled.  Serve with bread, crackers, or vegetables of your choice.

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I’ve been a little uninspired lately.  That sounds lame, doesn’t it?  Summer is right around the corner and new produce is popping up galore and I’m uninspired.  It’s probably more that I’m lazy than uninspired.  I do love cooking (especially for others) but sometimes you get stuck in a rut.  Some days, I just want to throw in the towel and say, ” let’s go out for dinner”. Usually, I want to hit up a local sushi joint (the best sushi in Kingston, which isn’t hard to accomplish, but they are still pretty good).  My husband can only have so much sushi so this plan doesn’t fly as much as I would like it to.

As many of you know, I sometimes whip random things together when I’m uninspired.  I start without a plan and end up with something that triumphs or fails miserably.  I would like to think I get more hits than misses.  And sometimes, I have to make something because the husband might be on-call and says the hospital cafeteria food is basically mystery meat served under infrared lights.  So, I take pity and whip up something for him.  I know, I know, I deserve the best wife of the year award.

On one of these on-call nights, I literally had 1 leek, 1/2 a bunch of asparagus, 1 orange pepper, a lemon, a little greek yogurt, chives, and parsley in my fridge.  I could see very little rhyme or reason in these ingredients, so I was thinking I would not use those ingredients and make a simple chicken curry, something I’m not really a fan of, but it’s easy and quick.  But, when I flew this idea by my husband it was a no-go.  There I was, left stuck with these ingredients.  I just tossed the asparagus, leek, pepper, and half a bulb of garlic in the oven and let them roast.  I even started photographing them just in case my no-plan recipe actually led to something that I could share it with you all.

Once roasted, I decided to purée and leeks and garlic with the greek yogurt.  Tasting and trying led me to add lemon and extra-virgin olive oil, but it still needed something.  I whipped through my cupboards and thought nuts would make a good addition.  I was making a corrupted form of a pesto.  My gut told me to reach for pine nuts, but instead I went for pistachios.  Thank god, for a well stocked pantry.  Even when there’s nothing I have the staples.  I threw everything into the blender until the nuts were smooth and when I tasted it again I literally exclaimed to myself, “this is soooooo good!”  I even woke up my husband who was napping before his shift and made him try it.  Half asleep and dazed, he loved it too.

I was left with a sauce and some roasted vegetables.  If it was just me, I would have eaten the vegetables tossed in the sauce but my carnivore husband was already going vegetarian for the day and to make him carb free would have been absolutely blasphemous.  I didn’t really have a choice here, it was either pasta, rice, or the tiniest amount of cous cous.  I went with the pasta and boiled it and tossed everything together with the herbs and it all worked perfectly in harmony and unison.  I chopped up a few more pistachios as a garnish for good measure.  Although this is more lunch-worthy than a dinner meal it worked for my purposes and I was happy I came up with something half-way decent.

You don’t need to be an expert cook to come up with a good dish, you just need the instinct and the taste for ingredients and everything comes together in the end.  I love that there is no right or wrong and that cooking can make you feel inspired even when you have no plan or road map initially.  I don’t really follow the rules and who is to say you aren’t supposed to pair a with b or c.  If I had to cook using only classic techniques and ingredients that were “supposed” to be paired together I might not be so enthusiastic about cooking.

Pasta Salad with a Roasted Leek, Garlic, Greek Yogurt, and Pistachio Dressing

Serves 3

Ingredients

1-2 leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned well and chopped

1/2 head of garlic

1/2 bunch of asparagus

1 pepper, any color

3/4 cup of greek yogurt

1 lemon, juice and zest

1/4 cup pistachios, plus some extra for garnish

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 cups short dry pasta, I used gemelli (cooked according to package instructions)

15 sprigs of chives, chopped

1/4 bunch of parsley, chopped (you can use any herbs you like)

salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the leeks, the half head of garlic (skin on and intact), and the pepper on a baking tray tossed with some olive oil and salt and black pepper.  Roast until the leeks around beginning to lightly caramelize about 20-25 minutes.  The garlic should be cooked through, mushy, and just slightly caramelized.  If the garlic is done first, remove it from the oven.  The pepper should be just lightly charred and cooked through.  Remove from the oven. Allow the leeks, garlic, and pepper to cool for 15 minutes.  Once cooled, remove the garlic from the skin and remove the skin and seeds of the pepper and cut it into strips.

Next, toss the asparagus with some olive oil, salt and black pepper and roast in the heated oven for 10-15 minutes.  When it is done, the asparagus should be crisp and not mushy.  When the asparagus to cooked, cut it on an angle into 2″ pieces.

Use a blender of food processor to make the dressing.  Put the leeks, garlic, pistachios, lemon zest, and greek yogurt in the blender.  Start to blend so that they start to come together.  Next, squeeze in the juice of them lemon.  Blend and then add in the olive oil.  Keep blending until there are no large chunks of pistachio in the sauce and it is smooth and creamy.  If the sauce is too thick you can add in some water to loosen it a bit.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Toss the dressing with the cooked pasta.  Add in the asparagus and pepper strips.  Garnish with the chives and parsley and top with some extra chopped pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil.  This can be chilled for up to an hour.  I thought it tasted best at room temperature.

I really need to get back to healthy cooking.  But who wants to read a blog post about some calorie-free dish of blah?  Not me for sure.  I “ooooh and ahhh” when something is decadent and rich.  This quiche is both of those things.  I went through a phase where I would not touch eggs, they would just gross me out.  I think it had to do with the smell of the yolk, something I still have not come to terms with.  Now, I like omelets, quiches, and the like but will not touch a runny yolked egg.  I know, I know, culinary faux pas on my part, but let me have one.  Otherwise, I am not picky at all.

The story of this quiche comes from my grocery trip last week.  I picked up leeks with no inkling of what I would make out of them; a soup was the most obvious thing that came to my mind.  But then again, I thought, “Boring!”  So I sifted through my cookbooks hoping to find the perfect leek tart recipe.  Not much luck.  Booooo.  Then I went to Google and typed Leek and Mushroom Tart and I was led to Deb (whose site I love) from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Leek and Mushroom Quiche and alas I had some inspiration.  I used her recipe as a starting point and wanted to add my own flair to it clean out my fridge.

I used a mish mash of cheeses, sour cream, light cream, herbs and the outcome was good!  My husband rolled his eyes at me when I said I am making a Leek and Mushroom quiche for dinner, probably because he knew he was going to have be vegetarian tonight.

*Oh!  Don’t worry about the dough, if I can do it you CAN do it too.  Plus, I don’t even have a rolling pin and used a glass to roll out the dough.  (I know, I can spend on other things but I’m stingy when it comes to a rolling pin, only God knows why, :))  It was simple to make, probably because I have a food processor, if not the story would probably be a rant furthering my hate for dough making.  Fortunately, I succeeded!  But, if it’s easier for you do get a pre-made pie crust or use puff pastry.

Empty out the Fridge Quiche

Inspired and Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Leek and Mushroom Quiche

Tart Crust from Martha Stewart and Baking Technique from Joy of Baking (Makes 2 crusts, so halve the recipe or save the other crust for later)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 tart crust rolled out in a 9 inch pan and pre half-baked

2 cups chopped leeks, rinsed thoroughly

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms, I used half shiitake and half baby bella

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

4 sprigs of thyme

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

3 large eggs

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream

1/4 light cream or milk

1 cup grated cheese of your choice, I used a mixture goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, and manchego

1/2 chopped baby spinach

1/2 cup chopped baby arugula

1/4 cup chopped parlsey

12 sprigs of chives, chopped

Method

Caramelize the leeks and mushrooms with salt, black pepper, and thyme in the olive oil on medium low heat for about 20 minutes and allow to cool slightly, discard the thyme stems.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium sized bowl crack the eggs and whisk.   Add the sour cream, light cream, cheeses, baby spinach, baby arugula, parsley, and chives.  Next, add the cooled leeks and mushrooms.  Add extra salt and black pepper if necessary.  Pour the egg mixture into the pre half-baked tart crust.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, do not serve it right out of the oven, it tastes better warm.  I served it with a mixed green salad like on Smitten Kitchen, and with a dijon vinaigrette.