Saturday, 13 March 2010

Leeks, parsnips and leeks again

I guess I could be self-sufficient in vegetables all year round but I don't think I could stand the lack of variety at this time of year. I do still take pride in putting homegrown veg on the table but I'm glad I'm not limited to just leeks, cabbage and parsnips every night. Still, with spring now definitely in the air it is a bit of a race to eat up the winter vegetables before they start growing again and become inedible.

You know, there are certain food combinations that are so perfect they just trip off the tongue - like apple and blackberry, or strawberries and cream. One such combination has got to be leek and potato. Leek and potato soup is my husband's favourite but last Saturday, with a little piece of puff pastry left in the fridge, I fancied making a leek and potato pastie for my lunch. So I nipped out to the allotment shortly after breakfast and harvested 4 or so leeks then made the pastie in time for lunch. Yummy!

After lunch Steve decided to go to the allotment to dig over a few beds ready for planting. I asked him whether he could dig up some parsnips whilst he was there. He returned shortly before dinner time. "Did you remember the parsnips?" I asked. "Parsnips," he said, "I thought you wanted leeks." He proudly held up a fine bunch of leeks. Oh well, I only wanted the parsnips from Sunday's dinner so there was still time. Instead I decided we could eat the leeks for dinner and what could be more perfect than leek and potato... er... potato? A leek filling in a twice baked potato.

Twice baked leek and potato (per serving)

1 baking sized potato
A little oil
A pinch of salt
Half a medium leek
Grated Cheddar

Preheat oven to 200 °C, gas 6. Prick the skin of the potato then rub with a little oil and some salt. Place the potato directly on the oven shelf and bake for 1 hour. Chop the leek into short lengths then cut each length into quarters. Fry the leek in a little oil until soft. Take the potato out of the oven and cut it in half. Carefully scoop out the flesh of the potato, leaving the skins intact, and place it in a bowl. Add the leek and some grated cheese and mix well. Then return the mixture into the skins of the potato and put the potato back in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

So on Sunday when Steve set off for the allotment again I reminded him it was parsnips and not leeks that I needed to go with the roast dinner. He remembered this time but unfortunately he got himself so engrossed in the drastic pruning of overhanging hedgerow that he didn't return home until half an hour before the roast was due out of the oven. So instead of roast parsnips we had boiled leek!

Later in the week I decided use the parsnips to make some potato and parsnip rostis. These were made simply by grating together some potato and parsnip, adding seasoning and a bit of fresh thyme then frying for 10 or so minutes on each side until brown.

We continued to use up the leeks all week by adding them to stir fries and stuffed mushrooms. Then this morning I used up the last of Steve's leeks in a delicious leek and bacon quiche.

Leek and Bacon Quiche

4 oz butter
4 oz plain flour
4 oz wholemeal flour

1 leek
2 rashers smoked bacon
3 eggs
300 ml single cream
Grated Cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 190 °C, gas 5 and grease a 20cm circular tin. Put the butter in a bowl and sift over the flour. Use finger tips to rub the flour and butter together until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Use a little cold water to bind it into a pastry. Roll out the pastry and line the tin with it. Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes. In the meantime, finely chop the leek and bacon and fry together until just cooked. Once cooked, put the leek and bacon into the bottom of the pastry case. Beat together the eggs and the cream and pour it over the leek and bacon. Grate over some cheese and grind on some black pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set. Eat hot or cold.

Steve needs to go out to the allotment tomorrow to plant the new asparagus crowns that arrived in the post yesterday. Maybe whilst he's there he could harvest a leek or two!

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