Leek and potato gratin

As I’m sure most of you could have predicted, our kitchen still isn’t finished. It was supposed to take a day (!!!!)……..I know, I know, it was NEVER going to take a day. 5 days later it’s still complete chaos plus those colours I chose don’t look like I imagined. Paul says it’s the stadium style lighting we have going on at the moment and it will all look great when things are finished but I have a feeling that’s just him doing what he does to get me out the door when we’re heading out for the night. “It (could be an amazing new frock or…..a binbag) looks amazing …………….let’s go!” The boy will say whatever it takes and any hint of a repaint is just not getting a look in as far as he’s concerned. I get it.

On the cooking front, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on this week so this week’s recipes are oldies (but goodies!!!) We have leeks in all the Home Organics bags this week which, as you probably know, are a member of the onion family. Although they have a similar flavour, unlike onions, leeks are rarely, if ever, eaten raw as they tend to be just too hardcore. They are best cooked slowly – roasted, sautéed or braised as this brings out all their sweet juiciness. Use them in casseroles, soups, pies and quiches or keep it simple as I’ve done in the recipes below and pair them with just one or two other ingredients so you can fully taste their fantastic flavour. Like all onions they go very well with potatoes, butter, eggs, cheese, bacon and cream.

When preparing them, discard the tougher green leaves and use only the white and pale green parts. Dirt often lodges in between the many layers so they can be a pain to clean. To make this job easier, halve them lengthways to loosen all the layers then rinse under running water to dislodge the dirt.

My first recipe is an old favourite and very easy to prepare. Leeks are cooked in the oven in stock topped with Parmesan and when they’re done all the stock is absorbed so you are left with juicy leeks with crunchy Parmesan. Lovely served with just toast this also works really well with any roast or fish.

Leeks braised in stock with a Parmesan crust

You’ll need:

500gr leeks

100 ml. vegetable stock (as usual I use Marigold)

A generous knob of butter

Prepare your leeks as described above and cut into 2 or 3 inch lengths. Make sure the pieces are of similar thickness – very slender leeks can be cooked whole without halving while other thicker ones may need to be halved or even quartered. Closely pack the leeks in a small casserole dish. Add the stock and butter. Cover with a lid or some tinfoil and bake at Gas Mark 5 for 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle some freshly ground Parmesan cheese and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with grilled fish, roast lamb or chicken, a potato dish or just some crusty bread

Next up is a gratin – when the weather is so horrible (again) it’s one of my favourite things to eat. If I have any old root veg hanging about I parboil it and throw it in the oven too with a drizzle of olive oil and that pretty much takes care of dinner (and makes my kitchen toasty too!).

A leek and potato gratin with goat’s cheese

You’ll need:

500gr leeks Butter Olive Oil

1k potatoes (what you have in this week’s bag)

Salt and pepper

200ml cream

200gr goat’s cheese log cut into rounds about 1 cm thick

 Begin by preparing your leeks as the slower you cook them, the better they’ll taste. Clean them first then slice into discs of about 1/2 cm thickness. Melt a generous knob of butter with a drop of olive oil (this will stop your butter burning) and gently sauté the leeks over a low heat until soft and lightly golden – this should take at least 30 minutes. When the leeks are on, wash, peel and slice the potatoes as thinly as possible and drop into boiling salted water and cook until just tender. If the potatoes and the leeks are ready at the same time so much the better. To achieve this, the potatoes should probably go on about 20 minutes after the leeks. To finish the dish, mix the potatoes with the leeks and season with salt (be generous the cream really sweetens the dish)and lots of freshly ground pepper. Add the cream then top with the goat’s cheese rounds and bake until golden. This will take about 30-40 minutes in a medium oven. Serve immediately. This is lovely with a simple green salad – this week’s lettuce and say, a handful of walnuts is perfect.

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great week,