Showing posts with label leeks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leeks. Show all posts

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cooking Challenges -- Leek Tart

Still in Ireland with my husband and daughter, and we're all trying to figure out how to work in the kitchen.

It's small, although I think my first apartment had a smaller one. It has one cupboard (china and glassware) and one set of shelves for supplies. That's it. It has a new fridge now, with limited capacity, which means we go grocery shopping about every day. It also houses the new washer, which I'm still trying to figure out. (And, hoorah, there is a new dryer, in the pantry.) The new stove and its separate hob (stovetop) sit in the shed, waiting patiently for installation, but it would have been chaotic to try to rebuilt the kitchen counters while we were in residence.

But still we eat! Usually we go out for lunch (since driving at night on narrow country lanes can be a bit challenging) and try to cook dinner (or supper, locally) in. I am sharing with you one of my most recent efforts, which was a mixed success. But it tasted good.

It all began at the farmers' market, where a local farmer had a lot of leeks, picked only hours earlier, still covered with dirt. But they were tiny and lovely, so I bought a bunch, and started thinking of what to do with them. I landed on the idea of a leek tart.

Small problem: I had no tart pan. Quickly remedied. Next problem: I am crust challenged, and if that weren't enough, I have no large surfaces upon which to roll one out, and I don't have a rolling pin. Ah well, I do have an empty wine bottle or two (French, of course) so I improvised. (Oh, and I had to find beans to weight down the crust while it pre-baked, but I couldn't find dry beans so I used dry peas instead.)

Wonder of wonders, I found a package of pre-made fresh pie crust at our lovely local supermarket, so I was ready to go.

So here are the vague instructions for Irish Leek Tart.

Line a tart pan with pastry. Line the crust with foil and fill it with pie weights of your choice. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F (about 175 degrees C) for twenty minutes, or until the edges of the crust begin to brown. Remove from the oven and remove the pie weights.

Clean the leeks and cut off the roots and most of the green tops (watch for grit!). Parboil for a few minutes to soften.

Lay the half-cooked leeks in the pie crust. Sprinkle with cheese (yes, I'm still working my way through a pound of good Cork gubbeen).

Make two cups of basic white sauce (3 Tblsp flour, 3 Tblsp butter, 2 cups whole milk/cream, plus a bit of salt and pepper). When it is ready, ladle it over the leeks in the crust (do not swamp them!), return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or so.

Wish I could show you a lovely picture of a pristine slice of tart, but it was a bit goopy. The whole might work better as a quiche, in hindsight. But the three of us consumed the whole thing!

Oh, right--there's that new book coming out in January: Many a Twist, the next book in the County Cork Mysteries. I'll save the rest of the details for later, when I get over jet lag.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Salmon with Leeks and Phyllo Pastry

I’m finally purging my freezer of the ancient phyllo pastry, left by my daughter during her spanakopita phase several years ago. Note: old phyllo dough, even frozen, crumbles into tiny pieces if you breathe on it, so it’s not worth saving for long. I decided to start with fresh.

The recipe was born on one of those evenings when I was staring into space thinking “what’s in the fridge?” and “what do I feel like eating?” There was salmon—at staple in our household—and there was phyllo pastry. And leeks! I went hunting for a recipe that fit and found a variety online, but none was just right, so I sort of combined a couple.

The hardest part of this recipe is making a tidy packet when you try to wrap the salmon with the phyllo dough. Don’t beat yourself up if it looks messy—it’ll taste good anyway.

Salmon with Leeks and Phyllo Pastry

(as usual, this is a recipe for four, but I cut it in half)

8 Tblsp (1 stick) butter

2 cups small strips leeks (white and pale green parts only, washed to remove any grit)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tsp fresh dill, chopped (you can use dried, but it has less flavor)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup sour cream

12 sheets fresh phyllo pastry, or the same amount of frozen pastry, thawed

6 5-oz. skinless salmon steaks [Note: you can make this recipe with fillets, but they’re hard to wrap neatly. Using cross-cut steaks of the same weight makes them neater.]


Melt two Tblsp butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the leek and sautée until the leek is tender (about 5 minutes)

Add the wine to the skillet and simmer until the liquid evaporates (about 4 minutes).

Remove the skillet from the heat and let the vegetable mixture cool. Stir in the dill, sour cream and salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Melt the rest of the butter in a small saucepan. Take one sheet of the phyllo pastry and lay it flat (keep the other sheets covered with a damp paper towel—otherwise they will get brittle). Brush the sheet with some of the melted butter. Top with a second pastry sheet and brush that one with butter.

Place a salmon piece crosswise on the pastry sheet and top it with 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture. Fold the phyllo pastry over the salmon, then fold in the sides and tuck the whole thing into a rectangular packet.

Transfer each packet to a heavy baking sheet, keeping the vegetable side up. Brush the packet on all sides with more melted butter. 

Repeat until you’ve used up the salmon fillets. (If you’re not baking them right away, cover with plastic film and refrigerate.)

Bake the salmon packets until the pastry is pale golden and the salmon is cooked through, about 25-30 minutes (depending on thickness).

So it's crunchy, tangy, and fun! And you get to wrap up your fish like a gift.

Oh, right, books. Next in line: A Late Frost (Orchard Mystery #11), coming in November.

The New York Times bestselling author of Seeds of Deception returns with a story of orchard owner Meg and the search for a poisoner.

The usually quiet town of Granford, Massachusetts, is even drowsier during the colder months. But this year it’s in for a jolt when Monica Whitman moves into town. She’s a dynamo who wants to make friends fast in her new home, and she throws herself into community activities. Meg Corey, now Chapin after her marriage to Seth Chapin, is intrigued by the new arrival, who has already sold the town board on a new, fun way to bring in visitors during the off-season: WinterFare, which will feature local foods (such as Meg’s apples) and crafts, as well as entertainment. 

Tragically, Monica falls ill and dies after the event in what looks like a case of food poisoning. When all the food served at WinterFare has been tested, including Meg’s apples, it becomes clear that there’s a more sinister explanation to the older woman’s sudden demise. 

Meg’s investigation uncovers a bushel of potential suspects, one of whom is rotten to the core.

Friday, May 26, 2017

It's Asparagus Season!

I like asparagus. I like it steamed, with butter (oh, all right--I like almost anything with butter). I don’t like it drowned in sauce—hollandaise is good stuff but it kind of overpowers the delicate taste of fresh asparagus. But there are some things that it goes nicely with, and I found a new recipe!

Chicken with Asparagus and Leeks

2 medium leeks (white and green parts 
only, not the whole thing), sliced into 1/3” rounds

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper

chicken breasts or thighs (a note: chicken breasts vary widely in size these days, from normal to ridiculously large, so saying use two or four really doesn’t help you much. I prefer white meat so I’m using two monster breasts, which together weigh maybe three to four pounds. This should be enough for two adults with healthy appetites with some left over for lunch the next day.)

1/2 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups chicken broth

3/4 lb medium asparagus with the tough ends trimmed off, cut on an angle into 2-3 pieces per stalk

1 Tblsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tblsp fresh dill, chopped


Rinse the leeks to get rid of any grit.

Heat 2 Tblsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot (but not smoking). Add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, turning occasionally, until they are just turning golden (about 15-18 minutes). Remove them from the skillet.

Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In another skillet add the rest of the oil and saute the chicken pieces (f you’re using bone-in breasts or thighs, cook the skin side first), about 12-16 minutes depending on the thickness of the pieces (the chicken will finish cooking in the next step). Pour the fat out of the pan and discard.

Add the wine to the pan, bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up the bits on the bottom (about 1 minute). Add the broth to the pan, then return the chicken pieces (skin side up). Lower the heat to medium-low and cover, cooking until the chicken is cooked through (maybe another 15 minutes—as I said, it depends on the chicken).

In the first skillet you used, cook the asparagus pieces in 2 Tblsp of water, covered, over medium heat, for about 5 minutes (don’t let the asparagus get mushy!). Remove the skillet from the heat and add 1/2 tsp of lemon zest, a bit of salt and a pinch of pepper. Stir gently.

To serve, place a chicken piece in each plate, then add the asparagus and the reserved leeks, Reheat the broth, add the lemon juice, then ladle the liquid over the chicken in the bowls. Sprinkle the top with chopped dill and some more lemon zest. You can serve this with rice or pasta.

Goodness! I'm in the middle of editing two books right now, but nothing new is coming until November! Don't forget me!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mashed Cauliflower "Potatoes" #Recipe @PegCochran

For me one of the hardest things about a low carb diet is giving up potatoes.  I love potatoes--fried, baked, scalloped, mashed, shredded...whatever.  I think I must have at least a drop of Irish blood in me somewhere!

But sometimes you've just got to stay on that low carb stint for awhile for your own good!  And mashed cauliflower makes a decent substitute for a pile of mashed potatoes.  Actually, even if you aren't on a low carb diet, you would enjoy these!

1 head of cauliflower
1 leek
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of nutmeg

Break the head of cauliflower into small pieces and clean and slice the white part of the leek.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add cauliflower and leek.  Boil until both are tender--approximately 15 minutes.

Drain vegetables and return to hot pan briefly to dry.

Place vegetables, cream, butter and nutmeg in food processor and puree.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Guest Author Elizabeth J. Duncan's Welsh Leek Quiche #Giveaway #Recipe @Elizabethduncan

This is turning into Wales week here in the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen! Today we welcome back our friend Elizabeth J. Duncan, who’s been in Wales since last fall and shows no signs of coming home.  Make sure you read to the end to see Elizabeth's giveaway.

Here's Elizabeth with a treat for you!  

You probably think of sandwiches when you think of picnics, and quiche when you think of standby fare for lunch or a light supper, but easy-to-make quiche is actually the perfect picnic food. Today we’re making one using that most traditional of Welsh ingredients, the leek, and then we’re taking it on a picnic. Yes, the weather and views in this beautiful country are such that we ramble and picnic in January!

The leek is a national emblem of Wales. According to legend, Saint David, patron saint of Wales, ordered his Welsh soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. It is still worn on St David's Day each March 1.

Leek Quiche 

You just need a few basic ingredients!


4 oz Cheddar or Gruyere cheese, grated
1 leek, washed and sliced
3 eggs
6 oz milk or cream or a combination of both
salt, pepper
one pie crust, homemade or store bought, cooked

Optional: : Add whatever happens to be in the fridge: mushrooms, bacon … I had some Scottish smoked salmon on hand and added that.

Wash the leek, slice crossways, and sauté gently until soft and fragrant. Do not brown. 

Gently saute the leeks

Sprinkle cheese over the bottom of the pie crust (or pastry case as its called in Wales), add the leek which has been allowed to cool slightly. Beat eggs lightly with milk or cream, and salt and pepper, and pour mixture over cheese and leeks. 

Ready for the oven!

Bake at 350 until the centre is set, about 25 minutes.

Ready to slice!

Allow to cool, cut into slices and pack for your picnic. Or enjoy on March 1 in celebration of St. David’s Day.  

Here's Elizabeth showing us part of her packed 'winter' picnic on a clear day at the base of Mt. Snowdon.  What a spectacular view. No wonder she's spending so much time in Wales. Wow!

More from Elizabeth:

I’m delighted to give away an ARC of Murder on the Hour, the seventh in the award-winning Penny Brannigan mystery series, to be published in April 2016, by Minotaur. Just leave a comment below and we’ll pick a winner at random. Entrants welcome from Canada, USA and the UK.

Here's some more about Elizabeth. A former journalist and college professor, Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of two mystery series –the well-established, Penny Brannigan Mysteries set in North Wales, and the recently launched Shakespeare in the Catskills. Elizabeth has been nominated for, and won, several awards, including the 2013 Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe), a Canadian national juried award given annually for a light mystery.  Elizabeth divides her time between Canada and Wales and is a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers.

To connect with Elizabeth, visit her web page ViSIT ELIZABETH'S WEBSITE, follow her on Twitter @Elizabethduncan or  LIKE ELIZABETH ON FACEBOOK

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Welcome guest author Paige Shelton! Veggie recipe + Book Giveaway

Please welcome delicious author, Paige Shelton! 

Paige recently moved to Arizona where she’s trying to balance all the cool stuff (the scenery, the people, the pools) with the not-so-cool stuff (the summer temperatures.) For more information, check out her website:

Take it away, Paige!
* * *

It’s great to be on one of favorite sites today. Thanks, Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen for letting me stop by. Hello, readers – always good to see you.

I’m here to talk about leeks. Other than potato leek soup, what in the world are you supposed to do with these onion-like flavored and uber-healthy vegetables?

That was my quandary when I titled my newest cooking school mystery “If Onions Could Spring Leeks.” Between you and me, I included other vegetables in the story so I wouldn’t have to come up with a bunch of leek recipes. The challenge of leek-only was too daunting, and, really, who wants a bunch of recipes highlighting leeks? Between you and me again – actually, now that I’ve become so well acquainted with them and really like them, I could use a bunch of leek recipes, but, alas, I only have one that I consider extra tasty.

In fact, it has turned out to be one of my favorite dishes and something I’ve already made for many dinners. It fills you up and is pretty healthy – a rare combination. It’s also super simple and my family likes it too.

I can’t take credit for the original recipe. I found it online and didn’t do much to it except add one thing from Costco.

It’s called: Sautéed Carrots and Leeks, and Costco Chicken 

2 leeks, almost finely chopped (original recipe said ‘finely’ chopped, but I’m too impatient for ‘finely.’)
2 carrots, almost finely chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter (I use salted)
1 tablespoon white sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Costco chicken (any baked chicken will do). Free it from its bones and tear it to pieces. 

Combine everything except the chicken in a skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer and stir every now and then until liquid evaporates and leeks and carrots are lightly browned, about 15 minutes or so. Add the chicken and stir until chicken is warmed through – minute or so. Serve.

If you don’t add the chicken, it makes a great vegetable side dish. If you add the chicken, it’s a one-skillet, healthy, and filling meal.

Easy as that. Hope you enjoy it as much as I and my family do.

Thanks for letting me stop by today!


Paige has generously offered to give away a copy of IF ONIONS COULD SPRING LEEKS to one lucky reader today. Leave a comment [by clicking the word comments, and include your email, cryptically if you need to!]

And tell Paige what your favorite veggie dish is! 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Leek, Asparagus, and Potato Soup #recipe @Lucyburdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I bring you more treasures of the spring season today! We are still in the thick of our asparagus crop in Connecticut, but if you don't have any, the local market will provide.

We grew a lot of leeks last year, and abandoned the ones we couldn't eat to winter over in the garden as we fled to Key West. Once the snow melted, we were left with a happy surprise--most of them were still standing, and quite delicious.

This is an easy soup, nothing fancy except for good ingredients. We had it for a Sunday supper along with a green salad and a biscuit.


4 small leeks, cleaned and sliced
8 to 10 stalks fresh asparagus
5 to 6 small red potatoes
2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter

Sliced leeks finely. Slice the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces. Wash the potatoes and cut them in quarters. 

Melt the butter in a small frying pan and sauté, first the leeks, then the asparagus.

Simmer the potatoes in the chicken broth until they are tender. Add half the leek and asparagus sauté to the potatoes and using an immersion blender or food processor, whirl the vegetables until creamed. Stir in the sour cream and add milk as needed until the soup is the consistency you prefer. 

Salt and pepper to taste, and rewarm. Serve the soup with the remaining leek and asparagus saute on top as garnish.

When she is not blogging and cooking, Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries.

Fatal Reservations, the sixth book in the series, will be in bookstores on July 7, but you can certainly order it now!