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.


  1. Perhaps a thicker white sauce?
    Sounds simple and tasty.

  2. Sounds like you are on a learning curve with that new kitchen. I'm guessing that your magic handyman will have new counters and kitchen equipment installed before your next visit.

  3. I've never cooked with leeks before, looks interesting.