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I've had a leek!!
Member Name: Emma1973
Date: 05/05/04, updated on 05/05/04 (640 review reads)
Advantages: Healthy, Green
Disadvantages: Taste a bit bland on their own
I?m just joking! I?ve gone on this healthy eating lark and decided to expand my intake of vegetables past plain old peas and sweet corn.
Thing is, I really don?t know what do with a leek, every time I?ve had them they?ve been put with potato?s in a pie or covered in a cheese sauce, not exactly the healthiest of options.
I go therefore, on an intrepid journey to find better and different things to do with a leek!
Firstly though ,I?m betting your desperate to know a bit more about leeks. How about what they are and how they?re grown.
Allium Poorum are a member of the onion family, but regarded to have a milder and slightly sweeter taste, and of course they are long, thin and green, no way you are going to make a mistake there!
Originally they were first noted around 3000BC, but apparently go back much further, first spotted in the region from Israel to India and the Mediterranean, first coming to this country with the Phoenician traders.
In some areas of course they seem to have become idolised and have their place firmly in history. Who am I talking about? The Welsh of course! Why? I had absolutely no idea, so I found out and decided to pass the knowledge onto you. Breathtaking eh?
Anyway, it seems that in 640AD, the Briton King Cadwallader had a few problem with the Saxons, invading his country, carrying off his women and sheep, that kind of thing. In the thing he was mightily peeved off with this and decided to sort out the marauders once and for all! No, not with giant leeks wielded as swords and designed to frighten them away (although they have had this effect on me once or twice!)
There was a God-almighty battle and the Welsh stuck a leek or two in their hats so that their own
side would realise who they were and avoid getting their own arms and legs chopped off. Subsequently the Welsh won and the leek has triumphed ever since.
But it didn?t become the Emblem of Wales until the mid 16th century and every March the 1st the Welsh display them proudly. Twas even immortalised in a play, Shakespeare no less! Tis is Henry V when Fluellen turns to the triumphant Henry.
"Your majesty says very true: if your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day." (Act IV, Scene 7)
That?s not the only noticeable figure in history that was fond of a few leeks. Nero ate plenty of them as he believed they improved his singing voice, and of course we all know what happened to him!
That famous Vichyssoise, however was created in New York where Yanks haven?t quite embraced them as much as Europe. Some bloke at the Ritz Carlton hotel complained that his leek and potato soup was too hot, so they added milk and it was born!
Now you know all that about them I?m sure the brave gardeners amongst you fancy growing them yourself!
Growing them seems quite easy. They should be planted in the spring, dig trenches, place the seeds 4-5 inches apart and 1 inch deep. When the shoots appear, every fortnight build the earth around them, this will keep the stems white and upright. They should be ready for harvesting in 4 months, I.e. during the summer to autumn, but before the temperature drops to below 20degrees. Easy eh? But you?re just bursting to try that out!
So you?ve grown them, or in my case someone else has and I?ve bought them from Asda. You?ve picked ones that are nice and straight, with a good white bottom, not to big, it means they are over mature. Of cour
se you haven?t bought any that are slightly yellow or feel slimy.
You?ve got them, so what do you do with them?
First off I?ve got a nice traditional vegetarian recipe from Wales, named Glamorgan sausage and not its not a Linda McCartney, these were invented about a 100 years before she was born.!
Glamorgan Sausages- Selsig Morgannwg
6 oz (150 g) breadcrumbs
3 oz (75 g) Caerphilly or Cheddar cheese
1 small leek
1 oz (25 g) butter
Pinch of dry mustard
Chopped parsley and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain flour
Grate the cheese Skin and cut up the leek and fry in the butter until softened Mix the cheese, onion and breadcrumbs together Season with the chopped parsley, ground black pepper and a pinch of dry mustard Separate the egg Use the yolk to bind the mixture Form into sausages and roll in the flour Gently fry until brown and crisp all over.
If you are one of those unfortunate mums whose child pretends to throw up anytime you put anything green on their plate this recipe is a rather sneaky way and getting those veggies in without noticing!
Cheesy Potato and Leek Pie
4fl oz milk
3 leeks trimmed and thinly sliced
4 potato?s cooked
4oz ricotta or cottage cheese
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 slice whole grain bread, crumbed
4 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1) Place milk and leeks in saucepan. Cook over low heat for 8-9 minutes. Mash potato?s with leeks and milk. Beat in ricotta or cottage cheese and eggs.
2) Spoon potato mix into a lightly greased 25cm/10 in pie plate or into 6 individual gratin dishes. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and parsley, sprinkle over the potato pie.
3) Bake for 30-35 minutes or until pie is puffy and golden.
And of course I could forget the classic Vichyssoise, perfect for a posh dinner.
4 cups sliced
leeks, white part only
4 cups diced potatoes, old or baking potatoes recommended
6 to 7 cups water
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/2 cup or more sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraiche, optional
1 Tablespoon fresh chives or parsley, minced
Simmering the soup . Bring the leeks, potatoes and water to the boil in the saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Purée the soup if you wish. Taste, and correct seasoning. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. Taste carefully again, and correct the seasoning. Top each serving with a sprinkle of chives or parsley.
And that?s the end of it, I never did find any really healthy things to do with it, but apparently you can mash it like you do with potato?s, so that?s where I?m going!
Hope you all found this lovely and interesting and am dashing off to the kitchen.
So go on, take a leek!