Leek and Prosciutto Tart

November 11th, 2013

In French this tart is called Flamiche Aux Poireaux.  It is popular north of Paris in the villages of the Picardy region.  It is different from a quiche in that the emphasis is more on the vegetables than on the custard.  In this case leeks play a starring role.  It is also studded with Parma ham (Prosciutto) and Gruyere cheese.

This was a perfect Sunday supper to enjoy on the lanai on a warm Florida evening.  The first few days back in Florida always feel like a vacation; warm breezes, sunny skies and catching up with friends.  The food choices are different too.  The local Publix carries a wider selection of meats and vegetables than does the Ingles at home.  So getting good quality prosciutto for this tart was not a problem.  The leeks were another story.  They are very expensive right now.  The recipe that I was following came from Patricia Wells and she recommends three pounds of leeks.  The leeks at the supermarket were 2.99 a pound and that seemed excessive to me when I had to buy expensive prosciutto and expensive Gruyere cheese.  So I cheated a little and bought 2 pounds of leeks and added a large onion to the mix.

So being still in vacation mode, I made the tart, tossed the salad, poured the wine and sat on our sunny lanai and ignored the mold on the concrete and the weeds growing in our planters.  There is time for pressure washing and new plantings later.  This tart is worthy of a glorious relaxing evening.

LEEK AND PROSCIUTTO TART (Adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells)

1 recipe Pate Brisee or pie crust of your choice
12 small leeks (about 3 pounds) or a mixture of 2 pounds leeks and 1 large onion
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
3 to 4 ounces sliced Parma ham (prosciutto), coarsely chopped
1 cup freshly grated imported Gruyere cheese

Prepare the pastry shell:  Roll out the dough to line a 9-inch tart pan.  Carefully transfer the dough to the pan.  Chill for 30 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare the filling:  Trim the leeks at the root.  Cut off and discard the fibrous, dark green portion.  Split the leeks lengthwise for easier cleaning, and rinse well in cold water until no grit appears.  Coarsely chop the leeks.  If using an onion, coarsely chop it also.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over low heat.  Add the leeks and onion if using, salt, and pepper to taste and cook, covered, until the leeks are very soft but not browned, about 20 minutes.  If the leeks have given up an excessive amount of liquid, drain them in a colander.

Combine the eggs and cream in a medium-size bowl and mix until throughly blended.  Add the leeks and mix again.  Reserve 1/4 cup each of the ham and the cheese to sprinkle on top of the tart.  Mix the rest into the leek mixture.

Pour the leek mixture into the prepared pastry shell.  Sprinkle with the reserved ham, and then the cheese.  Season generously with freshly ground black pepper.

Bake until nicely browned, 40 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  6 to 8 servings.

Printable recipe

Savory Leek and Ham Tart

February 8th, 2009

Pie crust has always been easy for me. I know many cooks claim to be intimidated by the prospect of making homemade pastry, but for some reason, I enjoy the mixing, rolling, trimming and crimping. It probably has alot to do with my Mother and Grandmother. I grew up in a small town in Michigan in the house where my Mother was born. My Grandmother lived with us and the two of them were always in the kitchen fixing comforting meals. When my brother and I were small, Grandma did a lot of the cooking, but over the years Mom took over most of it, with Grandma in the background offering encouraging comments like ” You aren’t going to have any potatoes left with the way you are peeling them”, or ” That pot roast is going to be dry if you don’t add more water.” But one thing they always agreed on was how to make pie crust. I have even inherited the measuring device they used for their Crisco. They never used butter in their pie crusts and I am sure that in her younger days my Grandmother probably used lard. So here is their recipe for pie crust if you would like to give it a try. For a 1 crust pie, use 1 cup of flour (with 1/4 tsp. salt), 1/2 cup Crisco cut into flour with a sharp knife until the shortening is the size of small peas, and then 1/4 cup milk stirred in. The ratio of 1, 1/2, 1/4 is easy to remember. A two crust pie would be 2,1,1/2. The dough is then rolled out on a heavily floured board. It is a very forgiving dough and can be rerolled without toughening it if you don’t get it right the first time. I have used this recipe for years, but have also discovered the flaky texture of pate brisee, the all butter alternative. And I have used some recipes that call for a mixture of both shortening and butter. But what I am sharing with you today is a pastry dough that I had never heard of before. It is made with olive oil.

In her book Bistro Cooking, Patricia Wells talks of a version of tart that is made in Provence with the local olive oil. The dish she describes is made with Swiss Chard, but having made it before, I found it to be too heavy and unappealing. I did like the crust though, so I came up with my own filling and tweaked the ingredients slightly for the crust. The advantage of this crust is that, when mixed together, it has the consistency of a cookie dough and all you have to do is is pat it into the tart pan. It does not have the buttery flakiness of most pie crusts, but it is crisp and thin and best of all, simple.

SAVORY LEEK AND HAM TART
Pastry:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls water
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
Filling:
4 leeks, green stems removed, washed well and chopped
2 Tbls. olive oil
1/2 cup diced ham

1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
3 eggs, beaten

1 cup half and half or heavy cream
Dash of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. For the pastry, combine the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium size bowl. Stir in the water and then the oil, mixing until thoroughly blended. Knead briefly. The dough will be very moist, much like a cookie dough. Press the dough into a 10″ loose-bottomed metal tart tin.

Saute the leeks in the heated oil over medium low heat until limp. Add the ham and brown slightly. In a bowl combine the beaten eggs, cream and nutmeg. Place the leek mixture into the prepared tart tin. Top with grated cheese. Pour the egg mixture over all and place in oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Printable recipe

Cauliflower, Potato and Leek Soup

September 27th, 2016

Cauliflower Soup 1

Although the weather is still quite hot, Fall is in the air.  The leaves are starting to drop even though the colors have not changed much.  This time of year I start thinking about soup.  I was in the village of Saluda last week with a friend.  Saluda is a quaint town with an excellent bakery, unique eateries and two old fashioned grocery and hardware stores.Saluda 1

On one of the side streets we found this garden maintained by the local garden club with an antique shop at the bottom of the steps.

Saluda 2

Beyond the garden is the outdoor eating area of The Purple Onion where we had lunch.

Cauliflower Soup 1

I had their cauliflower soup with a half of BLT sandwich on whole wheat bread from Wildflower Bakery.  Both were delicious and I decided I needed to make some cauliflower soup at home.  My only regret is that I did not come home with a loaf of that delicious bread.

Cauliflower Soup 2V

 

 

I was very happy with the soup recipe that I came up with.  It is a combination of leeks sauteed in butter, cooked cauliflower, chicken broth or vegetable broth, and potatoes.  It is similar to the classic potato leek soup but is heavier on the cauliflower.  It has only two potatoes in it.  I used my emulsion blender to emulsify it and flavored it with herbs and lots of cracked black pepper.  If you prefer you can add some sauteed sausages or bacon to make it heartier.  We enjoyed it on a rainy evening this week.  Welcome Fall!

CAULIFLOWER, POTATO AND LEEK SOUP

2 leeks, trimmed, sliced and washed
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 32 ounce box of chicken or vegetable broth
2 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Bouquet Garni of thyme, basil, bay leaves and peppercorns
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets.  Stems removed
Freshly grated black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Cooked bacon or sausage (Optional)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large stock pot.  Dry washed leek slices and add to butter.  Saute over medium heat until soft.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Pour the stock into the pot.  Wrap the herbs and pepper in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with twine.  Place in pot. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the diced potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, chop the cauliflower and add to a large saucepan with water to cover.  Cook over medium heat until tender.  Save water and scoop the cauliflower into the stock pot with potatoes and leeks.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Emulsify the soup either with an emulsion blender or in a blender.  If using blender, divide soup into several batches.  Return to stock pot.  If soup is too thick add some of the cauliflower water until you reach the desired consistency.  Season to taste with lots of pepper and salt as needed.  Add optional bacon or sausage.

Printable Recipe

 

Turkey With Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding for Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2014

Leek Bread Pudding 1

It is the start of the holiday season.  With the approach of Thanksgiving our kitchens will become steamy, aromatic and warm until we sprawl exhausted on our sofas on New Years Day vowing never to eat again.  But for foodies it is the best of times.  The Thanksgiving feast is just the warm up.  We have done something a little different this year.  We have already had our Thanksgiving dinner.  We will not be with family and friends this year so we decided to travel on the Thanksgiving weekend.  We are going to Savannah to take in the historic downtown area.  So David and I cooked a simple Thanksgiving meal for the two of us this weekend.  David was in charge of the turkey.  He smoked it on the grill and I will let him tell you about it at the end of this post.  I did all of the side dishes.  A new one for me this year was this Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding from Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Make it Ahead.  How perfect is that?

Leek Bread Pudding 2V

 

Instead of my standard dressing, this savory bread pudding hit all of the marks in my book.  I have an affinity for leeks and artichokes and the fact that it can be made ahead of time is a real timesaver at Thanksgiving.  You will love the combination of flavors with the salty pancetta on the top and the creamy base.  We found it to be a great alternative.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 1

Here is our intimate Thanksgiving table.  David laughed at me for the care that I took dressing the table.  It is a bit over the top, but I enjoyed having the leisure to make it special.  I have to say that everything was delicious.  The meal included David’s moist smoked turkey, his special gravy, mashed potatoes, my Mother’s cheesy green beans with bacon,  Ina’s leek and artichoke bread pudding and Sam’s (My Carolina Kitchen) French cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 2

I am turning it over to David so that he can tell you about his turkey and gravy.

I (David) have been wanting to smoke a turkey for a long time, but Penny would never let me do it for Thanksgiving when we would normally have guests for dinner, fearing that I might muck it up and she would not have a decent bird to serve to company.  (Penny here, plus no gravy).  I told her about a week ago that I planned to smoke a turkey for myself for the fun of it and she could eat some if she liked it….or not.  My plan was simple, to have smoked turkey and a couple of appropriate sides for a normal Saturday night supper, but my simple plan somehow morphed into the table that you see above.  That’s what being married to a food blogger will do for you.  I did get a good chuckle out of the elaborate table setting for a two-person, not-quite-Thanksgiving meal. Anyway, I got to smoke my turkey.

As some of you know, I have a Kamado ceramic egg style grill back in Lake Lure, but not down here in Florida, so I was faced with cooking it on the gas grill that I have here.  After Googling “smoked turkey recipe” and reading about several candidate techniques, I zeroed in on Meathead Goldwyn’s  method as spelled out in excruciating detail on his most excellent website Amazing Ribs.  He’s the go-to guy for all things barbecue.  You can take a look at his website for the gory details, all 42 printed pages of it, but suffice it to say that his techniques are based on the science of cooking meat, including the underlying thermodynamic and heat transfer principles, which greatly appeals to me, this retired thermodynamics professor.

In short, you coat the bird with his “Simon and Garfunkel” rub (I bet you can guess the main ingredients) both under and over the skin.  Then you set up your grill for indirect cooking with the bird on one side over an aluminum roasting pan filled with chopped-up onions, carrots, and celery, along with the turkey neck, heart, gizzards, wing tips, and “Pope’s Nose”, some herbs and spices, and about three quarts of liquid.  I used two quarts of water, a bottle of white wine, and a cup of apple juice.  The liquid left in this pan at the end of cooking, and after straining out all the solids, is the “gravy” you can serve with the meat without the bother of thickening it with flour.  Use the burners on the other side of the gas grill for supplying the heat to produce smoke from a couple of chunks of foil-wrapped wood (I used cherry) and to keep the turkey side of the grill at around 325F as measured with a digital thermometer at rack height. Our ten-pound bird took about 2 hours to reach the target temperature of 160F in the thickest part of the breast, at which time the temperature of the thighs was 170F….perfect.  During a 15 minute rest period the temperature at both locations will increase about 5 degrees.  The result is a juicy bird with crisp skin and a nice mellow smokey flavor and some delicious broth to go with it.  If you decide to try this, you should definitely take a look at the Amazing Ribs website for details.

That is all from the two of us.  We wish everyone a bountiful Thanksgiving.  We are thankful for all of you.

LEEK AND ARTICHOKE BREAD PUDDING ( Make it Ahead by Ina Garten )

8 cups ( 1-inch-diced ) day-old bakery white bread, crusts removed
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
6 cups ( 1/2-inch-diced ) leeks, white and light green parts ( 5 Leeks )
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
4 extra-large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups grated Emmentaler Swiss cheese (8 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes, tossing once, until lightly browned.  Place the pancetta in on layer on another sheet pan and bake in the same oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.  Place the pancetta on a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Meanwhile, soak the leeks in water until they’re clean, and spin them dry in a salad spinner.  Heat the butter in an 11-inch pot over medium heat, add the leeks, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine almost evaporates and the leeks are tender.  Of the heat, mix in the artichokes, toasted bread cubs, chives, and tarragon.

Whisk the eggs, cream chicken stock, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.  Spoon half of the bread mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with half the Emmentaler and add the remaining bread mixture.  Pour on the cream mixture, sprinkle with the remaining Emmentaler, and press lightly to help the bread absorb the liquid.  Dice or crumble the pancetta, scatter on top, and sprinkle lightly with pepper.  Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the cream mixture.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. until the pudding is puffed and golden.

Make it Ahead:  Assemble the bread pudding and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  Bake before serving.

Printable Recipe

Thanksgiving Tried and True Side Dishes

November 16th, 2015

Sugar-Spiced-Nuts-2

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to share a few dishes that have been on my table and on my blog in the past years.  These are recipes that have worked well for me and I am sure they will add a special punch to your usual menu.  Notice that I am not including a recipe for turkey.  I would not presume to tell you how to cook your turkey.  Everyone has their personal idea of the best way to do that.  Let’s start with appetizers.  Because there is a huge meal waiting in the kitchen, appetizers should be light.  These Candied Spiced Almonds require a little attention upfront, but can be made way in advance.

Chipoltle-Cheddar-Wafers-1

I always love homemade savory shortbread crackers and the addition of dried cranberries to these appetizer rounds make them perfect for the holidays.  The recipe for these Chipotle Cheddar Cranberry Nut Wafers can be found here.

Sweet-Potato-Soup-1

If you prefer your sweet potatoes as a first course, this Creamy Sweet Potato Soup is sure to be a hit. It is easy too.  The sweet potatoes are cooked in the microwave and the mixture comes together smoothly with an immersion blender, although you could puree it in a blender or food processor.

Leek-Bread-Pudding-1

Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding makes a great dressing if you do not stuff your bird.  It is an Ina Garten recipe and you can make it ahead of time.  Bacon can be substituted for the pancetta or you can leave it out all together if you have vegetarians at the table.

Cranberry-Lime ChutneyThis Cranberry-Lime Chutney is definitely a new take on cranberry sauce.  It is a combination of fresh cranberries, lime, apples, onion, raisins, pecans, and lots of spices.  It is best made ahead of time.

Green-Beans-Gremolata-3

Instead of a green bean casserole, try these Green Beans Gremolata.  This dish is best made with the thin French Haricot Vert.  They have been readily available in several supermarkets that I visit.  They are usually found in a cellophane bag. The beans are cooked quickly and then tossed in a mixture of garlic, parsley, parmesan and pine nuts.

Acorn-Squash-4

This Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage could almost be a meal on its own.  But it would certainly look pretty on the Thanksgiving table.

Apple-Bundt-Cake-11

Instead of an apple pie you could make an Apple Bundt Cake.  This spice cake with a caramel frosting is a snap to make and there is a good tip on how to turn your cake out of the bundt pan easily.

Pumpkin-Dump-Cake-1

If you are in a hurry you could make this Pumpkin Dump Cake.  For a while this cake was on my DIL’s family Thanksgiving table every year.  I first made it for Kristen for her birthday and she loved it so much that she shared it with her family.  They adopted it for Thanksgiving.

Apple Crostada 2

Instead of that apple pie you could make this free form Apple Crostata.  This is one of my favorite desserts.

Enjoy the preparations and fun of the Thanksgiving holiday.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.