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Leeks - what to do with them?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I like leeks. At least, I think I do. I keep seeing them in the market, and I keep wanting to buy them, but I know that once I get them home, I am going to be staring at them asking myself how to use them. And all they are going to do is stare back at me.

 

What do the rest of you do with them?

post #2 of 18

Basically anywhere you use an onion you could substitute it for leeks, though if leeks are as expensive elsewhere in the world as they are in Australia, then it's probably only a feasible substitution if they're in season... Soups, chowder, pies, they'll all benefit from a leek. Hell I've even put it in with my scrambled eggs before!

 

I've also made a saffron & leek sauce that I served atop wine-poached Cod fillets - one of my favourite sauces.

post #3 of 18

My top two suggestions: Potato Leek Soup, and Prasopita.

 

There is much debate about if you should use the dark green tops or only the white part.  I say for soups, definitely use the dark green parts that look good.  It adds more dimension to the flavor.  For other uses, you probably do not want to.  I've worked in places that would save most of the tops for soups (with some whites) and use the whites for other dishes.  But, it's all about what you like once you figure that out.

 

A very basic (and cheap) soup of just onion (optional?), celery (optional?), thyme, leeks, potatoes, parsley, salt and pepper is hard to screw up.  I use Olive Oil, but that's because I keep the recipe vegan out habit for the restaurant I made a lot of soups in, some people use butter.  I honestly prefer Olive Oil (not EVOO), because the butter (or EVOO) stands out too much IMO.  Never burn/brown leeks, and for this always have a bit more leek than potato.  Somewhere between 4:3 and 2:1 ratio of leek to potato, but closer to 4:3 is good.  You can just eyeball this and it doesn't have to be exact.  You'll figure out what you prefer after a few experiments.  Just use all of your leek, and base the potato on that.  If you put in too much potato, it ruins the soup, trust me on this.  I just throw the celery (2 ribs), onions and thyme in and sweat them with a lid on and stir occasionally.  Sweat for 5 mins.  Stir.  Add leeks and some salt.  Sweat for like 10, stirring a few times.  Let them release water and cook down some.  Use a lower heat.  Low and slow preserves flavor.  Keep a lid on.  It preserves flavor and sweats better.  Add potatoes and just enough water to cover (you can always just reduce it down if you add too much, but try to not do this, it is easier to add more later).  Boil until potatoes and celery are soft.  Add fresh chopped parsley.  Puree.  salt and pepper to taste.  Some people add cream, use chicken stock, don't use onions or celery etc etc, but I have had the most success with this to please other people.  I myself recommend NOT using stock or cream.  It won't need it.  Good fresh ingredients that go well together speak for themselves.  I've had versions with stock, cream and other stuff.  Simple is good.  Something too busy drowns out the leeks.  The stock can take over the flavor, and the richness from the cream is okay, but totally frivolous IMO.  Some people use dill.  I don't know about that.  You may want to experiment with what potato you prefer.  Flavors and textures change, everyone will have their own preference.  Personally, I prefer russet for this soup, but that is because they let the leek stand out more.  Normally I suggest golden potatoes for soups though.  Also, taste the potatoes when baked that you will use before making this.  If the potatoes do not taste good (ie too earthy), it will ruin this soup.  Now, I will say that you can also swap out or mix up other roots at the same ratio with good results.  Carrot-leek, turnip-leek, parsnip-leek, a mix of them all at this same ratio, all come out pretty good.  I made a smokey bacon, san marzano leek soup that was great too.  Roasted cauliflower and leek or sauteed broccolli rabe and leek is my next experiment. 

 

Prasopita is a delicious Greek pastry.  I make it with just a phyllo crust, sauteed leeks stems (white part), eggs, goat cheese, black pepper, and parsley.  This is not a standard recipe, but it is delicious.  Supposedy some other cheese is used, But I use goat cheese because it s easier to find, and I can get away with not using milk which many recipes call for (I am lactarded, and have never liked milk).  You can slo use a lot less salt.  I've had Greeks commend me on my prasopita, so I may be onto something.  I'm sure it varies and each village changes it up anyways.  Some people use mint and dill and lemon zest and other stuff.  Do so at your own risk.  Simple is good with something as delicious as leeks.  Basically, saute the leeks, cool, mix with the all the other ingredients besides the phyllo to make a filling, and the rest is obvious, or on the google.  Since it is baking, you may want to find a recipe. 

 

There is a lot more you can do with leeks, but I find just about anyone enjoys these dishes.  You can use them in place of onions, but not vice-versa in any case I know of.  They're way more delicious.  Remember, do not brown them.  They do not caramalize deliciously like onions do. They get nasty and bitter. They're good in pot-pies, some people put them in Borscht, but that soup is an institution, and doing so is offensive to many Ukrainians and Russians.  Hope this helps or gets you to enjoy them.  I think they are underrated and delicious. 

post #4 of 18
post #5 of 18

One of my favorite uses for leeks is this pasta recipe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-oliver/cheats-pappardelle-with-slow-braised-leeks-and-crispy-porcini-pangrattato-recipe.html

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mckallidon View Post

 

Prasopita is a delicious Greek pastry.  I make it with just a phyllo crust, sauteed leeks stems (white part), eggs, goat cheese, black pepper, and parsley.  This is not a standard recipe, but it is delicious.  Supposedy some other cheese is used, But I use goat cheese because it s easier to find, and I can get away with not using milk which many recipes call for (I am lactarded, and have never liked milk).  You can slo use a lot less salt.  I've had Greeks commend me on my prasopita, so I may be onto something.  I'm sure it varies and each village changes it up anyways.  Some people use mint and dill and lemon zest and other stuff.  Do so at your own risk.  Simple is good with something as delicious as leeks.  Basically, saute the leeks, cool, mix with the all the other ingredients besides the phyllo to make a filling, and the rest is obvious, or on the google.  Since it is baking, you may want to find a recipe. 

 

 

Lol, yes prasopita is standard greek fare.  It is absolutely delicious and a favorite at any party.  The supposed cheese you are referring to is feta of course.  Omit at your own peril - the briny salty feta is what counteracts with the sweetness of the leek.  And yes I strongly advocate the use of herbs such as parsley or mint, even dill can be used.  I also like to add scallions.  Super easy to make.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #6 of 18

Chris: appart your amazing collection of leeks recipes, you can click the #post xxxx number to get a direct url to a single post in a thread. Example:

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/69652/what-did-you-have-for-dinner/2520#post_452490

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ordo View Post
 

Chris: appart your amazing collection of leeks recipes, you can click the #post xxxx number to get a direct url to a single post in a thread. Example:

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/69652/what-did-you-have-for-dinner/2520#post_452490


That's what I tried to do in several links, but it doesn't work at all; you'll find exactly the same url you posted in my series of links, but it doesn't reach its target.

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post
 


That's what I tried to do in several links, but it doesn't work at all; you'll find exactly the same url you posted in my series of links, but it doesn't reach its target.

You have to actually click the post number (in green, at the top right of your post). For example: 

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/78923/january-2014-potato-challenge/120#post_455448

 

Your links have the right name, but not the right URL (you can hover over one of your links to see the (wrong) URL)

post #9 of 18

@French Fries yup, you're right, the target url showed something else! Thanks FF and problem solved. 

post #10 of 18

You're welcome Chris!

 

Some of my go-to leek recipes: 

 

1) Leek fondant:

VERY slowly heat a large sautee pan. Add a nice knob of butter (it shouldn't sizzle) and let it melt. Add the raw diced leeks. Add a little salt (not too much, leeks don't need too much salt). Cook until tender, about 20mn. 

 

2) Leek vinaigrette:

Boil a large pot of water, add the leeks and cook until tender, refresh in ice water and drain. Serve with homemade vinaigrette (good vinegar, S&P, mustard, mix then slowly drizzle in olive oil while mixing). 

 

3) Leek gratin: 

Boil leeks as in #2, mix with bechamel and your favorite grated cheese, top with more grated cheese, bake or broil until golden brown. You can also add diced ham to this gratin.

post #11 of 18

French Fries, you beat me to the punch with Leeks Vinaigrette, one of my favorite dishes. Although I like to use a little mustard in my vinaigrette when making the dish and garnishing with finely diced tomato and hard boiled egg.

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post
 

Although I like to use a little mustard in my vinaigrette when making the dish and garnishing with finely diced tomato and hard boiled egg.

 

I did list mustard too (at first when I read your post I thought "how could I forget mustard??"). I'd never thought of diced tomato for this dish, but sometimes I add crumbled hard boiled eggs. 

post #13 of 18

Sorry, I totally missed mustard in your recipe!!!!  I see it now.  Need to stop trying to do 2-3 things at one time!!!

post #14 of 18

I've seen and had feta versions, but I was referring to a lesser known Greek cheese I'm trying to look up. It's like a cottage cheese. I think it starts with a K.  I'll have to ask my boss, he is Greek.  I guess that is actually a common ingredient over there for some variations.  His famaily's recipe is feta and the other cheese.  Different regions and villages of Greece do things differently though (I'm sure you know this). I have worked for four different Greek families all from different parts and their family recipes were always different.  Feta is nearly universal in Greek-American incarnations because it is well-known and easy to get over here, and pretty cheap.  It is to my knowledge the most common cheese used in the country for it though.  Stuff here in the US is kind of standardized like how in the Northern US  we see a generic Southern cuisine, while in the South they have it broken down into completely different ones (Carolina Kitchen, Creole, Cajun, etc).  I see you're in NYC, so I imagine it is always just feta because you probably have all the Greek distributors offing it for probably pretty cheap.  Most of the other Greek cheeses are hard to come by here in Western NY, and we have a lot of Greeks, Greek restaurants, and markets.  We even have Wegmans, and they don't do much for their massive cheese market outside of Italian and French stuff.  They have like 100 different types of bleu cheese and gouda, but pretty much only feta.  I myself have made it with just feta, and it does complement the leeks very well. But, it is not as good as feta and watermelon!  The other cheese I was discussing is milder like goat cheese, so I use the goat cheese to substitute that and to bypass using milk.  My boss's family recipe is supposed to use that other cheese with feta and parsley but forgoes the dill and mint.  I'm not big on dill myself, and I think the scallions can be overkill.  But, that is only with how I made it, and I also tend to like simpler recipes. There are two Greek festivals in my city every summer and they tend to keep it really simple and with just feta, and they're delicious early in the day when it's really fresh.  None of the restaurants around here make it fresh.  I think it is better when still warm with feta than the goat cheese. 

 

Anyways, that recipe you posted is great by the way.  I'm going to make that. 

post #15 of 18

Interesting, the only greek cheese that starts with a K that would fit that description might be kopanisti which is a cheese native to the island of Mykonos I believe.  All the other cheeses that start with a K would be too hard/dry for what you describe.  You're right that different regions do things differently.  In my region it would be common to see a cheese like anthotiro or mizithra (both mild creamy cheeses) used.  Here in the states I've seen greek americans use ricotta too.  Whatever is available.  But feta is universal, it is used by everyone everywhere.  

 

The wonderful privilege of being a home cook is that we have the freedom to cook things differently each time.  Use herbs this time, don't use herbs next time.  It's all good!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post
 

Interesting, the only greek cheese that starts with a K that would fit that description might be kopanisti which is a cheese native to the island of Mykonos I believe.  All the other cheeses that start with a K would be too hard/dry for what you describe.  You're right that different regions do things differently.  In my region it would be common to see a cheese like anthotiro or mizithra (both mild creamy cheeses) used.  Here in the states I've seen greek americans use ricotta too.  Whatever is available.  But feta is universal, it is used by everyone everywhere.  

 

The wonderful privilege of being a home cook is that we have the freedom to cook things differently each time.  Use herbs this time, don't use herbs next time.  It's all good!

 

That may just be it!  I've never had a ricotta variation, I imagine it's be okay with feta, but not without IMO.  That is true.  Sometimes even though I cook for a lving, I love cooking at home because I can do what I want, instead of the same thing the same way all the time.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hey - thanks for all of the nice replies. I think the first thing I am going to try is French Onion Soup.

 

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/french-onion-soup.html

 

Gotta  make some beef stock, tho.

 

And that Jamie Oliver recipe up there looks awesome.

 

Thanks! :)

post #18 of 18

BTW one unusual thing to do with leeks is to grill them. I have yet to try it, but it sounds good. 

 

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