Leek Fritters & Garlic Lemon Cream (SK recipe)

You know those bus ads that roll past you with some amazing picture of someone doing something somewhere ridiculous and at the bottom it says “taken with an iPhone”?  Yea, so my iPhone pictures don’t look anything like that.  (Maybe because my life doesn’t really look like this. Although I did pay for the ridiculous storage upgrade so I can now take thousands and thousands of pictures of baby, all doing the same thing, lying on our bed. Maybe not the same thing.)

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from thinking: now that it’s awful and dark and rainy out, maybe the iPhone camera will be able to create some magic in the kitchen.  First up, these leek fritters, taken unabashedly from the Smitten Kitchen, in honor of Rosh Hashanah.  Yes, I know that latkes are for Hanukkah and moreover, that they’re made with potatoes.  But who wouldn’t want to start the New Year, though, with some fried onions with cream and garlic?

Leek Fritters

  • 3-4 large leeks, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly crosswise
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced down to the white parts
  • about 1/4 cup flour
  • dash garlic powder
  • dash crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • butter
  • for the sauce:
    • about half a cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
    • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
    • juice from 1/2 lemon
    • a bit of lemon zest
    • pepper, salt to taste
    • optional: dash hot sauce
  • additional eggs, for frying and serving on top

**tip: if you’re serving these for dinner, this makes a comfortable amount for 2 people for dinner.  Otherwise, double the recipe if you’re serving 4, etc.

  1. Prep your vegetables.  Trim the leeks, leaving the white and pale green parts.  Cut them lengthwise and slice them thinly crosswise.  Slice up the scallions, discarding the bottom parts.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and boil the leeks for about 3-4 minutes.  Drain, and then wring all the water out using a dish towel, paper towel, or cheese cloth.  Try to get out as much water as you can.
  3. Mix the leeks and the scallions in a large bowl with your fingers, making sure to break up the clumps of leeks that will form after you wring them out.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and garlic powder.  Add to the leeks/scallions, and then add one egg.  Give it all a stir so a lumpy batter forms.
  5. Preheat an oven and a baking sheet so you can keep your batches of leeks warm.
  6. Over medium to medium-low heat, heat more butter than you think your heart wants, and then add little drops of batter to the pan, smushing each little drop so it forms a flat pancake.  Fry each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  When nice and toasty, transfer to the warmed oven.  Repeat until you finish off the batter.
  7. While your fritters cook, mix together your cream sauce by adding the sour cream, garlic, lemon, lemon zest, salt, pepper and hot sauce together and whisking.
  8. When the last of your fritters is sitting in the oven, fry up a couple of eggs to finish off your meal.  Serve hot.

The Verdict:

Deb Perelman promises that these keep well in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for about a month – simply warm them up in a 325 degree oven to get them nice and crisp again.  The Husband and I have no idea if this is true, because we gobbled all of these right up.

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Lentil & Kielbasa Soup

I know I complained about the weather in my last post, and my ploy seems to have worked.  It’s now gloriously sunshine-y, and creeping up into the 70s.  Hello, DC that I love – all glorious three weeks before it becomes so hot and muggy you start walking around with a scarf and a fleece again – to protect yourself when you enter the arctic tundra that is DC office buildings in the summer. #firstworldproblems

Of course, the one downside to the beautiful change in seasons is the slow creep away from those hearty, soul-filling foods.  When my sister visited a few weeks ago (how surreal is this: the LAST time I will see her before I become a MOM), we spent almost a full day planning out a menu (clearly, we’re sisters, and daughters of our mom), and took full advantage of one of the last cold blasts of the winter season.  OK, now I’m really ready for summer.

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Lentil & Kielbasa Soup (an Ina Garten special)

  • 1/2 pound green lentils
  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper, red hot chili flakes
  • 8 stalks fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4-6 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • a big squeeze tomato paste
  • 1/2 – 1 pound kielbasa
  • big splash red wine
  • to serve:
    • parmesan cheese
    • parsley
    • green onions
  1. Wash the lentils, and then, in a large bowl, cover them with boiling water.  Allow them to sit for about 15 minutes.  Drain.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and then saute onions.  After a minute or two, add the leeks, the garlic, salt, pepper, red hots, thyme and cumin, and cook for about 15-20 minutes.  Add celery and carrots; saute another 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils.  Cover and bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer (uncovered) for about an hour – until the lentils are completely cooked through.  Add kielbasa, red wine, and simmer until the kielbasa is hot.  Adjust seasonings – and serve with your choice of topping.

 

The Verdict:

As you can imagine, this soup gets even better when it sits overnight, soaking up all the goodness.  If it’s not spring/summer yet where you live – make this.  It will NOT disappoint.

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon and Vegetable Ricotta Pot Pie

Getting packages is obviously the best thing ever.  Usually it’s something I really had no business buying, but it was on sale, and Banana Republic has kindly remembered my credit card number, and whoops, here it is, right on my doorstep, 7-10 business days later.

The only thing better than getting packages I’ve ordered is getting ones I haven’t ordered.  Especially from my mom.

Sometimes, it’s a big package of spices, because she bought too many.  Sometimes it’s a bag of spaetzle.  One time it was an electric toothbrush.  Another time, 4 boxes of Brita filters and paper towels.  Recently, two mugs and a reusable bag from the Human Rights Campaign.

The only consistent thing about these packages is that 1. they show up without warning (i.e., we have not previously discussed a need for any of the things contained in said packages); and 2. there is no note and no explanation for why, or from whom, we are receiving these packages.  You just accept them and call Mom to thank her.

Sometimes, though, my mom outdoes herself.  Like when a few days ago, the UPS man brought A Modern Way to Eat, a new cookbook from Anna Jones, a vegetarian cook from the UK.  Of course, I’m taking some extreme liberties with these recipes, as they’re mostly vegan and slightly too healthy for my tastes.  For example, the below listed cheese as optional.  Not in my book.  But the recipe concepts are awesome.

(And thanks & I love you, Mom!)

 

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Lemon and Vegetable Ricotta Pot Pie

for the dough

  • 1 and 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (you can obviously do this with white flour)
  • large handful parsley
  • zest from one whole lemon
  • pinch salt
  • about 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • about 5 tablespoons cold water
  • optional: 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

for the filling

  • olive oil
  • 4 leeks, washed, trimmed, sliced length-wise and then across
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed & chopped
  • about 8 oz frozen peas
  • about a tablespoon flour
  • about 1 and 1/2 cups veggie stock
  • 4-5 large spoonfuls of whole fat ricotta (honestly, you might as well skip it if you’re going to use the non-fat kind.  just being honest.)
  • a big handful parmesan cheese
  • juice from the zested lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees F.
  2. Make your dough: Put the flour, parsley, lemon zest and salt into a food processor.  Pulse and then slowly add the olive oil.  Add the water – slowly- and pulse until the dough forms a nice round ball.
  3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out until you have a nice round circle.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate & trim the sides.  You’ll use these scraps later. (Or, I did, and felt very proud of myself).  Prick the dough in the pan with a fork and bake it for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Prepare your pie filling.  Heat a bit of olive oil in a large, deep pan.  Add leeks, salt, pepper, and red pepper and cook down for about 10-15 minutes over low heat, until the leeks are nice and soft.  Add asparagus & cook another 5 minutes.  Add peas and then a spoonful of flour – give it a quick stir – and then add the stock and simmer until you have a nice veggie gravy.  You will likely have to add a bit more flour.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Off the heat, add ricotta and parmesan cheeses and the lemon juice.  Give the whole mixture a big stir and allow to cool for a moment.
  5. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust.  Now: here’s where you can get genius.  Roll out the pie scraps and then slice them into strips.  You can use these to lattice them over your pie.  Gently brush the lattice and the crust with the egg wash, pop a crust shield over the pie, and bake the whole thing for about 20 minutes.  Serve with a little more parsley and a side salad.

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The Verdict:

This thing falls apart the second you serve it, which reminds me of Thanksgiving and my favorite dish: my mom’s leftover turkey pot pie.  Only this one is all vegetable.  And if I weren’t such a dairy freak, it could even be made vegan.  Then again, it probably wouldn’t make it to the blog without a few tweaks…

Pea & Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg

If you’re a regular reader around here (which, obviously I hope you are) you know I get a special thrill every time I bust out the immersion blender.  Now that it’s spring, though, that little wonder machine has been sitting in the back of the cabinet, awaiting fall, while I luxuriate in all things fresh and seasonal and NOT canned.  (Side note: I know people enjoy summer time soups.  I do not understand this.  Let’s be real: cold soup is just…cold.)

UNTIL – I happened to spot some beautiful fresh spring peas at Trader Joe’s the other week, and then happened to notice this recipe in Cooking Light.  This is a seriously delicious (and healthy!) soup..and a perfect excuse to use my trusty immersion blender once again.

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Pea & Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg

  • 1 or 2 pats unsalted butter
  • 3 leeks, white and green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups high quality chicken stock (use vegetable if you want a veggie preparation)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • 10 oz fresh peas
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped
  • a big handful parsley, divided
  • optional: olive oil, green onions
  • for the eggs:
    • cold water
    • pinch salt
    • about a tablespoon white vinegar
    • 2 eggs (or however many you’re feeding)
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add sliced leeks and cook about 5 minutes, until nearly translucent.  Add stock, thyme, crushed reds, a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a low simmer.  Add asparagus, cover and cook about 3 minutes, and then add fresh peas.  Cook about a minute, then add parsley (you can include the stalks, which will give it an additional pop of green!).
  2. Blend soup until smooth with a traditional or an immersion blender.  Season to taste and then return to low heat while you prep your eggs.
  3. Bring about an inch of salted water to a boil in a small pot.  Reduce heat to a simmer, add vinegar, and slowly/carefully add your eggs.  Cook about 3-4 minutes, or until the white of the egg firms up around the yolk.
  4. Ladle your soup into bowls and (carefully) add your egg.  Top with parsley, additional cracked pepper, and if you like, some olive oil and/or green onions.  Break that yolk open and enjoy the bounty.

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The Verdict:

Husband, who is not a fan of eggs (I married him, but do not claim to understand him), gobbled this up and went for seconds.  Needless to say, we were both bummed when this only made enough for one more (lunch) meal.  Make this.  I promise you will not regret it.

Pancetta & Leek Quiche

I know, I can’t stop posting about quiches and tarts and things that are technically veggie oriented but are really just carbo-loaded vehicles for cheese consumption.  Guilty as charged.

On the other hand, when the Husband told me this was “the best ever,” obvi it’s going on the blog.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

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how does this end up looking like a pizza?!

Pancetta & Leek Quiche

  • 1 premade pie dough, brought to room temperature
  • about 4 oz diced pancetta
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • about 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup or so heavy cream (or milk, or half and half, or whatever you have)
  • about 8 oz shredded Gruyere
  • optional: handful cherry tomatoes, halved, chopped green onions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Unroll the pie dough and press into a pie plate.  Prick lightly with a fork and bake for about 5-6 minutes, just to get the color nice and light golden.  Bonus if you can use a  crust protector.
  2. In a saute pan, over medium high heat, cook the pancetta until it starts to crisp up.  Reduce heat to medium low, and in that nice bacon-y fat, add your sliced leeks.  (Note: it will look like a LOT of leeks.  Don’t worry – they’ll all fit!).  Add salt, pepper, crushed reds, and parsley and let the leeks cook down a good while – about 10-12 minutes, until they’re nice and translucent.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whip together eggs, cream, and a pinch of salt/pepper/crushed reds.
  4. In your (lightly) baked pie dough, spread the bacon and leek mixture evenly.  Top with a generous amount of cheese, and then carefully pour the egg/cream mix over the top.  Top, as desired, with cherry tomatoes for an extra pop of color.
  5. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden, and the eggs are cooked all the way through.  Top with additional parsley and serve with a side salad.
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less pizza, more leek.

The Verdict:

I think we already established the Husband’s verdict.  As for me, any day I get to use the crust protector, that’s a good day.