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Posts Tagged ‘leek’

Yesterday, the bright blue sky pulled me out of bed, inviting me on a lovely run along the Don River. The crispness in the air couldn’t help but remind me that somehow we’re over at leaset half the summer, and my craving for harvest food officially began. I know many will criticize me for speaking of the end of summer, but come on – I haven’t seen any other season for about a year and a half, and I’m excited for the glorious Canadian autumn. Then the downpours began. So what could possibly be better than hiding away from the rain by baking delicious savoury muffins? That, and I also wanted to make a snack I love to show my friend who’s scoping out people’s snacking secrets…

In honour of my craving for harvest food and the change in weather, I decided to bake savoury sweet corn muffins, with herbs from our tiny balcony garden. Looking around for recipes, I decided my best bet would be to inspire myself from a variety of recipes and then make up my own, judging by the importance that left-overs are playing in the creation of these I didn’t have much of a choice in terms of ingredients or quantity, and it turns out that was not a problem at all.

Enjoy these savoury treats warm with butter for breakfast or a delicious afternoon snack!

Ingredients – makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cup roasted corn kernels (or frozen corn, if you don’t have roasted)
1 leek, white an light parts, finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp honey
1 cup buttermilk, or milk with a tbsp of cider vinegar or lemon juice added
1/4 cup melted butter (you can substitute 5-6 Tbsp oil if you prefer)
1 large egg

1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar (optional, but highly delicious)

Directions

Dice the leek, and then heat the oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the leek for about five minutes. Add the corn, the salt and pepper, and the thyme leaves, and continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.

Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat the milk, the egg, melted butter, and honey.

Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until incorporated. Add the corn mixture, and the cheese if you are using it.

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups. Evenly fill each cup until almost  full, and then bake in the oven for between 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven! In mine, it took around 19 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this delightful recipe inspired by a true Canadian ingredient, roast corn.

-Sitelle

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It’s a fact, potatoes can be like candy, as this recipe attests. They are treasures when cooked with care.

I love planting potatoes.  In the spring, I plant little chunks of potatoes I’ve neglected that have sprouted.  Then I slowly cover their growing shoots, day by day, so that they can have more earth in which to produce their tubers. Eventually, their flowers come out – they are beautiful!  And then the leaves dry out and shrivel, and it’s the very best time of all.  The dig!  I don’t know what it is about harvesting potatoes that makes it so exhilarating. Perhaps digging into the ground and coming up with copious amounts of treasure (potato) is just so reminiscent of my childhood.  Perhaps it’s the sheer and utter amazement at how many potatoes can come from one little cube I planted.  Or perhaps it’s something entirely different. I look forward to planting a garden, soon – hopefully.

I especially love little young potatoes that are available in the spring and early summer.

The rest of this meal was inspired by the colours I had available in my fridge. There was purple cabbage, orange carrots, and green leeks. I really wanted the cabbage to stay purple, so I drizzled a lot of lemon juice all over it (the betacyanin pigment that gives it its colour is pH and temperature sensitive).  It did the trick!

Ingredients (1 meal for 2 people)

-1 lb baby yukon gold or red potatoes
-1 large carrot, peeled and cut into wedges
-1 leek, dark green parts removed, washed well, and sliced in half lengthways and then each length cut in half again
-4 red cabbage wedges, 1 inch thick, washed then covered in lemon juice
-a handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-3 Tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp salt + more to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Wash the potatoes, and place them in pot with water that just covers them.  Add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil.  Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, then drain them and drop the butter into the pot with the potatoes and swirl it all around until the butter melts.

While the potatoes are boiling, wash and prepare the vegetables.  Place them in a baking dish where they can be laid out in a single layer.  Drizzle olive oil all over them.  Drizzle extra olive oil over the leeks, with the cut-side up. Sprinkle sea salt over it all, and place it in the oven.

Once the butter has melted and has coated all the potatoes, place this in another baking dish, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Add these to the oven as well, and cook all the veggies for 30-40 minutes, until they are golden.  When done, remove them and serve them with fresh parsley.

This is one of my very favourite ways of making potatoes.  I hope you like them too!

-Sitelle

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I’m sure many people are thinking, what in the world are sunchokes?  They’re also called Jerusalem artichokes.  Still doesn’t ring a bell?  That’s because they’re a little-known tuber.  My guess is they’re going to be making their come-back, because they store high amounts of inulin, a prebiotic that the market is becoming quite enamoured with these days.  They’re also beautiful flowering garden plants, although if left to their own devices they can become nuisances because they are quite hardy and can be difficult to get rid of.  They are in the sunflower family, and are, contrary to their names, not related to artichokes at all, aside from the fact they both contain high amounts of inulin. That said, when roasted or in soup, they do taste quite similar to artichokes and are a real treat. They can be found in many places in Canada – even the Don Valley Brickworks in Toronto!

My favourite vegetable and fruit market in Kensington Market has had these in stock for the last month or so, and I’ve been dying to try making this soup from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table (p 76).  Finally, everything aligned itself tonight, allowing me to have a delicious warm soup with buttery bread while I write my end of semester essays.

Ingredients – 4 servings

The Soup

-2 Tbsp butter
-1 leek, white and light green parts, washed and finely chopped
-1 onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
-1 celery stalk, finely sliced
-1 lb sunchokes, washed and peeled (if you want – they’re fine unpeeled but just make sure to wash them well)
-3 cups stock (vegetable or chicken) + 1 cup water
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 dollop of crême fraiche or sour cream per bowl (optional)

The parsley coulis

-1 cup packed parsley leaves, washed
-2-3 Tbsp olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Chop up the leek, onion, garlic, and celery.  Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped veggies, and stir until they are coated in butter.  Let them melt for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and reducing the heat to medium-low so that they do not brown. Meanwhile, wash the sunchokes and peel them if you want to.  Dice them into coarse 1/2-1 inch cubes.  Throw them into the pot with the leek and onion mixture, and stir to coat them.  Cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point, begin making the coulis.  To make this, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil while trimming the leaves and washing them.  Prepare a bowl of ice water and a strainer.  Blanch the parsley for 30 seconds in the boiling water, and then strain and immediately place them in the ice water for another 30 or so seconds. This makes them a vivid green. Place them in a food processor/mortar and pestle/hand blender with the oil and salt and pepper, and whirl away until you have a green, green paste.

Now, add the stock and the water to the soup.  Add a little more liquid if you want to leave it uncovered.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes.

When ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and swirl in a spoonful of parsley and cream.

-Sitelle

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Rice is one of the world’s most important staples.  I love rice.  I probably eat it more than any other staple grain myself.  It’s texture is always so pleasing, and I I love the diversity in flavour and texture depending on the type.  Not to mention the diversity in ways of preparing it.

One of my very favourite things to do with rice is to give it subtle aromas by cooking it gently with one or two herbs or spices.  They give the rice uniqueness, while not deterring from the other dishes the rice is meant to accompany.  Here’s my recipe I’ve been making for several years for thyme infused rice with leek.  It’s delicate flavour is a spring treat!

Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 leek, dark green removed, thoroughly washed, and finely diced
-12 sprigs fresh thyme
-1 Tbsp butter
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup white basmati rice
-1 1/3 cups cold water

Directions

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the leek and fresh thyme and stir.  Cover with a lid for about 4 minutes, or until leeks melt.  Add the salt and rice, and stir to coat the rice.  Then add the water, cover, and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, quickly reduce heat to low without opening the lid.  Put the timer on for 9 minutes.  After 9 minutes, fluff the rice, and let sit for a couple more minutes before serving.  This is delicious to accompany grilled veggies, fish, or chicken.  Sometimes I even like to eat it on its own!

-Sitelle

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