by Courtney Thomas, Quince Café & Ice Cream | photo by Janis Jean Photography
With the changing seasons and cooler temperatures outside comes a desire to spend time in a warm kitchen making the most of all the local produce available. Root vegetables and alliums feature prominently this time of year and what better time than to take advantage of the beautiful leeks found at local farm stands. Here are a few suggestions for cozy, flavourful meals to enjoy this season.
8-10 medium-sized leeks, sliced lengthwise then cut into thin slices
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp fresh thyme
salt & pepper
pastry dough – storebought or homemade
4 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten
In a heavy bottomed pot, melt butter and add the leeks. Cook over medium heat, allowing the leeks to soften (not brown), stirring often. Add thyme and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Once leeks are soft, remove from heat and cool.
Preheat oven to 375°. Roll out your preferred pastry dough into a 12” disk. Place pastry on parchment onto a baking sheet. Keep in fridge until ready.
Once leeks are cool, stir in crème fraiche and Dijon mustard. Mix well then spread onto pastry, leaving a 2” border. Fold up the edges and seal the corners, pinching pastry together. Brush with a beaten egg and place in oven.
Bake for 45 minutes or so, until bottom is golden and leeks are bubbling.
Leek & Potato Gratin
2.5lbs yellow potatoes, thinly sliced
2 leeks, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup half & half cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp salt
5 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp melted butter
freshly grated parmesan
1 cup grated Gruyere
Butter a 12-cup baking dish, about 8” x 11.” Arrange the potatoes and leeks in the baking dish, tucking leeks around the sections of potato.
In a saucepan, heat half-and-half and heavy cream. Stir in salt, some fresh pepper, thyme sprigs, a light sprinkle of nutmeg and minced garlic. Heat until gently simmering. Pour mixture over the leeks and potatoes cover with foil and place on a baking tray.
Bake in 350° oven for 35 minutes. While waiting, mix melted butter with breadcrumbs. Stir in parmesan.
After 30 minutes, remove pan and foil, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and gruyere. Return to oven, bake 35-40 minutes until bubbling, potatoes are cooked, and the top is golden brown.
Leek Vinaigrette (a side dish – plan for 3 pieces of leek per person)
leeks, sliced lengthwise then cut into pieces about 4-6 inches long
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt & pepper
fresh lemon zest
fresh parsley, minced
fresh parmesan, shaved
Heat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment. On the baking sheet gently toss the leeks with olive oil, salt and pepper, ensuring both sides are covered, then lay cut side down. Place in oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. They should be tender when pierced with a knife.
Meanwhile, make your vinaigrette. Mix Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk well, then drizzle in olive oil to make about 1/2 cup; continue whisking until well blended.
Once leeks are done, allow to cool, then place on a serving platter and drizzle with desired amount of the dressing. Garnish with lemon zest, minced parsley and shaved parmesan.
Visit Quince Café at https://www.restaurantji.com/bc/sidney/quince-caf-and-ice-cream-/