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Simply Food: Dress up a dish with leeks

November 5, 2013
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." Albert Camus

I'm embracing this cooler weather. I love all of the beautiful colorful leaves. It's wonderfully crisp and clean outside. However, a cold night makes it harder to get out of bed in the morning because it is so cozy under the covers. This morning, I slept in until ten. I couldn't believe it. I never sleep in that late. Then, imagine my surprise when I discovered it was actually only 9. I was so happy to gain the hour back that was taken from me last spring.

I remember learning that Daylight Savings Time was implemented to give farmers more time to work in the fields. This didn't sit well with me because I think farmers know how to make use of the daylight without messing around with the clocks. After some investigating, I discovered it wasn't ever really about farmers. It was more to do with life indoors.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
A filet mignon sits atop a bed of pureed leeks and sauted leeks.

It's not surprising that the original idea began in the mind of Benjamin Franklin. That guy was incredible. He invented bifocals, electricity, the lightening rod, and the Franklin stove. He mapped the Gulf Stream and invented swim fins. Did he ever stop thinking? In 1784, Benjamin Franklin was ambassador to France (how'd he have time for that?) when he realized that by waking up earlier, he could light his house by the sun for longer without the use of expensive candles. If everyone woke up at sunrise or closer to sunrise, they would make better use of the free light provided by the sun. That was the basic concept behind changing the clocks. However, this didn't actually begin to take effect until more than a century later when energy needed to be conserved during World War I. Actually, it wasn't until 200 years later when the United States adopted the plan we know today. Still, the basic concept was to save energy.

Now, some people are against the idea of Dalight Savings Time. I read that it actually uses more energy than it saves. It also messes with our sleeping patterns. I read one article where they claim it can cause heart attacks. That seems crazy. Well, I am no Ben Franklin, but I do think about nutrition and try to invent recipes for my family in a way that is delicious and healthy. Like him, I try to continuously improve what I do.

Yesterday, Claud wanted to have a steak for dinner. I bought him a nice grass-fed, hormone-free filet mignon. I decided to surround the plate with vegetables to make it healthier. I pulled out some broccoli. Then, I grabbed a bunch of leeks. I thought using them with steak would be a nice way to make it a bit lighter, especially if I included leeks instead of potatoes. Instead of heavy mashed potatoes, I made a leek puree to go underneath the steak. I topped this with a bed of sauted leeks and steamed broccoli. My aim was to serve a plate with more vegetables than meat.

Fact Box

Leeks two ways

Sauted leeks:

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

3 leeks

5 tablespoons vegetable broth (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)

salt and pepper to taste

Cut off the top inch or two of the green part of the leeks. Slice down the middle lengthwise until you reach the root. Fan this out and wash the dirt out between the layers. Slice the leeks and discard the root. Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth in a large saut pan. Add leeks and saut, covered for five minutes. Add two tablespoons more vegetable broth and saut uncovered another five minutes (or until tender). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pure of leeks:

Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4

1 sauted leek (recipe above)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons vegetable broth (or 1 tablespoon olive oil)

1 cup low fat sour cream (or milk-free sour cream)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Saut leek (recipe above). Saut the onions and garlic in the vegetable broth until soft and clear. In a food processor, combine leeks, onions, garlic and sour cream. Blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Leeks are part of the allium family of vegetables like onions and garlic. They help to protect blood vessel linings. They contain antioxidants, which have many cardiovascular benefits. They look like an oversized scallion or spring onion. However, they have a delicate and sweeter flavor than an onion. They are crunchy, firm and bitter when eaten raw. Their sweet mellow taste comes when they are cooked.

Romans brought leeks to the United Kingdom. Legend has it that St. David ordered his soldiers to wear leeks on their helmets during the battle in Wales against the Saxons during the sixth century. The Welsh believe that the leeks helped them to win the battle. Now, leeks are their national emblem, along with the daffodil. Leeks have been treasured and used often in cooking throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. In France, the word for leeks is "poireau" or "simpleton" because they are inexpensive and used often. It wasn't until a famous French chef created a soup called vichyssoise, or potato leek soup, that the leek became less simple and elevated to a higher culinary level.

Well, I wasn't going for fancy with my dish for Claud. I was hoping to add some nutrition. That is why I made leeks two ways and added broccoli for good measure. I think I succeeded. He really loved it and ate everything on his plate. He said it was so delicious and never mentioned a lack of potatoes. Daphne and I took some of the puree of leeks, the sauted leeks, and the broccoli and poured all of it over pasta instead. We both loved it. You could enjoy leeks two ways with fish, chicken, beef or pasta. I am certain it would be wonderful with any of these choices.

 
 

 

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