Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Caitlins & Leeks

Do you know how there are certain people you meet that you just instantly bond with? I do... and it's with girls named Caitlin.

Caitlin #1 - I met her at the bridal shop where I bought my dress. She was 18 at the time - working at the store and actually helped me try on all the different dresses. By the time I left the store, we had hugged and I invited her to my wedding. I think she probably thought I was joking - but I wasn't. She actually came early and helped me get ready on the big day. We now talk on the phone regularly, tell each other "I love you!" and grab lunches together when she's home for college. She's like my kid sister. Just an awesome girl.

Caitlin #2 - Molly's best friend. Speaking of which - MWMM will hopefully return soon. Miss Molly has been tracked out so we decided to give her a complete break from thinking about schools. ;) I met Caitlin for the first time - I believe - at Mike's college graduation party. Loved her the second I talked to her - and her boyfriend Brock. Just awesome people. So now I have another Caitlin to know and love. Also feels like a younger sister to me - might be something with the name. If you know any other Caitlins keep them away from me - 2 friends with the same name is my limit!

So Caitlin #2 emailed me yesterday asking about some good recipes with lee
ks in them (since I mentioned my love of leeks in a former blog post). There are leeks in this broccoli and cheese soup recipe, but not leek-y enough.

So here are a couple yummy leek recipes:


Chicken & Leek Pie

Ingredients
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 small leek, washed and sliced small
* 1 tablespoon plain flour
* 2-3 pints chicken stock
* 100 ml double cream
* 1 pinch fresh thyme (dried will do if it's all you have)
* 1 packet premade puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm comes with two in a box. That's what I use.)
* 3-4 small potatoes (optional)

* 1-2 bay leaves (optional) ... the recipe says optional... I say non-optional. I need to add bay leaves to favorite ingredients.
* salt and pepper

Directions

1. Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces – I like mine about 1 to 2
inches square.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan until very hot. Brown the chicken pieces a few at a time, depending on the size of your pan. When they’re all done, put them to one side.
3. Add the rest of the oil to the pan. Add the onion and leek, cover and turn the heat down low. Cook like this for about 10 minutes until the onion and leek are nicely softened. Then add the flour, stir in well and cook until completely incorporated, which will take a couple of minutes or so.
4. Add a cupful of the stock and stir. The sauce should immediately start to thicken. Add the rest of the stock, bit-by-bit, until you have about a third left.
5. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan. If the sauce seems a bit too thick, add a bit more stock. Add the thyme.
6. Cook on a medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, and then
pour in the cream. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
7. If you are adding the potatoes, boil them separately and then chop into smallish pieces. Add to the sauce.
8. Cook until the sauce has reduced to your preferred consistency. If it’s too thick, add a bit more stock to thin it out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Pour the sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish and top with the puff pastry. Cook at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Note: Heavy cream + puff pastry = save your weight watchers points for this bad boy. But it's delicious - especially during the winter!
Extra note: You could easily make these individually by putting them in smaller ramekins (not the real tiny ones, but an individual portion size.) You might have to modify the baking time
though - so just check it and pull out when the crust is golden brown. The chicken will have cooked earlier, so you don't have to worry about it being pink in the middle.

Rustic Potato & Leek Soup

Ingredients:

*3 tablespoons butter
* 4 leeks, thinly sliced (just use the white or light green part)
* 1 small or medium onion, chopped
* 6 to 8 russet potatoes, thinly sliced using a food processor (you don't have to remove the peel... just clean it well. the peel is where all the nutrients are!)
* 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or enough to barely cover potatoes)
* 1 cup heavy cream
* salt to taste
* white pepper to taste (again, unless your husband hates you and denys you white pepper. then use black pepper like the common folk)

Directions:

1) Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until onions are wilted and lightly browned.

2) Add sliced potatoes to saucepan then pour in enough chicken broth to just barely cover the potatoes. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. I like mine a bit chunky, but you can make it smoother if you'd like. As you mash the potatoes and the soup thickens, turn down heat and stir frequently with a large spoon to prevent the bottom from burning and causing you a heartache over cleaning the pot.

3) Add one cup of heavy cream, salt and white pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more over low heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and serve... preferably with some hearty bread and a bright green salad.


So there are a few leek recipes - but you can add them to about any vegetable soup - creamed or not - and it will probably make it even more delicious. Asparagus and leek soup would probably rock. Chad and I have an unhealthy/healthy obsession with asparagus as well. I'll try to find a recipe for that and share.

Also (I'm a day late... and I have no excuses):

Happy Birthday Miss Molly... I love you big time!

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