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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Leeks an Interesting Vegetable : Simply Buttered Just Delicious

Leeks

Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct flavour - quite harsh when raw (only very young leeks are eaten this way) but, when cooked, very delicate, like a mild onion but with a hint of sweetness. Two thirds of their length is white and firm, and this is the part that is mainly eaten. The rest of the third is made up of the leaves (flags), most of which is discarded, although some may wish to use them whilst making broth.

Leeks are very versatile and work well cooked in various recipes or as a side dish. Two of the world's most famous soups, Scotland's cock-a-leekie and France's crème vichyssoise, are based around them.


Availability:
All year round, but at their best from September to March.

Choose the best:
Look for leeks with a firm, unblemished white lower part, and leaves that are bright green, with a crisp texture. Smaller leeks tend to be sweeter and more tender.

Prepare it:
Thorough washing is very important for leeks, as soil is often trapped between the many layers of leaves. First, trim off the base, and cut away the uppermost part of the leaves. If it's tough, remove the outer layer. Then, if you want to keep the leek whole, use a knife to make a slit from the top to the point where the green meets the white, cutting through the centre. Rinse well under running water, pulling back the layers so that any dirt at the base is removed. Alternatively, slice the leeks, then put in a colander and wash well under running water.

Store it:
In the fridge, for up to a week. As their strong aroma can taint other foods, make sure they are well wrapped.

Cook it:
Steam (up to 8 minutes for sliced; up to 16 minutes for whole). Pan fry (up to 8 minutes, sliced). Also good as an ingredient in casseroles, tarts, pies and soups.

Above information from here

Leeks A Short History:
Leeks have been cultivated since the time of the Ancient Egyptians and were probably part of the diet of those who built the pyramids. Hippocrates the ancient Greek physician and ‘father of medicine’ prescribed the leek as a cure for nosebleeds.

The Romans considered the leek a superior vegetable and Emperor Nero got through so many he gained the nickname Porophagus (leek eater); he is reported to have thought that eating leeks would improve his singing voice!

Phoenician traders are said to have introduced the leek to Wales when they were trading for tin in the British Isles – an act that would unexpectedly elevate this humble veg to national status thousands of years later.

Legend has it that in 640AD, the Briton King Cadwallader and his men were engaged in battle with invading Saxons. To distinguish themselves from the enemy, the Welsh wore leeks in their hats – and subsequently gained a great victory over their opponents.

The leek is also associated with the Welsh Saint David. During the Middle Ages when Saint David was alive the leek was seen as a healthy and virtuous plant. Extraordinary qualities were claimed for it. It was the original health food, high in fibre, good for purging the blood, keeping colds at bay and healing wounds.

During this period the leek also acquired mystic virtues. It was claimed that girls who slept with a leek under their pillow on St David’s Day would see their future husband in their dreams.


A 16th Century reference to the leek as a Welsh emblem is found in the Account Book of Princess Mary Tudor. Earlier still, in the fourteenth century it is known that the feared Welsh archers adopted the green and white colours of the leek for their uniforms, probably at the battle of Crecy.

The leek is worn in the caps of today’s Welsh soldiers every year on St David’s Day. On the same day, in the prestigious Welsh Guards Regiment, a large raw leek has to be eaten by the youngest recruits to the cheers of comrades. The green and white plume worn in the ‘Bearskin’ hats of the Guards also identifies them as belonging to a Welsh Regiment. According to tradition, the 600 soldiers of The Royal Welsh regiment are worked with ‘gunfire’ – tea laced with rum – served by senior ranks and officers on St David’s Day.

The humble leek is also mentioned in the Bible. The book of Numbers records how after leaving Egypt, the children of Israel missed a range of foods including leeks.

The leek in Hebrew is called Karti, which is a pun on another Hebrew word yikartu meaning ‘to be cut off’. Thus the Jews eat leeks at Rosh Hashanah to symbolise a wish for their enemies ‘to be cut off’.

Details about leeks history from here

Buttered leeks


Ingredients
Serves 8
1.8kg leeks, trimmed
50g butter, plus extra for serving
thyme leaves for garnish

Method
The day before you want to serve this dish, cut the leeks from top to root and wash thoroughly under cold running water. Thinly slice them on the diagonal and put into plastic bags and chill until ready to cook.

To serve, put a large pan over a medium heat, add the butter and let it melt over the base of the pan. Add the leeks and plenty of seasoning and stir to coat in the butter. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan and cook the leeks gently for about 15 minutes, stirring half way through until they are tender. 

Serve with extra butter and a sprinkling of thyme leaves

All the best Jan

18 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Your Leeks recipe sounds delicious. I have to say I have never tried Leeks, but there is always a first time. Thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week ahead!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Leeks are great!

Jo said...

I love leeks, Mick isn't keen on them but he eats them as the rest of us enjoy them.

Cheryl said...

I love leeks.....they are one of my favourite veg....my husband loves them to.
Just as well as I tend to eat them often (to say the least)
Will add some thyme from the garden next time I cook them.

The weekends go so fast don't they?

Lowcarb team member said...

Eileen
Yes leeks are delicious served simply with butter. I do hope you may give them a try soon.

Thanks for your good wishes - hope the week ahead is a good one for you too.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

'CGP'
Yes, leeks are great and even better if you are fortunate to be able to grow them yourself.

Hope the week ahead is a good one for you.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Jo
So pleased that you all eat them, they can be used in so many different recipe ideas... even better if you are fortunate to grow them too.

Enjoy the remainder of Sunday and good wishes for the week ahead.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Cheryl
Glad to hear that you both enjoy this vegetable ... yes do add a little thyme from your garden, it's just something a little different - although I know many are just happy to serve them with butter.
Cooking, recipes are always to an individuals taste - that is what can be so good when experimenting, or changing a recipe slightly.

I do so agree the weekends pass so quickly. We have been fortunate to enjoy some sunshine today, although many parts of the UK have experienced fog.

Hope next week is a good one for you.

All the best Jan

Red Rose Alley said...

Do you know that I've never tried leeks, Jan? And I didn't realize that this food goes back to the Egyptian times, wow. You make them sound so good, I'll have to try them now.

Happy November, Jan.

~Sheri

Roses and Lilacs said...

I was able to get very good leeks at our farmer's market this year. They are a bit difficult to wash. Sometimes I end up disassembling the entire leek to get all the soil out. They have a mild flavor and I use them with other vegetables or potatoes.

Lowcarb team member said...

Sheri
Do try leeks they are so versatile and have quite a mild taste. I use them in so many different recipes ...

Hope your November has started well ...

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

'R&L'
If you don't grow your own leeks, which I don't, then I think Farmers Markets can often be a great place to buy fresh produce. I do agree leeks can be a little troublesome to get clean - but is so worth it, because their subtle taste can add so much to many recipes.

Hope all is well with you - take care

All the best Jan

Debbie said...

Such a pretty dish!! I often have trouble getting leeks clean, if I am using a recipe that calls for leeks, I sometimes substitute with onions, just for that reason!!

Lowcarb team member said...

Debbie
I think many of us sometimes struggle a little with getting leeks clean. I do sometimes buy the ready washed and trimmed packs - yes, they are a little more expensive but sometimes can be handy.
It's great to swap leeks for onions or indeed onions for leeks sometimes. I think we are so fortunate to have a good supply of vegetables ... there are many who don't have this choice.

Do hope your November has started well.

Good wishes to you ... and hubs.

All the best Jan

The Spooky Whisk said...

I flippin' love leeks. Soooooo goood. I will use them in everything until they are gone.

Lowcarb team member said...

Ivy
Three cheers for leeks
Hip Hip Hooray x 3

All the best Jan

DeniseinVA said...

A happy coincidence I saw your post on Leeks. I have just bought some. Thanks for all this great information and recipe.

Lowcarb team member said...

Denise
It's funny how coincidences can happen! Enjoy your leeks ... there are many tasty recipe ideas to try too. Here are two:
http://thelowcarbdiabetic.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/leeks-with-chicken-or-fish-just-tastes.html

All the best Jan