Two music graduates chronicle the culinary delights of Leeds and London and explore the height of fine dining on a limited budget.

Good food is well punk.

March 17, 2010

"It smells leaky"

I wrote previously about the organic veg boxes we've been getting from the union recently; as brilliantly middle class and Guardian-reading it is of us, the downside is that we're now wading balls deep in kale and half-eaten beetroot. Half-cribbed off a Jamie Oliver recipe, I came up with the a creamy cheesy gratin-esque dish to use up all the leeks we seemed to have. Jamie often writes in his books that people don't eat enough veg, so he tries to make them more interesting/tasty. Turns out the following recipe probably negates any nutritional value the leeks may have had.

Serves 3

3 Leeks
4 Cloves Garlic
200ml Single Cream
100g Cheddar Cheese (or equivalent) 
1 stale end of a loaf of bread, turned into breadcrumbs
A few knobs of butter
1 tsp coarse grain mustard
Salt and Pepper 

Preheat the oven to about 200°C. Peel off the coarse, outer layer of the leeks. Rinse thoroughly, and slice each leek in half from the top to the bottom, leaving the base intact.  Rinse again under the tap - leeks have a habit of hiding lovely tasty soil in amid all those leaves. Finely slice the garlic, and gently fry in the butter. Chop the leeks into 1cm slices, and add the pan as soon as the garlic takes on some colour. Gently sauté for about 10 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, grate the cheese. When the leeks are cooked, add the cream, mustard  half the grated cheese and salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a shallowish earthenware dish, and top with layers of cheese and breadcrumbs. Whack it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the topping in golden brown, and serve immediately.

I served it with some beef sausages as an alternative to mashed potato, along with a good helping of steamed peas. Brilliant comfort food, and just what's needed at the moment. I suppose a good helping of chives would be nice strewn through the mixture instead of the mustard. You could add anything to the recipe to adapt it as a main course, I suppose. Shove in a sliced hard-boiled egg or two, some cooked pasta bows, some sliced bacon or ham and you've got an instant creamy bake. Couldn't be easier.

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