Feeling leek-y

Recently, I've been feeling sort of like a leek.

I've been feeling stretched a little thin, with layers and layers of thoughts and to-do's beneath. I've been feeling crazy, and a little bit out of control, but in an excited way—the kind of way that makes you unsure just which direction you ought to be going in at any given moment, but that makes you quite sure that whatever you pick will be good.

The leek-y-ness is related, I think, to the fact that I haven't been home much. After that perfect Seattle trip, I headed off to the Greenbrier in West Virginia for a food writers' symposium, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I loved every minute of being gone—I loved the writing panels and the brain stretching and the dinner conversations and the mint juleps and the great stories that came out of the bottles of Kentucky bourbon—but I have to admit I’m awfully glad to be back.

I think everyone else is glad to see me, too: the tomato seedlings are begging to be caged, the dog has some sort of strange canine cold that makes him sneeze in a weird, wobbly, tail-shuddering sort of way, and the Fishmonger doesn't seem to have touched a single thing in the fridge, not even the rhubarb, the entire time I was gone.

Even my film is a bit off its stride. See that picture below there? It was taken on a roll that passed through the security x-ray four times.

Thankfully, there is a cure for feeling leek-y, and that is to go ahead and cook some up. I have this theory that when you eat leeks, when you dress them up with white wine and cream and a pinch of nutmeg, the craziness of feeling leek-y subsides, and you come back down to earth. It sounds a little far-fetched, I know, but I swear it works every time.

Sunday morning, we ate a whole heaps of the sliced green stalks simmered in chicken stock and cream with an egg over easy and slices of imaginary toast. We mopped up the leek cream and yolk with our spoons, and though real bread would have been nice, it was a perfect meal all the same.

Besides, toast is around all the time. When there are vegetables as good as leeks in season, it can wait.


adapted from the 1997 Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

I found the bunch of leeks below at the first Orleans farmers' market of the season on Saturday morning. The woman I bought them from said they had wintered over and were the first things to show life once the brighter days came around. Since leeks are cold weather crops, they won't stay for long. I highly recommend picking some up while you can.

1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 large spring leeks, cleaned and trimmed
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 sprig fresh thyme, picked
salt to taste
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons whole milk or cream
a teeny pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Haul out a big frying pan and let it heat up over a medium-low flame while you cut the leeks. Slice them very thinly into rounds, so that they come off the knife in tiny concentric circles, keeping an eye out for dirt. (The higher up from the root you get, the more likely you are to see dirt embedded between the layers. Just pull off a few of the outermost leaves, and you should be able to wash it away.) Slice up to where the leek grows tough, and discard the leaves.

Put the butter in the hot frying pan, allow it to melt, and add the leeks. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly and being careful not to let them brown. Add the chicken stock, the thyme, and a few pinches of salt, and let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the leeks are tender. Turn the heat up and pour in the white wine.

Let this boil for about 7 or 8 minutes, until the alcohol is cooked off and half the liquid is gone. Add milk and nutmeg, and cook for another minute or so, until the liquids come together and the spice is fully absorbed. Serve hot with toast and a fried egg, and salt and pepper to taste.


Anonymous said...

So, am I unusual in actually LIKING radishes?! I'm delighted to have this recipe -- it sounds delish. I just bought a beautiful bunch of red radishes at the farmers market and look forward to having this for breakfast tomorrow morning. It sounds like a nice way to work more veggies into my first meal of the day. Many thanks! I hope you and the Fishmonger can catch up on your rest. ~ A Maine Reader

PS: Another good way to use radishes: I made a wonderful salad last night w/ just two main ingredients: fresh arugula mixed with a large heap of julienned radishes, which I sprinkled w/ freshly grated parmesan and tossed with a lovely homemade vinaigrette that had plenty of fresh garlic in it. Tasty!

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