Bacon and Leek Quiche

Bacon and Leek Quiche

Bacon and Leek Quiche

What food comes to mind most often when planning a menu for brunch?  Is it quiche?  I’m not surprised.  Quiche may well be the most versatile brunch dish.  A rich eggy custard encased in a flaky crust, it can be made with an almost endless variety of herbs, meats, cheeses and vegetables.  It can also be served hot or at room temperature, making it an ideal choice it you have other dishes on the menu.

We know that bacon can never go wrong, it seems, in any dish; so that’s beyond question in this quiche.  But leeks?  Probably not high on the list of favored ingredients.   If you are not familiar with leeks, they are a member of the onion family and have a mild oniony taste.  In most dishes where they are used they sort of blend in and their flavor is hard to identify, but not in this dish.  Their mild distinct flavor is noticeable and goes especially well with Gruyère cheese.

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My best description for the filling in this quiche is that it is “silky”.  The leeks are sautéed in a little butter until tender before adding to the crust with the bacon.  Once the egg, milk, cheese mixture is added everything melds together and bakes into a fabulous, silky, smooth custard, with bits of salty bacon throughout.

I made this dish one evening for our dinner and served it with a large mixed vegetable salad.  It seemed like the perfect meal.  The portion that was left over I rewarmed for lunch, and once again we enjoyed it immensely.

If you are someone who really like leeks, bacon and Gruyère cheese, (or even if you don’t) I encourage you to try this quiche.  I think you will be really glad you did.

BACON AND LEEK QUICHE

Yield:   makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • single-crust flaky pastry doughIMG_9505
  • Smoked bacon, 4 slices, coarsely chopped
  • unsalted butter, 1 Tbsp.
  • leeks, 2 small, white and pale green parts, chopped
  • half and half, 1 cup
  • large eggs, 2
  • kosher salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp.
  • freshly grated nutmeg, 1/8 tsp.
  • Gruyère cheese, 1 cup shredded

Directions:

1.  Use your favorite recipe for pie dough, or use refrigerated store-bought pie dough.  Roll the dough out into a round about 12 inches in diameter.  Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish or tart pan.  Trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold the overhanging dough over and into the pan, pressing it firmly against the dough on the sides of the pan; the dough should be doubly thick at the sides and rise about 1/8 inch above the pan rim.  Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, and chill for 30 minutes.

Make the pie shell and chill for 30 minutes.

Make the pie shell and chill for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375*F.  Place the dough-lined pan on a baking sheet and fill the parchment paper with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake until the dough is set and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.

Fill pie shell with pie weights and bake till set.

Fill pie shell with pie weights and bake till set, about 20 minutes.

3.  While the crust is baking, make the filling.  In a fry pan, fry the bacon over medium heat, stirring until crisp and golden, about 6 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Fry bacon till crisp, remove and drain on toweling.

Fry bacon till crisp, remove and drain on toweling.

Pour out the fat, wipe out the pan with clean paper towels, and add the butter.  Melt over low heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Saute leeks in butter till tender.

Saute leeks in butter till tender.

Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

4.  Remove the baking sheet with the tart pan from the oven.  Remove the parchment and the weights/beans.  In a bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until combined.

Whisk together eggs, half-and-half and seasonings.

Whisk together eggs, half-and-half and seasonings.

Scatter the bacon, leeks, and cheese evenly in the pastry shell.

Layer in bacon.

Layer in bacon.

Cover bacon with leeks, then cheese.

Cover bacon with leeks, then cheese.

Carefully pour the egg mixture into the shell.

Pour in egg mixture.

Pour in egg mixture.

Return to the oven and bake until the filling is puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then serve.

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SOURCE:  Comfort Food, warm and homey, rich and hearty,  by Rick Rodgers

Braised Chicken with Honey Lemon Leeks

Chicken Thighs with Honey Lemon Leeks

Chicken Thighs with Honey Lemon Leeks

Some of the earliest vegetables to be harvested from the garden are those from the onion family.  Known as alliums, there’s more to these beauties than just the round white onions that we all know.  If you peel back the layers you’ll discover the delicate flavor of leeks, chives and young green onions.  Even the flowers taste good, and they make a lovely garnish on a platter when onions are in a starring role.

 

Leeks were in abundance at the farmer’s market this week;  big, fat ones with long white stalks.

Big fat leeks, honey and lemon.

Big fat leeks, honey and lemon.

If they have been growing in particularly wet, muddy soil, they can be somewhat of a challenge to clean, requiring much rinsing to remove the grit.  However these were exceptionally clean, and I couldn’t wait to cook something with them.  Mr. D’s most favorite soup is potato-leek soup, and that is what I usually make (I probably will still make some), but I decided to give this recipe a trial run because it incorporates honey to help caramelize the leeks.

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Using chicken thighs with bone, allows you to cook this dish slowly so all the flavors blend.  Lemon partners well with the leeks, which cook twice.  They are first sautéed, then roasted to meld with the honey and lemon.  This is a dish that takes you by surprise at how “stinking” good it is;  nicely browned chicken, and tender roasted leeks nestled together.  Serve with a salad and some garlic bread, or rice and a green vegetable.  I think you will love this chicken dish.

BRAISED CHICKEN WITH HONEY-LEMON LEEKS

Yield:    serves 4

Ingredients:IMG_7318

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 8  bone-in skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.

2.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Massage lemon rind into chicken.

3.  Place chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Browning the chicken.

Browning the chicken.

4.  Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan swirl to coat.  Add leek and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 15 minutes or until leek begins too brown, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Remove pan from heat; stir in lemon juice and honey.

Sautéing the leeks.

Sautéing the leeks.

5.  Return chicken to pan.  Mound leeks on top of chicken thighs.  Bake at 400*F. for 20 – 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165*, and juices run clear.   Garnish with fresh parsley or chives, if desired.

 

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SOURCE:    Cooking Light

Check out these other recipes that also incorporate leeks:

Pappardelle with Salmon and Leeks

Brown Rice Pilaf

Mushroom, Leek and Cheese Frittata

Pappardelle with Salmon and Leeks

Every country has its pasta dishes, and we here in the U.S. are fortunate in having an abundance of pasta varieties to incorporate into our cooking.  Pappardelle, native to Italy, is a type of pasta made from eggs and whole wheat flour, then cut into wide ribbons, so it provides a lot of substance and chew-factor.  It you are looking for a healthy pasta dish, you won’t go wrong with this one.

Pappardelle, with salmon and leeks.

Pappardelle, with salmon and leeks.

This dish makes good use of leeks,  a great spring vegetable, and salmon.  If leeks are not available where you live, you could substitute any mild flavored onion.  Another nice addition would be baby spinach that gets just wilted by the heat of the pasta.  When I eat this meal I feel that I’ve indulged my craving for pasta and treated myself to something especially healthful and nutritious.

PAPPARDELLE WITH SALMON AND LEEKS

YIELD:    Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 lb. uncooked pappardelle pasta

    Pappardelle,  wide pasta ribbons.

    Pappardelle, wide pasta ribbons.

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2  large leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2  teaspoons minced fresh savory, or 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 3/4  teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine  (or chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind
  • 1  ( 1 lb. salmon fillet ), fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid; keep pasta and cooking liquid warm.

2.  Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leeks, savory, and 1/2 teaspoon salt;  cook 15 minutes or until leeks are translucent, stirring occasionally.

Saute leeks in olive oil.

Saute leeks in olive oil.

Increase heat to medium-high.  Add wine; cook 1 minute.  Add chicken broth; bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat; stir in pasta, reserved cooking liquid, parsley, and lemon rind.

Cook salmon until golden and browned, but still moist.

Cook salmon until golden and browned, but still moist.

3.  Sprinkle salmon fillet with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil and the butter;  swirl until butter melts.  Add salmon, and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Break the salmon into large chunks.  Arrange 1 cup of the pasta mixture on each of 6 plates, and top evenly with salmon.  Serve immediately.

I added asparagus to the menu to round out the meal.

I added asparagus to the menu to round out the meal.

SOURCE:   The Glorious Pasta of Italy,   by Domenica Marchetti

Mushroom, Leek, and Cheese Frittata

Mushroom, eggs and fontina cheese frittata.

Mushroom, leeks, and fontina cheese go into this frittata

Throughout this Lenten season I’ve been trying to cut back on the amount of meat we consume, incorporating more fish and other seafood, or going completely meatless.  Today’s recipe features a one-pan entree where eggs and cheese provide the main protein, and meaty mushrooms and leeks provide the vegetables.

A frittata is is an egg based dish, somewhat like a quiche without a crust, a little like an omelet only baked.  Hard to describe, but if you like eggs in any form you can’t miss with this dish.   Frittatas are eggs-cellent served hot or at room temperature, which means you can do it ahead.  It would be a great addition to brunch, make a light lunch, or a meatless main meal served with another vegetable and a salad as I did.

In the version you see pictured here I made only half the recipe for two of us, and we had about half of it left for another time.  Also the recipe calls for Baby Bella mushrooms, but I used Shitaki mushrooms.  I would not do that again as they do not have enough natural moisture for this kind of recipe.  Shitakis need to be cooked in a liquid in order to become tender, so I found that in this recipe they were a little tough.  Fontina is the suggested cheese to use here because it has a mild flavor and excellent melting properties.  A good substitute would be muenster or edam cheeses.

MUSHROOM, LEEK, AND CHEESE FRITTATAIMG_3465

SERVINGS      About 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium leeks, whites and light green parts only, chopped
  • 8 oz. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
  • 3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.    Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a 10 – inch heavy weight oven proof skillet such as cast iron.

2.  Add leeks to the hot oil and cook over medium heat, stirring often until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook until softened and all liquid has evaporated, 8 – 10 minutes.

Sautee the  leeks and mushrooms.

Sautee the leeks and mushrooms.

3.  Meanwhile, whisk eggs, creme fraiche or sour cream, and parsley in a large bowl; mix in 1/2 cup cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

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4.  Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil to the skillet.  Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms, shaking the pan to evenly distribute the mixture.  Cook the frittata, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes.

Cook until the edges just begin to set.

Cook until the edges just begin to set.

5.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over eggs and transfer skillet to oven.  Bake frittata until golden brown and center is set,  25 – 30 minutes.

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SOURCE:   BONAPPETIT.COM

Potato-Leek Soup

In up-scale restaurants this soup is called Vichyssoise.    ( vish_e_swaz’)  It is a thick soup made of pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock.  It is traditionally served cold, but can also be eaten hot.

There is much uncertainty about its origins;  Julia Childs calls it an “American invention”, whereas other food historians state that “the origins of the soup is definitely  French”.  Louis Diat, a chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, is most often credited with its invention, in an attempt to recreate a potato-leek soup of his childhood that his mother used to make.

Wherever the soup came from or who invented it is immaterial to me, I’m just glad someone did invent it and that I have the recipe.  Turns out this is Mr. D’s favorite soup and he asks me to make it periodically throughout the year, whether its hot or cold outside.  We usually eat it hot the day I make it, but on a hot day, I like it cold as a lunch with just some crackers and cheese.

INGREDIENTS

SERVINGS:  about  8

  • 4 – 5 leeks,  white and light green part only
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 medium potatoes,  all-purpose or baking–doesn’t matter
  • 6 cups chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 -2 cups heavy cream
  • salt, pepper, a little dill–to taste

DIRECTIONS

Clean and cup up the leeks.  Leeks are very sandy, so remove several outer leaves, wash well, cut off the dark green tops, and use only the light green and white parts.  Cut each one in half lengthwise  (as pictured),  fan out and rinse under running water.   Then cut crosswise  into 1/2” slices.

Melt the 4 Tablespoons butter in a soup kettle .  Add the leeks and chopped onion.  With the heat on low, allow this mixture to “sweat” slowly and become tender.  Do not allow it to brown.   Meanwhile peel potatoes and cut into small cubes.

Add chicken broth and potatoes.  Bring mixture up to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are very soft.  Put the mixture through a blender or food processor to puree.  I like to use my immersion blender for this, as then there are no additional appliances to wash, and you can puree the whole quantity at once.

After the soup has been pureed,  taste and adjust seasonings;  adding a little dill enhances the flavor.  Depending on the type of chicken broth you use, you may not need any additional salt.   Finally,  add the cream.  I find 1 cup is adequate in giving a nice thick, creamy texture.  I have also used light cream and  half and half in place of the cream to reduce the fat and calories, and  those work fine as well.  The soup will taste as good, but not be as thick and rich.  On a cautionary note:  do not allow the soup to boil once the cream has been added—it will separate.

Enjoy with a salad or sandwich, and pretend you are enjoying lunch at a sidewalk cafe in Paris!

SOURCE:  Mastering the Art of French Cooking,  Julia Childs

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