Tag Archives: leeks

Leek, Apple, and Rosemary Flatbread with Chèvre

29 Oct

It may be a little early to start thinking about the holidays, but with two party invitations having come our way in the last week alone, my brain has already started to focus on celebrations, invitations, and that most oft-repeated phrase in my personal RSVP: What can I bring?

Aside from the regular offerings of wine or beer, if time is willing (which, admittedly, it isn’t always), I like to bring a little something homemade to a party. During the full-fledged holiday season, it always seems somehow easier to come up with a proper item to bring. The holidays are a time of rejoicing and unrepentant sugar consumption, so whipping up a batch of cookies or a simple cake never seems inappropriate. But, seeing as how it’s not even Halloween yet, it feels a bit premature to start plying people with sweets already.

Last week I tried out this flatbread for a party offering, and I could not have been happier with how it turned out. I’ve made a similar sort of flatbread before, cobbled together out of a leftover bit of pizza dough and a few bits of this and that, but the end product never seemed as complete as I wanted it to be. Something was missing, I thought. Spying a basket full of apples on our kitchen counter (courtesy of a backyard tree), I was inspired to go in one of my favorite directions: to the place where savory and sweet come together in one tasty package. The savory leeks and earthy rosemary are just delightful with the addition of tender bites of apple, and when combined with creamy goat cheese on top of an olive oil-crisped dough, the result is nothing short of heavenly. It’s a good thing I was only auditioning this flatbread for a future get together. The flatbread you see in these pictures never managed to make it out of the house.

Last Year: Butternut Squash and Dry-Cured Olive Pizza with Ricotta and Chèvre. Well, look at that. The San Francisco Giants just won the World Series again (it is taking all the restraint I have just to not type that in all caps), and, in keeping with my current habit of eating black and orange foods to show my support during their postseason run, here is the very first black and orange food recipe I shared, celebrating the one year anniversary of their previous (and first ever!) World Series win.

Leek, Apple, and Rosemary Flatbread with Chèvre Recipe

This flatbread’s dough is a cinch to throw together, as it requires very little in the way of kneading, and allows time to do most of the work. The dough will need at least three hours to proof at room temperature, but, to be quite honest, the dough really shines brightest when left to proof in the refrigerator overnight. If you mix everything together before you go to bed, place it in the refrigerator, then remove the dough from the fridge at least 30 minutes before you need to use it, you’ll get the most flavorful dough possible.

For the dough:

½ cup warm water

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/3 cup bread flour

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¾ teaspoon rapid-rise yeast

Stir together warm water, olive oil, and honey, then set aside. In a large bowl, combine bread flour, salt, and yeast, and stir to combine thoroughly. Using a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula, stir in water mixture until mixture comes together in a shaggy mass. With the dough still in the bowl, knead the shaggy dough for about 1 minute, until the dough comes together and starts to become smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, drizzle the bowl with a bit of olive oil, then turn the dough around in the oil to coat completely. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then leave the dough on the counter to rise for at least 3 hours (or, preferably, in the refrigerator overnight—just remember to remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

For the topping:

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 large leeks, white ends only, rinsed clean, sliced lengthwise, then sliced into half moons

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced into ¼-inch chunks

½ heaping tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces chèvre

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange an oven rack in the middle position.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add leeks, and stir to coat evenly in oil. Lower heat to medium-low and cook leeks, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, wilted, and starting to turn golden brown (about 15 minutes). Add diced apples and stir to combine. Cook until apples just begin to release a bit of their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in rosemary, add salt and pepper to taste, then remove pan from heat and set aside to cool just a bit.

Coat the bottom of a 9” by 9” baking pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Turn room temperature dough out into the oiled pan, and, taking your time so as not to rip the dough, gently coax the dough into a square shape, fitting the dough all along the bottom of the pan. If the dough resists all efforts to be shaped, set the pan aside for a minute or two to allow the dough to rest, then come back and resume your shaping.

When the dough has been shaped in the pan, spoon the leek and apple mixture on top of the dough, leaving a ¼-inch border along the edges of the dough. Evenly crumble the chèvre over the leek mixture. Bake flatbread in center of oven for 14-16 minutes, until the edges of the dough are crisp and dark brown, and the topping is golden.

Remove flatbread from the pan using a flexible spatula. Cool briefly on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Escarole, Leek, and White Bean Panzanella

5 Oct

This is the type of food that could be considered a kid-repellent. It boasts a combination of punchy bitter greens, smooth leeks, and the kick of red pepper flakes. However, it also contains white beans, crisp, sautéed bread, and parmesan cheese, three things for which, in my experience, children tend to go completely nuts. As you might sense, these discrepancies combine to make one very interesting conundrum.

It’s not really a conundrum, of course. The answer to the question of, How do I make a kid like this? is simple: I don’t feed this to my kid. The bigger question, I think, would be this: Does any kid like this? Does anyone, anywhere, ever somehow get a kid to eat a dish like this? A dish so delicious in its complexity of flavor, so pleasing in its collection of textures, that I could not stop myself from eating almost the entire thing over the span of a single afternoon?

Some friends of mine once had a great Ethiopian lunch with some Ethiopian friends of theirs. Their friends’ children were in attendance, and they were happy to sit down and tuck into plate after plate of spicy lentils, spice-filled stews, and, of course, injera, the fantastic Ethiopian flatbread that is used to scoop up bites of intensely flavorful food. My friends, watching the kids devour the food with aplomb, could not help but wonder how many American kids could be led to eat such food if only they were presented it at the right time, meaning, when they were babies and just discovering the joys of solid food

Sadly, I have no answer to their query. I have tried for years to get my kid to eat all types of foods, to no avail. Indian food? No (which breaks my half-Indian heart with great sorrow). Spicy food of any sort? No. Braised greens? No. Visible strands of onions, whether caramelized or crisp? No and no. I could go on, but I’ll resist. I know that my kid has a slightly more adventurous palate than many other kids (slight—not monumental), so I’ll take whatever vegetable or Thai food consumption I can get out of him. Until he learns to appreciate more foods, I’ll just have to keep doing what I have been doing for the past several years now. This means making foods like this wonderful panzanella for myself, and finding a slight bit of pleasure in knowing that, hey, if I’m the only person who will eat this, at least that means I get to enjoy every last bite of it on my own. It’s a paper-thin silver lining, but I’ll take it.

Last Year: Heirloom Tomato Cobbler with Cheddar and Scallion Biscuit Topping

Escarole, Leek, and White Bean Panzanella Recipe

3 cups torn or cubed crusty bread

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium leek, dark green end removed and light green/white end sliced in half lengthwise and then chopped into thin half-moons

4 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 very large head escarole, coarsely chopped

1 cup cooked white beans

salt and pepper to taste

optional: 2 to 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

In a large skillet set over medium-low heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is just beginning to shimmer, add bread cubes in a single layer and allow to crisp on one side (this should take anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes). Turn bread cubes over, then allow to crisp some more, shaking the skillet ever now and again to keep the bread moving around in the oil just a tad. Remove bread cubes and set aside.

Wipe any bread crumbs from the skillet, then heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add chopped leeks, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté, stirring frequently, until the leeks begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped escarole, stir and toss to combine, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and allow to cook for 5 minutes, until the escarole is wilted and has released some of its juices. Remove the lid from the pan, and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until the juices have evaporated a bit, about 3 minutes. Add beans to skillet, stir to combine, and allow beans to cook with greens for about a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the heat off under the skillet. Add the toasted bread cubes and toss to combine thoroughly. Taste for seasoning.

Divide the panzanella amongst 2 or 4 plates, depending on how hearty to want your servings to be. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese (if using) over the servings, then sprinkle over chopped basil.

Serves 2 as a meal, or 4 as a starter.

New Potato and Caramelized Leek Tart in an Olive Oil Crust

11 May

While I’ll admit to the occasional dinner that was not so much “cooked” as it was “spotted at the cheese counter and then paired up with a baguette and consumed with great enthusiasm,” there are, in fact, more instances than I can count during which I decided to make a dinner that was based on a bag of discounted vegetables at the green market.

Sounds suspect, you say?  Not if you saw the types of goods the green market offers on their discount shelf, all of which are sold in bulk for a mere $1.  Bags of red and orange peppers combined with a dozen tomatillos?  Yes.  Ten perfectly ripe avocados that need to be eaten as soon as you get home, but, hey, that’s okay because who doesn’t love avocados?  Definitely.  Half a dozen habanero chilies, two yellow onions, four plump tomatoes, and a handful of green beans?  That right there is homemade salsa, plus a crisp snack to munch while you make the salsa.

Last week, however, the $1 shelf outdid itself.  As if it somehow managed to read my mind, the green market had decided to off load a pile of new potatoes and spring leeks, both of which, though generally associated with heartier winter fare, had been on my mind lately (perhaps because of the preponderance of chilly weather we’ve been subjected to for what seems like an eternity).  The cold in my bones was thinking soup, but a brief peek of sunlight through the clouds brightened my mood enough to encourage me to begin thinking of something a little lighter and more spring-ish.

While not everyone might think of a tart as being spring fare, I have to disagree.  A vegetable tart, made with this exceptionally savory and flavorful olive oil crust, can be a perfect warm weather meal.  Eaten on a bed of fresh spinach or baby greens, it is light, yet filling, and the abundance of greens evidenced in the meal is always a welcome sight.  Well, to me, at least.  But, as previously discussed, I also get excited about a $1 bag of cast-off vegetables, so perhaps I should just say that you shouldn’t take my word that this tart is a welcome and delicious spring meal, you should instead simply make the tart and discover its deliciousness for yourself.

New Potato and Caramelized Leek Tart in an Olive Oil Crust

Olive Oil Crust

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt.  In a small bowl, combine olive oil and milk and whisk together until integrated.  Add milk and oil mixture to flour mixture and, using a fork, combine the mixture until fully incorporated.

Gather the dough together and knead it into a ball.  Press it evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (I use a small measuring cup to smooth everything into place and it works wonders).  Pierce crust on sides and bottom with a fork, and parbake in the preheated oven until only very slightly browned on the edges, 10-12 minutes.

Remove tart crust from oven and lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

New Potato and Caramelized Leek Filling

3 large leeks, fully rinsed and trimmed of their dark tops

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large sprig fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

12 ounces new potatoes (or red or Yukon gold, or any other small, creamy potato) scrubbed and then sliced about ¼-inch thick

½ cup milk

2 eggs

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Slice rinsed and trimmed leeks in half lengthwise, then slice the white and light green parts about ¼-inch thick.  On medium low heat, combine butter and olive oil and heat until butter is almost completely melted and just begins to foam.  Add leeks and thyme, stir to coat leeks with butter and olive oil, then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, over low heat until leeks are softened and gently caramelized to a light brown color, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

While leeks are cooking, boil the potato slices in lightly salted water until crisp tender, about 7-10 minutes.  Drain potato slices and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine eggs and milk and beat to combine well.  Add in parmesan cheese and continue to mix until combined.  Add cooled, caramelized leeks to the egg mixture, making sure to remove the sprig of thyme, then mix well to combine.

Arrange the potato slices in the parbaked tart shell, overlapping them in a concentric circle.  Pour egg and leek mixture over the potatoes.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the middle of the tart is set and no longer wet.  The leeks exposed on top of the tart will turn dark brown and continue to caramelize even further, which is fantastic.  However, if, partway through baking, you see your leeks starting to turn brown to the point of blackening and burning, loosely cover the tart with a sheet of foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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