Friday, September 28, 2007


How do you decide what to cook for dinner? Time and ingredients dictate my choices. If I have the benefit of plenty of time, I may start by looking for inspiration from recipes....either from a cookbook, my folder of magazine and newspaper clippings, or from blogs. From there I further refine the decision based on what ingredients I have on hand. Or by the amount of time I have to go and get the necessary ingredients. When you share a house with three teenage children there is no guarantee that what you thought you had in the refrigerator, or in the pantry, is what you actually have in the refrigerator or in the pantry. Every trip to the kitchen holds a surprise.

My favorite approach to cooking is to buy what looks good and then find a recipe to use it with. Making the rounds of various stores, the one for the best produce, the one for the best prices on canned goods and staples, the one for the best beef and poultry can be exhausting. Why is it that some places have the freshest produce but not the best cuts of meats? Perhaps a chat for another day.

This week's find: locally grown, fresh leeks. A family favorite is Potato Leek Soup.. which I served after the big swim and dive meet this weekend. btw...KC had an impressive score after completing all of her required 11 dives...earning a medal. Bravo!

My culinary feat this weekend was a delicious Leek and Potato Pie. Truly award winning, if I must say so myself.

Leek and Potato Pie

6 tablespoons butter
5 cups trimmed and sliced leeks
2 cups apple cider
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 eggs beaten
1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 lb potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices (no need to peel)
salt and pepper
12 sheets of phyllo dough, each about 14x10 inches, defrosted if frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt one-third of the butter in a large skillet. Add the leeks and saute until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the cider, bring to a boil, and boil rapidly for 3 - 5 minutes, until the sauce reaches the consistency of thick cream. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard, eggs and cheese.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes until tender; be sure they are cooked through, because the acidity from the cider will prevent them from cooking further when added to the sauce. Drain and stir gently with the leek mixture. Season to taste.

Melt the remaining butter. Use a little to brush the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place a sheet of phyllo pastry dough on top and brush with a little more butter. Repeat with 4 more sheets of dough to cover the bottom and sides of the dish, overlapping edges. Spread the filling inside, then layer another 5 sheets of dough, in the same way, over the top: fold any overlapping dough. Brush 2 more sheets with the remaining butter, gently crumple and place on top of the pie.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until golden. Serves 8

(adapted from a dish by Bill Sewell as served in his restaurant, The Place Below, in London)


Lydia said...

I love leek and potato soup, too -- I make it without cream and just let the flavor of the leeks shine through. And I've got some phyllo in the freezer, leftover from another recipe. Hmmmmm.... will have to try this!

Debbie said...

Have you ever tried this without the heavy cream?

Diane said...

Lydia, I too don't use cream in my soup...just vegetable or chicken stock, leeks and potatoes..very simple. I hope you try the Leek & Potato pie. The cider gives it a nice flavor.

Debbie, I have just made it with heavy cream. I bet it would work just fine with whole milk..I'll have to try it and see.

Daniela said...

I'm definitely going to give the pie a spin. It sounds SO delicious!

T.W. Barritt said...

That leek and potato pie sounds excellent! Just the thing after a day of great outdoor activity!

Daniela said...

Do I add the cream after the cider is reduced? Or before?

Daniela said...

Ohhh.... I couldn't wait for this to cool before I cut into the pie and ate it. It is divine! I'm going to have to do all I can not to inhale the entire pie. I didn't have phyllo on hand, so I just defrosted my usual pie crust.

I also added the cream with the cider, then realized my faux pas. I reduced the entire liquid mixture to about a cup; then added a cup of milk to the egg/cheese mixture. I also tossed in a good grating of nutmeg. The cider really really sets the whole lot off. I LOVE this pie. I think on Saturday I'm going to purchase enough leeks to have ready in the freezer for the entire winter. Thank you for a new favorite (although, next time I'll add the cream to the eggs.)