Latest posts by Asha Fowells (see all)
- Simple Tastes 5 – Banana Pancakes - November 24, 2015
- Ham and Leek Pie - October 24, 2015
- Simple Tastes 4 – a Grown-up Hot, Sweet and Sour Sauce - October 8, 2015
Fed up cooking the same things week and week out? Our #SimpleTastes series by Asha Fowells aims to widen your repertoire, with quick and easy family meals. This week’s recipe is all about the leeks, so is eminently suitable for vegetarians, but if you have some leftover gammon, ham or cooked chicken, it beefs it up (if you’ll pardon the pun) and stretches it that bit further.
You could probably use chunks of salmon instead of the meat too, though that has only just occurred to me so I haven’t tried it and therefore can’t vouch for it. If you decide to go down that culinary route, please let me know how it goes.
This is a good family dish, and feels very luxurious. Definitely more than the sum of its parts.
This looks a bit fiddly, but isn’t really. I can’t see why the base of leeks in white sauce wouldn’t freeze ok, nor why you couldn’t make most of it ahead of time. But that’s your call.
You will need (for four hungry people):
Put the leeks in a pan with wine or vermouth, stock cube and enough water to cover, bring to a boil then bubble for about 10 minutes until they are tender.
Meanwhile in a second pan, melt the butter then whisk in the flour and mustard and cook out for a couple of minutes.
By now the leeks should be cooked, so drain them over a jug and keep the water. Whisk the milk gradually into the butter-flour roux until it is thickened then gradually add in the reserved leek water, whisking until you get to a thickish saucy consistency (add more water if you need to).
Simmer for a few minutes, then stir in the leeks and season. It’ll need plenty of pepper but probably not much salt, if any, because of the stock cube and ham.
Stir in the ham, pour into an ovenproof dish (stoneware, enamel, metal – it matters not) then pop on a pastry lid.
This can just be placed on top and crimped around the edges of the dish, or you can cut a strip to go around the edge of the dish, brush it with water and then put on the rest of the pastry sheet.
Bake at 200C for about 20minutes until golden and crispy. Serve with steamed leafy green veg such as cabbage or kale.
Any pastry is fine, puff or shortcrust, and bought is perfectly good. If you are feeling fancy, brush the pastry with egg or milk to make it glossy. I often forget and nobody seems to notice.
You can of course leave out the vermouth/wine if you prefer not to cook with alcohol.
You could do individual pies if you are feeling so inclined. Ramekins would work well.
If you don’t like pastry, you could try slices of potato (part boiled work best) to make it into a kind of hotpot.
The leeks in white sauce base also works well as a vegetable side disk for a roast.