Leeky dinner for leaky weather
On the odd chance that you haven't heard, I'll mention that Washington is experiencing record rainfall this November. Seattle has broken the November rainfall record of 13+ inches, and is on track to break the all time monthly record of 15.33 inches. We're also receiving snow, though that is melting fairly quickly. The sound of constant dripping and rain-spattering may be heard all around town. This weather is perfect for a hearty, warm dinner. We have a couple of leek recipes that we enjoy, so we decided to make dinner for a friend, K., who is vegetarian.
The soup recipe comes from Scotland, a country where people know what foods will be tasty and warming against the elements, by way of Bon Appetit. The other recipe - roasted winter vegetables in puff pastry - comes from San Francisco, a town that knows snow every quarter of a century but is a reliable source of good food.
We aren't big fans of Bon Appetit magazine, but our one copy, the May 2004 Scotland issue, is a well-worn and much-loved part of our kitchen. The Butter Bitch and I visited Scotland in 2000, where we got a taste of Scottish Haute Cuisine. That phrase may strike some as amusing - the Butter Bitch likes to say "Haute Cuisine" with a bad Scottish accent - but the recipes from the issue have pleased us and a number of our guests. Sadly, the entire issue is not online, and the small selection of recipes form the issue, available at Epicurious, don't do the issue justice.
The soup has a few ingredients and doesn't take long to prepare. I started the winter vegetable dish first, as it takes longer to cook and works better as a second course. The potatoes and onions came from the storage share of our vegetable CSA, while the other ingredients came from a local natural foods market. All of the vegetables were local.
To make the soup, peel and cube 3 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes. Boil them for about 12 minutes, drain, mash and set aside. Don't add butter just yet. Chop 1 1/3 cups of onion (I used a large yellow onion and half a red onion). Halve a leek and rinse it, then slice crosswise. Scrub and cube one red potato. Saute the leeks and onions in 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat for about 6 minutes, until they are tender. Add the red potato and stir for a minute. Add 1 quart of broth (I used vegetable broth, but chicken broth works as well) and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes, then add the mashed potatoes and stir until blended. The recipe recommends parsley and cream, but neither of those were used this time.
The winter vegetables and puff pastry call for butternut squash, celery root, parsnip, leeks, a bit of white wine, and raclette, as well as flour, almonds, an egg and of course puff pastry. I recommend buying puff pastry. I've made philo dough and puff pastry, and the effort is not worth the results. The store-bought puff pastry worked well.
The full recipe for the winter vegetables in puff pastry is at the San Francisco Chronicle. We happened to have leftover bottles of Ariel's non-alcoholic champagne, but any good Brut would go well with the dish.
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