Saturday, 13 April 2013

L is for Leek ...



A mysterious plant with an ancient heritage – yet one that is completely ubiquitous to British cookery ... yet a very prized vegetable in Welsh foods, where its significance is important to national pride ...


Leeks and thyme
Leeks have their ‘roots’ in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt since at least the 2nd millennium BC; the Greeks used the leek as a love potion, Emperor Nero (37 AD - 68 AD) consumed it in soup or oil, believing it beneficial to the quality of his voice.


Bunch of leeks
The Romans and Gauls ensured leeks were brought to Britain – Charlemagne (742 - 814 AD), the King of the Franks and Emperor of Rome, ordered that every household in the empire should grow houseleeks on its roof.


It was then called Jupiter’s beard in the hope that Jupiter would recognise the compliment, and withhold his lightning ... a roof covering to guard against lightning and fire.


Today we grow them in the earth or in pots – not often on roofs ... but in this day and age with greening up ... anything is possible.
 
Veggie ingredients for chicken soup

It had many medicinal properties ... still  recognised today as the allium for its healing properties ... and is used in ‘chicken soup for the soul’ – the broth for the weak.


We’ve always grown leeks and had them plain with a white or cheese sauce, leeks in stews, casseroles ... or the lovely thick soup of pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock – eaten hot or cold, known as Vichyssoise ...


Vichyssoise
 Leek that Jupiter of vegetables for which we have many many recipes ... cockaleekie – an early variety of chicken soup for the soul, with added barley ... ‘is a useful way of dealing with a tough old bird’ ...
   

 ... chicken and leek pie, leek soufflé, leek porridge, leek pudding in a suet pastry, leeky stew with nackerjacks – dumplings ... to name a few other recipes ...


Leek and chicken pie
“By Jove” that’s just about the end of the Leek post ... but one last hat-tip to that man from Leek who posts the alternate alphabet challenge and who constantly amuses us, cheeses us up with his comments in very typical Gary style ... the congenial host, with his faithful hound Penny,  over at Klahanie ...


That is L for Leek in Aspects of British Cookery ...


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

47 comments:

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Hi Hilary, great info on the leek. Hard to find here in Malaysia though!

Keep Calm and A-Z
An A-Z of learning English
Round the world from A to Z

Val Poore said...

I love leeks in almost every form - that soup looks delicious! And the chicken and leek pie..hmmmm, although I have a veggie version which is leek and potato pie.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hilary, Oh that leek and chicken pie looks absolutely delicious. The soup also looks quite tasty, and we can always use special healing powers. Greetings to Gary and Penny!

Julie

Clarissa Draper said...

I haven't ever used leeks in my cooking. But, that soup looks delicious. I'm going to give them a go.

Elise Fallson said...

I enjoy cooking with leeks and often make leek pie. And how interesting to find out leeks were used as a love potion. (:

Jo said...

I love leeks too. On point Hilary, hot Vichysoisse is really Potage Parmentier. I make it a lot and we have hot or cold depending on the season. Often have braised leeks as a vegetable. I had no idea of the history of this member of the onion family though. Thanks for all the great information.

L.G. Smith said...

That pie does look delicious. :)

Karen Walker said...

I love leeks in soup - didn't know it was such an ancient root vegetable, tho.
Karen

Teresa Coltrin said...

I love the leeks and to think, they could be a love potion -- in my mind anyway?

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Which Shakespearean character was it that ate leeks so much his breath was noted a lot in the play? Or am I remembering a bit of real history. Guess it's time for research unless your mind has that bit of information stored and available.

I love Penny and her "doing it backward" companion!

Manzanita said...

Hilary
I often use leeks and it's nice to know a little of their history.
I never heard it called Jupiter's Beard but I have plants in my garden called Jacob's beard. They all had beards, I guess.

jabblog said...

I like leeks - always a good vegetable to add to anything savoury. Hmm, I'm hungry now . . .

Inger said...

We ate a lot of leeks when I was a kid. Very popular in Swedish cooking back then. It is not a part of my hubby's New Orleans cooking, so I had sort of forgotten about this useful and tasty veggie.

Chatty Crone said...

I love leeks and have a good recipe for leeks in a soup! sandie

klahanie said...

Greetings Hilary,

Ah yes, your info on leeks made for a fascinating read. My human loves leeks and grew plenty of them back in Canada.

Unfortunately, he's be unsuccessful growing them in Leek, Staffordshire. Did you know he moved to Leek because he always wanted to live in a place named after an onion?

Hilary, dear human, very thoughtful of you to give mention of my human's and my alternative, rather satirical take on the A to Z. We are most flattered that you have done this.

Have a pawsitive weekend, my dear human friend :)

Pawsitive wishes and time for a leak, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! :)

Sue McPeak said...

Everything and more one should know about Leeks...found right here. Loved the info about Jupiter's Beard growing on the roof.

The Leek and Chicken Pie looks wonderful, but I'm going to pass on Leek Pudding!

My Letter 'L'..The Leatherwood Lace Collar
Sue CollectInTexasGal
AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So while they look like a fat green onion, they are more like a turnip? Didn't know that.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for the history regarding leeks Hilary.

I do love them in homemade chicken broth - yummy!

Thanks also for your kind and thoughtful comment on my post - it is much appreciated.

Anna :o]

Tina said...

Love leeks. Didn't know the history - fascinating! I want to make leek and chicken pie right now, but I'm in bed with a migraine feeling quite sorry for myself...
Thanks for bringing attention to our pal Gary and his brilliant dog, Penny! His blog is a not-to-miss stop in my book.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Duncan .. good to see you - I imagine Leeks aren't grown in a warm climate - they need the frost.

@ Val - I have to agree I love leeks ... in any form!

@ Julie - I love the soup .. let alone the pie ... I expect Gary's read the post by now ..

@ Clarissa - haven't you ... leeks to me are a staple food and I love them ..

@ Elise - that's great that you're making leek pie .. well I surprised about the love potion!

@ Jo - Leeks are delicious aren't they .. the history really fascinated me ..

@ Luanne - doesn't it!!

@ Karen - learning history about our food is so fascinating ..

@ Teresa - well why not a love potion for us who grow old?!

@ Lee - I'm hoping someone else will enlighten you .. my books are at home - so I might try to remember to look next week when I return to the south coast! Sorry for now ..

Shakespeare mentions leeks a lot as they're the symbol of Wales - My brain does not know!

Penny and her pawsitive human .. are great aren't they .. - the "doing it backward companion" to the A-Z .. excellent company ..

@ Manzanita - they're wonderful vegetables aren't they .. The Jupiter's Beard was a reference I'd trust .. but I then hit a 'muddle' else where so not sure .. but the roof planting is real!

I can't see reference to Jacob's Beard .. but again my reference books are at home ..

@ Janice - I'm sure we in Britain eat lots of leeks - I know I buy them all the time ...

@ Inger - I'm sure you'd have them coming from Sweden .. your husband's southern roots - way too warm for a vegetable that needs frost ..

@ Sandy - leeks can be added to anything as far as I'm concerned .. I love them!

@ Gary - hallo Penny .. well I'm so glad your human from Leek, loves his leeks .. and grew them too .. but you can't grow them here .. perhaps the gnomes think he's taking up too much room.

And no - I didn't realise that was why the town of Leek was selected for said human's habititation - and Penny you had no say in the matter ...

There's an obvious tie Mr Gary - owner of Pawsitive Penny ... so we really needed to include you in this Leek post!

So pleased you're happy with my reference ... and I've raised the profile of Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!!

@ Sue - well I covered a few points about leeks! But they're a great vegetable aren't they ...

Leek pudding is a suet pudding .. so a little like dumplings except baked in a pudding dish ...

@ Alex - I don't think I said like a turnip .. no but they grow deep into the earth with their green above the soil .. they come from the allium family ..

@ Anna - you're having a tough time .. so the comment was a pleasure .. but am glad you liked the light hearted history on the leek - and chicken soup for the soul with leeks is always good!

@ Tina - oh gosh .. I am sorry about the migraine and I'm not surprised feeling pretty miserable - by now I hope you're feeling somewhat better ..

I agree Penny-Gary's blog .. is an essential read .. he has a wonderful take on life .. and it's great being able to communicate with them .. be it Penny or the human ..

Cheers to you all - thanks for commenting .. enjoy the rest of the weekend .. Hilary

Lynn said...

That Leek and chicken pie looks positively yummy!

Mark Means said...

I don't think I've ever had a leek before...at least not that I've known of.

Some interesting uses, though :)

Left and Write

Munir said...

Leak and chicken pie sounds good, although I have to come up with healthy version of the pie shell

Munir said...

Leak and chicken pie sounds good, although I have to come up with healthy version of the pie shell

JoJo said...

I like leeks. I used them in a couple of recipes awhile back. I need to make them again and look for more.

A Lady's Life said...

I love leeks but the family doesn't and I don't why.
They like onions.
So what is the difference? Right:)

Chuck said...

I love leeks and my wife not so much. So we rarely have anything with leeks in it. I do however feel like some leek soup right now and I have some in the pantry.

Hungry again, Hilary!

Chuck at Apocalypse Now

J.L. Murphey said...

Whenever I want the boost of oniony-garlic flavor I'll use leeks. OMG the flavor it adds to chicken stock!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - the pie does look good .. maybe for lunch as it's Sunday!

@ Mark - fascinating to think you haven't eaten leek .. I think of it as that ubiquitous vegetable ..

@ Munir - just don't make the pastry ... have the pie .. with more veggies!

@ JoJo - they are delicious and can be added to so many savoury dishes ..

@ A Lady's Life - perhaps it's because a leek has the green part - because as you say .. there's no difference (well practically none!) ..

@ Chuck - I hope you enjoyed that leek soup? A large plate of leek soup is so comforting ...

@ JL - couldn't agree more .. leeks just add so much flavour .. and a rich chicken broth or soup, or casserole - just needs lots of leeks ..

Cheers everyone thanks for visiting .. Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

My standard leek recipe is to parboil slices of potato, fry sliced leek then layer them in a casserole, just cover with chicken or veg stock and bake. Uncover for last twenty minutes to brown top potato layer. Delicious.

Nick Wilford said...

They are versatile and tasty. Hopefully it was pleasing to Jupiter to see all those rooftop likenesses of him with his beard!

Karen Lange said...

Suddenly I am hungry for chicken soup! Thanks so much for this info on leeks. I did not know most of this - interesting stuff!

Have a lovely week! :)

Julie Flanders said...

I don't think I've ever had leeks. But now I'm totally craving a bowl of chicken soup.

Connie Arnold said...

Thanks for sharing the interesting info about leeks, Hilary. The leed and chicken pie looks quite yummy, and I love the name "leeky stew with nackerjacks"! Happy Sunday and blessings to you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ros - your recipe sounds delicious - simple and yet so tasty ... I do similar and it is so good isn't it ..

@ Nick - I wonder what Roman England would have been like with roofs covered in leeks .. fun thought!

@ Karen - a simple vegetable, but lots of history .. oh and chicken soup = delicious!

@ Julie - haven't you ever eaten them .. they're such a useful vegetable .. I hope you'll give them a go sometime ..

@ Connie - I loved that phrase too - so definitely it had to be included in the post! "Leeky stew and Nackerjacks". The chicken and leek pie does look very tasty doesn't it ..

Thanks you so much for commenting on a humble vegetable .. Jupiter will be pleased and perhaps he'll let Spring through this week?! Cheers to you all and have a happy week ahead .. Hilary

Rhonda said...

My favorite is potato leek soup, and we grow ours in the ground.

Rhonda @Laugh-Quotes.com
Visiting from AtoZ

Marja said...

We used to eat lots of leek in Holland. Not as much here as they don't sell them a lot. All these different habits

Kittie Howard said...

I've tried cooking with leeks, but, um, with mixed results. A friend who lived in France says she can't cook without leeks. Will give it another go--that leek and chicken pie looks delicious!

Lisa said...

I love Leeks! My husband makes a killer leek and lentil soup. He loves to cook with leeks and makes the one with potatoes also. There you go making me hungry again!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rhonda .. we grow our leeks and our potatoes in the ground ... not on the roof - could be a joke couldn't it!

@ Marja - sound like us .. I'm surprised they're not that available in New Zealand - as you say different cultures ..

@ Kittie - I add them to casseroles .. don't cook them too long - that's the trick and yes they need a good drain! Give them another go .. I just add them sliced up into a chicken casserole/soup .. delicious!

@ Lisa - you're lucky having a hubby who enjoys cooking .. and that leek and lentil soup does sound good ... and so pleased you enjoy the leek and potato soup ..

Sorry everyone about the hunger pains! Cheers .. Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

I love leeks! And not just because they're Welsh... I usually eat them the Turkish way, made in the pressure cooker with carrots and lots of olive oil!

CMSmith said...

We don't eat a lot of leeks here, but I've enjoyed them and think I should try to use them more in my cooking. I'll have to channel my Welsh ancestors (if I have any. I get confused about just who is where over in the Isles.)

Shirley Wells said...

I've always loved leeks, but I've never thought about their history. What a fascinating post. I've never tried leek souffle - hmm, might have to remedy that.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - your Turkish way of cooking leeks does sound interesting - I don't use a pressure cooker, something I'm not familiar with ..

@ Christine - well I hope you enjoy them .. they're good for you and a good addition to stews or casseroles ..

@ Shirley - aren't leeks delicious .. the history was 'funny' .. the thought about leeks on roofs makes me laugh ..

Leek souffle does sound good - especially with parmesan sprinkled on top ..

Cheers and thanks so much for visiting .. Hilary

Sara said...

I like "cockaleekie." That should be a song as well as a food dish or even maybe a slightly off color poem.

Okay, on the post. I like leeks. Oddly, I enjoy the smell of them and you're right they grow almost any place. The story of Jupiter's Beard was funny:~)

You do these food post so very well. You're the Julia Child of food history:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sara .. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a song or poem including cockaleekie - and especially an off-colour one or two!!

The snippets were interesting to find .. and I love leeks.

Appreciate the thought on the posts - I just am lucky in being able to piggy-back others ideas ..

Cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - you asked about a character in Shakespeare who was made to eat a lot of leeks, or ate a lot himself .. I've found "Fluellen" as written about in Wiki ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluellen

For reference ... cheers Hilary