Tag Archives: leeks

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

The start of the year is always the longest, leanest time for me. There have been many evenings lately that I have peered into the fridge and wondered what I could cobble together for tea.

A few days ago I picked up some leeks from the greengrocers for not many pence, and being leek fans, I decided to throw together a lovely, comforting cheese leek gratin. It’s remarkably simple and fairly frugal vegetable dish and even my fussy about veg 9 year old asked for seconds!

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

Cheesy Leek Gratin

Sliced leeks, I used six, but you can use more if you want
A little butter for frying
50g butter or margarine
50g plain flour, or sauce flour if you have it
1 pint of milk (maybe a little more, maybe a little less)
100g mature cheddar cheese
30g Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper and dried chilli flakes
Breadcrumbs

Method
Slice your leeks and fry gently in a bit of butter until they are soft.

Whilst your leeks are softening, melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted, tip in the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Mix until it’s a paste and then cook the flour out for a minute. Add a splash of milk and stir until it turns into a paste again. Keep adding milk in splashes and mixing until it starts to turn into a silky sauce. The amount of milk will vary, but I’d say you need at least a pint of milk. If it looks lumpy and unpromising, just use a whisk until it turns into a lovely smooth sauce.

Grate your cheese and add it to your sauce. Set aside about 30g of the cheese to top your bake with. Stir, stir, stir your sauce and season with salt and pepper. I also like to add ground chilli flakes for a bit of a gentle kick, but you can leave that out if you prefer. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning; if it’s not cheesy enough for you, now is a good time to add more cheese. Now is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 220°.

Once your leeks are soft and your sauce is cheesy and smooth, tip them both into an ovenproof dish and mix together. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon and sprinkle over your reserved cheese. I usually top bakes and gratins with breadcrumbs. It gives a lovely texture and makes it look extra tasty. If I can be bothered I something whizz up some stale bread in the food processor and use that, but I have a tub of ready made breadcrumbs in the cupboard because sometimes life it too short to make your own. I sprinkle whatever I have over the top, use as much or as little as you want.

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

Put your cheesy leek gratin in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the top is brown and the sauce is bubbling beneath. I’ve made this several times now and it’s a regular veg dish as part of a winter roast. It’s great with chicken or sausages, or even on its own with a crusty piece of bread.

If you enjoyed this, you might like my recipe for slow cooker vegetable stew.

Frugal Food: Cheesy Leek Gratin

Winning Recipe: Thrifty Smoked Haddock & Leek Tart

A quiche or a tart is quite often my go to when I’ve got a few ingredients which need using up. My husband is very fond of a bargain and often comes home with a bag full of heavily reduced items all of which need using asap. This thrifty Smoked Haddock & Leek Tart was created after one of his supermarket bargain hunting expeditions and was so delicious even my fussy 7 year old said it was yummy.

I call this a winning recipe, that’s because it won a pie competition on the Daisies & Pie blog – bagging me a night away with a friend in Birmingham!

Winning Recipe: Thrifty Smoked Haddock & Leek Tart

Thrifty Smoked Haddock & Leek Tart

Ingredients:

For the pastry –
225g plain flour
100g butter
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
Pinch of salt
– OR – (and no one will judge you) a sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

For the filling –
1 large smoked haddock fillet (skin on)
1 pint of milk
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 leeks
1 knob of butter
2 heaped teaspoons of mild curry powder
2 medium eggs
100mls double cream
Salt & pepper

Method:
Make the pastry by rubbing the butter, flour and a pinch of salt together until it’s like breadcrumbs, then gradually add the cold water until it forms a firm dough. Bring the dough together on a floured surface and roll out until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin. Or just use a sheet of ready-made pastry – no one will judge you.

Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin and carefully lay in the pastry, taking care not to tear it. Roughly trim off the excess pastry, this can be tidied up properly later. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and top with baking beans or similar, you need to blind bake your pastry so you don’t get a soggy bottom. Pop into a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes at 200°. After 15 minutes, carefully lift off the greaseproof paper and (incredibly hot) baking beans, please be careful. Pop your pastry case back into the oven for a further 10 minutes. Then remove and set aside to cool.

Once cooled carefully trim the edges with a sharp knife. Doing it this way will give you a nice clean edge.

To make the filling put your milk, bay leaves and peppercorns into a saucepan. Lay in the smoked haddock fillet and slowly bring to the boil. Once the milk reaches boiling point turn the heat off and let it sit in the hot liquid for 10 minutes or so.

In the meantime, slice your leeks and cook them in the butter with a twist of salt and pepper. Once the leeks are soft and cooked through, stir in the curry powder and set aside.

Drain your haddock and discard the bay leaves and peppercorns. Carefully remove the skin (the skin holds it all together while it cooks so it doesn’t all fall apart, trust me it’s easier to keep the skin on until it’s cooked) and check the fish for bones. Try not to break the fish up too much while you do this.

To assemble the tart put a layer of leeks on the bottom, then the smoked haddock and then top with the rest of the leeks.

In a bowl whisk the eggs and cream together, season and carefully pour over the leeks and haddock. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes at 200° keeping an eye on it. Your tart needs to be golden brown on top and cooked in the middle.

Serve with new potatoes and a salad. Can be eaten hot or cold. Delicious!

Winning Recipe: Thrifty Smoked Haddock & Leek Tart