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MARCH, ACROSS THE POND

Here we are in leek season. I love leeks and there are so many ways to use them in recipes. So, I thought I’d like to share a trip that my husband and I took to Scotland a few years ago. I still remember that night of blowing snow and the wonderful meal with salmon, leeks and lemon tart that we had by the fire in the quaint and beautiful village of Inverness. The food was excellent in every town and hamlet that we visited as we went up through the middle of Scotland and down the North Sea side. 

The road to Inverness around Loch Ness was as mysterious as the Lake itself.  It was shadowed by the hills and mountains on the left with large trees overhanging the road, while down the hill, the lake loomed on the right. Far, far across the lake, large homes and yacht basins could be seen. The yacht basins were for the tour boats that took out the “Nessie” hunters.

I drove the Lock Ness road like a maniac. Don’t know why! Maybe because I needed to keep up, or at least do more than the speed limit to make sure the cars behind us didn’t run over us. It was obvious that I had upset many native drivers by doing the speed limit on this two lane curvy road.

The weather had started to get cloudy and cold, and it appeared that sleet was about to fall on us. This would make the road even more dangerous, and the MONSTER, even harder to find. Every time we came to an overlook on the road, we stopped to see if “Nessie” had pulled up to the roadside looking for a handout. Nothing! What could be seen were strange ripples in the water that may appear to be something, if your imagination were to run a little wild.

We drove on toward Inverness and found a hotel. Next, we had to find a place to have dinner. After driving around town we spotted a wonderful little restaurant. It had just started to snow as we went inside. There were several fireplaces located around the dining room and we were taken to a table near one of them. We both ordered the fresh salmon that was the menu special for the evening.

When the waiter brought the plates of salmon and put them in front of us, we knew that we had ordered the perfect meal. The salmon looked beautiful and the first bite told me that it was cooked to perfection.  Alongside the salmon were mashed potatoes and leeks au gratin, again cooked to perfection. For dessert we had a slice of lemon tart and cups of hot tea to prepare us for the weather when we left the warmth of the fireplace and stepped out into the now blowing snow.

We went back to our hotel and settled in for the night. The room was warm and comfortable. Television offered a cornucopia of all the BBC programs that I like on Saturday night ETV in South Carolina. I was in TV heaven.  I finally fell asleep while watching “Keeping Up Appearances.”

Had I died and gone to heaven? Yes!

LEEKS AU GRATIN

Serves 6
8 large leeks, white part only
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Gruyere
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup fresh French bread crumbs*

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil an ovenproof dish small or large enough to hold the leeks.

Cut each leek in half lengthwise. Cut each of those lengths into 6-inch pieces, and wash well under running water. Leeks have sand and dirt down in them, so make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned. Cook the leeks in boiling salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well.

Put the leeks, cut side up, in the prepared baking dish and pour the cream over them.

Sprinkle with the cheese, salt and pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the cream has thickened and the cheese has melted.

Remove the dish from the oven and preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, and broil until lightly browned.

*Mix 3/4 cup breadcrumbs with about 2 T. melted butter for richer flavor.

 

LEMON TART

Serves 6
Lemon zest from 3 large lemons
˝ cup fresh lemon juice (you extract more juice at room temperature)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
5 large eggs at room temperature
Dash of salt
1-10 inch tart shell, prebaked and cooled

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix well. Pour this mixture into a 2 quart heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the lemon mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and set aside. Fill the tart or shell and allow to cool. Serve plain or with whipped cream. It’s great with the salmon and leeks.

Visit Chef Linda at her website:  www.cheflindaweiss.com
and her blog:  www.lindaallaboutfood.blogspot.com

Linda’s first book, Memories From Home, Cooking with Family & Friends
is available at Amazon.com or at her website.

 

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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