Monthly Archives: May 2009

Leek tart with bacon and gruyere

My friend Elle made this dish for me one night and I made her give me the recipe. It’s great for potlucks, brunches and when you have in-laws staying for the weekend…

Leeks are such an underutilized vegetable in my household. I love that mild onion flavor. The only annoying part is cleaning the leeks – they are grown in sandy soil.

For this recipe, you need an 11-inch fluted tart pan. I didn’t have one, so I shopped around. Bed, Bath & Beyond: $14.99. The outlet kitchen store on the opposite side of town: $9.99. Thank goodness I checked!

The recipe is from

For the shell –

2 cups flour

1 T chopped fresh thyme

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

11 T cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

6 T ice-cold water

In a food processor, pulse the flour, thyme, salt and pepper until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are the size of grains of rice. Add the ice water 1 T at a time through the feed tube while pulsing, until the dough just comes together. Don’t over-water! It will be a bit crumbly but will press together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 45 minutes, or up to 2 days ahead of when you want to bake it.

Heat oven to 450, and roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is a 14-inch circle. Transfer it to the clean tart pan with removeable bottom and gently press into the corner and up the sides. Let the edges hang over the pan and roll the roller over the edge to cut them off. Prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork…


Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dry beans (my pie weights totally didn’t work, they weren’t heavy enough! Next time: beans.). Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes, until flaky but still pale. The weights will keep it from bubbling up, but if this happens, don’t freak out. Take the crust out, remove weights, prick it again with the fork and bake again until the bottom is completely dry, 5-7 minutes. Remove and cool while you make the filling:

3 slices of thick-cut bacon, chopped

2 T unsalted butter

3 large leeks (or whatever one package is at the store), sliced long-wise, then into half-moons and soaked in water to let the grit fall out. Only use white and light green, tender parts.

1 T flour

2 large eggs

1/3 c. heavy cream or whipping cream

1/3 c. whole milk (I used 1%)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (grab your zester!)

Freshly ground pepper

2/3 c. grated Gruyere (or more…)

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until crisp and golden. Remove to a plate to drain and reserve 2 tsp. of the grease. Over medium heat, add the butter and then the leeks. Stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook about 2 minutes and then let cool slightly.


Next, whisk the eggs lightly, then add the cream, milk, salt, nutmeg and a few grinds of pepper until blended. Add bacon and leeks and stir.

Now, take the tart shell and sprinkle the bottom with 1/3 c. gruyere. Next, pour the custard over it. The leeks will fall in clumps, so smooth them out to evenly coat. The liquid will cover the entire surface evenly. Finish with the rest of the cheese over the top.


Bake at 375 until the custard is totally set and the cheese is light golden brown. Keep the tart on that sheet pan, or else it will drip and burn in the oven. Cooking time: 35 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes, or while you play a soccer tournament, and serve with love.


This will feed you for days!

New Zydeco, in a word

Whoa. I’m so glad that Zydeco moved downtown!

The good things, in list form:

1. BBQ shrimp with grits cake and a cajun sauce that I would even eat over my cereal in the morning! They gave us extra bread for mopping.

2. Pomegranate martinis. No explanation needed.

3. Grilled redfish with crab meat on top. And that lemony sauce! I always admire a chef who can do sauces really well. They can make a meal.

4. Babyback ribs, of which I tried. Tender, with a good sauce. You get about 12 ribs for your money.

5. Saw the chef/owner serving dishes and greeting diners. Another testament to what a good business he runs.

6. Wait staff. Good service, but did he forget to read us the specials? Whatever.

7. Atmosphere. One-hundred percent better than the previous location, even though that wasn’t half bad at all. It was open and lively and comfortable. I did some great people watching.

8. Prices – you really get what you pay for, and that is saying something in this town.

9. I can’t wait to go back.

A poor girl’s dinner

It’s not until something changes in your life do you realize … that you are actually a bum.

The boyfriend has been gone barely 24 hours and I’m eating like a freshman at a community college. I can’t tell you how many tortillas with melted cheese I’ve eaten. They aren’t even quesadillas!

I even bought a ton of groceries yesterday and still ended up wondering, What am I going to have for dinner? Thank goodness for those tortillas, I tell you.

The next night, I made creative use of some things I had stocked during richer days and had a truly gourmet meal. At lunch, I took a frozen steak out of the fridge. You guessed it – Safeway discount meat bin from a couple weeks ago.

When I came home from work, I finished defrosting the steak in the sink with cold running water. Meanwhile, I pulled out a bag of frozen broccoli and put half the bag in a glass bowl. Then, I heated a skillet over medium and added 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil until hot. When the steak was completely thawed, I sprinkled steak seasoning on each side and seared it in the pan until almost medium rare (you’ll have to check it – 4 min. on each side for me). Put the steak on a plate with foil over it.

Meanwhile, add a splash of water to the broccoli and cook it in the microwave for about 5 minutes.

While that cooks, put the steak pan back on the medium heat and add one chopped shallot (mine was at least two weeks old and still good!). Stir with a wooden spoon until cooked, then add a cup of beef stock (left over from short ribs) and a splash of red wine ($5.99 at Newport Market) that I was already drinking. I scraped up the brown bits and reduced the jus a little, then added chopped parsley (at least one week old, but still good when kept in a vase!).

Look at that color! It smelled amazing. If you don’t have beef stock, use chicken or veggie stock. Or water, even. If you don’t have shallots, add a quarter of an onion.


I served myself some brococli, a cut of the steak and a piece of buttered toast. Spoon the sauce over everything and enjoy!