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By the time you read these words, we’ll have been to our Halloween Party, gotten stupid drunk, laughed our asses off just by looking at each other and the other CRAZIES surrounding us, schlepped back home, scared the hell out of Cosmo and homeless cats, had sex, sobered up, taken wigs and fake eyelashes off, had sex, and flipped a few pancakes up under the kitchen ceiling.

Right now, however, I’m lounging on our bed and looking pretty. That’s all I’m doing in the anticipation of THE NIGHT OF THE UNHINGED. Jason, on the other hand, is fulfilling his New Year’s resolution a little prematurely by organizing all the crap in our “office”.

The costumes are resting in the closet, their elements perfectly matched and hand picked during our Insane Halloween Spree last weekend. Many ideas were brought to life as we brainstormed costume options. One thing was clear – we were going as a couple and our outfits were to indicate as such. To spice things up, we excluded famous characters, and instead focused on two-word phrases, like:

–       Whipped Cream

–       Pocket Knife

–       Double Door

–       Body Lotion

–       Plastic Surgery

–       Good-Bye, etc.

We settled on Jason’s PEAS & CARROTS, as not only this idea was REALISTIC to execute, but also the phrase itself was charged with happiness and a promise of lasting forever.

Peas&Carrots

Time to put the wig back in the closet and leave Halloween behind. One thing that may still remind you of the weekend festivities is the lingering hangover, or sugar rush, and/or heartburn spasms from those “juicy” and perfectly greasy grilled sausages from street vendors that one just must have at 3 AM when leaving a party. Thank god for my Carrot who steered me away from those. Instead, we devoured a homemade breakfast at 4 AM consisting of scrambled eggs with sausage, tomatoes and basil + a turkey mustard sandwich with pickles and CARROTS. Going to bed at 4:30 AM with my stomach FULL is a dream I wish to live out more often… NOT.

To let your intestines breathe (and I mean it literally), I propose a fresh salad that not only has the ability to wipe all food debris from the previous night out of your system, but shockingly also tastes delicious! Let’s make some LEEK SALAD, shall we.

The VIP list of ingredients should read:

–       2 medium to large leeks

–       4 small to medium carrots

–       2 ripe avocados

–       1 cup of fresh dill, chopped

–       1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)

–       2 tbsp of lemon juice (the fresh stuff, from the actual fruit)

–       sea salt, 1-2 tsp – ish

–       black pepper, freshly ground, lots of it

The leeks are tricky, especially if you haven’t used them before. They grow in dirt, they like it, and so they carry it along wherever they go. When you hold your leek, cut off the roots and the dark leaf tops. Those are hard and bitter. However, the light green and white part contains all the flavors you want to preserve. Grab a sharp paring knife and cut the leek length wise, opening it like a fan. Don’t make the mistake of cutting it through. You want to be able to keep it all together while letting cold running water wash out all the residual dirt from between the leaves. Does that make sense?

I hope you’ll find THIS helpful – a quick tutorial I’ve found on youtube on how to prepare leeks. You’re welcome.

Once you’re past the dirty job, cut the leek all the way though, yes, length wise, then each half  – again in half. Hold the bunch together (that thick ponytail of leek strips) and chop it as finely as your talent allows. Drop the shreds into a large bowl and move on to the carrots.

Jason Carrot

You want them peeled clean and grated. Into the bowl they go. Chop the dill and fedex it into the same ol’ bowl. Avocados – same story: cube them finely and scoop out on top of the veggie pile. Add salt, black pepper (lots of it), lemon juice, olive oil, and swirl around the dish letting everybody mingle and show off what they do best.

The LEEK SALAD, as is the case with other hard vegetables salads (see the CELERY ROOT SALAD for example), benefits and really reaches its potential only after it sits for an hour or so in a closed container, in the back corner of your refrigerator, away from all the gossip and commotion. The salt and acid from the lemon help break the fiber enough to soften the leek, and help it release a few tears of juice.

Leek Salad

The avocado serves as a binder in this salad. However, you could use sour cream instead, add 1 tsp of sugar, and make it a completely different foodie experience. Try it with grated green apples, or slivers of red bell pepper to add some blush to your dish.

LET ME NOT limit your creative flow. And LET ME hear back from you once you’ve tested and tasted your masterpiece!

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I am a cow. Or at least I have four stomachs like one. There must lie a hidden explanation somewhere in between those two possibilities that is responsible for the phenomena I actively participated in at the dawn of this evening.

I am genuinely embarrassed to admit in public how much food I deposited into my system a few quarters of an hour ago. But I will… in the effort to apply self-punishment. A plate the size of our dining table, and we have a dinning table of astronomical dimensions mind you, was placed before me (by yours truly, to be quite frank) filled with a scrumptious meal I humbly put together. The goods were shaped into a monumental cone, oozing a fragrant ruby red sauce and topped with a mist of fresh minced herbs. I wasted no time and sank a hungry fork into the mountain of food in front of my eyes.

The minute I tasted the first bite, a blissful quiet came over my entire being. The second gnaw only confirmed that state of mind. “I am so happy right now!” – I exhaled amid a series of hurried nibbles.

Once I finished committing the crime of stuffing my guts with this delicious meal, I sat at the table for circa half an hour and moaned. I moaned quietly for the lack of room for oxygen in my lungs. Those spongy bags, filled with life-affirming air, got progressively smashed against my ever-expanding stomach, like the face of a person walking into an impeccably clean glass door they didn’t notice, their steps observed in slow motion. Droplets of sweat scattered my forehead while I sniffled and grasped for air.

In the middle of the 37th moan (approximately!) I heard my blackberry vibrate ecstatically on a nearby coffee table, and its red eye winked at me flirtatiously. “You’ve got mail” – in my mind I heard it announce in the ancient voice of AOL, now as dead as Latin. My natural curiosity, so characteristic to that part of the human population born with a pair of X chromosomes, overruled the brain, and propelled my body forward. However powerful, the curiosity must stand down in the presence of the laws of physics. My body, unable to lift itself under the weight of its overflowing stomach, plunged right under the table with uncanny force. BAM! The pain from the fall pinched my butt, but who could possibly care when the phone was still blinking! From my vantage point beneath the table it now seemed silly close, yet still out of reach of my outstretched fingers. Damn it! I gauged the distance, calculated the effort, then curled into a fetal position and rolled myself over to the edge of the couch. From there it was EASY. One impetuous swing of my arm and the phone was mine again. PHEW!

A few minutes later the euphoria descended and adrenaline levels dropped, and I realized the inhuman amount of pressure I had applied upon my precious insides. Instantly I panicked, and a terrorizing thought crossed my mind – INTERNAL BLEEDING!!! I froze. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. One minute passed. Tick-tock. Tick-tock…3, then 9 minutes crawled by. I was still breathing. Another 15 minutes of that intensely silent lingering and the outcome was confirmed – I WAS ALIVE!

I then issued a long and echoing baritone of a burp that further released some space among the four chambers of my cow stomach, and I was able to breathe at last. Now, by no means do I intend to gross you out with this detailed report. All I hope for, truly, is that you understand the enormous relief I was granted by that simple, and oh so natural, digestive explosion. Only now was I able to extricate myself from the floor underneath the coffee table and beside the green couch, and somewhat steadily relocate to the writing desk in our bedroom. The events of the evening must be logged and archived for future generations to draw examples of behaviors less desired!

A vivid blush floods my face when I realize all that drama was stirred around my … balls. More precisely, meatballs sans the meat. Voluptuous boulders of ambrosial veggie balls rested randomly on the sides of the mountain of spaghetti, all bathed in a creamy and rich marinara sauce. Ah, the memory… !

Beet Soup It all started with the soup season in our house. My poor Jason has recently suffered from a minor and yet annoying physical condition (details of which I shall keep to myself) that forced him to rethink his diet. After thorough research and analysis of various dietary options he committed to soups exclusively. Luckily, I had learned a few tricks in that department, and so I was able to entertain him with a different lunch and dinner menu over a period of a couple of weeks.

soup Such monotony, however, forced me to exercise my creative muscle in order to keep it fresh and interesting each day. One morning, while peeling carrots for another vegetable soup, I reckoned that I might mix things up a little. I pulled out a food processor, purèed some of the veggies, and cooked the rest in big chunks in the ocean of soup. On that sunny morning my Cauliflower Soup, which nota bene is absolutely phenomenal, was brought to life.

It’s not the soup, however, that the tale is about. The purè of cooked vegetables, which are a staple in all my soups, turned out to be so flavorful and comforting on its own that I decided to translate it into an entirely new dish. As of today, I tested, tasted, and – dare I say it – perfected the recipe of Agi’s Veggie Balls.

Agi's Balls

I will now reveal the secret, and share it… with you… because I am such a giver… and I care about your well-being. And hell I am proud of myself, too!

Start with the following ingredients:

– 4 medium carrots

– 2 medium parsnips

– 4 celery stalks

– large leek

– large onion

– 4-5 cloves of garlic (peeled + smashed)

– 2 dry bay leaves

– 4-5 peppercorns

– 3-4 strings of fresh thyme

– 1 cup of water

– 1 tbsp of coconut oil (unrefined)

– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan, and add peeled and diced onion. Sautè for 5-10 minutes, and toss in the garlic. Now add into the pan the rest of the vegetables, previously cleaned, peeled, and roughly chopped. Throw in bay leaves and peppercorns with thyme, add water, and season with salt and pepper. Cook all until aldente. You do not want your veggies soggy and mushy. Turn the heat off. Discard the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Drain all liquid.

Now prepare the following ingredients:

– 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans

– 2 eggs

– 2 tbsp of grated ginger

– 1/2 cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

– 1/2 cup of chopped fresh dill

– 1 cup of organic bread crumbs

– 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

– 1/3 cup of grated Fontina cheese

– 1 tbsp of olive oil

– 2 tsp of red paprika powder

– 2 tsp of cumin

– 1 tsp of turmeric

– 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg

– 1 tbsp of dry marjoram.

Place your cooked vegetables in a food processor along with drained and rinsed garbanzo beans and pulse into a coarse mass. Scoop it all out and into a large bowl, then add all the remaining ingredients except for the eggs and cheese. Mix well using a spatula. Now break in the eggs and stir everything well. Throw in grated Parmesan and Fontina and combine with the rest of the party in the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Coat your sheet pan with a layer of non-stick spray, add a sheet of wax paper, and treat it with the spray again. Using a teaspoon, scoop a small amount of the veggie mixture and place it into your clean hands. Now roll it into a small ball and set on the sheet pan. Continue until all mixture is formed into an army of veggie nuggets. Brush each ball with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from burning. Place into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of your, ahem… balls).

Baked Veggie Balls

Serve immediately with whole wheat, organic Spaghetti Marinara, sprinkled with a handful of fresh parsley and dill. I BEG YOU, however, to pace yourself! Definitely use caution when plating your meal. The aroma that will fill your house may intoxicate your reasoning, and all sense of proportions might get lost. Be wary! And learn from my mistakes.

Agi's Balls

Bon Appetit Everyone!

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