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8 Sep 2006

The Leek

Cultivated for thousands of years, leeks were prized by the Romans and Greeks for being beneficial for the voice. In Britain in the 17th Century the Welsh used to wear leeks in their hats during battles to distinguish them from their enemies, the Saxons. The leek is now the Welsh national emblem.

They are part of the Allium family which includes onions, shallots, chives and garlic. They have a milder flavor and are sweeter than onions. Generally they are available the whole year round but the actual season is from the fall until early spring.

Leeks are an excellent source of manganese and a good source of potassium, vitamin B6 and C, magnesium, iron and folate.

Like onions and garlic, they are known to reduce the bad cholesterol levels and raise the good cholesterol levels, so are useful in the prevention of atherosclerosis. They are also known to reduce high blood pressure. Eating leeks, garlic and onions regularly is said to reduce the risk of prostate and colon cancer. They lso assist the body to dispose of uric acid and so are beneficial to those who suffer from arithitis.

They are high in oxalates so people with untreated kidney or gallbladder problems should not eat them.

When purchasing leeks they should be firm and straight with dark green leaves and white necks. Store unwashed and untrimmed in plastic wrap or container in the refrigerator. Where they will keep fresh for up to two weeks.

As soil often gets caught in the layers of leaves it is important to rinse them very well. They are excellent in soups and stews, and can also be steamed or braised as they are very tasty on their own.

They are a very useful addition to your daily vegetables.

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Recipes of the Day

Vichyssoise
From FatFreeVegan
Submitted by: Hawkeye

1 1/2 cups leeks - washed & coarsely chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 large potato - peeled & diced covered in cold water
3 cups soy milk
1 cups evaporated soy milk - chilled
salt and white pepper to taste
fresh chives - thinly sliced for garnish
spray oil

In a pot sprayed with spray oil, cook leeks and onion over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened. Add the potatoes with the water and the salt. Simmer the mixture, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Add milk bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. In a food processor, puree the mixture in batches, and strain it through a very fine sieve into a bowl. Stir the evaporated milk and white pepper into the soup and chill, covered, until it is very cold. Garnish with chives and serve cold. Makes about 4 cups.

Leek and Pea Salad
from BBC Food - Ed Baines (Housecall)

2-3 leeks
1lb frozen peas, defrosted
l lemon, zest and juice
clove garlic, mashed
oregano
olive oil

Cut the leek into chunks about 5cm/2 inches in length and blanch for about 5 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool.
Tip the leeks into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Serves 4-6

Sesame-Crusted Japanese-Style Leeks
from BBC Food - Ross Burden (Ready Steady Cook)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 leek, sliced
splash rice wine/white wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the leek and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until cooked through. Add the wine, garlic, salt and sesame seeds. Finish cooking for a further two minutes. Serve hot.Serves 1.



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4 comments:

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bakehouse dori said...

Hi Jackie, I've been trying to comment here for several days. I esp liked the cider vinegar post. I wanted to add that I discovered cider vinegar "with the mother" is important from different things i've read. I buy Bragg's too.

Thanks for the kitty concern.

I am beta blog now, so I cannot comment using that account on a blog that will not allow anonymous comments. I created this account so I could still chit chat with non beta blogs.

kleo2 said...

The leek has been a favorite of mine for years now! I never knew about it since an evil (truly) ex-beau of mine who lived in France for a while used to make a bunch of dishes with it. I learned to love the leek thanks to him. (I didn't learn much else that benefited my life, but that's the way it goes!)

Thank you for all the great info on the leek and accompanying recipes, Jackie!

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