Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Culinary Throwdown Challenge - LEEKS

This month's Culinary Throwdown Challenge is being sponsored by Allison over at Tales From LaLa Land and the theme is LEEKS. Moi over at Bite the Apple I think is doing the judging again because she does such an outstanding job (note the gratuitous butt kissing - gotta score points any way I can).

Note to Allison: Since you recently changed your blog, I can no longer view it during the day because my company firewalls it. I don't know why this is and yours isn't the first blog that this has happened to. So I may have to let you know about this entry over at Troll's place.

Anyway, jeez, who picked Leeks for the Culinary Throwdown Challenge? I have never worked with these things before, so I'm stepping into uncharted waters. I was originally going to do a simple leek preparation to use as a side (Leeks with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette) but the more I thought about it, the more I thought the Mrs and the monsters wouldn't eat it. So I stumbled across Tomato Leek Tarts. It's kind of like a pizza so I figured they would at least try it. And it's simple enough that even I could do it although it does involve baking.

Anyway, here are all of the ingredients laid out. Really the only recipe deviation is the addition of some fresh basil because of some recipe reviewer recommendations (from Allrecipes.com) and it made sense to me.

Note that I did not use the lemon shown in the pictures. I had it in my head that I needed it but it was the vinaigrette recipe that called for it.

I sliced the tomatoes and leeks as thin as I could with a knife. A mandolin probably would have been good here but I don't own one. Assembly was very easy and it looked pretty good before it went in the oven. This recipe makes two tarts.

I did one on a pizza pan and the other on a baking stone.

After about 15 minutes in the oven at 425F I pulled them out and but the basil on top. I probably should have put the basil under the mozzarella cheese instead. I baked them the full 22 minutes that the recipe called for. And here's what they looked like.

I thought the taste was pretty good. You definitely got the taste of the leeks. They were a little messy in that you couldn't eat it like a pizza. You needed to use a fork and knife. I think this would have been better if the tomato and leeks were sliced paper thin. The Mrs said she liked it but she was obviously humoring me. She's not a big onion fan. The monsters immediately pulled the tomatoes and leeks off and ate the cheese and crust. The pudge said he liked the flavor that was left with the cheese and had a 2nd piece. The boy really didn't have an opinion. I have one tart left that I think I'll take in to the office. Those guys will eat anything - that's free.

It was nice trying a new ingredient that I never used before. I tasted some raw and it definitely has a strong oniony chivy taste. I don't think I would make this recipe again but would be willing to try leeks in a different way.


Allison said...

It looks yummy. I know it seems boring, but I had been curious about them...and, now we both know. :)

I will put a link to this post on my blog tomorrow when I post my recipe.

Thanks for doing it!

Boxer said...

Nicely done. Looks rustic and hearty and I often eat this kind of pizza with a knife and fork. Leeks have such a strong flavor, I think balancing them out with dough was smart.

And I agree..... Leeks????

Karl said...

Good morning Buzz Kill,

They look good to me, but I like leeks. Maybe baking a little before adding the Mozzarella would have helped with the texture.

TROLL Y2K said...

Excellent dish. I'd definately eat it. Maybe cook it a tad longer and use mandolin like you said. I'm really digging the different things everyone's come up with. Thought we'd have a LOT of leek-and-tater soups.

Did they happen to label which variety of Leek you purchased? I think you and I both got the thicker stronger ones and some others got the skinnier sweeter ones.

LaDivaCucina said...

Hi Buzzy! Great job!

1. I like that you always take a photo of all the ingredients you are going to use. The produce looks great!

2. The tart looks like Dani's apple galette from a while back. Really looks good!

3. I would suggest sauteing the leeks before adding them to the tart and am surprised they cooked like this. Did the basil burn on top?

I'm also surprised that so many of you guys have never used leeks before. I love 'em!

Great job Buzz! This was fun. I'm up!

Buzz Kill said...

Thanks, the leeks weren't boring - just different. And I will venture a guess that most of us have never cooked with them before. New things are always - different.

Thanks. It is rustic and simple - words the Mrs uses to describe me all the time. And they're not beets.

Thanks. It came out pretty good. And no jinxes yet that I've seen, so I'm liking the variety of dishes too. These leeks didn't have labels but they were definitely strong tasting.

Thanks. You know, I was thinking about Dani's galette when I saw the picture with this recipe. But that was dessert and was baked perfectly. Sauting the leeks would have been an excellent idea - which I didn't think of. The basil didn't burn because I added it during the last 8 minutes. I really think the way to go was under the mozarella but again, I didn't think of it.

I try to do all of the alterations and procedure changes before I start (I redline the recipe). When I'm in cooking mode, I focus on the recipe and try not stray off the path. Consequently, I say "I didn't think of that" a lot.

Sandcastle Momma said...

That looks really tasty and I'm thinking that with a tweek here and there it would be outstanding. I'm going to play around with this one some - my kids love onions and if I put them in pizza form they will gobble them up.

moi said...

I'd make this in a heartbeat. I do rustic savory tarts all the time. So perfect as a quick lunch or a light dinner with a side salad and nice glass of wine. This does indeed look delicious and I think discovering what we could have or should have done when making our Throw Down Challenges is the best part of the process. In our slight stumbles, we learn and pass that knowledge on to others. Nicely done.

Aunty Belle said...

BuzzK, this does look good--I likes rustic foods--this is a winner.

Kymical Reactions said...

I love this enough to give it a try. I think this would be delicious on a cold Saturday afternoon. yummy, and I think this is a winner too!

Making Space said...

I like that idea. Hmm... how to parlay it into something small children can make with little supervision from mama... Pondering...

LaDivaCucina said...

Buzz, I think it's GOOD to follow the recipe exactly the first time and then make adjustments. Most people start adjusting right off the bat and then wonder why it doesn't turn out! I'm guilty too....

Buzz Kill said...

My tweeks would be the basil (and this was my addition to the original recipe) under the mozarella, slicing the tomato and leeks thinner and sauting the leeks for a couple of minutes in butter. Please let me know what you do.

You're right about the stumbles. This is really an easy and good looking recipe and I recommend you try it next time you have leeks laying around. That's the one thing about these recipes is that you have to plan ahead because most people don't have leeks laying around. I always have carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and onions to use.

Thanks. This is as rustic as it gets.

Thanks, definitely give it try.

My kids don't like tomatoes or onions (must be the Mrs side of the family) and they immediately took them off. So I'd talk to the kids to see what vegetables they like.

I'll make minor adjustments based mostly on ingredients I have on hand rather then running to the store. When you're cooking with a 1st time ingredient there is a definite learning curve.

moi said...

Come on by; I have declared a Leek Winner!

Big Shamu said...

As I mentioned on other blogs, I've never worked with leeks so seeing all the choices that folks came up with was comforting. I'm a big onion fan so I'm wondering if you can french fry them like other onions. I love the rustic look. I might have broiled it the last minute or two for a little more caramelization and since I'm not a fan of fresh tomatoes on my pizza I might have subbed some good sun dried tomatoes cut up into thin strips but that's just me. It's definitely a recipe I would try.

MJ said...

I would like to see the apron you wore as you prepared this dish.

Thanking you in advance,

Mistress MJ

Anonymous said...

Delicious! Thanks for the ideas.