..very little sense, save to someone making a muckle, and is as good a reason as any for Scotland to be independent. It was only after some Wiki research that it became apparent that my recent gift of tiny leeks illustrates perfectly that enigmatic cliché whilst reaffirming my ambivalence to the glut of unintelligible local speak on which the Temporarily United Kingdom prides itself. Beset, as we are, with every sort of social problem it is hard to rationalise this irrepressible Babel urge.
The bowl, holding the slowly disappearing bundles of leeks, was in my line of sight whilst I was spooning another mouthful of the last remaining leek and cheese soufflé. My mind was set on making some simple leeks vinaigrette and so I would have done had not I first caught a flash of the pale blue fabric cover of Ms.David’s “French Provincial Cooking” in the corner of my eye. A little earlier, whilst rifling through my store cupboard, I had noticed that the bottle of olive oil was all but empty; enough to make the vinaigrette, but that would leave none for any other eventuality until next I went to the shops, some two days hence. What I did have was red wine and Ms. David has a typically simple, yet delicious, way with leeks and red wine, which also benefits from only demanding a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil.
The recipe specified more leeks than I needed but, being as it was so simple, that was no matter. I prepared a handful of small leeks and put them to brown in some of my precious olive oil…..precious through lack rather than singular quality. Once one side has started to take colour sprinkle the leeks with a little sea salt and a grind of black pepper before turning them. Now is the time to add a small glass of red wine and, if you have any available, a spoonful of good meat stock before covering and cooking them for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the end can easily be pierced with the point of a knife. Part of the charm of Elizabeth David’s writing is the regular appearance of anachronisms, such as the expectation of a spoonful of good meat stock to be reserved for such an occasion, of which I am usually, and was again this time, found wanting. A splash of Marigold vegetable stock was not as intensely meaty as Ms.David would have liked, but it worked.
This is a particularly satisfying dish whether served hot, as an accompaniment, or cold as an entrée or part of an hors d’oeuvre. Now I’m heading back to the kitchen to make a leek tart.