Many a mickle makes…

leeks_red_wine_0049..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.leeks_red_wine_0033 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 colourleeks_red_wine_0035 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.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2014, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Cuisine bourgeoise, Digital photography, Elizabeth David, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Humour, leeks, Olive oil, Photography, photography course, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Wine, wine, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Many a mickle makes…

  1. Mad Dog says:

    How delicious and you’ve reminded me of a wonderful leek terrine that Marco Pierre White cooked at Harveys 🙂

  2. Amanda says:

    Such gorgeous color!

  3. Haven’t stopped thinking about these leeks since I saw your post the other day. Please do post the leek tart too!

  4. “Many a mickle makes a muckle.”

    Yes, the Scots are certainly free to have and hold that expression. Those red tips certainly came out picturesque. Didn’t they, Roger?

  5. Oh, yummy. But this time I’d had dinner BEFORE I read your blog :-p

  6. Karen says:

    Love how the leeks take on such a lovely burgundy color. I’m sure they were delicious as they are pretty.

  7. thomas peck says:

    Tomorrow! I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow!

  8. catterel says:

    The only problem I have with Elizabeth David is that I spend so long reading her book I rarely get around to actually cooking the recipes – well, occasionally I do, and it’s always delicious. I also love the way she tells you to pop down to Soho for the odd ingredient that wasn’t generally available in England in the 1950’s.

  9. Eha says:

    Must find my Eliazabeth David surely at the bottom of yet another pile of cookery books about to topple over . . . for some odd reason did not imagine leeks and red wine would marry amicably, even if one on plate and the other in glass 🙂 ! Interesting and must try!!

  10. That is some fantastic color to those leeks!

  11. My French Heaven says:

    Oh stop it now! Leak tart is my all time favorite! The pictures hare are absolutely stunning, first of all. Then your idea of using red wine is genius. I need to try a vinaigrette (or rather a winaigrette) with a good St Emilion… I may actually mix vinegar with wine…. I don’t know. As for the baby leaks, my grand mother used to serve them exactly like this as an hors d’oeuvre with hard boiled eggs on the side. We find them in the vineyards here (they have to be organic vineyards though) and we call them “baraganes”. They are very hard to find though. Great post!!!!!

  12. Beautiful Roger, maybe we should detour on our way back to England next month and drop off a couple of litres of our olive oil to you! Would hate for you to run short again 😦

  13. ChgoJohn says:

    Oh, how this makes me wish that our farmers markets were open. I cannot get baby leeks anywhere else. I’ll worry about the spoonful of meat stock when I get the leeks.

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