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9.11.2010

Before you know it

Somewhere, a woman named Corentine is serving leeks vinaigrette for dinner. It’s been ten years, but I know it.


Corentine was my host mother in Paris, the year that I was 21 and studying abroad. She had the most magnificent name I had ever heard and something a little Jane Birkin, just a little, about her looks. Whenever someone asks me how I learned to cook or how I got into food, I usually credit my parents, but I should also credit Corentine. She and I didn’t have a lot in common, but food was enough, and we seized it. I ate at her table for six months, and she taught me what she thought I should know. She taught me how to eat cheese, how to make vinaigrette from scratch, and how to shell and snap the head from a whole cooked shrimp. She also taught me how to peel an apple in one long, curling, ribbon-like strip, which, it turns out, I still cannot actually do. Perhaps most importantly, she taught me that a plain butter cake with pears, served on a very cold night, can feel like some kind of miracle. She also taught me about leeks. Poireaux, she said.

I’d never thought about leeks before. I’m sure I grew up eating them in things, and certainly in potato leek soup, but I’d never paid attention. I’d certainly never eaten them the way she served them: on their own, as poireaux vinaigrette, steamed to a degree of doneness best described as pleasantly comatose and then sent out on a platter, towing a gravy boat of vinaigrette closely behind. She had two little boys, ages seven and nine, or maybe nine and eleven, I can’t remember, and they used to fight over the sweet white part closest to the root. I couldn’t believe that they actually seemed to know something about vegetable anatomy, much less cared enough to call dibs. I couldn’t believe how much I liked those leeks.



Behold: a mess of leeks vinaigrette, with emphasis on mess. (Corentine’s plating was much neater - as, for the record, was her hair.) I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about this dish. In the abstract, and particularly said aloud, its name sounds like some sort of unusual plumbing problem, but leeks vinaigrette is a classic, a very common first course in French kitchens. You’ve probably heard of it. Maybe you’ve tried it. It’s one of those concepts that slips quietly into your repertoire, and before you know it, ten years have gone by, and you’ve forgotten the ages of the sons of the woman who taught it to you, and you’re about to turn 32, not 22, and still, you’re making that dish. I’m still making leeks vinaigrette. Sometimes as often as once a week.

Leeks are harvested year-round in some places, but I usually think of them as a cooler weather vegetable. (In the summer, if the temperature gets too hot, they can wind up with thick, woody cores.) They showed up at the farmers’ market here a few weeks ago, and I pounced on them. They’re still young and skinny, about the same diameter as a bottle cap, and they’re very sweet, which makes them ideal for simple preparations like leeks vinaigrette. We put them on the menu for our family dinner at Delancey on August 31, and with the help of our friend Olaiya, who was cooking with us that night, we tried something a little different.



Usually I would just steam the leeks, blot them to get rid of excess water, and then lay them out on a plate and drizzle them with dressing, à la Corentine. But this time, we decided to boil them in big pots of salted water, both to cook them faster - we had 40 people to feed - and to infuse them with some seasoning. Then, while they were still hot, we tossed them with a good amount of vinaigrette, hoping that they would absorb it as they cooled. Rather than tasting like plain leeks topped with vinaigrette - which tastes fine; don’t get me wrong - these tasted like a third, even finer thing: leeks fused with vinaigrette, leeksandvinaigrette, rich and saucy. We served them warm, topped with a little more vinaigrette, chopped hard-boiled egg, and chopped bacon, and it was so good, so properly early fall-like, that I made it again yesterday. Only without the egg and bacon, because I got lazy. Either way, I think you’ll like it.


Leeks vinaigrette

I’ve written this recipe with wiggle room on the quantities of vinegar and mustard, and you should feel free to tweak it to your liking. It’s hard to go wrong, and anyway, your vinegars, oils, and leeks may taste different from mine. Whatever you do, it’s important to use a good, strong mustard for this dressing. I like the brands Edmond Fallot, Roland Extra Strong, and Beaufor. Keep in mind, too, that once a jar of mustard has been opened, it slowly loses its potency, so if you’ve had your jar for a while, you might want to invest in a new one.

2 to 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 to 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt, or more to taste
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small to medium shallot, minced
2 lb. small leeks (about 7 or 8)

Optional garnishes
:
Finely chopped bacon
Finely chopped hard-boiled egg

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon mustard, and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, mixing until emulsified. Taste. This dressing should be fairly bright, and the mustard flavor should come through, but not too powerfully. Adjust as needed with vinegar, mustard, and/or salt. When you’re happy with it, add the shallots, whisking to blend. Set aside. Be sure to taste it again later, just before tossing it with the leeks, so that if necessary, you can adjust it according to their flavor.

Lay a clean kitchen towel on the counter near the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it well. It should taste like sea water.

While the water comes to a boil, prepare the leeks. Trim away the hair-like roots, but take care not too cut in too far; you want the leek to stay intact. Cut off and discard the dark green leafy parts, leaving just the white and pale green stalk. Starting about 1 inch from the root end, so as to keep the white part intact, cut lengthwise down the middle of the leek. (If you were to splay the cut leek open, it should look like a stubby Y.) Wash the leeks well under running water, flushing any dirt from between the layers. Boil until they are very, very tender and yield easily to a knife. Their color will become muted, and they may be falling apart a little. That’s okay. To be sure they’re done, taste one: it should taste sweet, with no trace of raw flavor. The amount of time that this will take depends on their size, but it will probably take longer than you think. Ten minutes is a good bet.

Draining the leeks as well as you can, transfer them to the kitchen towel on the counter. Blot and press them dry. (Don’t burn yourself!) While they’re still hot, put them in a bowl, and toss them with a generous amount of the dressing. Allow to cool at least slightly before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with more dressing spooned on top and a pinch or two of salt. If you want to make it a little fancier, garnish with bacon and/or chopped egg.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings (as a side dish or first course)

118 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How wonderful! Are you still in contact with her?

4:39 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous Zoe said...

Will try this with our garden leeks! Made the French toast from your book two mornings in a row... One meal turned out to not be enough. Yum - thank you :)

4:49 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous merry jennifer said...

Ah, leeks. For whatever reason, leeks were an unknown to me until about 3 or 4 years ago. I'm so happy to have discovered them. Thanks for the story and for the recipe!

4:56 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous dc sarah said...

oh, yes indeed. i love leeks vinaigrette. so deliciously slurpable and bright. thanks for the reminder; it's been awhile :)

5:03 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Cas said...

I want you to know.
That you've changed the way I think about meals.
The food I crave.
In the most lovely of ways.
Either you, or my being suddenly 28...
The whole 7 year taste buds cycle theory, that is.

Thanks.
http://wellhellotherelover.blogspot.com

5:04 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Omg! I just read this part in your book!! Happy to have an even better recipe. Yes, I'm behind on the blog scene and still catching up (hence, just now reading your lovely book : ) Love lovely leeks: )
Thanks Molly

5:21 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Elaine said...

Oh, Molly, I had a similar experience, living with a host family in France (about 25 years ago now!) and I had many food discoveries with "Madame". One was, indeed, leeks vinaigrette. The other was artichokes - I had never seen an artichoke before, but soon enough when they were served for dinner I was an enthusiastic competitor in the race to the heart.... thanks for the delicious memories!

5:40 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger froogal said...

I think leeks are highly underrated...I like them braised in a bit of chicken broth...and we just finished your Green Cabbage Braised in Cream...OMG!...never thought I could feel this way about cabbage...my husband said..."I guess cabbage can taste good when you add a lot of ingredients"...I didn't have the heart to tell him how simple it was.

5:48 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Mindy said...

I started my love affair with leeks (and beets) last year while living in France. I can't wait to give these a try...

5:56 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous Marisa said...

Leeks never get enough credit. It's as though they are the slightly unfashionable relative in the onion family. I adore leeks with vinaigrette. It's lovely to see them gain the spotlight for once!

6:02 PM, September 11, 2010  
OpenID squirrelbread said...

leeks are fairly amazing, i've determined. start out looking like chives in the pot; end up an inch or more in diameter, tasting sweeter than sweet and melt-in-your-mouth. what a phenomenal vegetable -- so many incredible uses. thanks for a new way to try them!

cheers,

*heather*

6:22 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Tammie Lee said...

this sounds wonderful, perhaps even delicious with onions...?
Thank you.

7:08 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Anne Zimmerman said...

Wow. I remember the first time I had a leek. Dare I say it was revelatory? I don't eat them often enough. Thanks for the reminder.

7:22 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger GLENDA CHILDERS said...

I have always enjoyed leeks, but your sweet story of your host mom in Paris, made me like them even more.

Fondly,
Glenda

7:38 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous Jan @ Family Bites said...

I also lived in France, for a year. Leeks were always part of our dinners and I loved that they were served as a main element of a meal and not just as a supporting character.

7:50 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous jen said...

will be going for leeks at the market tomorrow a.m. thanks Molly! and Corentine!

7:51 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Heather said...

I was at the Delancey family dinner, and they were fantastic. I said the same thing, I can't believe how much I'm liking these leeks!

8:12 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Anna said...

Beautiful as always. Love the photos and the story, I will get some leeks and try the recipe!

8:20 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger jack, lucy and finn said...

amazing.
and i adore leeks...

8:29 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Gingerly said...

Alas - I passed by a beautiful stack of leeks at the market this morning. Not next week, that is for sure!

8:54 PM, September 11, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope your next book is all about French tales. We would all consume it ravenously.

9:06 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I can honestly say that I don't believe I have ever tried leeks. Ever. I am seriously thinking about adding this recipe to the plan this week.

9:19 PM, September 11, 2010  
Blogger Lucie said...

Wonderful story. As a French-American, I grew up eating leeks vinaigrette quite a bit. What I love the most, though, is "fondue de poireaux": leeks are cooked down and nearly caramelized. I can't get enough of them: they're sweet, silky, and melt in your mouth. A great pairing for salmon!

12:27 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger michaela said...

i like the confit leeks from the flamiche you and olaiya make. well the tart is awesome too.

happy almost birthday. i'm on monday and if i remember from your book, you're this week as well.

12:37 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Megan said...

They look both beautiful and delicious. Sometimes it really is the simple things...!
I think everyone should have a staple-leek-dish. Mine is oven-braised leeks... they're just browned in a pain first, then put into an oven-safe dish with stock and some herbs. It's best with little finger-sized leeks, if only because I can eat them sooner. ;)
I'm definitely going to give this one a try!

1:03 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous LimeCake said...

i love leeks. this is so simple yet i can only imagine so delicious.

1:48 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely food blog - I will visit often

3:36 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Gemma said...

suddenly wishing I had bought more leeks at the market yesterday...

3:46 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Shira said...

Molly, I find myself carting back lots of Fallot mustard on my Eurostar trips. As for the leeks, I stumbled over a recipe online (from William Sonoma French, I think), which calls for sauteing the leeks first, then poaching them until most of the liquid is gone, finally making a very thick vinaigrette with what remains. Not recommended for 40 people, but delicious nonetheless. The adapted recipe is here: http://lespetitpois.blogspot.com/2009/09/dijon-et-poireaux-vinaigrette.html.

4:06 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Patty said...

I like them in soup: Potage Bonne Femme (cabbage, cream...) and quiche. It makes want to go to France again. I think everyone should spend some time with a family in another country. Then we would have to have world peace.

4:48 AM, September 12, 2010  
OpenID catfurtomakekittenbritches said...

I've been reading your blog (which I love!) for a while but finally felt compelled to comment. I, too, lived in France in my early 20's, and I lived with a woman who was a cooking instructor. Like your own host mother, Edith taught me all about cheese, and how to make a good vinaigrette. My experience in France was definitely very food-centered!

While I unfortunately never ate leeks with her (but will definitely be trying your recipe soon!), I just wrote about a dish she taught me to make, all those 20 (gulp!) years ago, and that I still make to this day: tomates provencale. It's here: http://catfurtomakekittenbritches.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/ediths-tomates-a-la-provencale/ if you want to read about it.

Thank you for sharing your story and your recipe. A pleasure to read!

6:03 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Katie (Mama May I) said...

Oh yum! I have some leeks to pick in my garden and have been thinking about a way to prepare them other than soup. This is exactly what I'll do with them. Thanks!

7:10 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger newlywed said...

Wonderful! I love your vegetable recipes, Molly.

7:11 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Amanda Hawkins said...

I just love early fall! And I just love the idea of infused leeks! Have pondered making something like this for years and it just never made the cut. Now's the time. Thanks!

7:19 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Robin (Hippo Flambe) said...

Molly, thank you! This seems like the perfect dish to welcome Fall and the vegetables that have started to appear at my CSA. There is even a chance my boys, 5 and 8, will fight over the sweet white section.

-Robin

7:25 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Gabriel Hummel said...

Leeks are heavenly and bring up thoughts of using them as nunchucks as a child.

Michelangelo, I was not.

7:39 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Jen said...

*sigh* My husband detests leeks. He thinks they are slimy and stringy. Perhaps this preparation takes away some of their less than appealing traits?

7:39 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger fleurblanc said...

We have leeks growing in the garden & so will give leeks vinaigrette a go as it sounds fantastic.
Tried your salad with bread, tomatoes, rocket & goats cheese at the weekend - loved it.

8:10 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Torrie said...

Last weekend, we planted a good amount of leeks (for the first time)...

...and I cannot wait for them to arrive so I can make this again, and again:). This sounds amazing.

8:19 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Annie said...

You can do the same thing with asparagus. Roast or griddle it, then toss it straight in the vinaigrette and allow it to cool to room temperature. *sigh* lovely!

8:47 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Jody said...

Hi Molly,
Our supper club in Port Townsend is cooking French this month and I have a garden bed full of leeks! Thanks for this recipe and memory of your days in France.

8:48 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Laura. said...

this makes me think that i would perhaps actually like eating leeks!

8:52 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Bogna said...

It's funny you posted this recipe yesterday. I have recently made a very similar leek dish (one of my fall favorites) but was planning to post this quintessentially fall recipe later when it would be more seasonally appropriate here in Washington DC. Your post, however, prompted me to do it now.

8:56 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger High Plains Drifters said...

Happy Birthday, by the way.

9:03 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Emily said...

I am definitely going to try this. Frequently when I cook I try to emulate the tastes of France. So delicate and savory. Thanks for a lovely recipe.

9:10 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Miss Todd said...

Leeks! Who knew? While working at Whole Foods (also ten year ago) leeks would pass by my register almost daily and they always perplexed me. I can't wait to try this so that me and leeks will finally have a formal introduction. Thank you for the post!!!

9:38 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger The French said...

OMG. I'm so excited to try this. Love the twist and the idea of infusing with the vin. Wow. Bring on Fall.

10:33 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Sara said...

How is it that I happen to have leeks, bacon, and a hard boiled egg that all need to be used tonight?

Fate.

Thanks, as always.

10:54 AM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous heather said...

Oh my gosh, this sounds fantastic! I think I will make them tonight! With bacon and egg (and some good bread) I think it could be a whole meal, but otherwise what do you serve yours with? Beef? Chicken?

11:13 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Urban Girl said...

I was just making grilling some leaks, and thought to check and see if you have a new post... I look forward to trying this recipe next time.. sounds delicious!

11:36 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Spiralstyle said...

I can't wait to look for leeks at the next Farmers Market. I can't wait to try this. Thanks

11:38 AM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Nancy said...

Nice! I've been really into leeks lately, with some great ones at the farmers markets here in nyc. My favorite late summer dish was leeks and fresh corn kernels sauteed in butter - magical. Vinaigrette might be my next rendition.

1:23 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Elsa said...

The leeks are the star, and rightly so --- but I want to thank you for the little aside on mustards suitable for vinaigrette.

Since I've never really warmed up to jarred mustard, I always use dry mustard in my dressings. Just this week I decided to buy a jar and see what difference it might make... but found that I didn't have a clue which brand I should try. Timely as always, Molly!

1:26 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Lisa at CC&T said...

Great recipe. I absolutely love leeks - they make winter bearable for me. Keeping my fingers crossed that the leek seeds I just planted in my container garden are productive.

2:34 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous martina said...

That sounds fantastic! I love leeks and the favorite soup here is leek and potato soup. We planted lots of onions and shallots this year, next spring we will plant leeks as well.

4:58 PM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Claudia said...

Leeks just showed up at our markets. I think I buy them when I want to be oo la la French. And yes, love them with vinaigrette and when I make vichysoisse all of once a year, I quadruple the amount of leeks required. I love how leeks can you bring you back to a person... a dish... and a time in your life.

5:35 PM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger The Merlin Menu said...

What a great post! The prose tells such a story in such few words. I loved it.

And having never used leeks except in soups, and a dressing I make to accompany roasted Turkey,

I have to try these.

Thank you.

You are one of my favorite blogs.

Ron Merlin
The Merlin Menu
http://themerlinmenu.blogspot.com

6:27 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous molly said...

So sorry, but I can't possibly make these, for I still can't get enough of those braised tarragon leeks you posted oh, gosh, four years back?

Then again, if these are even half as good as those...

7:23 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous jess said...

lovely backstory! I enjoyed reading it.

I made this as the side for dinner tonight and we loved it! thank you for the suggestion -- for some reason I never would have thought to toss leeks with vinaigrette. :)

7:35 PM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Heather said...

Molly,

My bookclub just spent the weekend in Arnold, CA. We read your book during the last month and then cooked and brought many of your recipes over this weekend. We made....winning hearts and minds cake, little corn cakes with tomatos etc, Burg's Potato salad, Ed fretwell soup, Burg's french toast, lemon and cranberry scones, eggplant ratatouille, and a few salads. Love your book and everything in it! Looking forward to learning more recipes through your blog.

8:01 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Yum! This is perfect timing--I was just looking for some good vegetable recipes to change up my normal steamed-veggies-routine. I'm looking forward to making this soon.

8:07 PM, September 12, 2010  
Blogger Raquelita said...

Oh Molly, you have the most dreamy, whimsical way of writing. It is just beautiful and I look forward to your posts for your writing alone, never mind the wonderful recipes. Burg's French Toast, the Roasted Cauliflower and Salsa Verde and the Winning Hearts And Minds cake are now a permanent part of my cooking repertoire (we went camping last weekend and our friends are still talking about the cake a year later!)...the leeks may just join them :)

8:40 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Jen/YVR said...

In grade 12, my best friend and I worked hard and saved our pennies so that we could spend our spring break abroad. I had always dreamed of seeing Paris, so that's where we went.
Our first dinner there was at a quintessential French bistro (though I didn't realize it at the time), and my sharpest memory from that meal was leeks vinaigrette. I had never tasted anything like it in my life - silky, tangy, savoury, wonderful. With each new thing I encountered in Paris, I was falling more and more in love, leeks included.
I hadn't thought about those leeks in years, but now I think I may have to try your recipe and see if they taste as good eaten in my Vancouver kitchen as they did in that Parisien bistro.

9:54 PM, September 12, 2010  
Anonymous Jessie said...

That's a very lovely story. I enjoyed reading it very much. Food with stories and food made with love are the best!

2:11 AM, September 13, 2010  
Blogger heartbreak pie said...

Yuuuum, baby leeks are just coming into season here in New Zealand, and this looks like a gorgeous dish for all seasons. I'm doing it asap!

3:49 AM, September 13, 2010  
Anonymous Val said...

I'm slowly begining to realise how much I love good, simple food and just how powerful simplicity is.

The idea of making the leek the star ingredient, all on its own, is something I've thought about but never actually tried. The idea of leeks infused with vinaigrette sounds wonderful and something I am certain to try out. Thanks!

7:15 AM, September 13, 2010  
OpenID sohdalex said...

This sounds really good ;) I have never eaten leeks this way. Normally they end up on my plate in a baked form along side pasta and cheese. HOWEVER I am currently living in southern france for the next two and a half months so as the weather gets cooler maybe I will have the pleasure of trying my first leeks vinaigrette!

8:17 AM, September 13, 2010  
Blogger Janet said...

These do sound (and look) like France -- delicious. I'd never heard that mustard loses its potency after opening. Good to know (though mustard in my house gets eaten up pretty fast...)

9:26 AM, September 13, 2010  
Anonymous mandy arioto said...

Love your book. Not only do you share amazing recipes, you also weave together moving stories about the human experience. Can't wait to try this leek recipe!

12:30 PM, September 13, 2010  
Blogger margie said...

I love leeks. They are indeed available year-round here in southern CA, but I don't bother with them in the summer months (although this summer, I probably could have, it was so cool).

I, too had a wonderful host mother in France - her name was Véronique, she was a cook by trade, and she introduced me to my first homemade mayonnaise, fois gras, green olives, anchovies, and confit de canarde. I'll forgive her for not making leeks for me (it was summer, after all).

4:40 PM, September 13, 2010  
Blogger Allison said...

Molly, I made this for dinner tonight. Made extra eggs and bacon so they were more than a garnish - really sort of a salad. It was so good - my 5 year old even loved it. One question, though - when you say "one shallot" do you mean one "clove" of a shallot or one whole shallot? I used a whole one; they're so mild I couldn't really taste it with less.

6:28 PM, September 13, 2010  
Blogger Otehlia said...

I just received a leek from our CSA. Yes, just one. I am trying to find the one recipe it is worthy of. Not sure this is it, but it sounds amazing, and makes me wish I had more leeks. And that I had been to Paris.

7:21 PM, September 13, 2010  
Anonymous Kaylynn said...

I was much the same way you were. I love the flavor that they give to my favorite foods. I can not wait to try this new recipe. This just goes to show that we all can learn something from everyone.

9:18 PM, September 13, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely post. I love leeks and have never done them this way. I definitely need to. And I was just thinking I needed to find me some for another recipe so need to find twice as many now! Thanks.

10:52 PM, September 13, 2010  
Anonymous Katie@Cozydelicious said...

Lovely lovely leeks! Your French host 'mom' reminds me of my own, Clarence. It;s been 10 years for me as well, but I remember everything she taught me about how to make quiche and what was what in the fromagerie, and all about endive.

5:43 AM, September 14, 2010  
Anonymous Gretchen said...

I just found your blog recently and have just this very minute gotten caught up to present day. You have an absolutely fabulous way with words and I am looking forward to both trying (MANY MANY MAAAANNNY) your recipes and buying your book. This is what a food blog should be and what I hope mine will be someday. Now that I'm done kissin up (;)), thanks again for something to look forward to every week.

8:26 AM, September 14, 2010  
Blogger Ali said...

Happy Birthday! I also turn 32 today :) VIRGO POWER!!! Like fine wines or really stinky cheeses, I think we just continue to improve! Love your blog and your book.

Am a HUGE leek fan, excited to try this preparation. Thanks for your awesome posts and enjoy your day today!!!

10:34 AM, September 14, 2010  
Blogger Peeling Orange said...

I should trully try that, interesting how the recipe still stick to mind.
But apparently that's because it's what you chose to do instead of all that is.

11:03 AM, September 14, 2010  
Blogger cyn said...

This is next on my to do recipe list - thanks Molly! Yum.

And can I just say how much I am enjoying Spilled Milk. I'm recovering from breast cancer treatment and when I need to laugh, Spilled Milk is the first place I turn. Foodie talk and hysterical giggling - manna from heaven. Cheers!

12:31 PM, September 14, 2010  
Anonymous emiglia said...

Great story and great recipe! I forgot about leeks vinaigrette too... I used to eat them in my French cantine in middle school as a first course... that or carrottes râpées.

2:58 PM, September 14, 2010  
Blogger Malia and Mommy said...

My daughter and I tried the recipe today with just one leek. Amazing, perfect for a mid-day snack. Easy and delicious. Can't wait to serve this to my husband. Thank you for sharing.

3:50 PM, September 14, 2010  
Blogger kim said...

Holy Cow - Mustard loses its potency? Who knew?

I, too, adore leeks. One of my favorite leek recipes is to cook down equal amounts of chopped leeks and chopped fresh tomatoes with some fennel (I use dried but I am sure fresh would be wonderful as well) - when they have become appropriately saucy and lost some of their liquid, I add balsamic vinegar. Lovely.

5:21 PM, September 14, 2010  
OpenID tracingterroir said...

Wonderful recipe, paired with wonderful pictures! Thanks for highlighting the leeks as a dish all their own instead of just an accent ingredient.
Love your posts and stories.
-Camille

8:12 PM, September 14, 2010  
Blogger Georgia said...

Ah leeks... a friend once made me a pasta dish with leeks and it was like I had never noticed them before that. It was a miraculous revelation and I've been a big fan since then. I'm looking forward to giving your recipe a try!

11:12 PM, September 14, 2010  
Blogger Natalie said...

I had leeks vinaigrette for the first time when I was in Versailles in April. I've been thinking about making it since... thanks for the boost. I really like leeks, but I guess as Americans we don't really USE them that much- maybe in a fritatta or a soup, but not really by themselves. BUT, they're sooooo good.

8:18 AM, September 15, 2010  
Anonymous alycia said...

we made this last night, topped it with a poached egg, and ate it on a baguette. Divine! Thanks for the recipe.

10:27 AM, September 15, 2010  
Blogger Megan said...

Rats. My budget and leeks sparred this week at the farmer's market. In the glorious fall sun, even. But the budget won.

I've scheduled a rematch for next week and am placing my money on leeks.

1:17 PM, September 15, 2010  
Anonymous Claiborne said...

Thank you for reminding me of a forgotten favorite--and we just got leeks with our CSA. I have to say the best mustard is the budget Amora brand available for about 1 euro in Paris epiceries...but apparently nowhere in NYC.

8:03 PM, September 15, 2010  
Anonymous make my day said...

When you post beautiful pictures of food and there's a story to go behind it, there's a reason to read rather than just admire. thanks so much! cheers kari

9:32 PM, September 15, 2010  
Anonymous jenn said...

You are one of my heroes. Your book was spectacular... thank you for sharing it with the world.

Leeks are also spectacular. Must try this at home!

4:38 AM, September 16, 2010  
Anonymous Susan said...

Leeks, like large butter beans, are so underestimated, aren't they? We made a quiche with leek confit once and the kids (in middle school at the time) loved it. That surprised me. Your post has motivated me to put leeks on next week's menu. It's been a while!

5:13 AM, September 16, 2010  
Blogger Blue.bell.beat said...

I'm a leek fiend and I can't resist a good homemade vinaigrette - really looking forward to trying this, especially since chillier days are here. Autumn has arrived early in NY...

10:50 AM, September 16, 2010  
Anonymous Scarlett said...

What a great recipe-I'll definitely be trying this at the weekend! Thank you!

12:22 PM, September 16, 2010  
Blogger Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

This looks so delicious. I lived with a host family in Belgium about 10 years ago, and my host mother would make leeks a lot, too. Yum. Add boiled potatoes with butter and sausage and you have a very Belgian meal.

2:13 PM, September 16, 2010  
Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said...

It's fantastic to see a vegetable being the star attraction in a meal for a change.

9:16 AM, September 17, 2010  
Blogger djp said...

What a funny coincidence! I also posted about poireaux-vinaigrette. I've been eating them for the past month!

7:33 AM, September 18, 2010  
Anonymous Laura said...

I know this is a bit late, but I see that you were voted the number one food blog by Times Online last year. That is reallly awesome. :]

5:55 PM, September 18, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool read

1:51 AM, September 19, 2010  
Blogger nuria said...

Thanks for the lovely story! I had a very similar experience with leeks until I too discover Poireaux Vinegrette about 5 years ago - now I can't get enough of them! Have you tried sprinkling the dish with capers? It adds a little je ne sais quoi ;) Also I do something very similar, cut of the leek and steam them and add them to a big salad with the vinegrette dressing - delicious!!!

10:07 AM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous Emilia said...

Molly, I was fascinated by this dish when you mentioned it in your book. I made my own little version to serve with salmon last spring, but I'm so excited to try this recipe!

I had speculated your host mother's name was Clementine based on your description ... but Corentine makes even more sense! What a lovely description of this person and her way with food.

12:13 PM, September 19, 2010  
Anonymous Norma said...

Great stuff! I keep learning new things every time I come back to your blog.

10:46 PM, September 20, 2010  
Blogger Denise | Chez Danisse said...

It is so sad, I still do not know how to properly shell and snap the head from a whole cooked shrimp. I need at least a day with Corentine.

6:22 AM, September 21, 2010  
Blogger Jbowyer said...

This is a great French classic. I was in the market at Coustoullet in Provence this weekend and stumbled upon a mass of perfectly sized leeks. I went the whole hog with crispy bacon and fudgily soft and creamy quails eggs, an indulgence I know but well worth it.

7:18 AM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger mike said...

These ended up being an elegant accompaniment to a pork tenderloin rubbed with fresh rosemary and brown sugar, mashed potatoes with garlic, and chartreuse and soda (and red wine, and Summit Pale Ale, and...okay, it was a fun birthday.) Not sure myself if all the flavors fit together perfectly, but the leeks were delicious and a welcome surprise on the plate - thanks for sharing and delighting my small group of din guests and I!

7:29 AM, September 22, 2010  
Anonymous SaraT said...

Oh my goodness. First let me say that this post about leeks was the first thing I read upon just discovering your blog. I searched out leeks at my farmer's market yesterday to make this, along with a lovely grass-fed sirloin and fresh baked bolo roll that I slathered unabashadly with butter.

The leeks. Oh. My. Goodness.
Thank you.

12:20 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger Ilaria said...

I just had these leeks, with an adaptation of your glazed salmon: what a meal! Thank you.

3:39 AM, September 24, 2010  
Blogger Monday Chimps said...

I love Leeks! Nice Photos! :)

9:21 PM, September 26, 2010  
Anonymous heatherchristo.com said...

These are beautiful, I love leeks vinaigrette. Just like being in Paris... Do you have any wonderful recipes for potato-leek soup?

8:57 AM, September 27, 2010  
Anonymous Juliann D said...

I too was introduced to leeks by a French host mom, but only in leek and potato soup. Don't know why they aren't more popular here. I've never had the leeks vinaigrette so I made them with our CSA leeks this week. They are fabulous! I could have eaten the whole bowl myself.

1:57 AM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger *Chic Provence* said...

Thanks for reminding me of a wonderful dish, and for the recipe! lovely as always

bisous

Kit

8:59 AM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger Megan said...

This is the first recipe of your blog that I didn't like! I think where it went wrong was the wrong sized leeks, maybe. They were huge: 3 leeks were 2.5 pounds. The texture in the end was...not desirable. Just a miss.

In summary: don't use Incredible Hulk-sized leeks.

8:08 PM, September 30, 2010  
Blogger Ada said...

What a sweet story behind the recipe! It's funny but I stumbled upon this recipe while looking for something to cook for my 22nd birthday dinner next week, and they sound perfect. Happy (belated) birthday, and I look forward to trying the recipe. :)

11:41 AM, October 02, 2010  
Blogger Croatian_Latina said...

I came to learn of leeks when I moved to Croatia. Now I make them in soups: with carrots and potatoes and rice. my 2 year old loves it. but I will have to try your recipe.

yes do you still keep in touch with your 'host' mom?

3:38 PM, October 07, 2010  
Blogger Philippa said...

I was an au pair in France years ago, and the woman who employed me gave me only the food her kids wouldn't eat. Some of it was pretty good, but some was burnt or stale -- she was still living through WWII and had a desperate need not to waste anything. Your blog brought back some interesting memories. But the recipe was wonderful.

I adore sharp flavours and could probably drink a really good vinaigrette straight from the container, some days.

I don't bake (used to but somehow lost the will), and although I love the stories in your blog and your book, it's the savoury recipes I try. Thanks for this.

11:36 AM, October 15, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leeks are lovely & this was good, once I found small leeks. Everyone at the farmers' markets here seems to think that bigger is better (just like they think white corn is preferable to yellow) -- I finally found one bunch of 6 that included 3 about the diameter of a quarter, but it was a search.

The little leeks did indeed become sweet after 10 minutes in boiling salted water, & were very nice with the vinaigrette & hardboiled egg garnish.

I like the idea of a poached egg too, maybe like eggs benedict, on a bed of leeks atop an English muffin with the vinaigrette poured over & lots of coarse black pepper.

I didn't have shallots, so made the vinaigrette with a green onion. There's a little left over & I'm going to use it on steamed whitefish with brown rice (wish I had some leftover leeks to go with that).

Thanks for another nice, useful recipe.

4:02 PM, October 28, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm !

I wrote my first blog about a leek.

12:02 PM, December 13, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be making this for the first time tomorrow, for Christmas lunch (my oven is broken - eek! Lucky it's Summer!).

Have a lovely holiday break, thanks for your sharing and your creativity and have a Happy New Year!

Lou

4:34 PM, December 23, 2010  
Blogger poppy said...

Holy heck, these were good. My husband was dubious, but I knew in my bones we'd both dig them and I was right.

5:13 PM, January 05, 2011  

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