At last! I have a proper leek harvest. They are fat. They are long. They are un-invaded by weevils. Regulars will remember my poor leek showing in previous years (see here). But no more!
For those unaccustomed to leek growing, the basic approach is that you wait until the seedlings are pencil-thick, then dig them up and drop them into a deep hole in the soil which is their final growing place. It is this that gives them the long white stem. The secret to perfect leeks is, it seems, twofold. First, grow the seedlings in a bed. In previous years I’ve sowed the seeds in trays, but they were much stronger and happier in deeper soil. Second, make sure the holes you make are really, really deep. At least 8 inches. Also, The Benevolent Farmer Brown, who owns the farm on which I grow, said that watering the soil before making the holes with the end of a trowel makes the soil sticky and stopped the holes caving in on themselves. Wise words. It’s a laborious job dibbering hundreds of holes in the soil, and I’ve skimped on depth in years gone by. But this year I watered the soil and put my back into and the effort paid off.
So now I have leeks! Lots of them! And a lovely savoury muffin recipe to show them off. Terrific for packed lunches.
Leek, Bacon and Cheddar Muffins
- 150g white self-raising flour
- 100g wholemeal plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 200ml plain fat free yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 40ml whole milk
- 80g butter, melted and cooled
- 400g leeks, washed and chopped
- 100g streaky bacon or pancetta, diced
- 150g cheddar, cubed
Mix the flours, baking powder, bicarb’ and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the yogurt, eggs, milk and butter. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and fold together gently.
In a frying pan, fry the bacon or pancetta until golden brown then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and pop it in a bowl. Leave any melted fat behind in the frying pan. Put the chopped leeks into the frying pan and soften gently until translucent but not browned. Once cooked, add them to the bacon and allow to cool.
When cool, tip the cooked ingredients into the muffin mixture and add the cheese. Combine thoroughly but gently.
Spoon into 12 muffin cases and bake at 190°C for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving, or freeze ready wrapped for packed lunches.