Food writer Nigel Hopkins came down from the Hills with…
The 2017 autumn leek-off at the Duke of Brunswick Hotel was one of the best in the Howard Twelftree Memorial Cook-off’s illustrious history.
Great turn-out, top entries and our judge Cath Kerry was on fire.
Not only was Cath incisive and entertaining about the food, BUT she also gave us the lowdown on Howard.
First time winner was the Duke’s resident portrait artist, Daryl Austin.
Packing Case prizewinner was Cook-off stalwart and past judge and winner Libby Martin.
And CATH provided her own judging notes – see below.
Triple winner Cathy Hood had got so used to appearing in the winner’s photo that she bobbed up in this one, too!
The next Cook-off is on Sunday August 27, 12.30 for 1pm, at the Duke.
Ingredient is CARROTS.
The judge will be ROSA MATTO of TV and cookery school fame.
Judging friends’ food is a serious business.
Post-mortem under the Duke vines.
You can leave your hats on – Cook-off doyen and doyenne Fluffy and Lavinia.
Don’t believe the judges? Try for yourself – it’s a free-for-all.
The winner is …!!
Daryl’s Leek bread and butter pudding.
250 grams butter
1 brioche loaf
After cleaning and removing the outer leaves, finely chop 6 of the leek stems and poach in the butter (I used a slow cooker over 3-4 hours).
Strain and separate the butter from the softened leeks. Keep the leek butter for later.
Puree the poached leeks (I used a stick blender) and keep for later.
Cut the brioche into 1 cm thick slices and use the leek butter to spread on both sides. Cut the slices into 1 cm cubes and toast lightly in an oven set at 150 degrees Celsius. (toast softer than crunchy croutons).
Clean and slice the remaining leeks in quarters thickly. Lightly fry these with any of the remaining butter mix till they have softened.
Into a saucepan place a cup of cream and add a similar amount of the leek puree, add some thyme leaves and a small pinch of nutmeg, gently warm over a low heat and do not allow to boil.
Separate eggs and whisk 6 egg yolks together, slowly fold in the leek cream mixture to form the custard.
I used 4 ramekins into which I layered custard, brioche and leeks to the top and poured the remaining custard over to almost the top of each ramekin.
I placed the ramekins into a roasting tray half filled with water and cooked in my oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 – 60 minutes.*
*My oven is an old gas model so watch during cooking time as it may well vary
Libby’s Leek and Parmesan Bavarois,
1 1/3 cups milk 50g finely grated parmesan
6 egg yolks beater salt / pepper
4 gelatine leaves 3 leeks
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill Butter
1 cup cream
• Scald milk in a saucepan until it just comes to the boil.
• pour the milk on to the egg yolks mixing quickly
• strain into a clean saucepan and cook over gentle heat until custard thickens and coats back of a spoon
• transfer to a clean bowl
• Soak gelatine leaves in a little cold water for a few minutes
• Heat 2 tablespoons of cream in microwave, squeeze soaked gelatine leaves and drop into the cream Swish to dissolve and then pour into the cooling custard, stirring well.
• Stir in chopped dill, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.
• Refrigerate for about 30 minutes stirring from time to time.
• Finely slice two leeks ( white and light green parts only)
• wash and remove any dirt
• Saute gently in butter for around 15-20 minutes until tender but not coloured then cool
• Remove tops and 2 outer layers from 1 leek and discard
• Slice the rest of this liii in half lengthways and separate. Boil in water for 10 – 15 minutes until tender and the knife goes through easily. Refresh in cold water
• Lightly oil 8 dariole moulds.
• Line each mould with a leek leaf – allowing enough to fold over each mould at the top
• Whip remaining cream to soft peaks – then when the custard just starts to set – fold in the cream and leeks
• Spoon this mixture into the moulds – fold leek leaf over the top neatly and gently
• Place in the fridge to set.
• Remove moulds from fridge and turn out on plate at least 15 minutes prior to serving to allow to get to room temperature.
• Service with a little leek jam and croutons or toast to spread on to.
Stephanie Alexander Cook’s Companion – Parmesan and Parsley Bavarois recipe
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons white Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Salt and Pepper
Finely slice leeks ( white and light green part only)
Wash to remove any dirt
Gently sauce leeks in butter and oil for about 10 – 15 minutes then add all other ingredients and cook down gently for a further 45 minutes to an hour until sticky and jam like. This may take longer and may also need to add more sugar or water. Just taste test until right.
Cath’s Judges report
A great range of dishes presented using a possibly difficult and limiting ingredient. A good dish tastes good, is a pleasure to eat and looks good. Main issue with leeks is their long fibres, a fact that needs to be taken into account for pleasurable eating.
Some of the green part of the leek should always be used – to save waste but also to give an attractive variation in colour. If you want to keep the freshness of the green, cook like other green vegetables, in an open pan/saucepan rather than enclosed. This of course can’t happen in a pie but some dishes showed an unappetizing khaki colour.
With the dishes on the day, we found that…. Mint and tarragon were good with leeks.
The long fibres in the braised and roasted leeks were not stringy – I think because they’d been cooked for a long time. Delicious.
Some dishes were expertly done but did not have leeks as the “hero”.
Pastry is very important and must be delicious (“short”, with butter). Make sure it’s not tough and is neatly cut. The pie had a lovely, old-fashioned decorated crust. Just be careful of even cooking.
With terrines, they were expertly assembled and looked dramatic but be careful that they’re sliceable. Pre-cutting would be a good idea to offer friends an attractive “mosaic”.
Ingenious rings of leek, crumbed and fried as a pre-prandial nibble cleverly avoided the problem of stringiness.
Leek Swiss roll was adept but make sure a leek flavour comes through.
The bavarois was delicate and still had a good flavour of leek.
A couple of dishes added a leek “chutney /relish”. A good idea but (although we are all trying to avoid too much sugar) both needed more sugar with the acid to get the shine we expect in a preserve.
Leeks with a Japanese twist were a good idea that needs revisiting in balance and presentation.
I chose the bread and butter pudding because the leek flavour came through, the concept was original and clever and made of the leeks something more than just an accompaniment.