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Leek and Potato Pie

(Is it a food blogger faux pas to have the same very obvious plate two posts in a row?)

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess.  Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers!  Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!  (Note: this entry isn’t eligible, but go vote for others!)

I am totally late posting this!  It feels super lame to make excuses, but I have a few…  I was  having trouble coming up with ideas for this challenge even though I have some for the sweet challenge.  Then earlier this week, I thought of something after being inspired by the first few pages in the DC forum.  Being the procrastinator that I am, I was planning to do the challenge on the 13th, then post on the 14th.  (typical…)  The problem with this was that I thought the 14th was on Saturday for no apparent reason, and didn’t realize this until Thursday….the 14th.  Gah! 

So I made my dish that day, but then just before baking it, my camera quite possibly met its fate.  It was sitting on the counter as usual when I bake or cook for the blog, but was apparently too close to the potatoes located about a foot away.  A little bit of water had leaked under my camera which was partially wet when I picked it up.  Nooooooooooooooo!  It wouldn’t turn on, as you’ve probably guessed, but then did five minutes later.  Assuming all was fine, I assembled my dinner, and grabbed my camera to take photos.  No signs of life.  :(

I then put it in a bag with some uncooked rice since I’ve always heard that helps with water-exposed electronics.  It turned on once again when I was halfway through with the dish, but that may have been its last breath.  It has since spent the past 24+ hours slumbering in rice with a few lifeless checkups.  One of my friends said it sometimes takes a few days, so I’ll take some hope from that.  Until then (or until I buy another camera), I guess I’ll just rely on my iPhone for photos…

Anyway, enough sob stories!  I have an edible container to discuss.

piping/baked duchess potatoes
Renata, the host of this challenge, posted the idea of using duchess potatoes as a bowl.  I was vaguely familiar with this type of potatoes, but had never had them.  Basically, they’re potatoes mashed with an egg (and butter…and cheese), then piped and baked.  I thought about what I could put in them, and remembered a recipe I saw at the library in a cookbook compiled by the United Nations International School.  At the time, I had immediately flipped to the index to find the New Zealand recipes (I know, I’m full of surprises) which listed Pavlova and Leek and Potato Pie.  Remembering the pie was topped with mashed potatoes, I had my idea and went back to the library for the book!

Upside-Down (or Inside-Out?) Leek and Potato Pies
adapted from International Home Cooking: The United Nations International School 50th Anniversary Cookbook and The Well-Seasoned Cook

What was really handy about pairing these two recipes was that they required the same cooking time and temperature.  A match meant to be?  The weirdest thing in the pie recipe is the “onion studded with 6 cloves and 1/2 bay leaf”…come again?  I did it, but do not have photographic evidence at the mo.  Also, as a whole this was quite easy to make, but boy did it dirty a ton of dishes!  *boo/hiss*

1 1/4 pounds leeks, well-rinsed, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch thick rounds
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
blue cheese: 1/4 cup for potatoes, 2/3 cup for filling
1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (plus more to taste)
1 3/4 cups milk
1 onion studded with 6 cloves and 1/2 bay leaf
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 drops fresh lemon juice
pinch of ground nutmeg

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch leeks for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold running water.  Set aside.

2. In the same pot (I even used the leeky water!), boil the potatoes until just tender.  Drain the potatoes, then return them to the hot pot to dry out.  While the potatoes are still warm, mash until smooth with 1 tablespoon butter, egg, 1/4 cup of the blue cheese, salt, and pepper.  I used a mixer for this.  On a parchment-lined baking sheet, pipe the mashed potatoes into bowl shapes.  I was able to make two and had enough potatoes for little lids.  Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, heat milk and studded onion until just below boiling.

4. Preheat oven to 375F with racks in the upper and lower thirds.  In yet another saucepan (sheesh!), melt the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Stir in the flour and cook over medium low heat until a “soft, sandy texture” is achieved.  Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  Over low heat, simmer for 3 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

5. In an 8-inch round oven-safe casserole dish, combine the leeks, sauce, and remaining 2/3 cup of blue cheese.  Bake the casserole on the top rack and potatoes on the bottom rack for about 30 minutes.  (The dish I used was a little smaller and deeper, so I baked it for more like 45 minutes.)  Spoon the filling into the potato bowls, and top with lids.

Leek and Potato Pie

These were pretty good.  The potatoes and leek mixture definitely complemented each other well!  I have to say that I’m a newish convert to blue cheese, but maybe should have gone with a different kind.  Also, I think I would have liked it more if I’d sliced the leeks a little thinner than an inch wide.

Either way, this was fun to make and eat!  Thanks for the challenge (and duchess potato tip), Renata!  :)

Now, do any of you have life-saving tips for my sad little camera?  :-\