Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

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What Thinkest We of the Leek?

Leeks have an excellent place as a vegetable or in soups
23
85%
The place of leeks is entirely in vichyssoise
0
No votes
The leek should be used only as a second-best to asparagus
0
No votes
The leek has no place whatsoever on my table
2
7%
Other option (please specify)
2
7%
 
Total votes : 27

Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Daniel Rogov » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:05 pm

For many years the leek has been relegated in France to a distinctly second-class status, often known as "the poor man's asparagus". What thinkest we of the "humble" leek?
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Shel T » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:42 pm

Voted for having a place on my table, and inf fact like them a lot and use them often.
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Ian Sutton » Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:08 pm

Yep, regular usage here as a veggie. Very nice with wild mushrooms and tarragon.

I'm growing into asparagus - never used to like it, but some good local farms make a much better product than that the supermarkets put out.
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:33 pm

I love leeks but have never understood how anyone could liken them to asparagus. Two entirely different vegetables, it seems to me. Better to liken them to onions?
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Daniel Rogov » Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:04 pm

Robin Garr wrote:I love leeks but have never understood how anyone could liken them to asparagus. Two entirely different vegetables, it seems to me. Better to liken them to onions?



Indeed Robin, two vastly different vegetables but the reputation came about because both can be used, almost interchangeably in similar recipes - e.g. au vinaigrette, in potato-based soups, in a variety of stews, in making quiches... That leeks are just about the least expensive of vegetables in France (often costing even less than potatoes) helped in earning that entitlement...

Historically, during the bloodier parts of the French revolution, no-one dared to buy asparagus as those had become associated with the aristocracy. Leeks became the subsitute of choice. A better option, perhaps even today, in the hearts of French men and women than the guillotine. From both the historical and literary point of view, let us also keep in mind that Marquis de Sade who felt that "asparagus are more elegant but leeks make a better fit".

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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Matilda L » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:31 pm

An excellent vegetable for soups - they provide the savoury tang of the onion with a silky texture all their own. I like to use them in casseroles and stews, too, for the same reason: they incorporate beautifully into the sauce. I've never been very successful at using them as a vegetable in their own right, though - any suggestions for preparation welcome.

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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Jo Ann Henderson » Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:48 am

I think of leeks as a member of the onion family. But, I never think to use them unless they are called for in a recipe. And, I never substitute them. I guess I kind of see leeks like my neighbors. I know they're there, and they are perfectly likeable, but I have no great urge to become familiar with them. :|
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:51 pm

I haven't run into this prejudice in France, though admittedly I spent most of my time there in the country. One of the best leek dishes I ever had was at the Pyramide.

Maybe it's just a Paris thing?
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Patti L » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:31 pm

I took option #1. In fact I just had them last night sauteed with fresh tarragon. I also like to roast them with brussel sprouts and tarragon. They have a nice subtle flavor.
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:32 pm

Stuart, Hi.....

Actually a well established attitude throughout the country and extending even to French Switzerland. Years ago, I invited a very important professor from the University of Geneva to dine at my then little flat in that good city. I was a young man and quite enthusiastic and in his honor we prepared a leek soup. The noted man and his wife showed up, took one look at the soup and burst into giggles, he explaining to me in the friendliest of manners how: (a) only a non-Frenchman would serve leek soup to an obviously honored guest; (b) not to fear for that was one of their favorite dishes; and (c) how the French and Swiss were snobs at any rate. I do recall that they ate the soup with gusto before we went on to the langoustines.

I believe that you are quite correct though in that the leek has attained a higher level of acceptance in the last twenty or so years, that due largelly to the efforts of chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse.

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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:07 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Indeed Robin, two vastly different vegetables but ...

Most excellent cultural and culinary history, sir. Thanks!

Didn't ancient Welsh warriors wear leeks pinned to their mail in battles with the Saxons? Asparagus would make a very poor badge, it seems to me ...
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:11 pm

"Sir"? "Sir"? Ye gods, man.... what did I do to earn such an insult?

I like to think that when I enter a room full of winemakers or chefs those within earshot say "Wow....here's Daniel Rogov" while those out of earshot mumble "Oh boy....its that s.o.b. again".

Keep on truckin'

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P.S. As to Welsh soldiers and the leek, still the national emblem of Wales, see a thoughtful history at http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/Wa ... heLeek.htm
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Dave R » Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:45 pm

I have never substituted a leek for an asparagus and have also never substituted an asparagus for a leek. I find them to be quite different. But then again, I am not French. :)
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:30 pm

Dave, Hi....

No requirement to do so, but next time you do a vichyssoisse, consider using asparagus instead of leeks. Not at all a traditional vichyssoisse but a marvelous soup, especially when sipped with a fine LHV Port wine.

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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby David Scop » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:57 pm

I do not like asparagus at all, but love leeks in: pan fried chicken, clay pot chicken, does it pair well with meat as well?
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Shlomo R » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:06 pm

I grew up hearing my father quote the Galloping Gourmet as saying "In order to make a great soup, first you take a leek." :lol:


I like leeks.
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Bill Spohn » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:14 pm

I have often been known to take a leek or two (especially after a long tasting session!).

I have leeks with hazelnuts on my menu for this coming weekend as a matter of fact.
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Jenise » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:57 pm

Other than their elongated shapes, I see no similarity between leeks and asparagus at all. The affinity is a different manner, but just good in the way most vegetables are good or better when blended with a member of the onion family. That said, in my opinion, a leek meets it's best fate when lightly sauteed and then built into a mousse to be served warm as a bed for smoked fish like trout or salmon and served with a good burgundy. It's a wine/food match from heaven.
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Matilda L » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:02 am

leeks with hazelnuts


Bill, how do you prepare that?
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:16 am

Matilda L wrote:
leeks with hazelnuts


Bill, how do you prepare that?



Boil the leeks about 20 minutes until tender, put in cold water.

Toast hazelnuts.

Fry up some bacon cut into lardons, then deglaze with vinegar, add cream and simmer, S&P, add bacon and nuts, and spoon around the cold leek (one on a plate).

For some reason we tend not to serve a veg on its own as a course in North America, but as a summer dish this is simple and tasty (I'm going to be serving it as a side to some stuffed quail, but also like it on its own)
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Leanne S » Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:16 am

I guess I've never attempted to make leeks on their own as a vegetable. They're onions to me. But I do cook with them a lot, because they grow locally and show up in the farmers' market and my CSA box.
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:51 am

With only a few exceptions we seem to be of one voice this week. I will certainly go along with that voice as leeks are among my favorite of vegetables, as appropriate in soups, as first courses, or as side dishes to accompany a main course. Perhaps my personal favorite is the leek quiche.

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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Carrie L. » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:21 pm

Jo Ann Henderson wrote:I think of leeks as a member of the onion family. But, I never think to use them unless they are called for in a recipe. And, I never substitute them. I guess I kind of see leeks like my neighbors. I know they're there, and they are perfectly likeable, but I have no great urge to become familiar with them. :|


Well said, Jo Ann!
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Re: Culinary Poll #23: Poor Man's Asparagus

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:26 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:"Sir"? "Sir"? Ye gods, man.... what did I do to earn such an insult?

Mere irony and a sense of fun, young man ...
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