Leek and Potato Cake
Don’t let the lengthy preparation of this one scare you, this recipe only requires you to play nice music in the kitchen and expects you not to be in a rush. It is overall a very easy dish to prepare and a great idea for the marathon of potluck dinners you will have to attend (or host) during this coming winter Holiday Season.
This recipe can be tweaked a bit by adding Guanciale, an ingredient I grew very fond of, in case your palate demands a bit of a kick… A bit of Pork in the Soffritto will give this cake a bit more, how to say it… personality. But, even in its pork-less incarnation this Leak and Potato Cake is a fantastic vegetarian dish that will please you and your guests.
Time to wash your hands, play some Cal Tjader and get to work, Happy Cookin’!
Serves: 6 - 8 Prep Time: 90 min Cook Time: 45
Sift the flour and cut the butter in 1/2 inch cubes .
In a mixer place all the ingredients together except for the cold water, and run the machine at its slowest setting for about 5 - 7 minutes. As the butter starts braking into the dough, you will notice that your mix will start looking like coarse crumbs… as time goes by the crumbs will become smaller and smaller until the dough will start forming. This is the only tricky part; in case the dough is not forming right (it is usually because of a small egg yolk), slowly add the cold water… not all at once, just the rig amount for the dough to come alive and start detaching from the sides of the bowl.
Remove the dough from the mixer, make a ball and put it to rest covered in the fridge for about one hour.
NOTE: instead of making the dough into a ball, you might want to press it into a thick disc, the size of an appetizer plate… this way it will be easier to roll it later).
In a pot of boiling water cook the Potatoes half way, for about 15 minutes, then remove from the hot water and set aside to cool off.
Cut the roots and the dark green top off your leeks, slice them in a half lengthwise and rinse them well under running water, making sure to remove any dirt that is usually trapped between the leaves.
Chop Shallots and Leeks very fine then, in a medium sized non stick pan sauté them in Oil and Butter for about 7 - 10 minutes, on a medium flame (optional - you can also sauté´ the Guanciale, sliced very thin, to give your cake some of that good old Pork Punch!). Herbs need to soften and acquire a golden color, make sure you do not burn them.
In a bowl, mix Eggs, Milk, Parmesan Cheese, season with Salt and Pepper to taste and using a fork mix all the ingredients together, as you were preparing a Frittata. Peel the Potatoes and carefully slice them thin and set aside on a plate.
Butter an 11 inch tart pan. Preheat the oven to 425º
Add the sauced Leeks and Shallot to the Egg mixture and stir well with the fork until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Dust some flour on a flat surface, lightly dust your wood rolling pin and start working the dough… Do not press too hard, give the dough some time to respond to the pin and start softening up. Flip it a couple of times, dust it with flour, and mostly importantly do not guess the size, keep the buttered pan close and prop it on top of the dough from time to time. Keep in mind that you will have to roll the dough a bit wider, as the pan has edges that need to be completely covered.
Place the dough into the tart pan and using a fork poke holes into it to prevent swelling during the cooking process.
Pour the mix slowly into the dough, using a spoon to make sure you create an even layer.
Get creative and place the sliced potatoes very gently on top of the egg mixture, what's your favorite pattern? Season the top of the cake with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, three or four small tabs of Butter and some ground Pepper.
Place the pan on a larger baking sheet, this will prevent melted butter to fall into the oven and gifting your tart with a nice smoky back flavor of burned butter.
Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, but make sure you check the cake after the first half hour, turn it around once or twice, and keep an eye on its color, which is the best indicator… Cake will be ready when the crust will look golden and the Butter and Cheese on top have become crisp and irresistible!
When ready let your new creation rest and settle for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and serve warm.
Debi and I love this dish on a sunny Sunday morning, with a glass of Bellini.
It also makes a great leftover that absolutely should not be microwaved but rather re-heated in the oven or better, placed on a bread grill on a low flame, covered with a lid for about 5 minutes.