The title of this post is a bit deceptive… because the braising of leeks isn’t my query but something from eighty years ago in the National Mark Calendar of Cooking. Apparently, a French friend visiting either Ambrose Heath or Mrs Cottington Taylor, the authors of the book, enquired why leeks are always braised in England. I hadn’t realised they were – but maybe that was the case in the 1930’s. Braising seems a sensible way to cook a vegetable and retain all its flavour, slowly in a little butter, lid on the pan so it steams slightly. Mr Heath or Mrs C.T. recommend cooking the leeks in salted water, or in stock, and then serving them in cheese, tomato or caper sauce – a caper sauce which is bechamel with chopped capers.
In the same section of the little book, the April section there is a recipe for creamed broccoli, which I initially thought sounded unpleasant, a sort of broccoli purée, but in actual fact it is briefly cooked broccoli and sliced onion, layered with cheese sauce in a pie dish, topped with breadcrumbs and grated cheese, then browned under the grill… this sounds quite tasty! Better than boiled leeks!