The leek may be a symbol of Wales and the Scots may be famous for cock-a-leekie soup, but when it comes to Competitive Leek Growing the North East of England reigns supreme. Practically every village big enough to have a pub had a leek club all gearing up for the annual leek show, usually held in late September or early October. Now it is always good to have a hobby and I want to make it absolutely clear that no Freudian inferences are to be drawn from groups of men competing to see who can produce the longest and thickest cylindrical vegetables. I hope we’re clear about that. Good.
Now I tend to use leeks more in soups and stir-fries more than anything else, but there is one leek recipe that I remember with fondness from my school days – leek pudding. This is leeks cooked with suet pastry. The two traditional ways to make it are in a pudding basin (like steak and kidney pudding but with leeks replacing the meat) or as a kind of leek roly-poly where the raw leeks are rolled in the suet pastry and then wrapped and steamed.
My recipe is based on the latter version, but I’ve adapted it to cope with my limited steamer space, so instead of one big pudding, you get four smaller ones.
At school we used to get leek pudding as an accompaniment to stew, usually, thus nicely covering three of main school food types – stodge, grease and mystery meat. These will do that duty as well, but they also stand alone to have with vegetables and a bit of vegetarian gravy. If you’re very hungry, two puddings would be suitable.
150g self raising flour
75g vegetable suet
1 leek, finely sliced
1/2tsp fresh thyme leaves
Put the ingredients in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Add cold water and stir until the dough is made and there is no dry flour or suet at the bottom of the bowl. It will look like a lot of leeks and not very much dough at this stage. Don’t panic! The leeks will cook down and the dough will expand to cover them.
Divide the dough into quarters and place in the centre of kitchen foil squares about 40x40cm.
Fold the corners of the foil in and twist to seal, allowing enough room for the dough to expand.
Put the foil parcels in a steamer, cover and steam for 60 minutes.
Serves 2 as a lunch, or 4 with the puddings as an accompaniment to a larger meal.