Monday, May 16, 2011

Creamy, Cheesy Potato Leek Casserole

Where do you get your cooking inspiration?

For me, it doesn't take much.

I get inspired by suggestions.

Or a photo.


The other day, while talking to my friend Gwenn, we talked about Potato Leek Soup. She often reminds me of an image she has--me with my red wagon, delivering a big pot of potato leek soup to her in the rain when her house in Hacienda Heights flooded.

She still makes that soup, it's one of her kids' favorites.

Then I saw a photo of Nami's Potato-Leek Gratin at Just One Cookbook.com, and the talk of potato leek soup, I just had to search through the fridge to see what I had on hand to make something like it.



I found some potatoes and leeks that I had on-hand, along with an assortment of other ingredients to put together this casserole.

This is the one that went to my sister-in-law with the newborn.



This is the one we ate at home.

It's got mushrooms, celery, carrots & onions, in a creamy, rich sauce.



Here's what I used:

Potatoes, leeks, onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms

Cream, sour cream, parmesan and mozzarella cheese

(Recipe at the bottom of the page.)



Wash the leeks thoroughly, they've got sand in between the leaves.

Cut off the ends--root and top, then cut them in half, separating the green tops and white bottoms.

Slide the halves in half again vertically and wash in between the leaves, making sure there's no dirt or sand present.

Then slice the leeks up.

I always use the tops too.



Roughly chop the garlic.



Grate one carrot.

There's two in the picture, but I decided later that one was enough.



Chop 1/2 a large onion.



I used a tablespoon of butter and about a tablespoon of olive oil.

If you want to make the casserole less rich, just use olive oil and skip the butter.



Saute the vegetables and garlic over medium heat.



Clean and slice the mushrooms.



And add them to the vegetable mixture.



Cook until the vegetables are wilted and turn off heat.



I found 4 oz. of cream cheese in the fridge and decided to add it.

Even with making two casseroles, the sauce was pretty rich.



Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds and stir.



I had 1/2 cup sour cream and added that too.

Rich and richer.

THEN, I added a 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream I had leftover.

Rich, richer and richest!



Add the creamy mixture to the vegetables and stir to combine.

Set aside.



Wash the potatoes and remove any spots that you don't think should be there.



Slice them and put them into cold water until you're ready to use them, to keep them from turning brown.

Drain when you're ready to put the casserole together.



Spray the dish with a non-stick spray before you begin to layer the potatoes and sauce.



Salt and pepper each layer on top of the sauce.



Top with a little parmesan cheese,



Then a little mozzarella--because that's what I had on-hand.



Then top with a little sprinkle of dried oregano.



Put the covered casserole into a 400 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbly and hot.

When it's hot, and the potatoes are done--you can tell by piercing them with a fork, which should go through the potatoes easily--uncover the casseroles and turn on the broiler to brown the top a little.

I did the browning of each casserole individually on the top oven rack.



I forgot to sprinkle a little panko breadcrumbs on top, so it's not exactly au gratin.

We ate this as a main dish casserole, and paired with a nice, fresh green salad, it makes a perfect meal for me.


Itadakimasu!



***



We just got the dates when our friend Keith (he was introduced here) will be here from New York City (where he is attending school), so we're planning our annual trip to Mammoth Lakes.

One of our most memorable trips was a few years ago on Memorial Day Weekend.

In the snow.



This is Convict Lake where we like to camp.



We like to sit around the campfire.

It's so much fun simply to be together.


I like it because they let me cook to my heart's desire.



We do some fishing, Keith always catches something.



Connie and Robert make Connie's fabulous foil baked steamed trout.

The ginger, green onions and cilantro make the trout delicious.



Colin was a novice at fishing.

He didn't catch anything that trip, but didn't ever give up.



He had a lot of fun around the campfire.

Rick's fun.

All the kids are.


video

Colin liked to play with the fire.

I guess the old Japanese wives' tale that "you'll shi-shi your bed if you play with fire..." isn't true...but we did all get wet--from the snow.



This is Beeto with Keith's umbrella.

That umbrella saved us, it made countless trips--shielding us from the snow--down to the bathrooms and back to camp.

Keith was almost not going to bring it, too.



We still got our shoes soaking wet--we were really unprepared for snow-- and had to make a trip to the laundromat to dry our shoes.



We ate in town that night at Perry's Pizza. 

At that time, Perry's had a spaghetti eating contest--that they've since discontinued--but that was a lot of fun.




This trip was one of Connie's first with us, and we found out what a trooper she is.

Their tent filled with water from the snow!

I would have wanted to go to a hotel, but Connie's a trooper, and stuck it out--soggy tent, snow, freezing cold and all.

It all made for a memorable trip.



The next day, everyone had to drive back to LA for work, but we stayed a bit longer.

The weather cleared up, the sun came out--perfect!


***


Creamy, Cheesy, Potato Leek Casserole

The amounts here will make 2 casseroles.

Ingredients:

9 medium-sized potatoes, sliced
2 leeks, chopped
1 grated carrot
2 cups chopped celery
4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon each, butter & oil

Sauce:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
                                     1/2 cup sour cream
                                    1/2 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or jack cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Thoroughly wash leeks, and chop all vegetables. Saute vegetables in 1 tablespoon each, olive oil and butter, until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Slice potatoes and put into a bowl with cold water until ready to use.

Soften cream cheese for about 20 seconds in the microwave and stir in sour cream and cream. Mix into vegetable mixture thoroughly.

Spray non-stick cooking spray onto casserole dish and layer potatoes, vegetable/sauce mixture and cheese, ending with cheese. Sprinkle dried oregano on top.

Bake, covered, for 40-50 minutes, until hot and bubbly and potatoes are tender when pierced with fork. Finish by placing the casserole under the broiler to brown the top.

12 comments:

  1. My husband just told me about your link! Thank you for visiting my site and I'm so happy my post inspired you to cook this delicious casserole! I'll be sharing your link on my facebook! :-)

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  2. Think I'm going to make this one.

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  3. My favorite part of our annual Mammoth camping trip is definitely the food. The best night is 'Bacon-wrapped Everything' kabobs!

    Do we have dates yet?

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  4. I love this recipe - I also had leeks and potatoes and made a soup, yum! Next time will make a casserole :-). I love how you "find" stuff in the fridge and add it to the dish - that's the way to cook! Beautiful photos too :-)

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  5. Thats such a cool recipe! Oh and I'm eying you Himalayan pink salt :-)

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  6. You had me at your photos, beautiful! I had to link here from Tastespotting when I saw this photo. I too, tried a leek potato casserole recently - it was delicious. I'll have to try your recipe out. I love the carrots in the mix.

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  7. I couldn't resist a click on this one... sounds SO comforting and delicious! I love potatoes and leeks. Thanks for sharing :)

    -Carissa

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  8. I tried a mini version of this today and i really liked it, thanks

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  9. I cannot resist a recipe for cheese and leeks. Not to mention the addition of potatoes. Looks so good!!

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  10. what a delicious dish yum yum
    thank you for the clear recipe

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  11. terrific recipe, story and pictures!!

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  12. I made this casserole the other night and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! So delicious. Thanks for sharing it.

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