Video tip: Cleaning leeks (and a recipe)

Clean leeks the easy -- and thorough -- way using these handy tips

As wonderful as they may be in a recipe, leeks can often be a real pain to clean.

A member of the onion family, leeks look like large scallions with a thick stalk or base. Because the white part of the base is prized in cooking, farmers mound dirt around the leeks to keep out the sunlight, extending the white as the leek grows.

Unfortunately, a lot of that dirt and grit ends up in between the layers of the leeks as they grow.

To clean a leek, peel and discard any old outer leaves, then trim the leek of the dark green leaves and base, reserving the white and any of the very light green base. Trim the root end, then halve the leek lengthwise. Rinse the leek under cold, running water, feeling between the layers to loosen and dislodge any dirt or grit. Finally, slice and use as desired.

Rinse the pieces in a colander under cold water. Just to make sure everything is totally clean.

Cooking is fun — at least it should be! No matter how long you’ve been in the kitchen, there is always something new to learn, whether it’s a simple twist on an old technique, or a handy tip to save time and energy. In this series of short videos, I demonstrate a variety of kitchen tips, including how to hold a chef’s knife for maximum control and how to use a spoon to peel fresh ginger. If you have any gadgets, kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.


Note: Adapted from Robin's Restaurant in Cambria, Calif.

    1/4 cup salted butter
    1 cup sliced leeks
    1 cup sliced white mushrooms
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    2 3/4 cups (22 ounces) clam juice
    2 cups crushed tomatoes
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus fresh sprigs for garnish
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    2 cups cubed fresh salmon (bones removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes), about 1 1/2 pounds
    2 tablespoons flour
    2 cups heavy cream

1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the butter, and, when it is melted, stir in the leeks, mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are translucent and soft.

2. Stir in the clam juice, crushed tomatoes, chopped parsley and dill, and season with the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the salmon. Continue to simmer until the salmon is fully cooked, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. While the soup is cooking, whisk the flour into the heavy cream in a small bowl. Slowly add the cream to the soup when the salmon is cooked. Continue to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls, and serve garnished with dill sprigs.

Each serving: 475 calories; 21 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 40 grams fat; 20 grams saturated fat; 147 mg. cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 535 mg. sodium.

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