These leek croquettes are cheesy and make a fun appetizer. | tchakayiti.com

Leek croquettes and other vegetable recipe ideas

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Today is Sunday. Naturally, I should be serving you some Haitian soup joumou.  I totally would if I were to stick with tradition. But today, there will be no soup. Instead, I will be serving you some leek croquettes along with a few ideas for cooking and serving some of the other vegetables that make our soup a success. On the menu some of the vegetables I have struggled the most with through the years.

I am talking about cabbage, leeks, carrots, sorrel and turnips.

For years, I had a hard time dissociating the last two on this list from our soup joumou. I simply couldn’t imagine that turnips and sorrel could be eaten outside of that yellow bowl of ours. It took my mom once tricking us into eating a turnip purée and introducing us to sorrel puff pastries for me to change my mind.

My hope in sharing the vegetable-based menu below with you is that it will help you rethink the way you eat and serve some of them.

Without further ado, let’s dig in:

    1. Cabbage steaks:I grilled these cabbage steaks on a cast iron. They came out slightly chard with perfect crunch. | tchakayiti.com

      I totally jumped on the cabbage steak bandwagon. And I am sure glad I did. It shed a new light on this vegetable that we most often serve mushy in that soup or over-cooked as a side. The best part about this preparation method is that it is quick and simple.

      For my version, I cut a whole cabbage in rounds that I brushed with a mixture of EVOO, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and lime juice. I let them sit for a few minutes before grilling them on a cast iron. I chose the cast iron for the rich flavors it infused my cabbage slices with. They were slightly chard with a crunch. I must tell you that they didn’t not hold their shape. But the good news is that doesn’t impact the flavor.

    2. Sorrel pesto:This grilled cashew sorrel pesto is vibrant with a hint of spiciness. | tchakayiti.com

      Never in my life would I have imagined we could eat sorrel leaves raw. Besides our soup, I have only had this vegetable in the puff pastries below. Needless to say that when I stumbled upon Sabrina Currie’s sorrel pesto recipe I was intrigued. Though I didn’t follow her recipe to the letter, I discovered these leaves under a new light. That’s why I encourage you to give it a try. It pairs well with pasta, toasts and I bet it would be great on some grilled meat.

      Please note that I did tweak the ingredients a bit. I used local grilled cashews instead of hazelnuts and added some piment bouc to the mix. I also let mine macerate for a few days to allow the flavors to fully develop.

    3. Turnips au gratin:These turnips au gratin are creamy, cheesy and so easy to prepare. | tchakayiti.com

      If you’re a faithful reader, you have read all about how my mother tricked me into eating turnips for the first time ages ago. If you’ve just discovered the blog, I invite you to try my turnips au gratin recipe which you will find here.

    4. Sorrel puff pastries:These sorrel puff pastries are quick, easy to make and packed with flavors. | tchakayiti.com

      In Haiti, we usually stuff our puff pastries with meat. But I must say sorrel take this local staple further. Their slightly sour juice permeates each and every layer of the puff pastry in ways meat juices simply don’t seem to.

      I used to go for frozen store-bought versions until I realized they were easy to prepare. As you’ll see with the recipe below, you simply have to cook your sorrel in some butter infused with fresh garlic, salt and pepper and wrap that mixture with some puff pastry which you can serve bite sized as an appetizer or whole like you would a savory pie at dinner time.

    5. Cheesy leek croquettes:These leek croquettes are cheesy and make a fun appetizer. | tchakayiti.com

      I used to hate leek’s pungent oniony flavor. That was until I discovered leek vol-au-vent at a party a few months back. The oniony taste I dreaded was gone in the creamy mixture. I decided to go for croquettes last November for two reasons: I was bored and had no vol-au-vent shells. Croquettes were my only option.

      My leek croquettes which are actually fried leek Mornay were cheesy gooey with just the perfect crunch. I must warn you, however. Frying them can be challenging. The Mornay and then the croquettes need to be perfectly frozen so that they don’t fully melt in the hot oil.

There you have it. Are you ready to head to the kitchen now?

Cheesy leek croquettes & other vegetable recipes

This here is a compilation of recipes using the vegetables that are at the base of Haiti's traditional soup joumou. I am serving them to you without the soup. Hope you enjoy them.

Ingredients

For the cabbage steaks

  • 1 whole cabbage
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 lime juice
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil

For the sorrel pesto

  • 1/2 cup of grilled cashews
  • ½ piment bouc
  • 1 tête d’ail
  • 2 cups of Sorrel leaves
  • 1 tsp of lime zest
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Tête de Maure cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the sorrel puff pastries

  • 3-4 tbsp of butter
  • 1 bunch of sorrel leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Feta cheese optional
  • 1 frozen puff pastry

For the cheesy leek croquettes

  • 1 cup of chopped leeks
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • ¼ tsp of cayenne
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of pepper
  • 3 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 20 cl Heavy cream + a splash for the coating
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ¾ cups of grated Tête de Maure cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of flour
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

For the cabbage steaks

  1. In a bowl, mix the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lime juice
  2. Cut the cabbage into round slices
  3. Drizzle each slice generously with the oil mixture
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet
  5. Grill each cabbage slice on both sides until slightly charred
  6. Serve hot

For the sorrel pesto

  1. Using a food processor, grind the cashew with some salt
  2. Add the garlic and piment bouc
  3. Grind some more until you get an even texture
  4. Incorporate the sorrel leaves, making sure to slowly pour the olive oil over the mixture to help with the grinding
  5. Once all the ingredients all well blended, add the grated cheese and season to taste
  6. Enjoy atop bruschetta, pasta or even grilled meats

For the sorrel puff pastries

  1. Melt the butter in a pan
  2. Incorporate the garlic and cook for about one (1) minute

  3. Add the sorrel leaves and toss
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Cook until there’s no liquid
  6. Remove from stove and let it cool
  7. Add some feta cheese (optional)
  8. Unroll your puff pastry
  9. Place the cooked sorrel in the middle
  10. Fold the puff pastry so as to cover the filling
  11. Cook according to the instructions on the puff pastry packaging

For the cheesy leek croquettes

  1. Melt the butter in a cooking pot
  2. Add the garlic and leeks and cook for about one (1) minute

  3. Incorporate the cornstarch
  4. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne
  5. Using a whisk, slowly incorporate the cream and milk so as to obtain a smooth mixture
  6. Add the cheese and cook on low until it thickens
  7. Remove from the stove and let cool
  8. Transfer the cold Mornay to the freezer for about three (3) hours
  9. In a bowl, whisk the egg with a splash of cream
  10. Season to taste
  11. Put the flour in a separate bowl
  12. Remove the Mornay from the freezer and shape it into small round balls
  13. Dip each ball in the egg mixture and then coat with the flour
  14. Repeat this step twice for each ball
  15. Transfer the balls to the freezer for about one (1) hour or until frozen

  16. Fry them in some hot oil
  17. Enjoy warm

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