oasis leek pie

Oasis Leek Pie

I have lots of favorite cookbooks but Salvador Dali’s Les Diners de Gala, first published in 1973, is not only my favorite but one of my most prized possessions. Decadent, indulgent, completely bizarre and all around fun, many of the recipes come from of the legendary Parisian restaurants Maxim’s and La Tour d’Argent. The recipes are old school French but the presentation is surrealism at its finest. This recipe instructs to sculpt a palm tree out of a leek and place it in the pie before serving. The image on the left is from Dali’s book, the other from an ArtBites class.

For the tart:
one 12-inch savory pie crust (store bought or home made – for homemade recipe scroll down)
olive oil
2 ½ pounds leeks, white and light green parts only
¼ cup Gruyere cheese, grated
½ cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper

If using a store bought pie crust bake in the lower third of the oven until the edges of the pastry are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Set aside one leek for decoration. Finely slice and rinse the others. Cook the leeks in olive oil until tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg and egg yolk, then whisk in the milk and cream and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the leeks evenly over the pastry and pour the custard mixture over it. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake it in the bottom third of the oven at 325° F until the top is golden and puffed and the custard is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven. Sculpt a palm tree out of the remaining leek, place in the center of the pie and serve warm.

For the homemade pie crust:
1 ¼ cups flour, plus extra for rolling
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
3 or 4 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water one tablespoons at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough doesn’t hold together, add a little more water and pulse again. Be careful because too much water will make the crust tough.

Remove the dough from the food processor and shape into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Remove the crust disk from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick.

Carefully place onto a 12-inch pie plate, gently press the dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate and trim the dough to within ½ inch of the edge of the pie dish and freeze for at least half and hour, until chilled.

Preheat your oven to 350° F. When the pie crust is sufficiently chilled, line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill at least two-thirds full with pie weights – dry beans or rice will do. Bake with weights for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool a few minutes and remove pie weights. Poke small holes in the bottom of the pie crust with a fork and return to oven (without the weights) and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cool completely before filling and follow instructions above.

Serves 6 to 8

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