Saturday 16 March 2024

Leek and Mushroom Custard

 An uninspiring name for an ethereal dish: light, and elegant, and quietly spectacular. This is another gem from the largely unsung Stephen Bull, to whose solitary published volume of recipes I've returned time after time, over the years (for me, he and Jill Norman together occupy the same place in the firmament of great food-writers; clearly neither of them interested enough in the commercial aspect of becoming a Celeb-Foodie to churn out book after book, to keep their public attached, and with ever-diminishing returns - and yet what little they have given us has been solid gold). 

Bull gives these quantities as being sufficient for four servings, and he specifies use of ramekins of 9 cm diameter. I think the luxury is more than merited of doubling the ramekin size, and indulging in double the quantity per person. Once you taste it, you'll understand why!

Ingredients: 25g butter; 4 leeks (approx 110g; white parts only); 220g mushrooms, chopped; salt; 150g chicken stock; 1/2 cup dry white wine; 150 ml cream; 2 eggs; generous tsp dried tarragon; ground pepper.


1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter two  ramekins (10 cm diamater/200 ml capacity) and put a circle of greaseproof paper in the base of each, buttered again once in place. 

2. Melt the butter in a small pan, and sweat the finely-sliced leek, covered, for about five minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms, cover again, and continue cooking over a low heat for a further ten minutes. Add the stock, wine, and cream to the pan, along with a little salt; bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cook for approx twenty minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

3. Let the mixture cool slightly, and then liquidise it, along with the eggs and tarragon. Check seasoning, and adjust as necessary. 

4. Divide the mixture between the prepared ramekins, place the ramekins in a bain marie, and bake for thirty minutes. Leave to settle for a minute or so after they come out of the oven, then run the tip of a small knife around the inside of each ramekin and unmould onto serving plates. 

Bull serves his with hollandaise, but I don't bother - it doesn't need it, and anyway, it isn't practical to make a sensible quantitiy of hollandaise for just these two servings. Revel instead in the delicacy of the leek and mushrooms on their own.