Turkish-Style Braised Leeks

Dear 2008 S.,

Congratulations, you just graduated from law school and took the bar exam!  High-five, buddy.  You’re going to spend the entire month of August bumming around at home in Texas, playing with Mushu and going out for lazy lunches/afternoon shopping excursions with your mom.  Savor it – you haven’t realized it yet, but this is the last time you’re going to be so carefree.

In September, you’re going on a two-week trip to Greece and Turkey with your friends!  You’ve been looking forward to this since January and you’re going to have an unforgettable time.  Here’s some advice from an older, wiser you:

1.  Go heavy on the sunscreen.  You turned into a tomato in Santorini and stayed that way for the rest of the trip.  You also got a horrible sunglasses tan that made you look like a reverse-panda.

2.  When a guy tells you that girls who went to good law schools are less date-able, SLAP HIM.

3.  Eat more of the local cuisine.  Mediterranean food is some of the best in the world.  Why are you eating spaghetti in Greece and sandwiches in Turkey??

4.  That male model you met at that club in Istanbul?  Take a picture of him.  Just trust me on this.

These days, as a working woman, it’s harder for you to get away on long vacations.  And you no longer have those blissful stretches of time when you literally don’t have a care in the world.  But every once in a while you duck out to the kebab house near your office for a quick lunch of assorted meze, just a little something to bring you back to evenings when the sky was pink and you had dinner by the water and fed leftover meatballs to a stray cat.  Or you can try to recreate those memories in your own kitchen on a warm late summer evening, transporting yourself to an earlier time when things may have been a little more golden.

Love,

2011 S.

Turkish-Style Braised Leeks

From The New York Times

Serves 4-6 as a side dish; I made mine a meal with crusty hunks of bread

2 pounds leeks (about 8 large or 10 medium), white and light green parts only

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 large or 5 small carrots

1 cup chicken stock or water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Black pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 dozen black olives, pitted and halved  (I left mine whole)

1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves  (I omitted because I hate parsely)

Cut the leeks crosswise into pieces about 2 inches long, then slice in half lengthwise. Wash the leeks very well, making sure you get all the grit out.

Peel carrots, cut into pieces about 1 inch long, then slice in half lengthwise.

In a large skillet or saucepan with a lid, combine the leeks, oil, and carrots over medium-high heat.  Cook until the leeks are slightly softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken stock or water, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until leeks are very tender, about 30 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and olives and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

At this point, the NY Times says to cool to room temperature, then stir in the parsely and serve.  I wanted to buck Ottoman tradition and eat mine hot, so I dug in right away.

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