Winner of Your Best Leeks

January 30, 2013


Congratulations to for the love of the south, whose Buttery Braised Leeks with a Crispy Panko Topping won the contest for Your Best Leeks

1. Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
Being from Louisiana, my endless summer nights were filled with Cajun music, family, friends and the aroma of crawfish seasonings that lingered, not so subtly, in the air. I grew up believing that food was more than just sustenance; it meant one moment in time when the world stopped and everyone came together and brought something to the table. Whether it was my grannie who brought her lemon meringue pie, our neighbors that provided the live crawfish for the boil, or my uncle, who seemed to contribute by way of lively conversation. Everyone brought an offering.

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This is when I learned that food doesn’t have to be elegant or fussy, it just needs to be shared with the ones you love. I’ve tried to embrace this theme of Southern hospitality and tie it into every dish I offer.

2. What's your least favorite kitchen task?
Doing the dishes, of course!

3. If you could only have one tool in your kitchen, what would it be and why?
Cast-iron skillet. And here's why:

• It’s the most prized possession in my household.
• It's Perfect for frying anything from hushpuppies to bacon.
• It is the ideal vessel for the most amazing cornbread, ever.
• All you have to do is wipe it clean, no scrubbing needed (did you see my response to number 2?).
• It’s like cheese -- it gets better with age.

4. What is your idea of comfort food?
Anything pasta, especially if it’s macaroni and cheese. Here is my favorite recipe.

5. What is your greatest kitchen disaster?
One early Saturday morning I got up the nerve to cook bacon in the oven. I preheated the oven, sprawled out each slice of bacon on the cooling rack with a roasting pan underneath, said a prayer, and popped the bacon in the oven. Right as I was about to pat myself on the back, the smoke alarm started going off, which set off every single alarm in the house. Within moments, the kitchen filled with hazy, bacon-laden smoke. Suddenly, I heard a fire truck in the not-so-distant distance. Yes, the fire fighters arrived and began mocking as they caught me desperately trying to shoo the smoke out of the house with a cookie sheet. The result: getting the stink-eye from the neighbors and family members for a week, being humiliated in front of fire fighters, and -- really, really crispy bacon. 

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chef Laura at Home
    Chef Laura at Home
  • amber wilson | for the love of the south
    amber wilson | for the love of the south
  • Kukla
  • dymnyno
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
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Chef L. February 16, 2013
amber W. February 5, 2013
I just want to say thank you for all of the support from this new Food 52 community that I stumbled upon! There are so many kind wishes and warm greetings from this family. I am grateful to be part of this group and am excited to be able to share dishes with ya'll!
Kukla February 2, 2013
Warm Congratulations! Simple is most of the time genius!
amber W. February 5, 2013
I completely agree. I love recipes where the ingredients can stand on their own, with just a little encouragement from the cook! You can never go wrong with simple recipes...
dymnyno February 1, 2013
Congrats...I love the simplicity of the recipe...easy peasy!
amber W. February 5, 2013
Thank you so much!
TheWimpyVegetarian January 31, 2013
Many congrats! I've got some leeks that I'm trying this recipe with tomorrow. I just love it's simplicity.
amber W. January 31, 2013
Thank you so much!
hardlikearmour January 30, 2013
Congratulations! There have been gorgeous leeks at my local grocer, and I can't wait to use them in your recipe.
amber W. January 30, 2013
Oh I hope they come out wonderful! Glad you are buying local, the flavor will be so much better!
Ginny W. January 30, 2013
Congratulations on your win!! I loved the simplicity of your recipe, and look forward to making it soon! Great job!
amber W. January 30, 2013
I appreciate it! Thank you for your support!
QueenSashy January 30, 2013
Congrats on your win, and I look forward to some of your Cajun recipes!
amber W. January 30, 2013
Oh I need to post some Cajun recipes!