Northern Michigan Food and Wine: The Cooks’ House in Traverse City won the Red Hot Best of Northern Michigan voting for “Best Restaurant that Uses Local Foods,” so we rang Eric Patterson (who co-owns and co-chefs the Traverse City restaurant with Jennifer Blakeslee) and asked for a recipe for this June’s Red Hot Best issue. Hmmm. One small glitch. Eric isn’t comfortable planning that far ahead. Cooks’ House menus, he explained, are planned only after he knows precisely what fruits and vegetables are available fresh the day of. And our chilly spring was driving him crazy. But, at our request, he agreed to channel the smells and tastes of a Northern Michigan June morning (the coffee is brewing, the forest is bright green, the ducks in the farmyard down the road are quacking—you get the picture) and gave us this winner of a recipe. Eric is certain that wild leeks will still be around in June, and if the morels are gone by then, swap in fresh peas from the local farmers market. thecookshouse.net.
1 tablespoon butter
12 wild leeks (rinsed well)
½ cup fresh, shelled peas or about 20 morels
Splash dry white wine
2 ounces chicken stock
Salt and pepper
One handful spinach (rinsed well, and stems taken off)
4 duck eggs (chicken eggs can be used as well)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cut wild leeks on a bias into ¼ inch pieces; chop the green tops.
Melt one tablespoon butter in a pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and hot, add the leeks; sauté one minute. Add peas or morels, and a splash of white wine, and the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Once liquid has reduced by half, add the spinach.
Stir well until spinach has wilted, then remove from heat.
Poach the eggs.
Put a nice spoonful of the pea, leek, and spinach mixture on a plate. Top with poached egg. Drizzle the egg with a little olive oil, then sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on it.