Growing up in a home where pizza was considered “junk food” and therefore not allowed, I quickly become an avid reader so that I could get my pizza fix through Pizza Hut’s “Book It!” program. I read my little tail off to earn those delicious personal pan-sized pepperoni pizzas. At first the reading was a means to an end (I was a deprived child who needed pizza!), but it quickly became a pleasure and reward in itself. I lost myself in books–they captivated my imagination and I spent almost every free minute reading, even while in school, so that at the end of fourth grade I received an award from my teacher for being the “class bookworm.”
The book(s) that had the most impact on me was the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I would wake up as early as possible before school so that I could sneak down to the kitchen and read until everyone else woke up and the bus came to pick me up. My captivation with early pioneer life became so intense during that time that even to this day, I’m convinced I was meant to be a pioneer woman and still long for a much harder and simpler life in a tiny log cabin with a butter churn and pot-bellied stove.
What does my love for reading and The Little House on the Prairie books have to do with Leek and Onion Pie, you might ask? Well, it just so happens that the recipe comes from the author of my favorite childhood books–Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. When I found out Mrs. Wilder had a cookbook, I was beyond ecstatic, let me tell you. It was published long after her death, but all the recipes in it come from her own personal recipe collection, many written in her own hand. Having become so enamored of cooking and baking, reading it captivated me nearly as much as the books about her pioneer life!
I found this pie is every bit as enchanting as the books I grew up reading. Not enchanting in any refined or gourmet sort of way, but in a simple, rustic, and completely comforting way. This is the kind of food I was meant to grow up on. It’s the kind of food I was meant to make for my own family. Thankfully, food is timeless and there is no reason why I can’t.
Leek & Onion Pie
1 refrigerated pie crust or your favorite homemade recipe
1 egg white
6 slices bacon
1 leek, sliced, white part only
2 cups diced onions
1 cup milk
½ cup cheddar cheese
¼ cup Monterey jack cheese
Line a 9” pie plate with crust, place a sheet of parchment paper on top and fill the parchment with dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove parchment and beans and poke crust all over with a fork, then return to oven for ten minutes. Remove and brush the inside with egg white to seal. The residual heat will cook the egg white and turn it opaque. If the crust is not hot enough to cook the seal, return to the oven for a minute or until opaque.
Chop up the bacon and cook over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but two teaspoons of the bacon grease. Cook onions in the grease over medium heat until wilted but not browned, stirring occasionally, about ten minutes.
Whisk the eggs and milk together in a medium bowl, then stir in the onions and bacon. Pour into prepared crust, sprinkle with the cheeses, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until center is set. To test, gently shake the pie to see if it jiggles. Remove and cool on a rack for a few minutes before cutting. Serve warm.
Adapted from The Laura Ingalls-Wilder Country Cookbook.