Kate Barlass Leekie Pie




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By William W. Lawrence

Scotland was in great turmoil when King James I, was seated on the throne some five centuries ago. He was basically a fair and compassionate man, but he was forced to be stern to restore order to the country.

He ordered many powerful nobles to be put to death; others were imprisoned, and some had their lands confiscated. In doing so, he acquired many enemies.

Sir Robert Grahame's hatred of King James was boundless. He conspired with a group of nobles to kill the monarch.

The conspirators got their chance when James, together with his queen and some of her maidens, went to Perth for a festival.

The King's entourage was lodged at the Abbey of Perth, while his soldiers and followers were scattered through the town. It would be duck soup for the traitors to catch the king unguarded.

To make it even easier, servants were bribed to remove the bolts and bars from the doors.

One night King James was alone and unarmed with the defenseless queen and her ladies, when they heard the unmistakable sound of weapons clanging. The king quickly realized that his enemies had arrived to murder him.

There was a trap door leading to a secret hiding place beneath the room. James pulled open the door and leaped into the hidden chamber. The maidens had just finished placing a rug over the trap door when the assassins plunged into the room.

The traitors searched the room, and not finding James, left. The maidens thinking it was safe, announced an all clear signal, and helped James out of the chamber.

Then, one of the traitors, familiar with the Abbey, remembered the hidden room. The monarch could hear the sounds of the avenging band returning.

There was no time for him to hide. The door could not be locked because the bar had been removed and there were only the iron rings where the bar should be.

Katherine Douglas, one of the queen's beautiful maidens, did not hesitate. She placed her fragile arm through the rings. The ferocious killers hammered at the door finally breaking Katherine's arm. They broke into the room, and slew the king.

Her brave deed had gone for naught.

The men called her Kate bar lass. Her descendants adopted Barlass as the family name, discarding Douglas.

The Barlass family still survives in Scotland. The crest proudly features a broken arm.

Kate Barlass Leekie Pie


12 leeks
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1/2 lb. sliced fat bacon
salt and pepper
1, 9" pastry circle
2 separated eggs
1/4 cup cream

Wash leeks. Trim, then cut into 3/4 inch slices. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and boiling water. Let stand for 12 minutes; drain. Use part of the bacon slices to cover the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Add a layer of leeks, a layer of bacon slices and repeat until dish is filled. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with pastry circle and make steam vents. Bake at 425 for 35 minutes. Carefully remove crust and drain liquid from plate. Beat egg whites until they are stiff. Beat egg yolks and cream. Fold egg yolk and cream mixture into egg whites and add to leeks, mix well. Cover with pastry circle. Place in oven for an additional seven minutes. Serve cold or hot.

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