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Friday, May 30, 2014

Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Boulder got its own Trader Joe's back in February. The place was a madhouse most of the spring. It's finally calmed down to just busy and I ventured in there with my daughter this week. She turned me on to these addictive seaweed snacks. They are very, very thin pieces of nori roasted with a little oil and wasabi. They pack a good punch of sinus-clearning wasabi and the texture is interesting, in a good way. They start off leathery and as you chew them, they soften in your mouth to chewy. I really like them! Because they have such intense flavor, I can only eat a few at a time. The package says it contains 2 servings but I couldn't eat that many at once. For me, a package would be at least 8 servings. At 99¢ a package, it's a cheap and tasty snack.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Leek Cobbler

Most folks associate cobblers with fruit and dessert. Here, a cobbler is something baked with a biscuit topping, in this case leeks. I love leeks. I grow them in my garden because they are expensive in the market, so more worthy of space in my little garden than plain yellow onions. You do have to wait a while. It takes nearly until fall for the leeks to get up to picking size, but I think it's worth the wait. They have a mild sweet onion flavor and when cooked a long time, they become meltingly tender. If you don't have a garden, leeks are available year-round in your local supermarket, though they will be two to three times more expensive than yellow onions.

Leek Cobbler
(serves 6)

butter or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the baking dish
3 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh dill
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder (1 teaspoon at Boulder elevation, 5400 ft.)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
large pinch of salt
4 Tablespoons butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup buttermilk

Grease a 8"x11"x2" baking dish (a 9"x9" square pan will work as well) and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cut the root end off the leeks and cut in half lengthwise. Rinse really well, making sure you get all the grit out from between the layers. Leeks are notorious for holding dirt. Drain well then slice into 1" pieces. Put the leeks in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, butter or oil, fresh dill, and minced garlic. Mix to combine and spread evenly into prepared baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add in the egg and buttermilk. Mix until the dough just comes together. If it seems dry, add just a little bit more buttermilk and mix again. Drop spoonfuls of the batter over the leeks. It's OK if there are gaps in the blobs; the batter will spread.

Bake for 50 minutes until the biscuit is nicely browned. Let stand for 5 minutes as it is ferociously hot straight out of the oven.

Adapted from a recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, Double B Publishing, Inc., 2007.