NaBloPoMoDay 28: Award Day

I have to make this quick.

Today was one of those days...again.

My big project was making a spinach lasagna using this fabu recipe from Cook's Illustrated. It took me all day and half of yesterday to finally get this lasagna in the oven. That's because I had a very sad croupy-coughy-fever baby who could only be made happy by a) hanging on my leg or b) helping me whisk the bechamel.

Whisking bechamel is not typically a toddler-friendly activity. And yet with our giant blue and yellow Little Tykes Bechamel Whisk and a pair of fire-retardant pajamas, cooking at a gas range while holding a 15-month-old kid isn't quite as daunting as one would think. I still kept a dousing tub on hand. And there may be a Froot Loop or two in the bechamel. (Can you tell that I love saying the word bechamel? Seriously...every time I type bechamel, I'm saying it out loud. If I ever have another daughter - or a cat, more likely - I'm naming her Bechamel.)

But, ahhhhh, Froot Loops would be my secret ingredient.

That and the leeks.

The recipe originally called for five minced shallots.

I had zero shallots.

And there was no way I was going to load up Mr. Cranky Cook in the car just to drive to the grocery store to find shallots. They always keep those things hidden in some odd corner of the store, like hanging in little mesh bags off the corner of a forgotten dried soup display. And I'd tell myself I was just going in for shallots, but along the wandering-way, I'd end up picking up a bunch of stuff I didn't need, and eventually leave the store with tofu blocks and goat yogurt and dried soup, but no shallots.

So. What I did have on hand was leeks. I had about eight leeks in my fridge.

So, a leek is sorta like a shallot, right? Onion-y, but not so strong as an onion. Also, much easier to cut than an onion - or a shallot - for that matter. Leeks slice right up into cute, round leek coins that separate into delightful, green leek streamers when you sauté them in oh so much butter. It's like a little party, really, with festive leek confetti!

Anyway, even though a leek is about three times larger than your typical shallot, I got it into my head that eight leeks chopped would somehow equal five shallots chopped. However, once I started chopping the leeks and they began unraveling, the eight leeks turned into the equivalent of ninety chopped shallots, and that's a lot of shallots, anyone will tell you. The leeks kept expanding and expanding and suddenly I had chopped-leeks in Biblical proportions.

Jesus would have been proud of my food-doubling skills.

It had crossed my mind at one point to add to the bechamel only the amount of leeks as seemed equal to five chopped shallots. But I have little opportunity for madcap adventure in my life, and so I got all crazy and just tossed the whole shebang of leeks into the pot, damn the torpedoes! For a second, the heap of leeks just lay on top of the cream sauce and towered over the top of the pot. Then, as I was wondering whether to begin un-heaping the leeks and even, perhaps, starting the whole thing from scratch by just ordering pizza for dinner, the bechamel rose up and surrounded the tower of leeks like some oozing white primordial swamp creature, and sucked them all under. I think there was even a menacing Gloop sound. It was all quite astonishing, and even the baby stopped crying and began to watch the bechamel in amazement. Or maybe it was in horror.

Anyway, long story short, the addition of the leeks made for an amazing spinach lasagna. Although, in all honestly, I should probably call it a leek lasagna because, damn, that was a lot of leeks.

And so, in conclusion, today's Josette Award goes to the incredible, expandable, and oh-so-delectable leek.

This isn't the first time I've written about the Joy of Leeks, either. Some blogs, you can read for years and years and never come across a leek post. And here, there's been two. Not to toot my own horn, but I think that's the main reason that readers keep coming back to this fabulous blog time and time again:

You just never know when there's going to be another leek post.


Julie Marsh said...

I'm impressed that you had leeks on hand. No leeks here, but I bet I could find a shallot at the bottom of the fridge.

Anonymous said...

I have just one thing to say to you in response:

Leek potstickers.


Or, maybe, potato leek soup.


Leeks. Yum.

Adam said...

Being a cheapjack cook, I often substitute cheaper ingredients when more elegant ones are recommended.

Cottonseed oil instead of Extra Virgin Olive oil

Onion Powder for shalots

Canned Mushrooms instead of Baby Portabellas

Dare you reverse my winning culinary tricks?

Sharon L. Holland said...

I love leeks.

My husband's secret-weapon, get-some-lovin' dish is potatoes and leeks in cream. Oooooooh. I am so in love after that.

Karen Jensen said...

Yeah. It's definitely the leeks that keep me coming back.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Leeks seem vaguely scary to me because they're an ingredient real cooks use--but barely-able-to boil water types like me don't tend to.

I think I like leeks, but it never occurs to me to buy them or use a recipe that features them.

After reading this post, I'll at least be more likely to order them in a restaurant dish, and who knows, maybe someday even cook with them!

Blog Antagonist said...

I loathe cooking, so most of my recipes are of the semi-homemade variety. Cambell's is my best friend. Cream of Mushroom soup is manna in our household.

Therefore, I am very impressed that a.) you know the difference between a shallot and a leek b.) You made lasagne yourself c.) You attempted such with a toddler, and a sick one at that.

I bet it was delish, even if it was very leek-y. My culinary goal for this evening is Tator tot casserole. Very plebian, isn't it?

Mary Alice said...

I can't say I have ever read a post devoted to leeks. Leaks from roofs and baby boys and infamous leaks taken while undiapered, but never one about multiplying biblically proprotioned leeks. You are unique and a fine cook. I like you.

Anonymous said...

Shallot / Leek. Po-tay-toe / Po-tah-toe.

Julie Pippert said...

I've been buying casseroles from our local caterer. It's for the good of everyone, this. ;)

Bechamel, as good to say as to eat. And always puts me in mind of a great song, Besame Mucho.

P.S. Which writer at Cook's did the recipe?

Using My Words

Mrs. G. said...

I just like the word leek. Leek. Leek. Leek.

Magpie said...

Wow. Leeks sinking into the bechamel ooze is a staggering visual. Yum.

I bet the final result was something wonderful.

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