Showing posts with label popcorn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label popcorn. Show all posts

Friday, January 24, 2014

Warm Hummus Mash Za’atar Spiced Popcorn

Since first making my Yummy Chicken with popcorn, I grew quite fond of using popcorn as a ‘garnish’ on savoury dishes or as an addition to salads. In fact, Lance told me off for writing that the popcorn on the Yummy Chicken was optional – he thought it made the meal special. Something about the presentation as well as the texture addition is really fun in an otherwise everyday meal. I hadn’t done it for a while, when Alejandra posted her Ras El Hanout spiced popcorn. My mind was blown. What a brilliant idea. I already love the popcorn/chocolate combination, this just takes it to a whole new level of awesomeness! Instead of having it as just a snack, I thought I’d like it as a side dish with my dinner. Since I was already planning on having warm hummus with dinner, I thought instead of Ras El Hanout, I’d try more Middle Eastern style spices and went with a Za-atar spice blend that I bought from The Grocer. I really like this blend because I’ve recently discovered the wonders of sumac as a spice and this mix has sumac in it. I then added a little cayenne and extra pepper for a kick – totally optional but I like a bit of heat.

I have become a huge fan of warm hummus since first being served it about 12 months ago. That in itself was a revelation. My favourite dip is also a wonderful mash! Why hadn’t I thought of that? And using tinned chick peas makes it so easy. I like adding cashews instead of tahini because it adds a nice sweet, creaminess which really compliments the warm silky mash. I find tahini can be a bit bitter and prefer it in cold hummus. You do need to soak the cashews overnight to make sure they blend properly.

To balance the heat and vaguely sour taste of the middle eastern spices I wanted a hearty meat and a touch of sweetness. So I served it with lamb rump steak and a fig salad to create that balance. Sadly, the last figs of the season for me, but put to perfect use. The combination of hummus and spiced buttered chocolatey popcorn has been my favourite meal of a long, long time. And I loved standing in the kitchen, eating the leftover popcorn after dinner. This and other spiced popcorn is going to happen. Often.
I try to keep my posts in the order of the dishes I cooked, so when I post them, they are as close to being seasonally pertinent as possible. But whilst I have about 5 posts stockpiled that were cooked and eaten before this dish, I was so blown away by it's deliciousness that I am going to break my rule and let this jump the queue. Make this dish. Now.

Warm Hummus Mash
(serves 3)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tin chick peas, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
Juice from one (small) lemon
1/4 – ½ cup water

In a small saucepan heat olive oil to a low heat and gently cook the garlic with ¼ tsp salt for 5-10 minutes or so until soft, translucent and very aromatic. Do not allow it to colour. Add the cashews and chick peas, stir well then cover and allow to warm through for around 10-15 minutes. The heat should be very low, so it shouldn’t burn, but stir here and there to make sure.

When warm, squeeze the lemon juice over the top and pour everything into a food processor or use a good stick blender if you have it to process to a smooth paste, slowly add some water with the motor running to help the hummus get a creamy, mash like consistency. You could also use milk or cream instead of milk to make it richer, but I think water is fine. Check for seasoning, then pop back in the pot and reheat for a few minutes while you make the popcorn

Za’atar Spiced Popcorn
barely adapted from Always Order Dessert
(makes approx. 3 cups popcorn)
¼ cup popcorn kernels
25g butter (approx.)
1 ½ tsp za’atar spice blend
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
8-10 grinds black pepper
¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Put the popcorn into a brown paper bag, fold the top down a few times to “seal” and put in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high to pop the kernels. Keep an ear out for the popping to stop, and a nose out to detect it burning.
Put the popped corn into a really large bowl. Melt the butter, pour over the popcorn, then stir to coat. Mix the za’atar spice, sea salt, cayenne and black peppers together, then tip into the bowl and stir really well to coat all the buttered popcorn.

Melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave
Serve the mash, tip a generous serving of the popcorn over the top, then drizzle the chocolate over the top of that.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Much Ado About Joss Whedon - Movie Flavoured Ice Cream

I’m a little bit in love with Joss Whedon’s work. Not just Buffy and Angel. Also his work on Toy Story, Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog, the Avengers and what is one of my favourite movies – Cabin in the Woods. When I was in New Orleans last year, I went to an awesome little cocktail bar and played “What’s Your Favourite Cocktail” with the lovely bartender, who made Lance and I the most amazing drinks both classic cocktails and her own concoctions. And we chatted to her for hours about anything and everything. Including about how she’d walked from the Bywater (where she recommended we go for dinner) into the French Quarter – about an hour’s hike - in the heat of July just to watch a screening of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, before getting there and finding it had been cancelled. I was devastated for her. But so incredibly excited for me. A new Joss movie!

When Cabin in the Woods was screened here, it was only for a week or so and my core Joss-loving friends managed to sync a free evening and went for pizza and watched it. Seeing that we weren’t free for the brief screening time that Much Ado had here, we had to plan a screening party at home.

So in honour of the bartender who first told me about the movie, I started the evening with an Aviation cocktail. Invented in the early 1900’s, it’s sometimes referred to as a “Gin Sour” which for me makes it a perfect little summer cocktail. We then had snacks galore, ordered pizzas for dinner. And for dessert…movie flavoured ice cream. What exactly is “movie flavour”?? Popcorn and malteser. If you haven’t done it before, next time you have hot buttered salty popcorn, add a few maltesers to the top and allow to melt and meld the flavours. So. Good. Any chocolate will do, but the light texture of the maltesers and the crunch makes it a perfect melt option. Given that watching movies is pretty much the only time I eat popcorn, this to me tastes like movies!

I stumbled upon a recipe for salted sweet corn ice cream by my favourite blog and was already excited by the idea of the flavours. Not to mention the fact it was a corn starch mixture, not an egg custard mixture which I am notoriously bad at. (Although my chocolate beer ice cream worked remarkably well!) I adapted it to use pop-corn instead of fresh corn to make it more “movie” flavoured, and added the maltesers.

To make the pop corn, simply add kernels to a brown paper bag, fold the lip down a few times to 'seal' and microwave for 2 minutes or so. Listen for the pops, and keep a nose out for burning.

Movie Flavoured Ice Cream – Pop Corn and Malteser Ice Cream
(barely adapted from Alejandra's)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 cups whole milk + ½ cup whole milk, divided
4 cups plain popped popcorn (1/4 cup kernels)
½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 whole vanilla bean
1 teaspoon good sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup Maltesers, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
extra popcorn to serve

Combine the heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Let simmer very gently for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to dissolve the sugar.

Turn off the heat, an add the popcorn one cup at a stirring to dissolve the popcorn before adding the next cup. Cover and let cool to room temperature.

Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pot, pressing out as much liquid through as possible.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 3 tablespoons cornstarch and remaining ½ cup of cold milk until smooth. Add to the strained mixture and place over medium heat, stirring constantly in one direction until mixture thickens. Continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until you can no longer detect the taste of cornstarch and it coats the back of the spoon.

Turn off the heat and transfer the thickened corn base to a clean bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface (this will help prevent a skin from forming on it while it cools) and chill in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours – or overnight.

Process the chilled mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When it is finished, transfer to a freezer safe container and gently fold in the maltesers. Freeze for 2-3 hours to properly set.

Top with additional malteser chunks and some popcorn.