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stove top popcorn (two flavours)

February 20, 2012

P-p-p-p-p-pop! POP! Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop! POP! POP!

White knuckles gripped a teatowel draped over the handles of my pot, its middle slung over the lid to secure it in place.

POP! pop Pop POP! P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-POP!

I gripped and shook. Shook and gripped as a whisper of steam escaped the unsettled lid.

Rattle rattle. Pop. Pop. P–o–p.

“I think it’s done!” I said to no-one in particular.

A sigh of relief.

You’d never know it from reading this blog, but I have a serious blind spot when it comes to cooking.

I can’t do instant. At all.

I mangle frozen chicken nuggets. I destroy instant pizzas. I over-complicate two minute noodles.

And I burn microwave popcorn. Every. Single. Time.

(Well, almost every single time. The other times, I get so worried about burning microwave popcorn that I end up only popping half the bag, leaving a handful of unpopped, slightly warm kernels in the bottom).

Problem being, I love popcorn.

Sure, it get stuck in your teeth (and your throat and under your tongue). And sure, there’s a direct relationship between the amount of fake-buttered popcorn eaten at a movie and the likelihood of suffering a post-movie stomachache. But I love it all the same.

Which is why, when I received notice of an excursion out to see the finalist films at Tropfest this year (let’s forget that it got rained… nay, thunderstormed out… and I only managed to see three of the sixteen finalists), I knew I had to make some to bring along.

Which, in turn, meant that I needed to figure out a way to cook it sans-microwave.

When I was a much younger girl, my mother (self-taught cook of magical proportions) would make caramel popcorn for my sister and I from time to time as a special treat.

We would sit at the kitchen bench as she pulled out her heaviest saucepan from beneath the counter. Listen intently to the pops coming from her largest pot as she stirred the caramel.

“Listen carefully girls and let me know when it’s almost finished popping.”

As the pops subsided, she would lift the lid and pour the golden toffee on top of the freshly popped kernels.

Mixture stirred, she laid it out on trays to cool before stowing it away in airtight containers (pausing to let us sample a few kernels in the interim).

At the time, I was too nervous to even consider popping corn (without burning it) without adding the extra pressure of not burning myself (with hot sugar) so settled for a slightly less risky option.

Two flavours, pulled together in a spice grinder and tossed liberally.

We ate paper bags full whilst lying on picnic mats under a tree and drinking plastic cups of rose.

We tried to catch the kernels in our mouths (then picked the failed attempts off the ground and ate them anyway).

We guffawed as we watched old couples play tricks on each other on the big screen.

rosemary & olive oil popcorn

you will need

1/2 cup popping corn kernels
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs of rosemary
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

how to do it

1. Strip the leaves off the rosemary and add it, the pepper and salt to a spice grinder. Blend until it is a coarse powder. If you don’t have a spice or coffee grinder, you can either grind them with a pestle and mortar or chop as finely as possible. Set it aside.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot. When you see smoke starting to waft off the surface, toss two or three kernels in. If they spin around (or suddenly pop) the oil is hot enough.

3. Toss all of the kernels in and put the lid on. Pop a teatowel over the lid, with each end draped over a handle. Using the teatowel to hold the lid down, grab the towelled handles and shake the pot from time to time to distribute the oil and the kernels evenly. As the popping subsides, take the pot off the heat.

4. Toss the rosemary mixture and the olive oil on top of the hot popcorn, place the lid on again and shake well to combine.

smoky spicy popcorn

you will need

1/2 cup popping corn kernels
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp sumac
1 tsp salt flakes

how to do it

1. Add the spices and salt to a spice grinder. Blend until it is a coarse powder. If you don’t have a spice or coffee grinder, you can either grind them with a pestle and mortar or chop as finely as possible. Set it aside.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot. When you see smoke starting to waft off the surface, toss two or three kernels in. If they spin around (or suddenly pop) the oil is hot enough.

3. Toss all of the kernels in and put the lid on. Pop a teatowel over the lid, with each end draped over a handle. Using the teatowel to hold the lid down, grab the towelled handles and shake the pot from time to time to distribute the oil and the kernels evenly. As the popping subsides, take the pot off the heat.

4. Toss the spice mixture on top of the hot popcorn, place the lid on again and shake well to combine.


 


Shez