Friday, November 27, 2009


Who knew popcorn came in different sizes, shapes and colors? Each variety has a unique texture and taste. My favorite collection so far is from Crown Jewel Gourmet Popcorn. Their varieties include the world's smallest Petite Princess Amber, the crunchy and nutty Purple Amethyst, and the light and sweet hulless White Diamond. Bigger isn't always better and these tiny puffed nuggets of goodness are here to prove it. Once you try this gourmet popcorn, you will never settle for plain old microwave popcorn again.

I usually pop the corn on the stovetop using a medium-sized saucepan. Cracking the surface of my stovetop made it challenging to even boil water for a few weeks so I improvised with a stainless electric wok. The popcorn popped faster and cleanup was a piece of cake. Wok Popcorn is the way to go.

I used a 1/2 cup of Baby Yellow Topaz and a 1/2 cup of Baby Black Pearl. Heat up your pan or wok to a scorching medium high heat and put in 2 tablespoons of your favorite high smoke point oil like grapeseed or canola oil. I've also popped the corn in toasted peanut oil and coconut oil - each added another dimension of flavor from the oil that is worth trying.

Drop the kernels on top of the oil and give them a good coat. Cover and wait for the popping to start. With the wok, this should happen within 30 seconds! Once the popping starts, give it a gentle swirl every 5 seconds while holding the handles. Be careful not to shake the top off. Use the same technique if using a saucepan. Just like microwave popcorn, once the popping slows way down, you are done. Don't risk burning the puffed popcorn to save 20 unpopped kernels on the bottom.

Quickly transfer to a large bowl. If you are feeling the need for some butter, prep the bowl beforehand by laying out very thin slices of butter on the inner surface of the bowl. Fold in the warm popcorn using a large spatula or spoon.

Don't be shy with the salt.

Crack in some pepper. Mix it well. Stir, fold, stir and fold! Done!

Throw in a good movie and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spicy Shrimp and Smokey Sausage over Roasted Poblano Chile Grits

Chopper and I undertook our biggest culinary challenge yet. He wanted to create a New Orleans feast for the Alabama/LSU game and chose Susan Spicer's amazing cookbook as the source of inspiration. We spent half a day smoking sausage, reducing a fresh shrimp stock, roasting poblanos, perfecting the cream sauce, etc...

In the end, we had a dish with sooooo much flavor, it was just ridiculous. The effort paid off! The smokey poblano grits would have been great all by themselves. He also boiled up some spicy crabs and shrimp. Amy made some fantastic bloody mary's and Liz soaked up the whole experience. Roll Tide!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

what not to do with grapes...

Two starving kids at the Plaza Restaurant, a plate of grapes and the lonely condiments for our pending burgerfest...wonder what happens?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Will They Eat it? Japanese Seaweed Snacks

I can always count on the Number 1 Oriental Market in Ocoee for a steady stream of exotic snacks, unusual vegetables and the best seafood selection around.

We were grabbing a few Strawberry Yin Yan and some Bulldog Sauce when these seaweed snacks caught my eye.

"Delicious with good nutrients from the sea." Sounds like a winner to me.

Called Tao Kae Noi, these savory snacks are paper-thin and airy - imagine a flattened seaweed-flavored Cheeto!

Dusted with wasabi powder, the heat was a little much for Sadie although she couldn't stop eating it! I wish I caught the faces she made with my camera.

Verdict? YES! Another sucessful Will They Eat It? Challenge!