Sunday, October 7, 2012

Eat Cheaply: Home Made Gourmet Popcorn

There's nothing like the scent of the salty buttery goodness wafting through the air at a movie theatre. In fact, sometimes I think I enjoy that more than the movie experience itself. Back home we had The Art Theatre in the middle of town and it was a tradition for my girl friends and I to go once a month. Now that I've moved several hundred miles away, I sometimes get bitten by the nostalgia bug whenever I smell the scent of buttered popcorn.

These days I prefer to stay home and watch a movie on Netflix or Hulu and make my own popcorn. You don't need a fancy popcorn machine. All you need is some popping corn, a little oil, a pan, and a lid. At home you can tweak the recipe!

Popcorn is rather bland on its own so it can be flavored anyway you want. If you forgo the butter, and avoid salt you can make it a really healthy snack! Or slather it on for a more traditional treat!

 Here are a few easy recipes:

Basic Ingredients & Tools (plain popcorn):

- 2 Tbs Oil
- 1 handful popping corn
- 1 large pan or pot with lid (the lid is very important!)
- Stove

Flavor options: 

Photo: CC Andy Nguyen

Curly French Fry:
- Butter, melted (optional)
- Garlic powder
- French Fry seasoning (Oops! Don't get Encore brand. Turns out it has MSG!)
- Cayenne pepper

Photo: CC edkohler

Cheese Puff:
- Butter, melted (optional) 
- Salt
- Macaroni and Cheese Mix Cheddar Cheese Powder (a little goes a long way!)

Photo: CC Geishaboy500

- Butter, melted (optional)
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt (optional, as the Parmesan tends to be a bit salty anyways)

Photo: CC Elle C.
Cilantro Lemon Pepper:
- Butter, melted (optional)
- Lemon zest (finely zested)
- Dried chopped cilantro (optional)
- Lemon pepper seasoning or combine the following:
   - Black Pepper or Cayenne Pepper
   - Lemon infused salt (prepare a day before, put a few drop of lemon juice concentrate in a few tablespoons of salt and wait a few days, stirring every few hours)

Photo: CC Steven D Polo

Wasabi Ginger:
- Peanut oil (optional)  
- Powdered wasabi or horseradish powder
- powdered or grated toasted ginger
- fish sauce (mix with peanut oil, optional)
(OK, I don't know if it really counts as Thai or not but it has peanut oil and fish sauce! SCORE!)

Photo: CC Dorothy Finley

Spiced Apple Crisp:
- Butter, melted (optional)
- Dry apple cider mix
 -Brown sugar
- Salt
- Cinnamon, ground
- Nutmeg, ground (optional)

(There's an apple crumble recipe I'd like to try from the source of this photo!)


1. Heat the oil on the stove and coat the pan.
2. Add 1 popcorn kernel and place the lid on the pan.
3. Constantly move the pan. When the kernel pops, the oil is ready.
4. Add the handful of popping corn. Close the lid again.
5. Constantly agitate the pan as the popcorn pops. It will slow down eventually and stop popping.
6. When the popping appears to be complete, remove the pan from the heat.
7. Leave the lid on for a few seconds to make sure there are no un-popped kernels about to explode in your face (trust me, it is not as cool as it sounds. Those kernels are HOT).
8. Pour into a bowl.
9. If you are adding melted butter, add it now and toss to mix.
10. Add spices to taste.
11. Best served immediately.

Do you have any good gourmet popcorn recipes you'd like to share? Have any suggested flavor combos?

 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. Please follow links below photos for licensed attribution. All others CC Selena Marie Norris.

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