Month: January 2014

Easy Peasy Popcorn

I know. What could be a simpler savory snack than popcorn? Other than pretzels, nuts and olives, not much. When I want to put out a bowl of popcorn and not have friends react with, “Gee, that’s all I rate? Kernels of dried corn?” I sprinkle some seasonings over top. In an instant the low key movie theater staple becomes gourmet noshings. For the sake of storage space I don’t own an air or oil popper. Instead I just tumble kernels into a frying pan, clamp on a lid, place the pan on the stove top, flip a burner on high and, shaking the pan periodically, let heat do its trick. From there it’s a short trip from hot, bland kernels to such exciting snacks as the following. Note that for 8 cups popped popcorn you’ll need roughly 1/4 cup kernels. All recipes yield 8 cups/servings of flavored popcorn. SMOKED POPCORN 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon chili powder 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 2 tablespoons olive oil …

Hooray! Smoked Trout Paté!

Paté. It sounds like such a posh dish. In reality it’s just a spreadable mixture of cooked meat, fat and seasonings. So much for the elegant, French name, huh? Originally, paté meant a baked, meat-filled pastry served hot or cold. It later referred to the chunky filling for this pie. Ultimately, it became known as the aforementioned spread. What do you put in a paté? Among the most popular ingredients are goose liver, pork, veal and beef. Because I stopped eating meat long ago, I make less traditional patés featuring smoked fish, vegetables or mushrooms. I served the following spread on Christmas Eve. Quick to make and equally fast to assemble, smoked trout paté is an easy hors d’oeuvre for the harried host. SMOKED TROUT PATÉ Whenever I forget to grab chives at the market, I substitute 1/4 teaspoon granulated onion for the chopped chives. Without that dash of green the paté will look a bit bland but it will still taste great. Makes 1 1/4 cups 5 ounces cream cheese, softened 2 tablespoons good …

Steaming, White, Hot Chocolate

The latest East Coast snowstorm has left me craving a mug of good, steaming hot chocolate. It will come as no surprise that, as a person who grew up eating ‘Stove Top stuffing instead of potatoes,’ I have a long history with  those white, paper packets of instant hot cocoa. Whether in my parents’ kitchen, on camping trips or at sporting events, on cold winter days I imbibed that thin, not-quite-chocolate-flavored and often lukewarm drink. In my early 20’s I learned a valuable lesson from a fellow grad student and friend. If you want rich, toasty hot chocolate, make it from scratch. It doesn’t take much time to do. Plus, the end result tastes so heavenly you’ll never be tempted to rip open a sleeve of instant again.   I often tinker with my hot chocolate recipe, alternating between cocoa powder, semi-sweet morsels or bittersweet chocolate as my flavor base. When I’m in the mood for a wildly sweet, hot treat, I whisk together the following recipe. I think of it as liquid dessert. I …