Archives for the month of: August, 2011

popcornI don’t know why it never occurred to me to make homemade popcorn before now, but I somehow managed to go 24 years of eating only fake-butter microwave popcorn. Not that I ate microwave popcorn often, because it isn’t that good.  Now that I’ve discovered how easy it is to make stovetop popcorn with real butter, I’m obsessed. I LOVE IT! I always thought microwave popcorn was a little stale or styrofoamy but stovetop popcorn tastes fresh and has a great texture. My sweetie digs it as well. We’ve actually had popcorn for dinner a few nights. It’s not a balanced meal but it’s salty, crunchy, satisfaction. Like I said, I’m obsessed.

Here’s how to do it:

popcorn ingredients  Buy some popcorn kernels from the bulk bins at the grocery store. I picked some up at the Berkeley Bowl for one dollar a pound. Considering you only use 1/2 cup at a time, a few dollars goes a long way. You will also need canola or vegetable oil, butter, and salt.

Step one: Put two tablespoons of oil in a large pot with a lid. Turn the heat to medium and put 3 individual kernels of corn in the pot.

Step two. While you’re waiting for the oil to heat up, melt the two tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan or in the microwave.

Step three: When the 3 kernels have popped, the oil is hot enough to add the rest of the popcorn. Pour in 1/2 cup of kernels and put the lid on the pot. Give the pot a shake to coat the kernels in oil. When the corn starts popping give the pot a shake every few seconds. When the popping slows significantly. Turn off the heat and continue shaking for a few more seconds.

shakw

Step four: Drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and sprinkle with salt. Replace the lid and shake to evenly coat.  Season with salt, to taste. Another tasty option is to sprinkle the popcorn with finely grated parmesan or romano cheese.

I hope you give this a try! It’s much cheaper than microwave popcorn, less processed, much more delicious, AND it’s better for the environment because there is less packaging. Have a good week everyone, and happy snacking!

summer soupLate in the spring, I planted a tiny garden in a flower bed in front of my apartment.  Even though the entire garden only consists of eight or nine plants, it’s been a rewarding project. After weeks of watching my plants develop and blossom, it was finally time to harvest the vegetables. My tomato plant has done exceedingly well and the zucchini has also been fruitful. Of course, when everything ripens at once you’re left with quandary of what to do with the sudden influx of vegetables.

Duh-Ta-Dun-DAH! Mark Bittman to the rescue! I’ve been loving my copy of his book, How to Cook Everything. In it, I found the perfect recipe for the veggies from my garden. The recipe is for corn, tomato, and zucchini soup with basil.  I modified it a bit to my taste but it was really ideal for my harvest.  The only thing I had to buy from the market was a few ears of corn.

Soup!

Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Soup with Basil

  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes  (cored, peeled, seeded and chopped.)
  • 2 zucchini, diced.
  • 1 medium onion, minced.
  • 4 ears of corn.
  • 1 tbs minced garlic.
  • 1/2 cup minced basil leaves.
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock.
  • 2 tbs of butter.
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
removing corn from cob

Step One: Remove the corn from the cob and set the kernels aside.

Step Two: Pour the stock in a large pot and add the cobs to the stock. Heat over medium and let the cobs simmer in the stock while you chop the rest of the vegetables.

Step Three: Chop the zucchini, mince the garlic and onion, and set aside.

Step Four: Prepare the tomatoes. This is the trickiest part, but done correctly it’s not so bad. First, you boil enough water to cover the tomatoes. Then core each tomato by slicing a wedge around the stem and remove the hard core. Next you slice an X at the butt of the tomato. Drop the tomatoes one at a time into the boiling water for about thirty seconds. Remove from the water and peel the skin off. It should come off easily. Next slice the tomato in half around its equator. Squeeze the tomato over a bowl and use your finger to pick out the seeds.  Then roughly chop.

preparing the tomato

Step Five: Place the butter in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook for five minutes. Then add the tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and salt and pepper. Cook for ten more minutes and stir occasionally.

Step Six: Remove the cobs from the stock and discard. Add half the vegetables to the stock. Puree the remaining half in a food processor before adding to the stock; this thickens the soup. Cook for five minutes more minutes and then remove from heat.

Step Seven: Stir in the corn kernels, basil, parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!

I absolutely love this soup. The flavor is fresh and slightly sweet from the corn and basil. The fresh corn also adds a satisfying crunch.  So even though you’re eating your fresh veggies in a soup, you don’t miss out on their straight-from-the-garden crispness. This is truly one of my favorite things I’ve ever made.  Just writing about it makes me want some! I think I’ll make this again tonight. Enjoy, everyone!

Roast potatoes  The other day while picking up some groceries at the the Berkeley Bowl, I came across a bag of adorable little multi-colored potatoes that I had to buy for sheer cuteness. They were tiny little guys, about the size of a marble in all shades of pink, purple, and tan. I really didn’t know what to do with them but I figured they would at least be fun to look at.

After a few days of admiring them on my counter top, it was time to put them to use. I don’t cook potatoes that often, so I only know three ways to fix them: mashed, fried, and roasted. Since mashing them would destroy their good looks, I decided to roast them. I cooked them whole because they were so tiny and I spiced them up with chopped garlic and rosemary.

Let me tell you, they turned out GREAT! Roasting the little potatoes in their skins turned them into packets of mashed potatoes that burst in your mouth. The rosemary and garlic was a perfect complement and gave the potatoes a luxurious flavor. They were so tasty and a perfect comfort food.  

Roasted Marble Potatoes with Garlic & Rosemary

  • Place the potatoes in a baking dish in  a single layer.
  • Roughly chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and add the leaves from three sprigs of rosemary.
  • Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil and mix the potatoes to make sure they’re coated.
  • Sprinkle with salt.
  •  Bake them for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, mixing them halfway through the cooking time.

lemonade

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