Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

Popcorn: Rosemary-Garlic Popcorn – Snack or Croutons

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Garlic-Rosemary Popcorn

The modern American palate considers popcorn snack food. However, the other night I watched a flick where the leading lady fed her family popcorn for breakfast. In the movie, she was broke. Nonetheless, it was way out of the box for me. Popcorn cereal?

It may seem kitschy now, but decades ago, popcorn cereal was avant-garde.

According to the history of popcorn cookery, popcorn was on the verge of becoming a staple ingredient in the early 1900s – commonly eaten at every meal. The upper and middle-class are credited with developing this broader recipe repertoire, which was later adopted by the less affluent and farmers.

Besides cereal (cold and hot), popcorn was used to make puddings, bread, popcorn balls, and stuffing.

Popcorn was also used as a replacement for croutons and crackers. The crispy texture was a perfect garnish for soup and salads.

Like most of you, I fall in line with the majority of people who snack on popcorn – usually just salted and buttered. But, with just a little more effort I’ve created an herbed popcorn that can be eaten as regular snack food or as a topper for soup and salad.

The recipe below for rosemary-garlic popcorn is a lovely addition to a hot bowl of tomato soup. Add the popcorn to your dish just before eating, especially with soups.

The recipe is flexible – your favorite herbs and seasoning could be substituted. How about garlic and chive, basil and sun-dried tomato, or chile and lime? At your local spice store there is a plethora of seasoning mixes that could be used and some include powdered cheese – which makes for even tastier popcorn croutons.

If you eat herbed popcorn or use popcorn for something other than a snack, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Tidbits on Popcorn:

  1. Popcorn consumption rose in the United States after World War II, when grains were sent to Europe.
  2. The precursor to today’s microwave popcorn evolved from popping the entire cob with kernels in an early model of the  “microwave oven” around 1945.
  3. Popped popcorn is a very profitable business product. It is bought by weight and sold by volume. The aroma of freshly popped popcorn significantly induces sales at movie theatres. Therefore, they regularly pop it.

Source: Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America by Andrew F. Smith; Corn: Meals & More by Olwen Woodier; Crazy for Corn by Betty Fussell.


Sofrito – Puerto Rican Fresh Bouillon

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Puerto Rican Sofrito - Fresh Bouillon -

Sofrito is the essence in Puerto Rican dishes like arroz con pollo – the next rice recipe in the queue. It’s also the foundation of flavor for beans, soups and other good eats.

What is sofrito? It’s a blend of fresh vegetables and herbs. You could liken it to fresh bouillon because it can be added to a dish to round it out and give it depth.

The idea to liken this fresh base to a “bouillon” was inspired by Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. She posted a recipe for homemade bouillon a few months ago. Her version had carrots, fennel, and a slew of other veggies and herbs – preserved with salt. When I read her post, I immediately reconceptualized a way to explain the culinary use of sofrito.

This sofrito is Puerto Rican. It is not spicy. But, it is flavorful! The main ingredients include: onion, peppers (bell pepper and aji dulce), garlic, cilantro and recao.

In Puerto Rican cookery, recao is also referred to as culantro. It is an herb typically found in tropical areas like Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Mexico. It has a mild green flavor that is reminiscent of, but not as strong as cilantro.

Look for it in the fresh herb section of ethnic markets labeled as spirit weed, fit weed, cilantro extranjero, cilantro habanero, or in Asian/Vietnamese markets as ngo gai.  I managed to score some at Rancho Liborio, here in Denver.

If you are a sofrito purist and have access to aji dulce, yours will likely be greener in hue. I used a red pepper, which gave it a reddish tinge.

This fresh bouillon is a great addition to your kitchen staples, especially if you’re big on Latino and Caribbean food. It can be made in large batches and frozen in smaller portions (such as ice cube trays) for convenience. For vegetarians and vegans, it’s a nice alternative to oomph up flavor. And, another huge plus, there’s no salt.

Try it! If you make sofrito and have any interesting uses for it, please leave a comment.


Zucchini: Turkish Fritters – Kabak Mucveri

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Turkish Zucchini Fritters

You probably have plenty of recipes that call for zucchini baked, grilled and stewed. I do too. So the first time I tasted a zucchini fritter at a community garden potluck, I was thrilled and inspired to do some research . . . What’s a fritter?

Technically, something that’s coated in a batter and fried. There are a lot of versions out there, most calling for grated zucchini in a batter with some sort of cheese. Personally, I’ve become partial to the Turkish version, Kabak Mucveri, because I really like feta and mint. Kabak Mucveri is typically eaten as a hot or cold appetizer and is served among several fingerfoods as a meze like tapas, but it’s also a great side dish. In Turkish cuisine, vegetables shine.

My version is light but not skimpy on flavor (I ate five the first time I made them). They have a crunchy outside and a flavorful center with the zucchini slightly crisp and bits of sharp feta and refreshing herbs in every bite. I prefer them served hot but they are also yummy at room temperature.

Tidbits – Zucchini:

  1. Since squash was domesticated in the Americas, most summer squash were introduced to the Old World after 1492, the time of European colonization. To the Romans, squash resembled other cucurbits belonging to other plant species and became integrated into the Mediterranean diet. Squash received the name of “calabash” and in Syria was called “zucco.” From this comes its present-day name, zucchini, according to the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
  2. Squash is now cultivated throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, China, India, and Indonesia.
  3. Zucchini has a high water content (95%), which makes the vegetable low in calories – about 25 calories per raw cup and nutritionally contain folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.