Pop Stop And Roll

February 10, 2012

Katie and I have been making a specific effort to shape up our diet a little bit, but we both definitely like sweets and things to munch on. One great filler is popcorn because it can be made in a low-calorie way, that takes up lots of space and makes you feel like you get more bang for your buck.

The other side of this equation is that we are looking for ways to tighten up our finances. As much as we love getting the little 100 calorie boxes of kettle corn, it’s expensive over time. So we figured, meh, why not make our own?!

So, dear readers, here is how it is done, sans kettle.

Start with stovetop popcorn. I use a little bit of light olive oil (because it’s good for you), let it heat up and then throw in a half a cup of popcorn seeds. You’ll know the oil is hot because it will sizzle if you flick a drop of water in.

Once the kernels start to sizzle a bit, pour in a quarter cup of sugar over the top. The oil will immediately soak in to the sugar causing it to clump. It will also cool off the temperature, so it will take a few minutes to get back up to temperature and begin popping. Be patient- just when you think you’ve messed it up horribly, it will start to go.

Put a lid on it so that it will stay in the pan while popping. Once it starts to pop, shake the pan every minute or so to keep the popcorn from burning on to the bottom. That will also help with coating the now melted sugar on the kernels.

We happen to have clear pot lids, so we could watch the process as it began (until steam clogged the view). The sugar will begin to caramelize eventually, so it’s important to keep it moving. Similarly, because of the sugar, it will burn QUICKLY once it’s done so as soon as the popping slows down, pull it off the heat and get it out of the pan.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Whenever you’re working with melted sugar, keep in mind that it gets very very hot, and it is very sticky. If you get some on you DON’T attempt to wipe it as it will stick and smear. Run the area under cold water right away. Also, always wear shoes (Mom would be proud).

Once the popcorn is out, toss it with a little salt (we use kosher or sea) and let it cool a touch and enjoy!

Crepes

January 15, 2012

Crepes have always been one of those things that is hyped up to be hard. So one day I thought why not? It turns out that they’re not too hard to make and they are quite a versitile vehicle to hold other food. Like fruit. Or chocolate. We’ve made them for sweet and for savory crepes, as well as in the traditional crepe and chocolate crepes (add cocoa powder!). Here is the basic recipe:

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons melted butter

salt

Stir the wets together and add the drys, stirring just until they’re incorporated.The batter can be a little lumpy but try and smooth out the big bumps.

You can see in the back bowl there are a few lumps but largely the batter should pour nicely. Get a flat pan with some sides (we used a frying pan but a saucier is ideal) and get it screaming hot. Spray the pan with oil and pour in your first crepe. They don’t always turn out well, so we photographed the second one.

I find that to get a nice, large crepe, to use about a half  a cup of batter. Once it’s in the pan, swirl it around until you have a flat, even layer. They sell a special tool for spreading out the batter, but you don’t need it.

You can see that the liquid batter is coming over the now cooking edge along the bottom. Keep swirling in circles (although I make slight rounder crepes than Katie did :D)

When all the liquid batter has begun to cook, give it a moment to fully cook. You have to work pretty fast because these are thin little pancakes that will cook quickly. Once it’s cooked on the bottom, flip the crepe over and give it about 20 seconds on the other side. We flip them in to our oven set on warm to keep them toasty.

Before, during, or after, you can consider your filling. Ham and cheese is nice – I’d put those in as the bottom is cooking and then roll it omelette style, nutella and bananas, fresh strawberries and cream – the possibilities are endless. For this particular breakfast, I sauteed some apples in butter and brown sugar.

After dicing the apples, I threw a tab of butter in to the pan and let it melt and get hot. I then added the apples.

I gave these a moment to cook down, and then flipped in about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. That melted and began to caramelize, so I also added some honey and cinnamon. This cooked until the apples were soft (but not mushy) and nicely caramelized – about five minutes. This will depend on how finely your apples are cut.

You can see they took on a nice chicken brown color. They also smelled delicious.

To prepare the crepes, I took one from the oven, filled it with a line of apples, and rolled it up. We had two each topped with the remainder of the apples and the leftover caramel sauce.

Oh so yum. Hopefully you’ll give these a go, and they will seem a little less scary. They’re totally worth it.