Popcorn is the perfect snack. It’s whole-grain healthy, addictively tasty and easy to experiment with. It’s traditional to toss it with lots of melted butter, but you’ll find that olive oil works just as welland it’s a lot better for you.
Yield: Makes 4 - 5 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 more Tablespoons olive oil
Pour the first 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 3- or 4-quart pot set over high heat. Add the popcorn and shake the pan to evenly distribute it into 1 thin layer.
Continue heating until the first kernel or two pops. Cover the pot with a lid or sauté pan, leaving a gap for the steam to escape so the popcorn doesn’t get soggy.
Listen to the popcorn. It will gradually increase in cadence until it’s popping continuously. Eventually it will start to slow down. When it does, turn the heat down to low, and, after a minute or two it will stop popping. Turn off the heat and generously season the popcorn, splashing in the second 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss everything together until combined well. The olive oil will help the seasoning adhere.
For a “grown up” version, toss popcorn with 1/2 teaspoon or so of any aromatic dried herb or spice you care to try. Ground cumin, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary and paprika are all excellent choices. For a savoury twist try grated Parmesan cheese or garlic powder. For a sweet treat try adding 1/2 teaspoon each of sugar and cocoa powder.
Mussels travel with their own built-in sauce base. They’re easy to steam and, when you do, they release a flavourful broth that many connoisseurs swear is the best part. That broth can be flavoured any way you want, so mussels are also a great ingredient to freestyle with.