Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pop Open The Champagne!

I was planning to serve champagne to some family friends before we went out to dinner and I decided to search around for the perfect snacks to go with it. 

I found the usual foie gras and anything with truffles, but I wanted something more fun. Anything with cheese was a common suggestion, so I made some smoked gouda choux puffs. (See note below.) 

Then I kept coming across another suggestion which really surprised me – POPCORN! I had never even THOUGHT of popcorn with champagne before. I studied up on various seasonings and I ended up making Rosemary and Thyme Buttered Popcorn and I have to say, although it was good on its own, it was REALLY wonderful with the champagne. 

As I looked around more, I decided I was the last person on earth to know that Champagne and popcorn belong together. Last year at Oscar time, this liquor store site posted a perfect explanation of why this is.
I agree! What THEY said!

Anyhoo, here’s my recipe using Paul Newman’s finest microwave popcorn. Obviously, you can use “real” popcorn and it will be even better…


Rosemary and Thyme Buttered Popcorn

½ tsp. Kosher salt
5 sprigs of rosemary, stripped
6 sprigs of thyme, stripped
4 tbls. unsalted butter

1 3.5 oz. bag Paul Newman Natural Microwave Popcorn

More thyme sprigs for garnish

Place salt in a mini food processor (or big one) with rosemary and thyme. Process until chopped finely.

Place butter in small saucepan. Place on low heat to melt and stir in salt and herb mixture. Leave pan on low until butter is completely melted. Cook for 2 minutes on low. Remove from heat until ready to use.

Pop popcorn according to package instructions.  Reheat herb butter for a minute or so. Pour popcorn into large bowl. Pour over butter. Stir with metal slotted spoon. (A salad serving spoon works well.) Pour into serving bowl. Garnish with fresh sprigs of thyme. Eat…now. Serve with champagne.

NOTE: I used this recipe for the choux puffs with the following additions:
  • I used grated smoked gouda cheese.
  • Add the flour OFF the heat and then stir the mixture vigorously on the heat.
  • The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the choux puffs. After turning down the heat, start checking them after 15 minutes. They should be well-browned.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Make Your Own Bibimbap

I promised you all a Bibimbap recipe before we went to California last (last) week.* Here it is. 

Once you have your Bulgogi organized and you’ve either made or bought Gochujang, it’s just a matter of stir-frying vegetables in separate batches and arranging the bundles prettily on top of the rice. A fried egg (or four) goes on top.

Some folks don’t fuss with the rice. They just put the cooked short grain rice in the bottom of a shallow, wide bowl and top it with the vegetables. I like the rice to be crispy, even crunchy, on the bottom, so you’ll see how to do that in the recipe below.

The amounts of the vegetables don’t have to be exact. Also add in or take out what you like and/or don’t like.

2 cups short grain white rice
Bulgogi (Use as little or much as you like. The recipe calls for 1½ lbs. of beef.)
4 carrots, cut into a thick matchstick
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
½ big red pepper, cut into a thick matchstick
1 zucchini, cut into a thick matchstick
1 bunch of kale, washed, stripped of center core and sliced into thin strips
1 container bean sprouts, washed well
Oil for stir-frying
2 tbls. oil for crisping the rice
For serving:
1 tbl. sesame oil 
a few spoonfuls Gochujang

(If possible, cook your rice earlier in the day or at least an hour or two before.) Wash the rice in several changes of water. Place in a heavy bottomed pot with 2½ cups water. (Purists would faint, but sometimes I get nervous and add as much as 3 cups of water. I’ve never noticed a difference.) Bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, without opening the lid. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, then spoon out onto a dinner plate and let cool until ready to use.

Stir fry each batch of vegetables separately in vegetable or olive oil in a wok or nonstick frying pan. Season each one lightly with salt.  

Heat 2 tbls. oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add rice and pat down evenly. Cover and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes. If it’s cooking too fast, turn down heat just a bit.  Check to see if the rice has a nice crust. Arrange the vegetables and bulgogi on top of the rice.

Fry 4 eggs in a nonstick frying pan and carefully lay them on top of the vegetables and bulgogi. It’s prettier if you leave them sunny side up, but one of my eggs was a little snotty, so I’ll turn it over next time. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve with Gochujang. 

*(I posted some Cali pix on Instagram and Foodspotting.)