Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I'm not the kind of person who gobbles chips, pretzels or candy, but set a big bowl of popcorn in front of me and I can't stop at one kernel. I actually make popcorn at home about once a week with a hand-me-down air popper that came from the 80's. I love it.

A few months ago, I went to Eric Ripert's Westend Bistro in Washington, DC, which is the more casual cousin of his famed NY flagship, Le Bernardin. On the bar menu: Truffled Popcorn with Parmesan. I had to order it. This was definitely not the kind of popcorn you would down with a large coke while watching a summer blockbuster! It was savory and refined, earthy and salty, rich, yet light... the kind of thing you would nibble with a crisp glass of white wine or a martini. I've thought about it often since then. So, last night, I decided to make my own rendition.

Truffles are not for everyone. In the last several years, restaurants have been shaving them over positively everything in the culinary equivalent of 'keeping up with the Joneses'. Most times you barely notice them. But when allowed to take center stage, they are earthy and musty, with an assertive funk. Like I said, not for everyone. In this dish, the sharp saltiness of the parmesan is the perfect foil for their meatiness. Here is my version of this oppulent popcorn.

Truffled Parmesan Popcorn
Pop 1/2 cup of popcorn in an air popper, on the stove or in the microwave. While still hot, toss with 2 tsps melted butter, 2 tsps truffle oil (I used white, you could use whatever you prefer) and 1/4 c grated parmesan. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking. Next time, I may add some black pepper too.

Anyway, to wash down this salty treat, I made an equally grown up soda: Ginger Ale. Well, not really ginger ale, but I made a ginger-infused simple syrup which I used to kick up an otherwise boring glass of selzer.

"Ginger Ale"
Make your Ginger Syrup by taking equal parts sugar and water (I used one cup each) and putting over a med-high heat.

Use the back of a spoon to scrape the skin off the ginger

While this simple syrup is coming to a boil, peel and chop about half a branch of ginger (5 inches - more if you like a strong ginger flavor), add it to the syrup and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Simmering ginger syrup

Turn off the heat and let it cool to room temp. Strain and store in the fridge. To serve, just spoon a tablespoon or so over ice and fill with seltzer. You could also brush it on chunks of pineapple and then grilling them (wonderful over vanilla ice cream) or use in any kind of cocktail that calls for sugar or simple syrup or would benefit from a hit of ginger (eg: ginger mojito, ginger champagne cocktail).

Somehow, this all made a Tuesday night much more interesting and refreshing than normal. Do you have an interesting take on popcorn? Or a cocktail that is your signature beverage? I hope you will share with me!


Anonymous said...

Wow! You are very inventive! I especially like the Ginger Ale! I will have to try that!

I recently acquired some locally grown popcorn(we grow corn up here in CT). Perhaps your recipe will do it justice! I will try it out!

I need to stop drinking this bottle of lemonade that I bought - I am going to consume all my extra calories from 32 ounces of lemonade!


Clio said...

Locally grown popcorn? Awesome. I really have to upgrade the popcorn I am using. I know there are better varieties out there.

I often make a fizzy lemonade or lemon-limeade with selzer, a little simple syrup and a squeeze of citrus. Delicious!

30 before 30 said...

The other night I had a martini that had hot pepper vodka, mango, and lime. It was... interesting. First it's cold (physically because it's chilled) then the heat hits you - hard - then it's sweet. And every sip is like that. You don't get used to it. I can't say that I liked it, but somehow I keep craving it...

Clio said...

Sounds interesting! OH, I left a few pieces of ginger floating in my syrup and by last night my "ginger ale" had really developed a spiciness that I liked.

2BSewing: said...

I love popcorn. Lately, I've been enjoying kettle popcorn...the sweet and salty taste. BTW, I'm enjoying your food pictures. :)