I am passionate about popcorn. My mom bought me a hot air popper before I left for college, but I soon found it to be too much work in my quest to be more Dude-like. I quickly gave up and switched to the microwave stuff. Not too long after I found the demi-god of microwave popcorn and its name was Pop Weaver.
This love affair lasted for years until I decided to start experimenting with popcorn. That’s right, I busted out my saucepan, bought some popcorn and started doing it from scratch.
The oil you choose to cook your popcorn is important. Vegetable oil tastes cheap, olive oil tastes fruity, canola oil tastes good but is bad for the environment and peanut oil is king. Here’s the general recipe I use.
- 1/4 cup of oil
- 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
- sea salt for taste
- Put the oil in a medium-sized saucepan with a couple kernels and cook on medium-high heat.
- After the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn.
- Shake periodically and make sure the steam has a way to get out of the pan.
- Place popcorn into a large bowl and season with sea salt.
It’s pretty simple. Just don’t forget to put the lid on or your popcorn will go all over the kitchen, stick to the measurements and don’t let the popcorn burn. It’s simple but delicious. You should give it a try some time.
I like spicy food. My wife thinks I’ve burned the heat receptors off my tongue because I have no reasonable gauge for how spicy things are. A few years ago my buddy Bill sent me a recipe for basic hot sauce and since then I’ve altered it a bit.
Jalapeño Hot Sauce Recipe
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 20 fresh jalapeño chiles, sliced
- 2 cups water
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup onion, minced
- In a medium glass or enamel lined sauce pan over high heat, combine oil, peppers, garlic, onion and salt; saute for 4 minutes. Add the water and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth. With the processor running, slowly add the vinegar.
- Pour into a sterilized jar with a tight lid. This sauce will keep for 6 months when stored in the refrigerator.
Recipe Source – http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jalapeno-Hot-Sauce/Detail.aspx
Here’s what I made the other day…
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 25 habaneros, sliced
- 10 serranos, sliced
- 5 “spicy red chiles” (I think they were Fresnos)
- Oregano (maybe 4T or 5T)
- Cumin (about 3T)
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 3 cups water
- Combine the oil, salt, garlic, onions and chiles in a saucepan. Add oregano and cumin for taste. Sauté the chiles for 5min or so to soften up.
- Add the water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20min.
- After the mixture cools, pour into a blender and liquefy. Slowly add the vinegar while blending.
- Soak a tortilla chip and give it a whirl.
Like I said before, I’m not the guy to ask if something is hot or not. This sauce leaves my mouth tingling for a good eight minutes, but has some great flavor. When I’ve made this in the past, it tends to get hotter the longer it sits. I’m sure Alton Brown knows the chemical reasons behind it. If this cocktail of hotness is too much, feel free to substitute any other chiles. My main goal in a hot sauce is to have something that tastes good. If your hot sauce tastes awful, it’ll ruin your food and that’s not good eats.
With avocados back in season I’ve been making guacamole often. I used to wonder why people I know went Coo-Coo-for-Cocoa-Puffs over the stuff, but now that I’m making my own it totally makes sense. With food like this I always find a decent recipe as a base and then eventually branch out a little on my own. And when it comes to recipes, you can rarely go wrong with the Food Network legend Alton Brown.
Alton Brown – yes, he’s bowling with a cabbage!
A college buddy of mine turned me onto Good Eats, which still hasn’t been widely released on DVD, around 2003 or 2004. Up until that point my opinion of the Food Network was not good. Most of the stuff I had seen seemed quite boring and the food was so complicated – stuff I never saw myself actually trying to prepare. Alton Brown changed all of that for me.
- 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
- 1 lime, juiced (about 2T if you buy lime juice)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (sea salt works)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1T chopped cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.
Recipe source – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe/index.html
Like I said before, I always start with something reputable and go from there. I don’t often have jalapenos around so I just added some more cayenne for kick. The last batch I made had slightly more than double cumin, cayenne, cilantro and garlic. I love onions so I put about double or more in there. Once I had no lime juice and substituted lemon juice without any noticeable taste difference. I’ve used different types of tomatoes and they all taste good. Roma are smaller and easier to create smaller pieces if that matters – I always leave the seeds in there. I’ve also eaten immediately instead of waiting an hour. Letting it sit definitely helps all the flavors to seep together, but it still tastes great.
Tonight I made an epic grilled cheese sandwich to really celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month 2013 before May 1st sneaked up on me. Last year I felt as if Leonardo Da Vinci himself inspired me to crush nacho Doritos onto the outside of my sandwich. It was so rewarding, I had to try it again. So without further adieu, I give you the Buffalo Sausage Grilled Cheese…
- Cook and season the ground sausage to taste
- Ground up some Doritos Jacked into a bowl
- Butter your bread and apply the crushed Doritos Jacked
Buttered bread with Doritos Jacked applied
- Place your bread into a skillet and apply a layer of gorgonzola
Bread in skillet with Gorgonzola
- Cover with ground sausage
- Cover with the top slices of bread, cooking on medium to medium-low heat
Nominal to profile. We’re in the pipe. Five by five.
Tips, thoughts and what have you:
Anytime you cook a grilled cheese with a crust of some sort, you have to make sure the crust sets without burning the sandwich. You also don’t want to scrape the crust off when moving or flipping. This means you’re only going to cook each side once. Another problem that can arise is flipping a grilled cheese sandwich whose insides are not completely gelled together. In this scenario, you have to flip quickly, but not too quickly, and make sure the pieces of bread don’t slide apart before you’ve turned it over.
Both things happened with this sandwich, but I was able to make do. You just have to be careful. As far as taste goes, you really need to like bleu cheese if you’re going to make a grilled cheese sandwich with it. The strong taste requires some strong co-ingredients to help balance things out. Think about the other things with which you eat bleu cheese to get ideas. I went with some flavorful sausage here.
Last year I used Nacho Doritos for a crust and this year I tried out the new Doritos Jacked because it seemed like they would go with the bleu cheese. The chips were ok, but there also double thick and this affected how the crust formed and how the sandwich heated up. I think the chips actually tasted better cooked than pre-cooked.
Just for kicks I used the same skillet for the sausage cooking and sandwich making. I left some of the grease in there and kind of wish I hadn’t. It wasn’t horrible, but there was just a hint of sausage grease flavor on the bread I wasn’t really digging. Next time I’ll go with a clean pan for the sandwich.
I originally tried both ranch and spaghetti sauce for dipping. The ranch really clashed with the bleu cheese, but the spaghetti sauce was AMAZING. This sandwich was very rich and definitely hearty. It probably wasn’t a great idea for me to try and tackle two of them at once.
Every Tuesday I try to spend some quality time with my kid. She looks like her mother, but received a lot of my personality. Tuesdays are one day every week that we watch a movie together and eat popcorn, and today was no exception. Today’s flick was The Polar Express. Chuck gets to pick the movies, which actually aren’t too bad. She’s not into most of the awful kid programming I hear some parents complain about and her favorite movie is Fantastic Mr Fox. With all the problems going on in the world today, I figure the least I can do is try to ensure my child has a good appreciation for film and knows I care about her. Some day we’ll watch the Alien Anthology, Star Wars or all six seasons of Oz. For now we’ll stick with more G-rated stuff though and continue to make popcorn together on the stove.
So many people are looking for my old grilled cheese posts from version 1 of this blog, I’ve decided to re-post a few. This one is a cheddar bacon pepper jack grilled cheese made by my special lady friend back in April of 2011.
- Two slices of bread
- Unsalted butter
- Two slices medium cheddar cheese
- Two or three slices pepper jack cheese
- Take one buttered slice of bread and lay in pre-heated pan
- Place cheddar, then bacon, then pepper jack on top of bread
- Top off with other slice of buttered bread
- Cook on medium heat until each side is golden brown
Slow cooking is important on a sandwich such as this one. It’s important to melt the cheese all the way through without burning the bread. It will take longer before your sandwich is done, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Have I mentioned I like ketchup with my grilled cheese yet?
Spicy Breakfast Sandwich
Scrambled eggs with cayenne and chopped onions added as filling to a grilled cheese sandwich
- Two slices of whole wheat bread
- Four slices of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar
- Two eggs
- Chopped onions (optional)
- Cayenne pepper (optional
- Unsalted butter
- Scramble your eggs to taste
- I sauteed some onions and added the cayenne to spice things up
Rough scramble – I dropped the eggs into the hot pan with the sauteed onions and while they’re frying I mixed them up with a wooden spoon
- Butter your bread and slice your cheese
- You can use the same pan for the eggs and cheese, you’ll just need to temporarily move the finished eggs to a plate/bowl while you build your sandwich
- Place one piece of buttered toast in the pan with the cheese
- Add the scrambled eggs on top of the cheese
- TIP: Sometimes you need cheese on both sides of the “sandwich” to help keep the insides together. I didn’t do that with this sandwich but I took extra care when flipping the sandwich to keep everything together.
- I also added some extra cayenne on top (optional)
Ok, I realize this may look like an insane amount of cayenne. Feel free to substitute any “spice” you prefer. Even black pepper would work well here.
- Cover with the other slice of bread and cook on medium heat until the bottom bread is firm and golden brown, and then flip to cook the other side
Cheddar grilled cheese sandwich with crunchy Cheetos added as filling
- Two slices of whole wheat bread
- Unsalted butter
- Four slices of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar
- Spicy brown mustard
- Pre-heat a skillet at medium heat (non-stick spray suggested)
- Butter the two slices of bread and slice the cheese
- Place one slice of bread into the skillet, lay out the cheese and cover with an appropriate amount of Cheetos
- Apply mustard and cover with other slice of bread
- Cook until bottom slice of bread is firm and golden brown, and then flip to cook the other side
If you weren’t aware, April is National Grilled Cheese Month here in the US of A. I’m a huge fan of the cheesy sandwich in its many forms. To kick off the month I’d like to share some past creations.
Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful grilled cheese month this year. If you’re looking for recipes to kick things off, a great place to start is the Grilled Cheese Academy which can be found at their site or on Facebook.