August 14, 2013

For lover of Maine popcorn, it's crunch time

Fueled by an addiction to Little Lad's herbal popcorn, a home cook experiments in the kitchen to create his own version of the snack.

By JOE YONAN The Washington Post

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Herbed popcorn

The Washington Post photo by Deb Lindsey

click image to enlarge

For the popcorn-addicted, garlic ghee and dark chocolate-drizzled versions.

The Washington Post photo by Deb Lindsey



Makes: About 1 gallon (8 servings)

This recipe was inspired by the popcorn made by Little Lad's, a group of Seventh-Day Adventists based in Corinth, Maine, and sold at stores around the region and online at

Nutritional yeast, also known as nooch, is used to enhance the flavor and boost the nutrition in vegetarian and vegan dishes. It tastes a little cheesy and is available at health food stores and at Whole Foods Markets. From Washington Post Food editor Joe Yonan, author of the upcoming "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook" (Ten Speed Press, August 2013).

2 tablespoons safflower or other neutral vegetable oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried dill

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (may substitute finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Fine sea salt (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Once it starts to shimmer, sprinkle in the oregano, dill, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes, then turn off the heat so the herbs and pepper can infuse the oil for at least 15 minutes.

Pop the popcorn in an air popper or using your favorite method. Transfer it to a large paper bag. While it is still warm, drizzle the oil mixture over it, close the bag and shake to coat the popcorn. Drizzle on the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, sprinkle on the nutritional yeast, close the bag and shake to combine. Taste, and add salt if needed.



Makes: 10 to 16 cups (5 to 8 servings)

Kristina Kern of Stella's PopKern, a popcorn catering business and food truck in Washington, recommends using a mix of kernels -- varying in texture, size, density and sweetness -- for this recipe. Look for colored kernels (red, black, white) as well as mushroom and snowflake kernels. The variable mix accounts for the wider-than-usual range of yield.

Feel free to add flavorings you like, such as freshly ground black pepper, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, smoked paprika or finely chopped fresh herbs.

Make ahead: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. For re-crisping, see note below. From Kristina Kern, of Stella's PopKern ( in Washington.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (may substitute store-bought ghee)

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup canola oil, white coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil or grapeseed oil

1/2 cup mixed popcorn kernels

Fine sea salt, for sprinkling

Melt the butter, without stirring, in a small saucepan over low heat. Skim off and discard any white solids on the surface. Slowly pour the yellow melted butter into a heatproof bowl, stopping once you reach any remaining white solids that have sunk to the bottom.

Wipe out the saucepan thoroughly, then pour the melted butter through a fine-mesh strainer back into the saucepan, discarding any solids.

Stir half of the garlic into the butter, then place over medium-low heat; cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids. Cover loosely to keep warm.

Combine the remaining garlic and the oil in your popcorn popper or in a deep pot placed over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels; begin stirring or shaking the pot right away to make sure each kernel is coated and to keep the garlic from burning. Cover, and cook until the popping sounds slow down, with long pauses in between.

Immediately transfer the popcorn to a large serving bowl. Drizzle the garlicky ghee over the top, then immediately sprinkle with salt to taste.

(Continued on page 3)

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