spicy cilantro popcorn

for most of my life, i’ve been intimidated by the idea of making popcorn “from scratch”, and very impressed by people who did. i was scared off by the possibility of burning popcorn, popcorn flying all over the place, having to melt butter separately, etc. but i couldn’t deny how much better fresh-popped corn tastes over the (full of salt and foreign substances) microwavable kind is. i finally took the plunge when i found this simple recipe on elise’s…“simply recipes” blog (she really delivers!) and i’ve never looked back. i make a few tweaks, using less oil and no butter, and i follow one of her commenter’s tips and add the salt right to the oil. i end up with evenly flavoured, perfectly popped corn–every single last kernel popped, every time! oh, and in less than the time it takes to make the other stuff. life-changing!

and while almost everyone appreciates a bowl of fresh popcorn, it’s not exactly the type of food that would make it into my “entertaining” roster. there needs to be something a little more special about it, like say, sprinkling a favourite fresh herb or toasted spice on top, or heating things up a bit. a little about my pairings: freshly chopped cilantro and cayenne pepper. the good news is, you can pre-chop your herbs and store them in an air-tight container for up to a day. you want to add your fresh herbs at the last minute so that they don’t get soggy. the caveat is, if you’re adding cayenne pepper, dust sparingly! it’s not about the heat, it’s that anything more than a light sprinkle will be inhaled by innocent eaters who will lunge into a throat-burning coughing fit. i have learned this the hard way. next time i’ll be trying a little chili oil to pan pre-pop, to get a little more heat with a little less pepper.

with a couple of quick touches, plain popcorn turns into a pretty nibble, that happens to pair perfectly with champagne! guests who pop by for a drink this season are in for a simple, savoury treat.

bubble and pop!