That popping sound you hear is us! Food this week is all about popcorn, and it turns out to be pretty versatile stuff. You can snack on it, for sure, but you can also cook with it. Bonnie Benwick has the story, and recipes, of course. And Joe Yonan reveals his attempts to replicate his favorite brand of popcorn, sold by a company in Maine.
Also this week, Tim Carman looks at the latest batch of restaurant critic wannabes: chefs.
It’s Wednesday, so of course you know it’s chat time. As always, Free Range kicks off at noon to provide your weekly fix of culinary back-and-forth. Today, Kristina Kern of Stella’s PopKern is in the house, ready to dispense some of the tricks of the trade. All you have to do is ask.
We’ll chat for an hour and answer all the questions we can, but chances are excellent there’ll be some leftovers. That’s where I come in. Here’s one from last week that we just didn’t have time to get to:
I’m about to have renovations done in my apartment, which will leave me with no dining area (the construction staging place) and a kitchen that will be usable only after I remove the day’s plastic covering from it. Most of my cookbooks are packed up. I live very close to a wonderful farmers market, which is the source of most of my food, so I would love some suggestions of easy, good food that takes little time and can be eaten on a TV table in the living area.
I hope you know how lucky you are to have your kitchen! I’m much more used to hearing tales of woe from folks whose kitchens are being renovated and who have access to nothing but a fridge and an electric skillet. Though the construction will cramp your style, you’ll at least be able to use your stove.
Which is great, because what I’m going to suggest requires an oven. If I were in your shoes, I’d roast (or grill) a big mess o’ vegetables over the weekend and then eat them in various different incarnations over the next several days.
Here are a few things you can use them for. Add them to pasta sauce. Add them to mac and cheese. Or just add them to plain cooked pasta, with a little cheese and olive oil. Serve them warmed over salad greens or baby spinach, with a vinaigrette, feta or goat cheese and some toasted pine nuts. Add to cooked, cooled whole grains (farro, quinoa) with a vinaigrette for extra flavor. Or add to a risotto. Top a pizza with them, or load up a pie crust with them (I won’t fret if you use one from a box, considering your circumstances!) and call it a vegetable tart. Add to scrambled eggs, frittatas, omelets. Make sandwiches by stuffing them into pita, wrapping in tortillas or just putting inside a crusty roll. Use them to doctor up canned soups (whole, chopped up or pureed). And on and on.
The mix of veggies can change from week to week and be really varied, so you won’t tire of it. Good roasting candidates are just about every vegetable you can think of, including: asparagus, beets, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, butternut and other winter squashes, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, fennel, green beans, leeks, mushrooms, onions (all sizes), parsnips, potatoes (including sweet potatoes), rutabaga, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini and other summer squashes.
In case you want some actual recipes, here are some to get you started.