Before Christmas, I was plagued with wanderlust – just a few last prowls around unexplored parts of the city before winter boxed me resentfully into my apartment, awaiting the onset of cabin fever.
Actually, I’m not very susceptible to cabin fever, being a consummate homebody. I tend to prefer a night on the couch with the dogs to the nightlife. I mean, hey, I still like to boogie, who doesn’t? I’m just also overly partial to keeping my anemic extremities indoors for the duration of winter’s onslaught. But given that winter has been cutting us some slack lately, here are some of the things I was able to discover.
Glad to be able to stumble across such valuables before Christmas traveling slaked what was left of my wanderlust and replaced it with an urgent desire to snack. I just wanted to sit down to a bowl of something salty, crunchy, sweet, buttery. And since it was Christmas, and I wanted to put forth minimal effort for maximum snackage, here is what I did. Good any time of the year –
Truffled Popcorn and Cinnamon Twists
These are so easy, I shouldn’t even be posting recipes. But they’re both so satisfying.
1/4 cup popcorn
Vegetable Oil as needed
1-2 tablespoons butter
Truffle salt to taste
Get a large high-sided pot. Turn the heat up to medium high. Let it warm up for a couple of minutes. Coat the bottom with about 1/4″ of oil. Add popcorn. 1/4 cup pops into to plenty for 2 people. Multiply as needed. Cover the pot with a lid with just a sliver of space between the lid and the pot for steam to escape. You want to “fry” the kernels, not steam them. Once it starts popping, use pot holders or towels to grab the pot, maintaining the sliver of space, and shake it. Just keep shaking. Think Jiffy Pop, if you’re not too young to remember that. The idea is to keep the kernels moving so the popped ones rise up and the unpopped sift down, to avoid scorching. Once the popping slows, turn off the heat. Keep shaking for one minute. Put into a bowl large enough to toss it. Add 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter (depending on how buttery you like it, and how many unpopped kernels remained at the bottom). Toss. Add a couple sprinkles of truffle salt. Toss. Taste, adjust. Snack away with the forewarning that you may be ruined for regular popcorn forever.
I sneak truffle salt into movie theaters. No joke.
1 package puff pastry (Whole Foods sells a vegan one without HFCS)
Cinnamon to taste
Defrost puff pastry. Cut into long strips and twist. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Meanwhile, get out 1/2 cup sugar, add cinnamon until happy. Start with a teaspoon. Build until it is cinnamon-heavy enough for you. While twists are hot, roll in cinnamon sugar to adhere.
I’ve recently bounced back enough to start baking again – so here’s what’s coming up No-Knead bread (Yep – the famous one that can be done, allegedly, by a six-year-old) housing an egg in a basket with fontina and marinated tomatoes.