It’s popcorn season.
These long dark nights mean we’re staying in to watch our favorite TV shows and movies, not to mention the upcoming awards ceremonies and Super Bowl, and munching on freshly popped popcorn is a quick way to make the whole experience feel complete.
Ashton Epps Swank’s new book “Party Popcorn” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99) offers more ways for eating popcorn than many of us will try in a lifetime, including eggnog and root beer float popcorn, and if you’re a Cracker Jack fanatic, you’ll get a lot of new ideas.
Most of us might just need a little nudge to try something like dusting a bowl of freshly popped kernels with ranch dressing mix and and Buffalo hot sauce or taco seasoning and lime juice. (Clearly, I lean toward salty popcorn instead of sweet.)
Swank’s favorite popping method is an air popper, but you can pop on a stove or in a brown paper bag. If you’re using popcorn in a microwaveable bag from the store, buy the least buttered version you can so you can add your own seasoning. Don’t forget the trick of waiting until the kernels slow to popping once every two or three seconds before removing from the oven. In our microwave, that’s two minutes and 25 second on the dot. (Putting kernels in your own brown paper bag with the top folded shut will take 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave.)
For reference: 1/2 cup of kernels will yield about 8 cups of popcorn, a little less than you’d get in a bag of microwave popcorn.
Buffalo Ranch Popcorn
Ashton Epps Swank recommend mixing Buffalo wing sauce and ranch dressing together for all kinds of uses, including as a dip for French fries, a pizza sauce or a sandwich spread. Make this as spicy (or not) as you like by using a mild wing sauce or adding more hot sauce or cayenne pepper to the melted butter mix.
8 cups popped popcorn
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. Buffalo wing sauce
Half of a (1-oz.) envelope ranch dressing mix or 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning
1 tsp. salt
Pour the popcorn into a large bowl and remove any unpopped kernels.
In a small bowl, mix together the butter and Buffalo sauce. Drizzle over the popcorn and gently toss to coat.
Sprinkle the ranch dressing mix or seasoning and salt over the popcorn and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
— From “Party Popcorn: 75 Creative Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Snack” by Ashton Epps Swank (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99)
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