Popcorn is utterly delicious when popped at home; a world apart from the smelly, over-priced vats that are sold in the cinema. I find it is best enjoyed super-fresh, still warm from the pan. If you do not slather it in fatty and sugary toppings, it is both a healthy and filling snack. It always amazes me that although popcorn seems totally dry, there is enough water still within to turn to steam with enough pressure to cause it to pop. I try to use a more expensive gourmet popcorn, after all a little goes a long way, and overall it is still a frugal snack (not to mention an excellent way to entertain small children on a rainy afternoon).
My corn was from ZaraMama – named after the Incan Goddess of Grain – they stock a dozen different types of corn, with exotic and tasty sounding names such as creamy crunch, fiery amber and pink blossom. A 90g bag costs just over £1 which will make two huge bowls full, still a bargain.
Delicious and morerish Speculoos spread is hard to describe, I only discovered it on my last trip to France. It is Lotus biscuit paste in a jar. Spicy and caramalised (remarkably Lotus biscuits account for a massive 20% of biscuit consumption in their home county of Belgium). Perfect spread on toast, pancakes in cakes or sometimes it begs to be eaten straight from the jar with a spoon standing in front the still open cupboard. Remarkablily it is one of those “accidentally” vegan products, free from diary and eggs. It is also a good peanut butter substitution for nut allergy sufferers.
Whenever I mention Speculoos on twitter I am sent a barrage of replies extolling its virtues and deliciousness, but, bizarrely it does not seem to be stocked by any of the UK supermarkets* – I think we need a twitter campaign to lobby them to get it in store, although I wonder if it will lose at least some of its allure if its scarcity value goes? I bought back 4 pots from France last November, carefully swaddled in a fleece at the bottom of my suitcase and have been rationing them ever since. If you crave the taste, but do not have a jar of the paste, Steenbergs have a Koekkruidden spice blend which will give you the flavour at least.
* Update: Now you can buy Speculoos in both Waitrose in Sainsburys (they called it Lotus caramelised spread)
Today I opened my last jar to make the popcorn, heaven in a bowl.
Recipe: Speculoos Popcorn
Scant glug vegetable oil
2oz / 1/4 cup popcorn
1 heaped tbs Speculoos Spread
1 heaped tbs non diary spread (or butter if you eat it)
Good pinch sea salt
Place the oil and popcorn in a pan with a well fitting lid and put on a medium / high heat. Swirl the pan every 20 seconds or so. When the corn starts to pop turn the heat right down.
Meanwhile, melt the Speculoos spread and butter together and stir well, adding sea salt to taste.
When the corn is popped pour the Speculoos sauce over and mix well.
Sit down with a good film and scoff