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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Recipes

RECIPE: Mussels Escargot Style, With Maitre d’Hotel Butter

mussels-escargot-style-garlicparsleybutter-millesimeNYC-230

Mussels, escargot style. Photo courtesy
Millesime Restaurant | NYC.

 

Escargots don’t have much flavor. What brings them to life is the vibrant garlic-parsley butter, known in French cuisine as beurre maître d’hôtel butter.

It’s a popular compound butter that’s used on fish, meat, noodles, potatoes, vegetables and you-name-it. It’s delicious year around, and ushers in spring with its bright hue.

Substitute the escargots for mussels, as this inspired recipe from Millesime restaurant in New York City shows, and serve it as a first course.

The only challenge is to decide what dishes you have to serve it in—most of us don’t have escargot dishes. But as you can see in the photo, anything will work. Have Champagne coupes? Time to use them for other than Champagne.

We’ve suggested extra toast, below, because most people will want to soak up every last drop of the butter sauce.

Going forward, we’ll use the American name for the butter sauce, sparing those who don’t speak French the need to pronounce beurre maître d’hôtel butter (burr meh-TRUH doe-TELL).

 
RECIPE: MUSSELS IN GARLIC PARSLEY BUTTER

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 30 mussels
  • Garlic parsley butter (recipe below).
  • 8 slices brioche or quality white bread
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the garlic parsley butter. Keep on the stove.

    2. REMOVE mussels and beards from shells; rinse and sauté lightly in butter.

    3. MAKE the toast and slice into quarters. Warm garlic parsley butter sauce as necessary.

    4. ASSEMBLE and serve: Fill dish with butter sauce, add six mussels and serve with toast points.

    5. REFRIGERATE any remaining garlic parsley butter for other use, including garlic bread.

     

    RECIPE: GARLIC PARSLEY BUTTER

    Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PULSE all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a microwave-safe dish or small pitcher.

    2. KEEP on or near stove if making the mussels for immediate consumption. Otherwise, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

    3. HEAT before serving.

     

    compound-butter-browneyedbaker-230

    Garlic parsley butter, a compound butter known in French cuisine as maitre d’hotel butter. Photo courtesy Brown Eyed Baker.

     

    WHAT IS COMPOUND BUTTER

    Compound butter is preparation that combines unsalted butter with flavorful ingredients: fruits, herbs, nuts, spices and/or other savory ingredients (anchovies, capers, mustard, olives, etc.).

    It is often used in French cooking to create an instant sauce for anything from grilled steak to sautéed chicken and fish to vegetables; it is also stirred into soups and stews for added flavor.

    In the U.S., popular compound butters include strawberry butter for muffins, chipotle butter for corn on the cob, and perhaps the most familiar, garlic butter for garlic bread.

    Here’s more on compound butter, plus recipes.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cookies & Cream Cheesecake

    Some might think that we publish too many cheesecake recipes. But when cheesecake is one’s favorite comfort food, how many is too many?

    Plus, we need to get our last licks: “Cheesecake season” concludes at the end of spring. The dense cream cheese cheesecake we favor is too heavy for summer. So this may be our last recipe until fall.

    The recipe is from Lauryn Cohen, a.k.a. Bella Baker. Says Lauryn:

    “This is easily the best cheesecake I’ve ever made: a chocolate wafer cookie crust, a rich and creamy cheesecake layer, crushed Oreo cookies mixed into the silky batter and topped with a drizzle of chocolate ganache, chocolate whipped cream and more Oreo cookies.”

    We made it for National Oreo Day, March 6th.

    RECIPE: COOKIES & CREAM CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients

    For The Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (reserve one cookie for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  •  

    Cookies & Cream cheesecake: a fusion of two favorites. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    For The Filling

  • 3 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature (Lauryn used two packaged of reduced fat and one package of regular; we used three packages of full fat organic cream cheese)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 15 mini Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped for the batter
  •  

    Save a chocolate wafer cookie to decorate
    the center. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    TOPPINGS

    For The Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces
  •  
    For The Chocolate Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Approximately 25 mini Oreo cookies
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

    2. MIX melted butter with Oreo crumbs and sugar and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes and set aside.

    3. BEAT cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high until fluffy, making sure that there are no clumps. Slowly add sugar and continue beating cream cheese until mixed well. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until blended. Add the vanilla, salt and milk; beat until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and beat until batter is satiny smooth. Stir in the coarsely chopped Oreo cookies with a spoon.

    4. POUR cream cheese mixture into the pan and bake for one hour and 15 minutes. After that time, turn oven off and keep oven door slightly open. Let the cheesecake stay in the oven for one hour. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

    5. MAKE the ganache: Place heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Once heavy cream has reached boiling pour half the heavy cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds, then gently stir chocolate and cream together with a rubber spatula in a figure eight motion. Pour remaining heavy cream over chocolate and continue to gently stir. Add butter, one piece at a time, until ingredients are fully incorporated and the ganache is smooth and glossy.

    6. MAKE the chocolate whipped cream: Beat heavy cream on high speed for about 2-3 minutes. Once mixture has started to thicken, add add cocoa powder and sugar and continue beaten until whipped cream mixture has formed.

    7. GARNISH the chilled cake. Drizzle chocolate ganache over the top of the cake, in the grid pattern shown in the photo or in your own artistic interpretation. Pipe the chocolate whipped cream in mounds around the rim of the cake and in the center. Place one mini Oreo in each mound of whipped cream, and a chocolate wafer cookie in the center.

    While this recipe may seem over the top to some, you’ll note that it’s a relatively flat cake—torte-like, not like the often-found three-inch-high/four-inch-high New York cheesecake.

    So a slice is an indulgence, but not a jumbo indulgence.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Ladybugs On A Stick

    Lady-Bugs-on-a-Stick-calavocomm-230L

    Crunchy, fun and good for you. Photo
    courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     

    Move over, Ants On A Log, the childhood classic made from celery-stuffed cream cheese topped with raisins.

    Ladybugs On A Stick have no cholesterol, the fat from avocado oil is super-healthy, and the tomatoes are lower in calories and more nutritious than raisins.

    You can make or buy guacamole, or combine the mashed avocado and salsa as shown below. Thanks to the California Avocado Commission for the nifty idea.

    RECIPE: LADYBUGS ON A STICK

    Ingredients For 8 Sticks

  • 1 ripe avocado*, seeded, peeled and mashed
  • ¼ cup prepared salsa, or to taste
  • 8 celery stalks, washed and trimmed
  • 12 small grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  •  
    *Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly.

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the salsa and the mashed avocado.

    2. FILL the hollow in each celery stalk with the guacamole, taking care to keep it in the groove and not on the rims. For precision, you can use a piping bag or a plastic food storage bag with a corner cut off.

    3. NESTLE 3 grape tomato halves atop the guacamole on each celery stalk.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asian Grilled Salmon With Edamame

    miso-glazed-salmon-edamame-chefRitaFrenchProvincePhoenix-230

    Delicious for dinner: glazed salmon and
    edamame. Photo courtesy Chef Rita French |
    Province Phoenix.

     

    Having just presented different ways to serve edamame as a snack or side, it’s time to move on to mains. Here’s a delicious grilled salmon dish, courtesy Euro USA.

    RECIPE: HONEY SOY GRILLED SALMON WITH EDAMAME

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions (green onions)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 center cut skin-on salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • 1-1/3 cup cooked edamame
  • Optional garnish: snipped chives or parsley, lime wedges
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill over medium-high direct heat. Oil the grill grates. Finely chop the cilantro and scallion and mix in the oil and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.

    2. CUT two 3-inch long slits through the skin lengthwise on the bottom of each salmon fillet, going about halfway into the salmon. Stuff the slits with the herb mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. STIR together the lime juice, soy and honey.

    4. PLACE the salmon, skin side up, on the grill and cook until well marked, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the salmon and continue cooking, brushing the tops with the sauce, until the fish is cooked through, about another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with edamame and lime wedges.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Glamorous Edamame

    We enjoy both the flavor and the nutritional benefits of edamame. We always order a bowl at Japanese restaurants, and have bags of frozen, shelled edamame in the freezer at home.

    The bright green color of the boiled soybeans adds perkiness to anything from scrambled eggs to salads to mashed potatoes. You can ready almost any savory dish for St. Patrick’s Day by mixing in, scattering or garnishing it with edamame.

    Hannah Kaminsky reports from a trip to Hawaii that the local restaurants serve a much more inspired dish of edamame than most of us know from Japanese restaurants on the mainland. She writes:

    “A popular pupu (appetizer) at dives and fine dining establishments alike, edamame seasonings start with the most basic sprinkle of sea salt. But these humble soy bean pods are rarely ordered in that plain state.

    “Garlic edamame, studded with plentiful chunks of coarsely minced garlic, guarantee you the most powerful but worthwhile dragon breath* you’ve ever experienced. (Editor’s Note: To counter the effects, sauté the garlic to take the edge off, and add fresh minced parsley.)

     

    edamame-sauce-hannahkaminsky-230

    Edamame and soybean poke. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     
    “Spicy edamame (or sweet-and-spicy, with added honey) adds either crushed red pepper flakes or a drizzle of sriracha into the mix. It’s a real treat when you can find edamame dressed up poke-style, in sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions, and sliced sweet onions.

    “The beans pictured here are a specialty from the newly opened Izakaya Torae Torae in Honolulu: Teriyaki truffle edamame. Just toss the edamame in truffle oil before drizzling with teriyaki sauce.”

    And while you’re at it, you can make homemade teriyaki sauce.

     
    *What causes garlic breath: The sulphuric compounds that give garlic their desirable taste and health benefits and also create that unpleasant odor. Here’s more information, including how to fight garlic breath.

     

    Teriyaki-Sauce-olivethis.com-230

    Homemade teriyaki sauce. Photo courtesy OliveThis.com. Check out their recipe for Grilled Chicken with Honey
    Ginger Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce.

     

    WHAT IS TERIYAKI SAUCE

    Teriyaki is actually a Japanese cooking technique, in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin (rice wine) and sugar. According to Wikipedia, in Japan the cooking style is mainly used for a variety of fish, while in America, salmon teriyaki and chicken teriyaki are typically found on menus.

    The word derives from the noun teri, which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content of the tare, a term for dipping sauces used in grilling; and yaki, the cooking method of grilling or broiling.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TERIYAKI SAUCE

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    or honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic†
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced ginger†
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Preparation

    1. MIX all but last two ingredients in a sauce pan and heat over a medium flame.

    2. MIX cornstarch and cold water in a cup and dissolve. Add to pan. Heat until sauce thickens. If the sauce is too thick for you, you can thin it with water.
     
    †You can substitute garlic powder ground ginger, but fresh tastes better. Reduce the amounts of dried herbs, as they are more concentrated.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Avocado Fries, Green & Keen

    avocado-fries-chobani-230

    Baked avocado “fries.” Photo courtesy
    Chobani.

     

    Would you like baked avocado fries with that?

    This recipe from Chobani is a fun way to enjoy avocado—cooked! Since the avocado will be sliced and baked, it should be firm, not guacamole-soft.

    RECIPE: BAKED AVOCADO FRIES WITH
    CILANTRO LEMON DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/3 cup bread crumbs (we prefer panko)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •  
    For The Dipping Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. MIX together bread crumbs, pepper, salt and cumin in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

    3. CUT the avocados in half and then slice them vertically.

    4. DREDGE the avocado slices in the flour, then in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs.

    5. LAY on baking sheet covered with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

    6. BAKE for 10-12 minutes, checking frequently on status (baking times vary between ovens). Meanwhile…

    7. MAKE the dipping sauce. Place the yogurt, cilantro and lemon juice in a blender and mix until smooth and creamy in texture.

     

    avocado-lemon-230

    Ready to be baked. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     

    8. TRANSFER baked avocados to a serving plate and serve immediately with dip.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Leprechaun Gingerbread Men

    irish-gingerbread-men-grandmasmolassesFB-230

    Leprechaun gingerbread men. Photo courtesy
    Grandma’s Molasses and Brown Eyed Baker.

     

    Alas, leprechauns don’t deliver treats on St. Patrick’s Day (they could take a tip from the Easter Bunny). You’ll have to bake your own leprechaun gingerbread men.

    Make your own gingerbread cookie recipe or use this one from Brown Eyed Baker for Grandma’s Molasses:

    RECIPE: GINGERBREAD MEN

    Ingredients For 30 Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 12
    pieces and softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  •  
    PREPARATION

    1. USE a food processor fitted with steel blade. In the workbowl process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds.

    2. SCATTER butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds. (Alternatively, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1½ minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.)

    3. SCRAPE dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll ¼-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

    4. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    5. REMOVE one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into gingerbread people or round cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-line cookie sheets with a wide metal spatula, spacing them ¾-inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full.

    6. BAKE cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking time. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

    7. GATHER scraps; repeat rolling, cutting and baking in steps 3 and 5. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

    6. DECORATE with royal icing once cookies are cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

     
    ROYAL ICING RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • Optional: food color (for gingerbread, green and yellow)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIFT together sugar and cream of tartar.

    2. BEAT in 4 beaten egg whites with an electric mixer. Beat for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

    3. TINT with food color as desired.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Corned Beef & Shamrock Appetizers

    What a great accompaniment to a pre-dinner beer on St. Patrick’s Day! The “shamrock” is made with a shamrock cookie cutter and sliced avocado.

    Who’d have thought to pair corned beef and avocado? The California Avocado Commission!

    RECIPE: SHAMROCK AVOCADO & CORNED BEEF BITES

    Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 sweet gherkin pickles, diced
  • 16 rye, multigrain or water crackers
  • 32 squares (about the same size as the crackers) cooked
    corned beef
  • Small shamrock cookie cutter
  •  

    shamrock-avocado-bites-calavocado-230

    Cute appetizers for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE shamrocks. With the peel still on, slice four slices (¼-inch thick) from the sides of the whole avocado. Remove seed from center section and slice the avocado in half lengthwise. Peel slices. Using a small shamrock-shaped cookie cutter, cut shamrock-shaped avocado pieces for each cracker. Cover surface with plastic wrap so avocado doesn’t discolor; set aside.

    2. PLACE remaining avocado in a small bowl and stir in pickles. Spread avocado mixture on each cracker.

    3. TOP with two squares of corned beef, then an avocado shamrock. Serve.

     
    MORE IRISH-STYLE RECIPES

  • Lucky Irish Twice Baked Potatoes: recipe
  • Corned Beef & Killarney Avocado Slaw Sandwich: recipe
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Avocado & Sour Cream On Toast

    Avocado and sour cream on toast is a favorite breakfast of Chef Lorena Garcia.

    It looks like poached eggs, but it’s sour cream atop the chopped avocado.

    And while it’s a south-of-the-border concept, it’s a great green dish for St. Patrick’s Day. Not everything has to be corned beef, cabbage and soda bread.

    RECIPE: AVOCADO ON TOAST

    Ingredients

  • Toasted peasant bread or rye bread
  • Avocado, sliced, cubed or otherwise cut up
  • Sour cream
  • Garnish: minced chives, chile flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST bread. Top with avocado slices.

     

    avocado-toast-cheflorenagarcia-230

    Delicious anytime, try it for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy Chef Lorena Garcia.

     

    2. GARNISH with sour cream, minced chives and chili flakes.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: A Caramel Popcorn Pie For National Pi Day

    caramel-corn-pie-kaminsky-230

    Caramel custard popcorn pie with a caramel
    corn topping. Who can resist? Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    March 14 is National Pi Day: 3.14 (get it?). And this is a very special National Pie Day: It’s 3.14. (actually, 3.14159265359, so next year will be the full-on Pi Day, 3.14.15). The next “double pi day” won’t be until March 14, 2114. So celebrate double pi day while you can.

    Food enthusiasts have co-opted the day as “pie” day—any excuse for a piece of pie! (And for this special year, two pieces of pie.)

    One of our favorite bakers, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, developed this terrific fusion: caramel corn atop caramel custard pie.

    “For all the love that popcorn wins as a standalone snack,” says Hannah, “it strikes me as a huge failure of creativity that there aren’t more attempts at popcorn cupcakes, popcorn cookies or popcorn pies.

    “Luckily, with a bit of custard and caramel, this is a problem we can fix. In this pie, notes of burnt sugar compliment a buttery undertone, accented with a good pinch of salt. If you’re craving popcorn, it might be a wise idea to think inside the crust.”

    A tip from Hannah: The caramel corn topping takes a bit longer to bake than the pie itself, so your best bet is to prepare it in advance. Preheat the oven to 225°F and line a jellyroll pan with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat.

     
    Note that you will be making two four-cup batches of caramel corn: one for the custard pie filling and one for the topping (and extra snacking).
     
    RECIPE: HANNAH KAMINSKY’S CARAMEL CORN PIE

    Ingredients For 8 To 12 Servings

    For The Crunchy Caramel Corn Topping

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar (or 1-1/3 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  •  
    For The Caramel Corn Pie Filling

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 2-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds, ground
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  •  
    Plus

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel corn (see popping tips below.) Then place the first four cups of popped corn in a large bowl near the stove.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, butter, agave and salt in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cook at a vigorous bubble while stirring continuously for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. It will foam and bubble angrily, but don’t just stand around and watch it: Make haste and pour the mixture all over the popcorn. Toss to coat each and every kernel, and spread the syrupy corn out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. It will become perfectly crisp once cool, so despite the tempting aroma, resist the urge to take a bite until it reaches room temperature.

    4. REMOVE the popcorn from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 325°F.

    5. MAKE the custard filling by combining the second measure of popped corn with the milk in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 1 hour for the corn to soften and infuse into the liquid.

     

    popcorn-kernels-trio-230

    Sure, you could use pre-popped caramel corn. But for the freshest flavor, pop your own. Photo of heirloom popcorn kernels by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

     
    6. TRANSFER the popcorn milk to a blender or food processor and thoroughly purée. Process at least 5 full minutes at high speed to break down the kernels as much as possible, longer if necessary. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing to get all the liquid out. Discard the solids.

    7. POUR the popcorn milk back into the medium saucepan and vigorously whisk in all the remaining ingredients for the filling. When perfectly smooth, turn on the heat to medium and bring to a boil while stirring continuously, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent the mixture from burning. Once the mixture has thickened to the point that the bottom of the pan remains visible when you stir—without the filling immediately flowing back over the surface—turn off the heat and quickly transfer the filling to the unbaked pie shell.

    8. BAKE until the custard is set and browned on top, about 45-50 minutes. The center should still be a bit jiggly when tapped, much like a cheesecake. Let cool completely and top with a generous mound of the crunchy caramel corn topping before serving at room temperature.
     
    CORN POPPING INSTRUCTIONS

    1. PLACE the popcorn kernels in a medium-size brown paper bag. If you’re not sure if the bag is big enough, err on the side of caution and pop the corn in two separate batches. Use cellophane or masking tape to seal the bag shut, and put it in the microwave.

    2. SELECT the “popcorn” setting if available, or set the timer for 3½ minutes at full power.

    3. LISTEN carefully: When the popping slows to about once every 3 seconds, remove the bag. Open it very carefully, making sure your hands and face are out of the way—the steam can be quite hot. Sift out any unpopped kernels.

      

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