Popcorn Garnishes, Sweet Garnish, Savory Garnish | THE NIBBLE Blog - Adventures In The World Of Fine Food TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory Popcorn Garnish – THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food
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TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory Popcorn Garnish

Before it was a popular snack, popcorn was a whole grain food. In Colonial times, it was eaten in a bowl with milk or cream, like modern puffed rice and other puffed cereal grains.

In the 18th century, after the corn harvest, farmers would toss corn kernels, some fat and a little molasses into a cast iron pot. Voilà: the first kettle corn. (Today, special popcorn strains create big, fluffy kernels.)

By the 1840s, corn popping had become a popular recreational activity in the U.S. By the 1870s, popcorn was sold in grocery stores and at concession stands at circuses, carnivals and fairs. The first commercial popcorn machine was invented in 1885; by the early 1920s, popcorn machines turned out hot buttered corn at most movie theaters.

Here’s the history of popcorn.

Considered a humble food accessible to all, it now used by fine chefs as a garnish for both sweet and savory food.
 
 
THE HUMBLE SNACK BECOMES FANCY FARE

Recently we featured an elegant savory corn custard, made from fresh corn and garnished with popcorn.

   
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Add some whole grain popcorn to your mac and cheese,perhaps flavored garlic or jalapeño. Photo: DK.
 
But a recipe doesn’t have to be made from corn—or be savory—to dazzle with a popcorn garnish. You can use popcorn as a fun food garnish.

While a popcorn garnish is not yet ubiquitous, it has long been a standard on cheese and beer soup. Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, who makes spicy popcorn for the garnish. But if you don’t have the time, plain popcorn works just fine.

Any thick soup—bean, lentil, vegetable—is ready to wear a popcorn garnish; as is a bowl of chili.
 
 
USE PLAIN OR FLAVORED POPCORN

A second level of fun in using a popcorn garnish: You can flavor the popcorn to complement the dish. Just a sample of popcorn flavors you can pair:

  • Savory flavors: bacon-chive, garlic, herb, jalapeño, mustard, parmesan-rosemary, sesame, truffle
  • Sweet flavors: caramel/salted caramel, chocolate, cinnamon-sugar, maple, peanut butter, peppermint, pineapple-coconut
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    If there’s a flavor you want, just toss it with popcorn. Here are 50 ways to season plain popcorn.

    You can also coat the popcorn in chocolate, or use purchased popcorn: chocolate-covered, chocolate-peppermint or maple for the holidays, and so forth.

     

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    Use caramel corn or a popcorn/pecan praline mix to top a cheesecake or (shown above) a carrot cake. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy MyKitchenStories.com.au.
     

    WAYS TO USE A POPCORN GARNISH

    Beverages: Hot chocolate, on a cocktail pick, on milkshakes

  • Breakfast: Grits or other hot cereal with sweet or savory corn (cheese popcorn on cheese grits, anyone?), pancakes and waffles with caramel corn, yogurt and cottage cheese with sweet or savory popcorn
  • Lunch/Dinner: Chicken breasts, chili, fish fillets, mac and cheese, soups, salads, grains, stews
  • Desserts: Crème brûlée, cupcakes, ice cream (here’s actual popcorn ice cream), layer cake, pudding (especially popcorn pudding)
  •  
    If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a simple way to try out popcorn garnishes:

    The next time you roll down the supermarket snack aisle, check out the popcorn selection. Buy a savory (plain salted popcorn) and a sweet variety (caramel corn or kettle corn) and start using them as garnishes.
     
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    *Leave off the butter and sugar, and season with spices or herbs, and you’ve got a fiber-filled, healthful snack.

     

      




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