Tonawanda News

February 25, 2012

COLUMN: Make your popcorn red carpet-worthy

— Annual movie award shows are the perfect excuse for hosting a party, not that you really need an excuse. Gathering your best bunch of pals for an evening of good-natured cattiness and competition is a guaranteed good time. You can make the party as high or low brow as you’d like, but having a specific theme in mind will make the evening an affair to remember.


The most popular theme for the annual move award shows is glitz and glamour, and it’s easy to make your guests feel like a star. If you have a large automobile, have your spouse or a friend act as “chauffeur” for the evening. When guests arrive, roll out the red carpet ... literally. If you don’t have a red carpet or sheet, you can purchase red material from the remnant bin at the local fabric store for a few dollars. Use your old karaoke machine microphone to announce guests as they arrive and recruit your kids or friends to pose as paparazzi, snapping plenty of pics from disposable cameras to add to the atmosphere.


Ask your pals to arrive in themed attire. The obvious is pure glam with tiaras, rhinestones, boas, high heels and the like. Or have them raid the closet and dress in those “items you bought but have never had an occasion to wear” because they’re too divine or too hideous. Make it a pajama party, preferably of the Doris Day variety. Or come dressed as your favorite Academy Award winner, male or female, living or deceased.


You can set the decor stage with objects that represent the contending movies, for example, leis for the movie “The Descendents” or baseball pennants for “Moneyball.” Haul out the holiday twinkle lights and hang them around the room. Bring out the silver and crystal to serve equally glamorous hors d’oeuvres or snacks.


Variety is the key. Offer foods that range from spicy to savory to sweet; hot to cold; and healthy to decadent to satisfy all. Here are some popcorn recipes that’ll prove to be award-winners for your crowd.

Stovetop popping

To pop popcorn on a stovetop, cover the bottom of a 3- to 4-quart pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil (don’t use butter, it will burn). Place three kernels of popcorn in the pan, cover with a loose lid that allows steam to escape, and heat. When the kernels pop, pour in enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan, one kernel deep, cover the pan and shake to evenly spread the oil. When the popping begins to slow to a few seconds apart, remove the pan from the stovetop. The heated oil will still pop the remaining kernels.

Savory popcorn de Provence

8 cups popped popcorn

1/2 stick butter or margarine

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 tablespoon herbs de Provence (a blend of dried marjoram, thyme, summer savory, basil, rosemary, sage and fennel)

Melt butter in small saucepan; add garlic and cook 1 minute.

Stir in herbs de Provence.

Place popcorn in large bowl.

Toss flavored butter mixture over popcorn; serve immediately.

Ballpark popcorn crunch

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 quarts unsalted popped popcorn

1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and brown sugar till light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, toss popcorn and walnuts.

Add creamed mixture to popcorn and nuts. Combine until coated.

spread on a large baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake at 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until crisp.

Mocha popcorn

3 cups sugar

1/3 unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant coffee granules

1 cup milk

6 quarts popped popcorn

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Place popcorn in a large bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray; set aside.

Line a baking sheet or work surface with waxed paper or foil.

Stir sugar, cocoa, instant coffee and milk together in a large saucepan.

Cook until mixture registers 250 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally.

Pour hot mixture over popcorn; stir to coat popcorn completely.

Spread popcorn onto prepared surface and allow to cool.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Break into pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container.

Spicy rosemary and thyme snack mix

1 quart popped popcorn

1 teaspoon roasted red pepper oil

1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon minced rosemary

1/4 teaspoon kosher or table salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spread popcorn on a baking sheet and sprinkle with roasted red pepper oil.

Sprinkle with thyme, rosemary salt and pepper.

Bake 7 minutes and serve warm.

Create your own popcorn bar

Freshly popped popcorn to suit the size of your munching bunch

Topping options:

Popcorn salt and pepper

Assorted herbs and spices

Nuts (pine nuts, peanuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)

Cheese crackers

Pretzel sticks

Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.)

Grated cheese

Chocolate chips

Cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg

Set out a large bowl of popcorn. Put smaller bowls with various popcorn fixings around the big bowl of popcorn.  Let each person fill a paper bag or other container with popcorn and top or mix with their desired flavorings.

— Recipes courtesy of the Popcorn Board.