Eat Good Food

Heirloom Popcorn (plus a popcorn balls recipe!)

Popcorn is irresistible and so it has been for some time. Long before movie night microwave bags, popcorn was a savory snack and cultural symbol throughout the Americas. Domesticated by Pre-Columbian indigenous peoples in 5,000 B.C.E., popcorn is one of the oldest corns still cultivated today. Archeologists have even unearthed intact popped kernels in a New Mexican cave that date back 4,000 years!

“Pop” is one of six types of corn. Its small, dense kernels are full of flavor and “pop” when heated. Since the introduction of Orville Redenbacher’s “Gourmet Popping Corn” in the 1960s, most commercial popcorns are hybrid varieties. Heirloom popcorn varieties are strains of popcorn whose traits have been maintained over time. These varieties safeguard unique flavors and textures that otherwise would have been lost to commercialization.

Eating heirloom popcorn is a way to connect to history. The multicolor kernels are the visual signs that the popcorn will taste different. Although they still pop into white, fluffy morsels, heirloom varieties have complex flavors. Of course, you can still add butter, but it is also refreshing to taste the specialty snack with a diversity of seasonings.

Once you’ve made heirloom popcorn at home, try this simple recipe for popcorn balls featuring Steen’s Cane Syrup.

Steen’s Popcorn Balls
Yields 3 dozen

1  cup sugar
1 ⅓  cups Steen’s cane syrup
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 quarts popped corn, lightly salted (try SHED Heirloom Popcorn)
¾  cup roasted salted peanuts (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
¼  teaspoon baking soda

Prepare your work surface with waxed or parchment paper. Combine popcorn and peanuts and large bowl and set aside.

Melt sugar, syrup, ⅔ cup water, vinegar, and salt over medium heat in a saucepan. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until mixture reaches 260 degrees (use a candy thermometer) and be sure it does not boil over. Remove from heat and stir in butter and baking soda. The mixture will foam.

Pour  ⅔ of syrup over popcorn mixture (set remaining ⅓ of syrup on very low heat) and mix well with a wooden spoon. Lather hands with butter and form mixture into balls, working quickly before the syrup hardens. Stir in remaining syrup if the balls do not hold together

Set popcorn balls on prepared surface and let cool. Serve once cooled, or wrap individually in waxed paper and enjoy later.

Recipe adapted from Julia Moskin and Kim Severson’s recipe on cooking.nytimes.com.

Eat Good Food

New Year’s Eve 2017 Cheese Guide

We adore a good cheese plate any time, but particularly at important holiday parties like those that mark the end of one year and the start of another. Here’s the cheese we’re purveying in our Healdsburg store in honor of 2017’s completion. Come get some!

Rush Creek Reserve, Uplands Cheese, Wisconsin ($35/lb)
Bound in spruce bark, this soft, young, cow’s milk cheese has a silky texture with notes of smoke, beef broth, and grass. A seasonal favorite made only in autumn as the diet of the cows begins to change to winter’s dry hay.

Rogue River Blue, Rogue Creamery, Oregon ($50/lb)
This cow’s milk cheese is wrapped in grape leaves that have been soaked in pear brandy. The blue veining lends hints of hazelnuts and fruit; the paste becomes slightly crystallized as it ages.

Black Betty Aged Goat Gouda, Fromagerie L’Amuse, Holland ($35/lb)
Every year, Betty Koster sets aside a small trove of her treasured goat gouda. All of the caramel, grassy elements are intensified in this limited run beauty.

Mimolette Aged 24 Months, France ($28/lb)
This semi-hard cow’s milk cheese is produced in six-pound spheres with a bright, orange-colored interior. Sometimes called the “Halloween Cheese,” its taste is gloriously sweet, yet uncommonly tame for such a cheese.

Stilton, Colton Bassett, England ($33/lb)
This blue cheese is made with the milk of four dairies still using original pasturelands from the 1920s. Towards the center of the wheel, the profile is bright with a vibrant fruity tang. Closer to the rind, the flavor becomes earthy and savory.

Eat Good Food

Springerle Recipe

Springerle are German cookies scented with anise and lemon, pressed into molds and dried overnight. This thorough springerle recipe from House on the Hill is sure to help you through the baking process for these biscotti-like cookies. Baker’s ammonia creates a crisp, honeycomb-like crumb, but baking powder will work in a pinch.

Springerle

1/2 teaspoon baker’s ammonia or baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
6 large eggs, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon anise oil, optional
2 lb. cake flour, sifted
Zest of 1 lemon
More flour as needed

Dissolve baker’s ammonia in milk and set aside. Beat eggs till thick and yellow, 10 minutes. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then the butter. Add the ammonia and milk, salt, anise oil, if using, and zest. Gradually beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in the remainder of the flour to make stiff dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead in enough flour to make a good print without sticking.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a flat pancake approximately 1/2 inch thick. Roll thinner or thicker based on the depth of the carving in the cookie press you are using. Shallow carvings will need to be thinner while deeper carvings will need to be thicker. Using a sieve, generously flour the cookie mold for every pressing. Press the mold firmly and straight down into the dough, then lift, cut and place the formed cookie onto a flat surface to dry.

Do not cover the cookies while they dry. The goal of drying is to set the design. Let the cookies dry for 24 hours is best. Larger cookies and warm humid weather may require longer drying times. Cookies that are not dried long enough will not retain the beautiful designs, but will taste fine.

Bake on greased or baker’s parchment-lined cookie sheets at 255° to 325° till barely golden on the bottom, 10-15 minutes or more, depending on size of cookie.

Store in airtight containers or in zipper bags in the freezer. They keep for months, and improve with age. Yield 3 to 12 dozen.

Eat Good Food

Holiday Cookie Recipes

These holiday cookie recipes for roll-out sugar cookies and ginger cookies pair perfectly with our collection of California-inspired cookie cutters.

Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
8 oz unsalted butter, slightly soft
2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs and then vanilla. Add flour mixture all at once, mixing just until the flour is incorporated, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Form the dough into 2 discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll out of the dough on a lightly floured surface to ½-inch thick. Cut the dough using your favorite cookie cutter and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. For even baking, rotate the pan halfway through baking. Transfer the baked cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely before decorating or serving.

Ginger Cookies
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup cornstarch
6 ounces unsalted cultured butter (cold)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons organic sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoons allspice
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 whole egg plus 1 yolk (save egg white for frosting)
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
½ cup minced candied ginger (optional)

Frosting
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 egg white (saved from ingredients above)
¼ teaspoon orange extract or orange zest

Combine the flours and cornstarch together and set aside.

Cut the butter into small cubes, place in the bowl of a mixer, and cream the butter with the sugars until you have formed a uniform paste.

Add the spices, baking soda, and salt to the butter mixture. Then add the egg, molasses, and candied ginger and mix until uniform.

Add a third of the flour to the batter mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix together.

Take the dough out of the mixer and knead for a few quick turns.

Wrap and chill the dough for twelve hours. Roll the dough out on a floured work surface or between two sheets of parchment paper until the dough is 1/8th of an inch thick.

Cut the dough into desired shapes.

Bake at 325°F for twelve to fourteen minutes, or until firm to the touch.

While the cookies cool, combine all of the ingredients for the frosting and mix them together. Add natural food coloring if desired. Place the frosting in a piping bag or use a clean paintbrush to decorate the cookies.