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Kernel Season’s Popcorn Spritzer – Review

In a previous post John shared his secret to make Perfect Popped Popcorn, it is a very good method to make a healthy, low cost snack.  For the longest time I didn’t like popcorn, but lately I’ve been a ravenous popcorn addict, sneaking a small pot here and there just to get me by until I could make a big pot.  It has become my favorite snack in a hurry.

I like my popcorn with butter and salt, both of which are not known for being healthy.  Well I think I’ve solved the butter problem.  Enter Kernel Season’s Popcorn Spritzer!  I saw this in the popcorn section of our grocery store when I was gathering kernel’s to feed my addiction but I ignored it, thinking it would taste chemically, artificial or just bad.  In a day of weakness I picked up a bottle to try when my craving was at it’s peak.  Below is the product you are looking for in all of it’s splendor.

kernel seasons popcorn spritzer

I came home and made a small batch just to test this spritzer out, I didn’t know what to expect.  It was FANTASTIC!!!  The flavor is very close to real butter without the fat, calories and cholesterol.  No chemically, funny or otherwise displeasing taste or smell.  It is “lighter” is the best way I can explain it, it doesn’t have the dense feel butter leaves on popcorn.

I really enjoy the aerosol concept of applying it, it just seems like a good idea to me.  However that is one drawback, it seems to have too much propellent and comes out almost violently.  They suggest doing short bursts, which I agree with but I wish it was a gentler misting style discharge than an aggressive mist.  My other complaint would be that it does leave your fingers greasy and I don’t like that.  I’m not entirely sure about if this increases or decreases salt/seasoning adhesion or not.  They claim it does, however I notice a lot of loose salt on the bottom and sides of the bowl.  This could be the seasoning/salt adhering to the overspray on the bowl but it seems fairly loose.  Whatever the case it’s not enough of a short coming for me to have it disuade my usage.

I’ll stress the technique mentioned in John’s post about using fine salt.  We have the Perfex Salt and Pepper Mills which allow the user to control the size of the grind, from powder to whole peppercorns or sea salt crystals falling out as you turn the handle.  While these are expensive, I’ll certainly admit that, they are the last salt and pepper mill you will ever buy.  If you’re purchasing special salt this will pay for itself quickly and you can use it for other cooking as well and who doesn’t love cool cooking toys!  If you have to John’s food processor method is a good substitute, but I prefer sea salt/kosher salt to iodized salt, it has a mellower flavor and is more forgiving.

On the salt/seasoning front I’m going to continue testing the seasonings I find and report back with any findings worth sharing.  I’m also looking into salt substitutes, but so far they all taste “off” but I remain optimistic that I’ll find a way to make this a healthy snack!

Any suggestions of toppings I should try?  Lets take popcorn to the next level!

Basic Review of Ebelskivers

First of all we want to apologize to all of you for our lack of posting last month, we also want to send a HUGE thank you to John for keeping things going.  Tiffany and I got married last month and it had taken a lot of our free time and unfortunately Lukewarm Legumes suffered.  The great news is we are happily married and have a lot of great posts just waiting to be composed!  Now to your regularly scheduled post about Ebelskivers.

I first heard of Ebelskivers in 2009 from Food Networks “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” series.  Celebrity Chef Aaron Sanchez  raved about this delectable little stuffed breakfast style pastries from Denmark.  I’ve wanted to try them or make them ever since, and recently that dream had become a reality.  Tiffany and I were out shopping and stumbled into Williams Sonoma, and picked up their Nordic Ware Ebelskiver Pan while a little pricey it’s a very well constructed pan.  My only complaint would be the design is not favorable for glass top ranges, which is what we have.  That said, as long as you are careful then I don’t think it’s a huge concern, but don’t come complaining to me if you scratch your glass cooktop.  This is more of a stationary pan, bring it up to temperature and leave it there, the only time it is moved is when you are removing the finished ebelskivers and returning it to the stove.

Before we jump too far ahead we want it to be known that we really enjoy ebelskivers and this is the first of a few posts you’ll see on the topic.  We’ve only made them 6 or so times now and all have been sweet, we have yet to gravitate towards the savory, but we will eventually!

The basic ebelskiver batter we use is very similar to pancake batter.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) Sugar
1/2 teaspoon(s) Baking powder
1/4 teaspoon(s) Salt
2 whole(s) Eggs Separated
1 cup(s) Milk
2 tablespoon(s) Butter Melted and slightly cooled

Combine the dry ingredients, in separate bowl whisk together egg yolks, milk and butter, then combine with the dry ingredients – the batter will be lumpy.

Here is a picture of batter before folding in the beaten egg whites – please note this is a half batch.

ebelskiver batter

Whip the egg whites until stiff, fold in 1/3 at a time.

That’s it!

We typically add an extract to our batter, we’ve enjoyed coconut extract and vanilla extract but your creativity in balancing the filling to the batter is totally in your hands.  If you’re planning on a savory Ebelskiver then don’t use any extracts.

Next comes the cooking part, different people have different techniques but what I’ve found works best is to heat the pan to a med-low heat, have your filling ready, use a nonstick cooking spray or butter in the pan and then spoon in a generous tablespoon of batter into all of the ebelskiver openings. I’ve found it’s much better to under fill with batter than over fill, remember when you add your filling it displaces batter and fills up the rest of the cup.  Once the batter is in the pan quickly get your fillings into as close to the center of the batter as you can.   If you find you’re rushing too much turn the heat down a little.  As I mentioned before it’s much easier to have them a little on the small side than overly huge, however, as you’ll see in the image below the cups do fill up when you add the fillings.

Ebelskivers cooking

Another little trick I’ve been using since our first batch is that once the fillings are in I use my finger and kind of push the filling down and make sure it’s covered with batter.  The reason I do this is it typically produces an ebelskiver that is less likely to leak.  The image above is a cherry and chocolate sauce in coconut extract infused batter.

You’ll notice some bubbles when they are cooking, unlike with regular pancakes this is not an indication that they are ready to turn, even when the bubbles remain.  This just takes a little practice but after your first pan full you’ll have it down.

They sell a pair of sticks to flip/turn ebelskivers at Williams Sonoma for $13, we opted to just use wood skewers, the kind you use for grilling.  We also tried a high temperature slim silicon spatula and it didn’t work at all!  To flip them all you do is gently poke along one side and they should sort of start turning on their own, carefully help it make the complete flip and if you’ve over filled them gently, and carefully squish them into the pan.  You’ll know what I’m talking about if you do it, if you over fill them this is where it will become a problem.  When you try to flip an over filled ebelskiver it doesn’t fit back into the pan, the baking soda reacts and they grow when cooked.  If you do this and don’t squish them into the pan you end up with a most likely leaking ebelskiver that resembles a mushroom – they still taste great but it’s not a great demonstration of the technique used create what should be a uniform and sealed ebelskiver.

I typically plan for a single turn, that’s not to say you can’t flip them back over if you think they need more cooking but it shouldn’t be necessary if you are patient enough.  The finished product looks like what you see below.



You’ll notice some of these leaked and there is some uneven cooking, this was 100% my fault, this batch is one of our very first batches and we’ve gotten a lot better.  You can dip them in syrup, eat them as is, dust them with powdered sugar, whatever you feel is appropriate.

As I mentioned earlier we have become a big fan of these and we will follow up with additional posts on our success and failures (there have been a few), in the mean time we strongly suggest giving these tasty little stuffed pancakes a shot!




Lexington BBQ Fest 2011

Last Saturday, October 22, 2011  was the Annual Lexington BBQ Festival and what a sight it is!  I lived in Lexington for nearly 2 years, we recently purchased a home 20 minutes north of Lexington but Tiffany had never been to a BBQ Festival so we went to check it out.  This event is a HUGE food event, but it’s a lot more than just BBQ.  I bet most readers will find it shocking that neither Tiffany or I had any BBQ at BBQ Festival, held in Lexington, the self proclaimed BBQ Capital of the World – their claim, not mine!  I’ll explain why we didn’t later on, for now let’s discuss what has become a world famous food festival.

Since 1984 Lexington has hosted Barbecue Festival to wrap up their tribute of sorts to Barbecue Month, they have a number of Barbecue theme’d events all month long culminating in the enormous BBQ Festival.  The exact tally of how many come to pay homage to this unique style of BBQ is unknown but it’s rumored to be between 100,000 to 150,000 people, 2011 was probably on the high side of this.  Below is a sample of what the crowd looks like.

BBQ Festival Crowd

This crowd has come for BBQ and what’s turned into an enormous exhibition that encompasses just about anything you can imagine.  They also have been feathering in more traditional carnival and fair type attractions, including Pig and Duck races, Chainsaw show, rides, face painting, BMX Bike show, countless displays and of course fair food!  There is a general BBQ and pig overtone on everything, but that’s part of the charm of this festival.

A little history on Lexington style BBQ, like most regionally famous cuisines it stems from poverty, pigs were plentiful but the desirable cuts were sold for profit and they retained the less desirable cuts for themselves.  In this case they use pork butt or shoulder is used as the protein of choice for Lexington style BBQ.  From there there will likely be subtle difference from one BBQ place to another (there are over 20 BBQ restaurants in Lexington) and everyone likes their’s just a little different.  But typically it’s slow roasted over hardwood embers, “pit cooked” in what has become the traditional “low and slow” barbecue anthem.  Different places prefer different types of wood, but it usually is always hardwood and it’s always cooked low and slow.  There is no dry rub, no conventional seasoning applied during cooking though it is basted with Lexington style bbq sauce, what the local’s call “dip.”  Much like the actual wood blend used to cook the pork dip varies slightly from place to place, the basic formula for dip is equal parts, vinegar, ketchup and water with salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste and it’s traditionally cooked down while the pig is cooking.  Like I said every place does the sauce a little differently and it can range from sweet to tangy to even a little spicy.  Once the pig is cooked it’s traditionally served “chopped” which means just that, it’s cut up and chopped into very small pieces, see the image below to get an idea of the consistency.

Chopped BBQ Sandwich

It’s typically served on a very inexpensive roll with a side of dip and/or some restaurants apply a little dip when making the sandwich.  If you’ve looked closely you’ll notice some red and white “slaw” on top of the meat, that is another staple to Lexington style bbq.  This slaw, which is known as bbq slaw in this area is super simple and I just love it.  Red Slaw is just chopped cabbage, vinegar, ketchup and black pepper.  A little variation I’ve made to this slaw is I do equal parts bbq sauce and ketchup, it adds a greater depth of flavor and a pleasant smokiness – purest think I am the devil.

That pretty much wraps up the mystery of Lexington BBQ, the festival is based around this rather unique style.  As anyone who has looked closely into BBQ knows, it varies hugely region to region, one of these variation is eastern NC bbq which is radically different from western NC bbq, in the eastern side of the state it’s more of a vinegar based sauce, they enjoy NC ribs and they don’t use “dip” they use “mop” but that’s a post for another time, back to the festival.

I mentioned earlier that we didn’t have the BBQ, I recommended this option for two reasons, it was a beautiful day and the turnout to the free admission festival was huge, it was estimated at near 150,000 people this year.  It seems they run out of BBQ every year and I felt it would be nice to let those who traveled a greater distance enjoy it on the day of the festival, we can get it just about any day.  Also, the purest claim the bbq isn’t as good on the day of the festival because the participating restaurants all commingle the bbq and then you lose a lot of the subtlety of the individual places.  All of these altruistic reasons aside, we wanted the fair food that is rarely available in this area.  We had funnel cake, home made ice cream, butterfly chips with cheese and sampled a number of other local products.  We rarely get to eat these delicious and terrible foods so we enjoyed cutting loose and participating in the festivities.

Additionally we met a lot of fantastic vendors, saw some incredible products and enjoyed a very family friendly environment.  If you’re anywhere in the area I strongly recommend checking out this food festival or making a trip to try this delicious and unique Lexington Style BBQ at any of the many local BBQ restaurants in town.