If I had to list the most frequent question I get asked, it would be “Do your kids really eat the food that you make?” It’s sort of a complicated answer. The short answer is yes, because they do eat dinner with us every night, and I don’t make a separate meal for them. But they are kids with their own opinions about food, and each of them has a couple of particular dislikes that I respect. But even though E despises fresh tomatoes and F refuses to eat the yolk of a hard boiled egg, we still eat both of those foods with great frequency. I’m also aware that they don’t love their dishes as spicy as we do, and so I spice and sauce accordingly. And they also enjoy eating meat, so occasionally we have some on the table.
I’m really enjoying Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat. While I don’t limit myself to vegetarian cookbooks, I find that when I’m looking to purchase a book and find a spot on the shelf for that book, I get more bang for my buck with these. I always read cookbooks from cover to cover, and I love the way this book talks about the layering of components within a dish or meal. There’s a lot of freedom within its pages, but the templates for the dishes are really extraordinary.
Plus, I knew if these guys were recommending it, then I was all in.
One thing that I love to make and serve is tacos because it gives just enough freedom of taste at the table. These popcorn tacos were perfect for a Saturday afternoon. There’s no shortage of heat in this recipe, but again, the girls can taste and layer accordingly. And they never say ‘no’ to crunch and sweetness in a dish.
There are three components to this dish. First the popcorn: Add a splash of olive oil to a large pan and heat over low heat (I eventually raised mine to medium low.) Add 3 tablespoons of kernels and put on the lid. Once a minute you’ll want to really shake the pan to prevent burning. Once the corn starts to pop, pay close attention; when the popping has stopped, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.
Mix the popcorn spices together: 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of honey or agave syrup. Warm them up in a small pan on the stove until combined; toss with the popcorn until it’s coated.
Caramelized Corn: Cut the kernels off four corn cobs. (I always do this on a rimmed baking sheet to try and curb the mess!) Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the kernels until charred and caramelized, about 5-10 minutes. Add the following to the charred kernels: the zest and juice from one lime, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (go less, for less heat), 1 red or green chile, finely chopped, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of plain yogurt or crème fraîche. (You’ll want an additional 1/4 – 1/2 cup of yogurt or crème fraîche for serving with the tacos.)
Peel two avocados and small dice the flesh. Squeeze a little lime juice over the top of the pieces.
Taco time! Warm 8 small or 4 large corn or wheat tortillas. Divide the corn kernels between the tortillas and top with the following: a spoonful of yogurt or crème fraîche, some avocado, some crumbled feta (I used cotija because I had some on hand), and a pinch of chopped cilantro. Scatter the spiced popcorn over the top, and enjoy! The flavors here are really incredible, and the spicy, sweet popcorn adds the perfect ending note. And no one ever complains about watermelon on the side. Summer Saturday lunch at its best.