I’m on the home straight of recipe testing for Recipes from Brixton Village as I finish up the last 20 or so recipes while completing the manuscript. I’m loving learning about new ingredients and challenging myself so that you will all have a few surprises in store when you all see the book. But it does mean that when I’m cooking for myself I want simple flavours and simple dishes.
I also want things I can eat with the minimum of fuss and thought, preferably as I write and edit so I can believe in the myth of multi tasking. Popcorn has been fitting the bill perfectly but my usual scattering of sweet and salty needed a shake up. I wanted something sweet, but sophisticated and definitely not sickly.
I’ve been using palm sugar for several Thai recipes in the book so had a batch melted and ready to use. That was the sweet sorted and the sickly prevented since palm sugar is is flavoursome instead of just being sugary. But it needed something else. I opened the cupboards and stared in search of inspiration. Just as I was about to give up and simply use some sea salt, my nose twitched as I caught a waft of the bag of lavender I bought to use in a cake for the book. Warmly floral and slightly lemony when eaten, I love a bit of lavender. I was officially inspired.
Lavender and Vanilla Popcorn
- 150g palm sugar
- 50g water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or butter
- 3 tablespoons popping corn per person
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender
- scant pinch vanilla sea salt (optional)
Start by preparing your palm sugar syrup. Put the water in a pan and add the palm sugar, melting gently over a medium heat. I used the little pucks of palm sugar you can buy, but if you can get granulated this is much quicker. Stir the pucks while they melt and allow it all to reduce a touch until you have a dark brown thick but pourable syrup. Add the vanilla extract and stir. Set aside to cool.
Grind the dried lavender along with the sea salt in a pestle and mortar. I bought a small pot of the Halen Mon vanilla sea salt two years ago to make these salted vanilla toffee apples and still have plenty as a little goes a long way.
To make the popcorn, I use the microwave. Put the oil or butter into a paper bag such an empty flour bag and then add the popping corn. I find it easier to pop a portion at a time and then dress it all at once, otherwise you are likely to burn the popcorn if you make too much in one go.
Toss the corn round and then put the bag, sitting on its base in the microwave and cook for 1 minute 30 seconds. About 30 seconds, you should start to hear the corn begin to pop. Stop it part way through and carefully shake the bag. Allow it to finish popping. Open the bag carefully to avoid the cloud of steam.
Pour about two tablespoons of the palm sugar syrup into a large bowl and stir the lavender and salt through it. Toss the freshly popped corn in and mix well to coat it. Serve
You will have syrup leftover from the main batch, which is just as well as you will want to make more popcorn the minute you’ve finished this. It tastes amazing and makes the house smell extraordinary. Perfect for a quiet night in. Book editing optional…