San Diego, beautiful, sunny, perfect San Diego. Wait, did I mention beautiful, sunny, and perfect? I love San Diego; it is one of my favorite cities in the US. Mountainous hills, lush green landscapes, colorful flowers, beautiful sandy and rocky beaches, clear skies, deep blue ocean … I can go on, but you get the gist. I went to this beautiful city earlier this summer to celebrate my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday. I stayed with my cousin Rody, his wife Yelena, and their beautiful baby girl, Lucy. We had a wonderful time hiking with Zeus and Hercules, Rody and Yelena’s beautiful Weimaraners, walking around sunlit streets, taking in the scenery and the culture, sampling the freshest seafood and produce, and of course, enjoying every bit of the gorgeous weather.
On Sunday evening, Game of Thrones was on, and Yelena and I were determined to watch it. She made us some tea, and then she made the very BEST popcorn I have ever had. Allow me to elaborate a little. I love my popcorn popped on the stove with extra virgin olive oil. I LOVE that flavor! When Rody was telling me what goes in their popcorn, to be completely honest, I was not intrigued much. Actually, the combination sounded slightly questionable. However, as I consider myself a “foodie”, I decided to give it a chance. First, Yelena heated some avocado oil in a big pot, and then she added the popcorn kernels and covered the pot. As the kernels were popping, she shook the pot every 10 seconds or so. After kernels popped, she added a generous amount of salt, organic apple cider vinegar, and za’atar mixture. Of course, the za’atar did not have any olive oil, just the za’atar herb, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds. She topped everything with a bit of grated white cheddar cheese. Let me tell you … it was the MOST delicious popcorn that I have EVER had in my life! It tasted a little like bit of salt and vinegar, yes, like the potato chips, with a little herb. It was fabulous!!! I couldn’t stop eating …
Back home in Dallas, I decided to make it for my daughter for our “mother/daughter movie night”, since my husband was out of town on a work trip. I, like Yelena, also used avocado oil to pop my popcorn. I then salted it, added some apple cider vinegar to it, and sprinkled the za’atar I brought back from my grandmother’s garden all over that fluffy popcorn. I, however, did not add any cheese, as my daughter is not much of a fan. She LOVED the popcorn! It has become the new way of making popcorn at our house.
SALT AND VINEGAR POPCORN WITH ZA’ATAR
1/4 cup Avocado Oil
3/4 cup Popcorn Kernels
6 – 8 teaspoons Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
4 tablespoons Za’atar (mixture of Wild Thyme, Sumac, & Sesame Seeds)
3 tablespoons grated Aged White Cheddar Cheese
Heat the avocado oil in a large pot on medium high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the popcorn kernels and cover with a lid. Once the kernels start popping, gently shake the pot back and forth over the burner. Repeat this step every few seconds, until you only hear a pop or two within 3 seconds. Remove the popcorn from the heat. Try keeping the lid very slightly ajar during the popping process. This method will help the steam to escape, which will yield fluffier and dryer popcorn.
Once you remove the popcorn from the heat, immediately add a couple of sprinklings of salt. Toss the popcorn to make sure it is evenly sprinkled with the salt. Be careful not to use too much salt, as the cheese will also add saltiness to the popcorn.
Gently sprinkle the apple cider vinegar onto the popcorn, while tossing it between spoonfuls to ensure even coverage.
Gently sprinkle the za’atar and the cheddar cheese onto the popcorn as well. Toss to cover evenly. If you do not want to add the cheese, feel free to omit it as I did for my daughter. The result would still be delicious! Also, you may adjust the amount of cider vinegar, za’atar, and cheddar cheese according to your taste.
Place the popcorn in a large bowl, serve, and enjoy with or without a movie.