Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Many Ways with Popcorn.

Today I want to share with you a lovely little cookbook devoted to popcorn, and produced, not unsurprisingly, by a manufacturer of ‘corn for popping’. I have a special regard for small, single topic cookery books. The level of culinary creativity required in filling a book is sometimes frighteningly large. Who would have thought that you could do so much with popped corn?

Nelson’s Pop Corn Recipes was written by Mary Hamilton Talbott (“a well-known recipe writer for the leading periodicals”) and published in Grinnell, Iowa, in 1916. The reader is addressed as “Dear Madam”, and is informed, or reassured, that Nelson’s corn for popping “is a corn of the highest popping test, and is the pick of Iowa’s best of the Amber Rice Variety”, and is advised, or fore-warned, that “It will pay you to insist upon Nelson’s 10c per pound package.”

There are “recipes of great use in preparing the dainty dishes for that pleasant evening.” Actually, not just for evening: there are plenty of breakfast popcorn suggestions too: as hot or cold cereal, with cheese, in an omelet or as hash, in scrapple, or with bacon (a generous handful of the popped corn being browned in the bacon grease and being served with the meat).

Pop corn also apparently works well in various meat substitutes: there are recipes in the book for Pop Corn Roast, Pop Corn Cutlet, Pop Corn Rolls. It also features in soup, stuffing, salads, and sandwiches, in various vegetable dishes, and, of course, in candy and desserts. I had some trouble choosing what to feature today, I can tell you. In the end I selected two recipes - the first, a savoury dish (which makes a fun and worthy addition to the Fun with Potatoes archive.

As for my second choice, I offer it in the hope of obtaining some understanding of why one would ruin a perfectly lovely custard with the addition of gritty powdered popcorn.

Potato and Pop Corn Balls.
Mix two cupsful of hot mashed potatoes, one teaspoonful of chopped onion, one tablespoonful of chopped parsley, two tablespoonfuls of butter, salt and pepper to taste, then shape them into small balls, open the center and put in some popped corn – Nelson’s makes the crisp and flaky grains – place on a buttered dish and cook in a moderate oven a quarter of an hour, sprinkle ground popped corn over them before removing from the oven, and serve alone or with tomato sauce.

Pop Corn Cream Pudding.
Soak a quarter of a box of gelatine in a quarter of a cupful of cold water. Make a custard of two cupsful of milk, three egg yolks, a third of a cupful of sugar, and a third of a teaspoon of salt; add the gelatine, and strain into a pan set in cold water. Stir in two thirds of a cupful of Nelson’s corn, popped and ground, and a teaspoonful of almond extract, stirring until it begins to thicken. Then add the stiffly whipped whites of three eggs, mould, chill, and serve garnished with the whole grains of popped corn. Whipped cream may be served with this pudding.

Quotation for the Day.

Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.
Unknown (attribute it, if you can, please)


Anonymous said...

The quote is by David Gerrold, but I don't know if it's from a book, a speech, or an interview.


~~louise~~ said...

Happy Popcorn Poppin' Month, Janet. I had planned on celebrating with a popcorn flour post but alas, no can do. I'll be saving this link for next year that's for sure.

Potato and Pop Corn Balls? Uh, I don't think book, thanks for sharing...

D. S. Foxx said...

I've never seen this with gelatin added, how strange! So-called Pilgrim Pudding/Indian Pudding shows up occasionally in trying-for-historical-accuracy dinners, some of which are more edible than others -G-. The best of them I've had was quite close to a polenta "sand cake," texturally interesting, but several were sadly soggy as the popcorn absorbed moisture.

Popcorn roast? Details, please!


Tri2Cook said...

I make popcorn custards, ice cream, sherbet, panna cotta, etc. by infusing the heated dairy with freshly popped popcorn and then sieving it out. All of the flavor with no gritty or soggy problems that way.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.
Anonymous - I will get in and edit this post - thanks!
Louise - the book is available at the Internet Archive (lots of good stuff there)
D.S.Foxx - I dont honestly fancy many of these interpretations with popcorn - but I do like Tri2Cook's idea to get the flavour.
Tri2Cook - as I said, great idea to get the toasty corny flavour without the lumpy gritty bits.