Friday, July 18, 2008

Wild Dominoes

You know how they patiently build those endless lines and patterns of dominoes and when they're done, they tip over just one, which topples all the rest, one by one. A prime illustration of how one durned thang can lead you right along to another. It was sort of like that in my kitchen today. The dominoes I was dealing with were the new Whirley-Pop, a container of Jolly Time popcorn, a bowl of cooked chicken ready to be portioned and frozen, a package of bacon and an avocado.

As I sat sipping my morning coffee, my thoughts strolled leisurely from recalling the ease of using the Whirley-Pop yesterday for the coffee beans to contemplation of using it for its original purpose -- a batch of popcorn. I was also thinking I'd like to fashion another meal out of that chicken before freezing the rest of it. Had myself two burritos yesterday stuffed with spicy rice, chicken and cheese. Something similar might just hit the spot today. Like maybe some chicken patties. Except I didn't want to use a lot of the chicken supply so I'd need an extender like bread cubes. Oops. I don't have any bread. Well, I suppose I could whup out a loaf ...

I mulled this over as I got online and registered the Whirley-Pop. Couldn't help but notice all the popcorn recipes while I was at the site. Which got me to thinking -- instead of using bread cubes as an extender, why couldn't I use popped popcorn? That called for a Google session to see if anyone else had done that. Found lots of recipes where the popped popcorn is whizzed through a blender or food processor until a flour is formed. The result is used in baked goods instead of, or in tandem with, regular flour. But I didn't see anything done the way I was picturing it. Hmmm ... time to call on my inner mad scientist.

By the time I got back to the kitchen, my line of mental dominoes was proliferating at an alarming rate. The first thing I did was to whup up a kettle of popcorn (1/3 cup of kernels, which made around 6 cups of popcorn) and set it aside in a bowl.

Then I took the package of bacon and cut it in half across the strips and baked the half-strips in the FlavorWave. That was a shining success! The grease couldn't drip off of the strips fast enough and the bacon cooked perfectly -- and nicely flat, as well.

While that was going on, I started a batch of bread dough with the idea of making hamburger buns instead of a loaf. Any basic bread recipe will do for this. When the dough cycle is done, divide the dough into 8 parts, shape the buns and lay them on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan that has been sprinkled with a thin layer of cornmeal. Cover and let rise, then bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Gorgeous buns -- and they taste much better than store bought, honest.

The bacon was finished and draining further on paper towels. The dough was doing its thing in the bread machine. Time to have at the chicken. A couple of days ago I boiled the bejaysus out of a whole chicken until it was literally falling off the bones. The result was a lovely bowl of meat that can be used for so many different things it makes one dizzy.

I scooped out enough chicken to measure about 2 cups once it was thoroughly minced to a faretheewell. To that I added about a cup of shredded cheddar and a couple of tablespoons of dry onion flakes. Then I added 1 egg to 1 cup of chicken broth and whisked them together. For seasoning, I wanted to try a tip from the Rachael Ray site. She says if you don't have any smoked paprika, you can make a substitute by mixing 1 tablespoon cumin with 2 teaspoons sweet paprika. So I did. And I scared myself because, without thinking, I put the whole thing in the broth mixture instead of just a portion of it, as I'd intended. Fortunately, the result was wonderful so that goes down in the column under Serendipitous Error.

Now it was time for the "mad" part of the mad scientist experiment. I poured the broth mixture into the chicken mixture and then started working in the popcorn, a couple of cups at a time. Got my hands right into it and started going moosh, moosh, mooshy-moosh. That popcorn slurped up the liquid like a dying man in the desert and it blended itself quite nicely with the other ingredients. I used the whole 6 cups of popcorn. Or maybe it was 7 cups. I'm really not sure of anything except that it all went in before I got the consistency that would allow me to make patties that wouldn't fall apart.

Using an ice cream scoop for portion control, I shaped 8 patties out of the batch. Laid them out on a platter and popped them in the freezer until the buns were ready. That happened all in due course so, while the finished buns were resting with their towel cover, I pulled a couple of the chicken patties out of the freezer to cook. Next time I think they'll do best if they're pan fried with just a touch of olive oil. They're a bit too tender to be laying directly on the wire rack in the FlavorWave, which is how I fixed them this time. It worked out fine but there was a touchy moment there, when I was turning them over to do the other side and thought I was going to lose pieces.

While the patties were cooking, I sliced a couple of buns in half and spread them with chipotle mayonnaise (McCormick makes a really tasty version.) and layered them with avocado slices. The patties fit perfectly on top of the avocado and the bacon settled in place on top of the patties. I cannot TELL you how sublime was the combination of flavors. And nobody would remotely imagine they were eating popcorn.

Well, they wouldn't if I'd made sure there were no unpopped kernels in the chicken mixture. Actually, I was under the mistaken impression that every single kernel had popped but, by golly, I found an "old maid" in the first burger patty. For the record, it was hidden in this one, the one in the closeup below. I think of it as the final domino in the chain.


The Old Guy said...

Dee, thanks for elaborating on your new hobby: domino tricks. Popcorn is the preferred method of shipping fragile objects.
What's amazing is how healthy your latest dish actually is. According to Purdue University, who ought to know about such aggie things, "Nutritionally, it is one of the best all-around snack foods, providing 67% as much protein, 110% as much iron and as much calcium as an equal amount of beef. An average 1.5-ounce serving of popcorn supplies the same energy as two eggs; and a cup of unbuttered popcorn contains less calories than half a medium grapefruit. In addition, hull is excellent roughage, comparing favorably with bran flakes or whole wheat toast."

I dub thee "Merry Poppings".

Doug said...

Due to your recent entries, I googled the FlavorWave site, and I ordered one.
Being recently single, I need to improve my cooking, and I hope that it is the answer...

Thanx for being here!

Dee said...

Bill, you crack me up! I knew popcorn was healthy but I didn't realize it was THAT healthy. Guess that's why I added the bacon, eh? Merry Poppings indeed. (snortle)

Doug, I hope you enjoy your FlavorWave as much as I have mine. I just learned there are some decent videos on YouTube about them if you haven't seen the infomercial. And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to holler.

kate&jim said...

I think we're coming to your house to eat. Gosh! you make such wonderful food. (I'm also going to look up the 'flavorwave')!

Re: your last post "monsooned Swoon" - I used to have a cup like that! Many years ago... :)

kate&jim said...

I don't know why when I type in 'kate&jim' it also adds 'amp;' in the middle of it??? hummm.

Ava South said...

Dee, you post the most interesting recipes. One of these days I want one of the FlavorWaves. Two questions. Is the FlavorWave hard to clean and what happens if the glass part breaks? Replacement part, or do you have to buy the whole thing over again? I guess that's three questions. Oh, well.

Happy Popping!


The Old Guy said...

kate&jim, the problem of the ampersand arises from the fact that when you write a web page, you have to represent certain special symbols by a combination of characters, rather than the symbol itself. In the case of the ampersand, the combination that produces it begins with an ampersand, is followed by "amp" and then by a semicolon. A single ampersand, therefore, may be misinterpreted as a meaningless character, and the browser substitutes something it knows for something it doesn't, in this case the & a m p ; combination.

These comment boxes accept a limited number of HTML tags, such as bold and italic, and links but mess things up when accents and other symbols are used. Also, it can depend on which browser you're using (Internet Explorer vs. Firefox) and which edition.

So if it really bugs you, try a plus sign instead, and see how that works. We all know you're together anyway. Kate+Jim ... it has a certain elegance to it, does it not? Otherwise you might have to type that horrible special combination just to hang together with an ampersand.

Dee said...

Bill, thanks for such a good answer for Kate's question. Folks, this man really does know his 'puter stuff.

Ava, the only glass part of my particular Flavorwave model is the heavy, shallow, tempered glass "bowl" that fits in the base. The hood that fits into the bowl and carries the power unit on its top is plastic. I haven't heard of the glass part breaking although some folks say their hood has cracked. As far as I know, one can get replacement parts easily enough. And, yes, it's very easy to clean. Everything but the power unit can go in the dishwasher if you have one. I don't but a quick swish and wipe in the sink works quite well. If y'all want to check out the unit, I would suggest also checking out the other brands I mentioned, especially the Nu-Wave. Each of the brands is always coming out with improvements so it pays to research them all. Also, sometimes you can get better prices if you buy the unit from other places than the manufacturers.

Wendy said...

Dee, it sounds as if you had a wonderfully fun day--and what a payoff at the end of it! I find I'm regularly coming back for recipes these days. Thanks!

Dee said...

Thank YOU, Wendy. It always tickles me when Coffee Mates like the same things. Makes it more fun.

kate+jim said...

Well gosh! that sure was an excellent explanation, 'Old Guy'. Thanks! I've never encountered that problem before, so I was a bit perplexed. (plus, I don't understand a whole lot about computers anyway... ;)

Let's see - I'll try kate+jim and see how that works.

Bonnie said...

Now I'm starving!

Dee said...

Ah, Bonnie, I'm sorry. You know I'd share if I could. Darn long distance. For what it's worth, I AM sending mojo so you'll feel better fast. It's bad enough to suffer with the heat. At least Peggy Lee made money when she had her Fever.

Maggie said...

Look at all this. You have them running like lemmings to their kitchens. I love it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that all sounded yummy and I'm ready to eat!

mz. em

Kate said...

Dag nab it! I NEEDS me one of them FlavorWaves!