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The apéritif hour: Dan Young's feta-shized popcorn

June 29, 2012 | 10:01 am

Popcorn ONE (1 of 1)When New Yorker Daniel Young fell in love with a Brit, the former New York Daily News restaurant critic and author ended up moving to London. And re-inventing his career with the social eating site Young & Foodish--"Eat great food. Meet great people."It was slow going at first, but now BurgerMonday, when he invites young up-and-coming chefs to present their variations on the burger theme, sells out in minutes. If you find yourself in London, it’s worth checking the Young & Foodish site to see what events--BurgerMonday, PizzaTuesday, SpagWednesday, WichThursday, FryFriday and CoffeeSaturday pop-ups—are happening while you’re there. You’ll meet some London foodies around the table and glean up-to-the-minute dining tips. Young is my trusted guide to all things delicious in London. (He's also created the Young & Foodish app for iPhone and Android.)

 When I was last there, I asked the passionate expat cook what he serves with drinks when he invites people over. 

 “London food obsessives are always disappointed when I serve them feta-shized popcorn as apéros at our Stoke Newington loft," he wrote. "They never voice their disappointment but you can see it in their expressions: 'Popcorn? How bloody ordinary!'"

"But soon they are diving in, with the hands, naturally. I doubt even the Queen eats popcorn with a spoon. And soon they can't stop themselves from grabbing increasingly larger fistfuls, greasing and salting their fingers with the melted feta and eating the popcorn noisily. No cocktail would loosen up a stiff Brit as quickly or more effectively."

When I made the popcorn last week for dinner guests, we all had that same greedy reaction. I followed his recipe almost to the letter, but used half the oil and added another big spoonful of Espelette pepper after I’d mixed everything together. 

See Young's recipe for feta-shized popcorn after the jump:

        1/4 cup canola, grapeseed or rapeseed oil

        1 teapoon piment d'espelette (substitute your favorite chile powder)

        1/2 cup popcorn kernels

        6 ounces feta cheese, finely crumbled (1 1/2 cups)

Heat oil, piment d'Espelette and three popcorn kernels in large saucepan over medium high heat until first kernel pops. Add remaining kernels, cover and cook popcorn, shaking the pot vigorously from time to time, until the popping slows to about 1 kernel per 2 seconds. Remove pot from the heat and wait until popping has stopped. 

 Pour a little popcorn into a large bowl, top with some crumbled feta, shake and repeat until all popcorn and feta are used. Serve immediately, with plenty of napkins. 


The French and their vegetables

Battle of the Burgers: BLT&E burger

Pantry find: Granulated piloncillo sugar

 -- S. Irene Virbila

Photos: Feta-shized popcorn. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times.