Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bubbling Cauldron Popcorn (Cheezy Kale & Nori-Dusted) with a few Mozzarella 'Dead Man's Toes' for Food 'N Flix October: Hocus Pocus

This month's Food 'N Flix selection is Hocus Pocus, hosted by Elizabeth at The Lawyer's Cookbook. (You can see her announcement post here.) Although not particularly food-filled, it is the classic Halloween movie and a perfect choice for October.

I had not seen the full movie in years so it was a pleasure to put on the DVD, grab some popcorn, and head to Salem Massachusetts. If you don't know the film, the Sanderson Sisters (Winifred, Mary and Sarah) are three witches who back in 1693, lured young Emily Binx away from her home as part of a spell to regain their youth. Her brother, Thackery Binx, tries to stop them and save Emily but fails. Emily dies and Thackery is turned into a cat--forced to live forever with his guilt and sorrow. The witchy sisters are caught and hanged, but a spell is cast that will bring them back if a virgin lights their black flame candle. Three hundred years later, the Dennison Family is new to Salem and teenage Max and his little sister Dani go to the Sanderson's cottage--a derelict museum--with Alison, the girl Max likes. Max (a virgin) lights the candle which brings the sisters to life and they promptly set out to finish casting their youth spell using Dani and the children of the town. Of course much mayhem ensues. ;-) It's fun, has a pretty good family vibe, and a great cast--especially the sisters played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker.     

I took my food inspiration from the Sanderson Sister's bubbling witch's cauldron which glowed green from the spell Winifred cast. There are so many sweet treats around for Halloween that are hard to say no to and so I was craving something on the savory snacking side instead. I decided to fill my witch's cauldron with green-ish popcorn to mimic the bubbling. To keep it on the healthy side, there were a few different options to consider for coloring and flavor like matcha (green tea) and spirulina (blue green algae), but then I saw a popcorn post that used powdered kale (from ground up kale chips) and I was hooked. A nice way to work some greens into a favorite snack food. ;-) Since the spell included a dead man's toe (a 'fleshy" one), I made a few edible toes from mozzarella string cheese and sliced almonds to add that Halloween gross-out factor. (I had some superball eyeballs in my Halloween stash and added them to the photos because if you were a witch you might happen to have a few eyeballs sitting around with your stash of dead man's toes just in case! And, they filled in space and got me out of sacrificing more than one string cheese to ugly toes...) 

This popcorn is as easy as making your own kale chips in the oven, or buying a bag at your favorite grocery or natural food store and grinding them up in the blender or food processor. Since kale on its own would be a bit boring, I added nutritional yeast to mellow the slight bitterness from the kale and to give the popcorn a cheezy flavor, and toasted nori seaweed for umami. There are various ways to make popcorn--microwave, kettle, popcorn maker. I have an air popper than I like to drag out now and then for movie nights. Since the air popper doesn't use any oil, I sprayed my popcorn lightly with coconut oil spray to help the seasoning stick.

Witch's Cauldron Kale-Dusted Popcorn
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, Inspired by Organic Authority
(Makes about 8-10 cups of popcorn)

1 1/2 cup *kale chips
2 large square sheets of nori (like the kind you would roll sushi in), torn into pieces
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
sea salt and black pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
8-10 cups popped popcorn (plain), warm
coconut oil spray (I use a pump oil spray mister similar to this one)

Pulverize kale chips and torn nori sheets in the bowl of a food processor, until finely ground. Add nutritional yeast, a pinch of sea salt, and pepper (to taste), and a pinch of red pepper flakes and pulse a few times until thoroughly mixed together. 

Put warm popped popcorn into a very large bowl. Lightly spray the popcorn with the coconut oil spray and gently toss to ensure it is distributed. Sprinkle on the seasoning powder and carefully keep tossing until the popcorn is evenly coated with the seasoning mixture. Serve and enjoy!

*Kale Chips: You can either buy a package of kale chips (faster, simpler) and grind them or make your own (cheaper, better) and grind them. For this popcorn, I am having a busy week so I used about 1 1/2 cups store-bought kale chips. (When I make my own have found Oh She Glows recipe to work the best for me as it always generates crispy chips--you can find it here. I usually get about 1 1/2 cups of chips from one large bunch of kale.)

For my dead man's toes: I used string cheese, slicing it into thirds, flattening it out slightly and shaving a little indentation off of one end for the sliced almond toenail to rest in. For the slight decay and blood look--and to hold the almond in better, I used a combination of a little black food coloring and harissa paste (you could use tomato paste if you prefer) drawn on with a toothpick.

Notes/Results: I really love this popcorn as it has layers of great flavor; it's nicely savory, slightly cheezy, has a little salty brine from the nori, and just a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes. Definitely moreish. With just a little coconut oil, it's pretty healthy too, with lots of nutrients and minerals. It's not quite as green as I was originally going for with the yellow nutritional yeast, but there is a slight green tinge that you can see better up close than you can in the pictures. The mozzarella dead man's toes are more for effect but are also edible. For the toes, I had an open tube of spicy harissa paste, so I used it for a spicy kick but you could just use tomato paste or even ketchup. (As mentioned, the eyeballs are fake and just added for fun.) Pretty quick and easy fun and great for snacking when you have had too much candy. I will happily make this popcorn again--Halloween or not. 

The deadline for this month's Food 'N Flix event is tomorrow, Thursday, October 28th. Elizabeth will be rounding up all of the entries on her blog shortly after. If you missed this month and love food, films and foodie films, join us for November when Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be hosting The Hundred-Foot Journey. (Bonus! Camilla and I are doing a optional tie-in between Food 'N Flix and Cook the Books, where our October/November book pick is the novel on which the movie is based. Come join the fun--film, book, or both!



  1. These toes are creepy! And the popcorn looks great!

  2. I love that you went in a completely different direction, with a salty snack. I knew someone would dare dead man's toes. Very cool.

  3. I love your inspiration here Deb. How great that you used healthy and natural ingredients to color your popcorn. Great job.

  4. Healthy and clever, love both recipes. Kale chips powder you say. Will have to try that in some recipes.

  5. Very inventive, Deb. Those toes look super gross. (Take that as a Halloween culinary compliment!)

  6. Yuuuuuummmm! Seriously, this is some good munchin' food. I have a kale dust (for popcorn) recipe on my blog from years back, too. Such fun inspiration, and I love the look of those toes, too. :)

  7. Thanks everyone!

    I take creepy and gross as compliments for the Dead Man's Toes. :-)


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