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This blockbuster season, add a gourmet touch to your favorite snack

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Content Agency on

The actual calendar start of summer is still weeks away. But as far as the movie industry is concerned, the hottest months have already begun. We've entered that time of year when, week after week, we're bombarded with so-called summer blockbusters. Each Friday brings the latest fantastical superheroes, marauding monsters, dazzling 3-D animation, beloved children's book adaptations and other big-screen fare that aims to fills the seats of theaters everywhere.

I love to take in the must-see movies as much as anyone, and I often go with my two younger sons Oliver and Alexander. As a chef, however, I almost always find one part of the experience, the snacks, more than a little disappointing.

That got me thinking: What would I do if I were given control over a movie theater's snack bar? I'd definitely keep a steady stream of individual-serving gourmet pizzas coming from an oven behind the counter. Maybe there would be fresh-baked cookies and chocolate truffles. We'd have gourmet ice cream bars too.

But what about the popcorn? Even if you get a batch that's been freshly popped, it usually comes with a buttery flavor that tastes artificial because it is; the result of products like unhealthy partially hydrogenated soybean oil and chemicals with tongue-twisting names, which together can leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

I'd much rather make my own popcorn, flavoring it with a combination of natural seasonings, as I do in the following recipe for a snack my team and I served at the Governors Ball following the most recent Academy Awards ceremony.

Spicy ranch popcorn is sprinkled with a powder that, on contact with the hot just-popped corn, bursts with the widely popular flavor of ranch dressing. You can make the seasoning powder in just a few seconds while your corn is popping. All you need are easy-to-find ingredients: Parmesan from the cheese or deli section; milk powder or buttermilk powder from the dairy or baking aisle; onion and garlic powders and red pepper flakes from the seasonings; and citric acid powder, usually stocked in the canning section or sometimes found labeled "sour salt" among the kosher foods. Seal them all in a jar, shake them up to mix, and you're ready to go.


But don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting that you sneak good homemade popcorn into the movies. After all, while some movie theaters may allow you to take in your own snacks, others won't; so make sure to check ahead. The good news is that watching movies that you stream on TV, even recent blockbusters, has never been easier or better. So, at the very least, you can enjoy this popcorn in the comfort of your own home.


Makes about 4 cups (1 L)

Serves 1 to 4


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