October 16, 2017This is about... POPOVERS! ---YUM!
BACK WHEN I OWNED A VEGAN COOKIE BUSINESS besides the 4 distributors that covered the NY metro area for me, every Tuesday, even in the snow, I DELIVERED MY COOKIES TO PRETTY MUCH EVERY HEALTH FOOD STORE IN NYC ---54 to be exact. That meant driving uptown, downtown, eastside and westside, sometimes even backing down streets to get to where I needed to go. Needless to say, I got to be a damn good NYC driver—even with the “foreign” New Jersey plates on my car. I ALWAYS BROUGHT ALONG ANOTHER PERSON WITH ME, WHOSE JOB IT WAS TO SIT IN THE DOUBLE PARKED CAR WHILE I RAN INTO THE STORES. We’d do this block after block, me dashing into the stores with cookies and jumping back into the driver’s seat with cash and my co-pilot ready at a moment’s notice to move the car. Interestingly enough, in the 12 years I had the business, we only had to move the car once! IT WAS ALWAYS A LONG DAY, SO WE ALWAYS STOPPED FOR LUNCH. Our timing usually left us on the upper west side looking for a place to eat. One of my favorites was POPOVER CAFE. Pretty much EVERYTHING CAME WITH AN ENORMOUS BURNISHED BROWN, CRUSTY, EGGY ON THE INSIDE, POPOVER WITH A SIDE OF THEIR HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY BUTTER. Some days all I wanted was to crack it open, the steam and the aroma hitting me. And then dousing it in that butter. Unfortunately, it’s gone now. But, the memory certainly lingers on. I wish I had gotten their recipe, but alas I didn’t. So, I went on another search—this time for a “Popover Café” style recipe. POPOVERS ARE BASICALLY AN AMERICANIZED VERSION OF THE ENGLISH YORKSHIRE PUDDING. The English version uses meat drippings for the fat to grease the pans in the recipe. The American one uses butter instead. SINCE I’M A BUTTER GIRL, USING BUTTER IS EVEN BETTER. Plus, although savory versions abound, I prefer the sweet, eggy ones smeared with a lot of fruit sweetened butter that melts into all the nooks and crannies. These are super easy to make. It’s just a quick batter of milk, eggs, flour and salt that you whip up in a blender. But THERE IS A LITTLE BIT OF WILLPOWER INVOLVED. YOU’RE GONNA WANT TO PEEK while they’re baking, BUT DON’T DO IT! Hang tight and wait until the time is up. Then you have my permission to open the oven door. If you give in and peek, they might flop on you! As far as baking pans, you can go out and buy the special popover ones that have deeper and narrower cups encouraging more of a “pop” to the batter. I do like their dramatic effect baked in them. But, if you have 6 oz. custard cups or even a basic muffin tin, you’ll be good to go. One more thing--- once they’re out of the oven, THEY HAVE A TENDENCY TO DEFLATE. IT’S SO SAD TO SEE them beautifully puffed only to slowly sink and sink back down. To stop that from happening, it’s best to poke them on the sides with a knife a few times, right out of the oven, to let some of the steam escape—that will allow them to stay nice and big. LESSONS Learned: 1. Make sure to let the batter rest. 2. Grease the pans well with the butter. 3. Don’t peek at them! Let them bake almost the full baking time and then look. 4. Remember to pierce each popover on the side 2 or 3 times to let some of the internal steam out and so that they hold their shape.
4 large eggs
2 cups milk, whole or 2%
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
softened butter to coat the wells of the pans
Make the popovers:
Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Thoroughly butter the wells of the pans and set aside.
Add all of the ingredients into the blender container and blend until completely combined, about 20-25 seconds. Scrape down the sides once if necessary. Pour the batter through a strainer into a large (4 cup) measuring cup to get any lumps out of the batter. Let sit at room temperature for one hour.
When ready, fill the wells ¾ full. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes. Without looking! Turn down the oven heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 15-20 minutes more until a burnished brown. Immediately after removing from the oven, poke the sides of each popover with a knife a few times to release some of the steam. If you have any leftover, wrap in foil and store in the fridge. Pop the popover in the foil back in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes to reheat..
Serve with the strawberry butter.
Makes 6 large popovers.
To make the strawberry butter: Stir together 1 stick of softened unsalted butter with 3/8 cup ( 6 Tab.) strawberry preserves (or any other flavor you like) and a pinch of salt until well combined. Store in a container in the fridge.