Thursday, May 28, 2009
Pop over some time.
Rainy morning breakfast. :)
My kids love popovers. They're simple, they're fun, and you can fill them with ridiculous quantities of jam before your parents notice that you're doing it.
My family rediscovered popovers during a summer visit to our favorite, place, Acadia National Park in Maine. The Jordan Pond House, which is on a lovely lakefront spot inside the Park, has been serving afternoon tea for about 100 years, so you can sit and partake of refreshments there and imagine yourself among the Rockefellers. The popovers and strawberry jam are very nice, though the rest of the menu is unspectacular. It's really more about the setting than anything else. It's especially not about the restaurant itself, which began its days as a lovely grand structure with hulking fireplaces and porches all around. A fire destroyed it in 1979, which was spectacularly bad timing, because it meant that the redesign happened in the early 80s - not really a high point for American architecture. It's not ugly, exactly, just not quite what you imagine as you wander around the park and see the imposing stone bridges and gatehouses built by John D. Rockefeller.
Jordan Pond House used to look like this:
Oh, well. The park is still gorgeous and popovers are still worth eating. If you go there, just sit out on the lawn and face the water, where troublesome views of the building won't distract you. Perhaps you can recreate the 19th century experience for yourself by wearing a large hat and uncomfortably constricting undergarments.
Or you can just make popovers at home. The process is great for work with kids because there are so few ingredients and it's so quick; my kids just take turns pouring things into the blender and then peeking through the oven window. You'll need:
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 T butter, melted and cooled, plus more for preparing the pan
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush the cups of a popover pan with melted butter. Mix all the ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds, then pour into your prepared pan (the cups should be no more than 1/2 full). Bake for about 20 minutes in a convection oven, 30-40 minutes in a regular oven. The popovers are done when they've puffed and turned a deep golden brown.
As my favorite guy Alton Brown points out, the popovers puff because of steam created inside, so once you remove them from the oven, it's wise to make a tiny cut in the top of each one to prevent disappointing sogginess.
I like mine with tons of butter. My kids prefer, as I've mentioned, to use popovers as an excuse to eat a full half pint of jam in one sitting. They're also very nice filled with chicken salad. Give it a try.