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What's Cooking?: Popovers for the Holidays

The holiday season has begun and I look forward to creating my holiday menus.  I would love to bake some artisanal bread for the holidays but it involves a lot of prep work, kneading and waiting for the bread to rise.  A wonderful alternative is the unassuming yet spectacular-looking popover.  It is delicate and crusty, so delicious when slathered with butter, cream or jam.  It surpasses that crusty loaf or those dinner rolls with its versatility for the upcoming holidays as well as for afternoon tea, breakfast or dinner. Despite its elegant appearance, they are fun to eat and kids love them!

Popovers are light, hollow rolls made from a simple egg batter. They are baked in popover pans which are similar to muffin tins except that they have a deeper cup with straight-walled sides.  Each cup is separated yet connected by a metal rod so that the batter has room to “pop over” to its fullest during baking. Thus the name from which it came.  If muffin pans are used, be sure to skip a cup so that there is room for the popover to overflow. The popover is the American version of the British Yorkshire Pudding. The latter is baked in one pan with the rich drippings of a beef roast. A vary in temperature can make a softer or crustier popover.  After the initial temperature of 425° for 25 minutes, it can be lowered to 325° for 15-20 minutes for a soft creamy popover or to 350° for a higher, bigger, crustier popover (my preference).  An added convenience is that the popover batter can be made earlier in the day and refrigerated to avoid the rush.  Just be sure to let the batter stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Give it a stir before filling the pan.

There is nothing like a popover when it comes out of the oven. It is so beautiful and statuesque. It can be made and eaten in so many ways, both savory and sweet. Berries, cinnamon raisins, provolone, rosemary or ham & cheese can be mixed in the batter. The baked popover can be sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, a coating of cinnamon sugar, or drizzled with melted chocolate or topped with fruit. When the popover is opened, the hollow opening invites an array of creative fillings such as flavored whipped cream, goat cheese, creamed spinach, bacon & scrambled eggs, or smoked salmon.  For Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I simply prefer a pat of butter or a lacing of gravy from a roast.  Enjoy!

The Seasonal Baker: Easy Recipes from My Home Kitchen to Make Year-Round by John Barricelli

Holiday Entertaining by Williams-Sonoma

Great Home Cooking: 300 Traditional Recipes by Good Housekeeping

Holiday Favorites by Williams-Sonoma

Thanksgiving by Michael MacLaughlin

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