Cooking Techniques: Popovers

“But that’s not appropriate.”

A friend from the city was visiting and heard my son hysterically laughing while reading our local newspaper. She commented that he must really enjoy the comics.

“Oh, he’s not laughing over the funnies,” I said. “He’s reading the police log.”

The look on my friend’s face was priceless! She clearly was wondering whether she had misjudged me as being a sound parent and how best to tell me that my son was going to grow up to be a psychopath if he found the police log funny!

So, I showed her the paper. Examples of true police log reports from papers in my local area:

“Goat running loose ate a pair of pants. Owner of pants declined pressing charges against goat.”

“Man waiting in line for Cabela’s to open cut in line. He was spoken to. All was well.”

“Report of annoying phone call. Mother-in-law was calling. Police explained they could do nothing about it.”

“Road blocked by 14 chickens. Traffic was backed up for 20 minutes until chickens finished sunbathing.”

“Unsecured trash barrel taken. Discovered in back yard of a neighbor. Child using it as a horse.”

“Back porch light went out. Al Qaeda suspected.”

Once my friend read that week’s police log, she understood why my son was laughing, and we had an interesting discussion afterwards about the difference between “crime” in the city and where I live.

I was reminded of this conversation recently as my son and I made popovers this weekend. Popovers are a wonderful addition to meals which people don’t often think about, because their perceptions of them aren’t always in line with reality.

There’s a myth out there that popovers are difficult to make, and if you google popovers, many sites talk about the “secrets” to making perfect popovers. This, I believe, feeds into the perceptions that people hold, so then folks opt to make muffins instead or to purchase bread from the store.

The truth is that popovers are ridiculously simple to make, and you can adapt them to make a variety of popovers for any occasion. Plus they’re fun. Children love them because they literally pop-over from the pan.

What’s important to know about popovers:

1. Cooking: You want a hot oven temperature so I always preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once you put the popovers into the oven, you don’t want to open the oven until they are done which is always 30 minutes in a regular sized muffin tin. When they’re done, just remove the popovers from the tin and if not eating immediately put them onto a cooling rack so moisture won’t condense on them. If eating immediately, you can put them into a nice bowl lined with a pretty towel.

2. Mixing: You want to mix the eggs together before adding the other ingredients, but you simply blend them with a fork for a minute or less until the eggs are mixed. No need to make them fluffy or frothy or airy. Just a nice uniform color to the eggs, and then you add the rest of the ingredients.

3. Measuring: I find the best way  to make popovers is to transfer the batter into a large spouted measuring cup so I can easily pour the batter equally among the muffin tins.

4.  Ingredients: A popover is just eggs, milk and flour. For a muffin tin that makes 12 popovers, you’ll always use an equivalent to one cup of eggs, 2 cups of milk, and 2 cups of flour. Since I like to be a bit healthier, instead of 4 large eggs (which should yield a cup) I opt to use half whole eggs and then add enough liquid egg whites to make a full cup. For the milk I’ve used soy, flax, and rice milk without any issues. For the flour, to be gluten free, I either use sorghum flour, arrowroot flour, or a mixture of both. For seasoning, I use 1/2 tsp of salt and then depending on the type of popover, an additional herb or spice.

5. Pan: A simple muffin tin is all you need whether it’s a 12 muffin one or two six muffin ones. It’s important to grease the muffin tins. You can use butter, oil, spray, shortening – it doesn’t matter what, but you must grease the pan so the popovers can rise and pop without sticking to the pan.

6. Variety: Popovers can be adapted. You can add any herb or spice. You can add cheese. You can add finely grated vegetables. My kids really like it when I make the popovers with pureed vegetables or fruit. I used puree squash or pumpkin or applesauce or bananas in place of some of the milk, and they come out quite delicious.

For eating, you can top the popovers with butter or jam or fruit butters. You can also cut them open and fill them with food like chicken salad which is incredibly tasty in a popover!

Below I’ll include two recipes I make often for the family. Enjoy!

Squash Popovers

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease either a 12 muffin tin or two six muffin tins.

2. Whisk 2 cups of flour of choice (I like 1 cup of sorghum flour with 1 cup of arrowroot flour) with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cardamom. Set aside.

3. Using a fork mix the equivalent of 1 cup of eggs (4 large whole eggs, 1, 2, or 3 whole eggs plus enough liquid egg whites to make 1 cup) just until the eggs are light and uniform in color.

4. Add 1 1/4 cup milk (I prefer flax or soy milk) and 3/4 cup cooked, pureed squash to the eggs. Whisk just until blended. There will be lumps, and that is how you want it.

5. Transfer the batter (which will be thin and runny) to a spouted measuring cup large enough to hold all the batter. Evenly divide the batter among 12 muffin tins.

6. Put the muffin tin into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door at any time during the 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you can pierce the popovers to release the steam and then remove the popovers to a wire cooling rack or towel-lined bowl or directly to the plates.

Tarragon Popovers

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease either a 12 muffin tin or two six muffin tins.

2. Whisk 2 cups of flour of choice (I like to use 2 cups of sorghum flour for this recipe, but mixing half sorghum and half arrowroot or using all arrowroot is fine, too) with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp dried tarragon. Set aside.

3. Using a fork mix the equivalent of 1 cup of eggs (4 large whole eggs, 1, 2, or 3 whole eggs plus enough liquid egg whites to make 1 cup) just until the eggs are light and uniform in color.

4. Add 2 cups milk (I prefer flax or soy milk) to the eggs. Whisk just until blended. There will be lumps, and that is how you want it.

5. Transfer the batter (which will be thin and runny) to a spouted measuring cup large enough to hold all the batter. Evenly divide the batter among 12 muffin tins.

6. Put the muffin tin into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door at any time during the 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you can pierce the popovers to release steam and then remove the popovers to a wire cooling rack or towel-lined bowl or directly to the plates.

 

 

 

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