It should come as no surprise that I'm a sucker for books on food, especially those small collections of opinionated essays that come in and out of vogue every so often. The last time I was browsing through a used bookstore I came across Caramel Knowledge by Al Sicherman. He wrote a food column for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune and the book is a collection of these articles. They are witty and somewhat twisted, describing many foods that I personally would never consume, but enjoyed vicariously through his book. It is a snapshot of a brief moment in someone's culinary history, actually many someones because his articles were read by and responded to by the newspaper's readership. Al had an adventorous palate and wasn't afraid to try and recreate popular items like Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies or to create an entire menu around Spam or "mock dishes" like the Ritz Crackers Mock Apple Pie .
He also wrote an article about popovers where he claimed that popovers were absolutely foolproof. Suffice it to say that this did not prove to be the case for one of his readers and he spent many weeeks backtracking and trying to determine exactly why the gentleman in question was unable to make them "pop". After establishing the basic popover recipe, one of his suggestions was to pour the popover batter over leftovers to make something wonderful and delicious. It made me think of BLT Steak in New York and their amazing cheesy popovers. So this morning I pulled out his recipe, made a few minor adjustments and poured it over some diced ham and onions. I laid some thin slices of cheese over the top of the batter and baked them up. They popped admirably and were custardy and delicious with a thick crunchy crust. It was just the thing for a hectic Monday mornng.
Below is a recipe for basic popovers. To stuff them place the filling of your choice in the bottom of your tins and then pour the batter over it. The contents will blend together and be evenly distributed through the finished popovers. You could stuff them with diced shrimp and caramelized onions and finish them with a quenelle of horseradish creme fraiche. This will melt slightly into the various nooks and crannies and create a contrast of textures and flavors to please the palate. You could stuff them with fresh berries and finish them with a warm chocolate sauce or fresh lemon curd. You could infuse the milk with a fresh herb, such as dill, and top them with a savory lemon whipped cream, sliced green onions and caviar. You could pour the batter over fresh peaches and serve them for breakfast with yogurt. The possibilities are endless, as always, you are only limited by your imagination.
adapted from Caramel Knowlege by Al Sicherman
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Combine milk and eggs in a blender and blend to mix. Add flour and blend briefly, scraping down the sides of the blender container. With the blender running, drizzle in the melted butter and stop when combined.
Makes four large or eight smaller popovers. Pour batter into well-greased muffin tins or cast iron popover pans. Fill the cups about 3/4 of the way with batter to maximize your rise.
Bake 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, lower heat and 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.