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Nov 21, 2010

The Popover Queen Rules Again!

I’ve mentioned before that I have teensy touch of Food OCD. For the most part I manage to keep it in check...that is until I go to a great restaurant and eat something so divine that I can’t stop thinking about it. My brain temporarily stops pinging off the walls and gets serious about channeling Iron Chef Batali, and I think to myself, I bet I can make__________ (insert whatever divine food that I can’t stop thinking about). To make matters worse, The Big Guy is an enabler. He’ll say the words out loud, Honey, I bet you can make__________ (insert whatever food that he bets I can make).    
     That’s how my love/hate affair with the popover began. It was an obsession that lay dormant for years, finally erupting more than a dozen years after I had eaten my very first one, which by the way was at the airport in Billings, MT in 1977. Why I even remember that little tidbit of information probably qualifies me for a private room in the Dr. Phil house. Anyhow, more than a decade would pass before I would eat another one, but I never forgot the velvety bread...the doughy, hollow vat, perfect for holding melting butter.
I don’t recall where or when I ate the second popover of my life, but the dreaded thought that spewed from my brain was that I could learn to master the popover. 
     I bought the pans, pulled a recipe out of the Union Square Café Cookbook and went to work. Approximately an hour later I was staring into my oven and staring back at me were towers of golden brown, buttery perfection. The Big Guy and the kids approved and we became  popover junkies. I wowed my friends with my popover prowess and passed out popover pans along with my recipe, as gifts.
     Then one day I opened my oven door to find little brown, deflated, rock looking things glaring back at me. What the...??? No biggie right? Throw em out and make a new batch. No problemo for a Popover Queen like me, right? Well you're all dead wrong!
     I made batch after batch, night after night for a couple of weeks, and every night flat little bullets taunted me.  This was a serious food 9-1-1, so I enlisted The Girlfriends to make popovers to see if it was just me or if our whole nation was under a popover curse. The reports rolled in…their popovers were all popping over. I begged them to make another batch, just to be sure. Yep, sure enough, it was just me who had somehow managed to piss off the Popover Gods.
     I switched recipes and methods; hot oven, cold oven, preheated pans, cold eggs, room temp eggs, whole milk, low fat, electric mixer, hand whisk ~ but the varied methods all yielded the same drastic results. I kneeled by the oven and prayed that when I opened the door I would be welcomed by 12 perfect, golden pieces of doughy heaven, but time after time I was greeted by flat, hard lumps, looking like hell.
     When my family heard the scream, they knew to duck their heads and avoid immediate eye contact with me, lest they risk being hit with one of my flying popunders (as they had renamed them).
     I give! Uncle! I cried, while curled up in the fetal position in front of the stove. I sobbed to the Popover Gods, you win, I quit! 
     Picking myself up off the floor, I declared that "popover" was a four letter word and anyone caught mentioning the “P” word in our house would be put out on the street with nothing but my failed, miserable popover pans.
Note the ghostly whiffs. That's the Popover spirits leaving the building.
 It took a few  years for my popover shame to pass, and then one day out of the blue it happened again. While at some restaurant I ate a really great popover and thought that evil thought, you know the one…I bet I can make…The Big Guy, evidently tired of his popover exile, baited me with the dreaded words, I bet you can make a popover this good. No way was I touching that one, I thought. That ship has sailed!
     Until the other night that is. I was home alone when I got up the nerve to blow the dust off my popover pans. Inspired by a new (old) recipe from 1966, I decided to break some eggs. I put two pans in the oven, set my timer and poured myself a stiff drink, just in case I was going to need it later. Fifty minutes passed and I opened my oven doors to reveal 12 towering, golden brown, air-filled puffs of heaven! I shook my fist at the Popover Gods, Take that!, I yelled at them. The Popover Queen is back!

Before I got too cocky and posted this, I whipped up a second batch and sure enough they were thee most perfect popovers that I have ever made! Who'd a thunk that a recipe dang near as old as me would be the one to bring me out of the funk? It was originally printed in the NY Times, in 1966 by that Baking Goddess Maida Heatter, who is my hero for the moment and the first and REAL Popover Queen. God Bless ya, Ms. Heatter! Go to the "Misc. Recipes" tab at the top of this page to view it.


  1. Those look really good! I have never had a policed before. It looks like it is time.

  2. Hey Jordan, You need a popover and a massage-they will both make you feel better! Congrats on that beautiful baby boy! ♥ya!