I love big, fluffy, and eggy popovers. There is something innately elegant about this oh so simple treats. Served in their simplest form with a dab of butter and a dollop of jam they are the perfect breakfast treat. Or you can follow an old Maine tradition and eat popovers and chowder on the lawn of the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. In college I discovered Judie’s Restaurant in Amherst, Massachusetts where oversized popovers were served as the foundation for hearty sandwiches, as an accompaniment for soup or salad or all on their own. (When I was back in Amherst this past summer I went to Judie’s with the sole purpose of eating a popover).
I tend to forget how easy popovers are to make. This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen only has six ingredients. Instead of using a blender I use a stick mixer which makes cleanup a breeze. With a little prior planning (the batter needs to rest before baking) they are a snap to make. If you want to serve them for breakfast you can even make the batter the night before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. If you do this there isn’t any excuse for not serving them for breakfast.
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Blend the eggs and milk in a blender until smooth. Add the flour, melted butter, and salt and continue to blend on high speed until the batter is bubbly and smooth, about 1 minute. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- While the batter is resting, measure 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil into each cup of a popover pan. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place the pan in the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- After the batter has rested, pour it into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and divide the batter evenly among the 6 cups in the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes without opening the oven door.
- Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown all over, 15 to 18 minutes more. Gently tip the popovers out onto a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving, about 2 minutes.
The countdown is on to St. Patrick’s Day (its a mere one week from today) so what better way to kick off the week with a truly decadent dessert? Whether you are Irish by birth or by association, this is the season when everyone is a wee bit Irish and nothing is more Irish than Guinness Stout. Guinness is great on its own but when combined with chocolate it only gets better.
This rich pudding, adapted from Food 52, takes decadence to a whole new level. Two types of chocolate combine with cream, milk and Guinness Stout to take a classic kid’s treat and make it swoon worthy for adults. (Of course, in my house kids of all ages love it).
The pudding really is rich, so much so that I like to keep the portions small and of course top them with a dollop of whipped cream (to cut the richness??!!??). It is good served cold but I also like it slightly warm–it reminds me of the rich hot chocolates I’ve enjoyed in Eastern Europe. But after just one bite, regardless of the temperature or the season, you’ll never go back to instant pudding again!
GUINNESS STOUT PUDDING
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Guinness stout
4large egg yolks
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 ounces good quality smooth dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Combine the cocoa, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and espresso powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over low heat, warm the cream on medium-low until just steaming.
- Stir in the cocoa mixture and continue stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
- Add milk and stout to the pan. Increase heat to medium and cook until the mixture is very hot but not simmering.
- While liquid is heating, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the brown sugar, and the vanilla extract.
- When chocolate mixture is hot, use a ladle and gradually drizzle about 1 cup of the milk into the egg mixture while constantly beating the eggs with a whisk. You do not want the eggs to curdle rather you want them to become emulsified into the milk mixture.
- When the milk and eggs have been thoroughly combined, pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan.
- With the heat still at medium and stirring constantly, cook until the mixture is thick and slightly bubbly but not simmering; about 10 minutes.
- Move the saucepan off the heat. Add in the chocolate pieces and butter and stir until completely melted.
- Let cool slightly then pour into individual serving dishes.
- Cool completely or serve slightly warm topped with whipped cream if desired.
Some dishes are simply classics. They are the go-to recipes that you return to over and over again. In my family bolognese sauce is one of those recipes. Rarely does a week go by without our eating a steaming plate of pasta topped with rich bolognese sauce for dinner. Its comforting, satisfying and when I make a pot of the sauce over the weekend, becomes the perfect fast weeknight dinner.
I’ve adapted this recipe from Williams Sonoma’s Essentials of Italian. Its taken me years to find my right balance of meat, vegetables and sauce but I think I’ve finally found my magic combination. The key to a good sauce is long and slow cooking. The process just can’t be rushed if you want to achieve the perfect balance of flavor and texture. I’m also a fan of including a piece of parmesan rind in my sauce. Most people discard this hard remnant of cheese but I stash my leftovers in the freezer then pop one into my sauce while it simmers. It adds a richness and complexity that you just can’t find any other way. If you don’t have a parmesan rind on hand that’s ok to. Skip it for now but save it the next time you use up your hard parmesan cheese. Try it once and you too will be a convert.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 leek, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup drained and chopped plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 parmesan rind
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Melt the butter in a large heavy pot set over medium-low heat.
- When the butter has melted add the pancetta, carrot, celery and leek. Stirring occasionally, cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the ingredients are golden brown and tender.
- Add the ground pork and ground beef to the pot and stir well.
- Raise the heat to medium and stirring often in order to break up the meat, cook until the meats are lightly browned and crumbled with most of the juices having evaporated. This should take about 20 minutes.
- Add the wine to the pot and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pot.
- Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cubes, water, milk, parmesan rind, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well.
- Allow the mixture to just begin to simmer then reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 1 hour. If the mixture becomes too thick you can add in a bit more water.
- Partially cover the pot and continue cooking until the sauce is thick and dark brown, an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Skim off any fat that floats to the surface of the sauce and serve over hot pasta. Alternatively, let cool, cover and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat, additionally additional water or wine as necessary to get the right texture.
Yields 4 cups
What is more comforting than ooey, gooey, cheesy potatoes? While I’ve been known to enjoy a bowl of them by themselves, they are also the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, roasts or even a big green salad. They seem to turn any dish into a meal. And while there are many versions of this potato dish out there, I love this one which I’ve adapted from Cooking Light.
And what isn’t to love? This dish never fails to satisfy and it can easily be reduced in half or doubled in size depending upon the crowd you are serving. It is wonderful piping hot out of the oven and I think it tastes even better reheated the next day. And sometimes when I’m looking to save time, I use a bag of pre-cut and partially cooked potato slices. Doing this will reduce your preparation time meaning you can be enjoying this mouthwatering dish that much sooner.
2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Coat an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan; fill pan with enough cold water to cover potatoes by 2 inches. Place pan over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain well.
- Gently layer one-third of potatoes in overlapping rows in prepared dish.
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, swirling to coat.
- Add the onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Combine the flour, milk, half-and-half, salt, nutmeg, and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
- Add the milk mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until smooth and mixture thickens slightly, stirring constantly with a whisk.
- Add the sherry to the mixture and stir well to combine.
- Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
- Pour one-third of milk mixture over potatoes in baking dish.
- Repeat layers twice with remaining potatoes and milk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
- Place pan in upper third of oven; bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until bubbling around edges. Turn broiler to high, leaving pan in oven; broil 1 minute or until browned.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
With their tangy orange appeal, crepe Suzettes are a classic. And while they may seem to be intimidating to make, they reality is that they are quite simple. As I’ve discussed before, making the actual crepes takes some practice but once you have perfected your technique, the options as to how you dress these paper thin pancakes are unlimited. And crepe Suzettes are one of my favorites.
For the crepes:
1 cup cold water
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree for 1 minutes. Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a large deep bowl and use a stick blender to puree for 1 minute.
- Cover and allow to sit for at least two hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the crepes, pre-heat a 6″ crepe pan over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. When the pan is hot, lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Lift the pan off of the direct heat. Using a small ladle (a gravy ladle is perfect) place a heaping spoonful of batter in the center of the pan and swirl to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.
- Return the pan to the stove and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the edges of the crepe begin to curl and small bubbles form on the top of the crepe.
- Lift the pan off of the heat again and give the pan a firm shake to release the crepe. If it sticks return the pan to the heat again for a few more seconds.
- Gently flip the crepe with the shake of your wrist. Return the pan to the heat and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the pan upside down over a plate to remove the crepe and repeat the process until all of the batter has been used.
Yields 25-30 6 inch crepes (you will have plenty left over)
For the orange sauce:
Juice from 4 oranges
Finely grated zest from 1 orange
1 small lemon, juice an finely grated zest
1 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Extra Grand Marnier, for flaming (optional)
- Stirring occasionally, combine the orange and lemon juices, the zests and the sugar in a small saucepan set over medium high heat.
- Once the mixture is hot but not simmering, stir in the Grand Marnier and butter and mix until melted and combined.
- Move the sauce to a wide, shallow bowl. (A pasta plate works well for this).
- Working with one crepe at a time, dip the crepe into the sauce, coating it on all sides.
- Allow the excess liquid to drip back into the bowl before moving the crepe to a plate and folding in half then half again. Move the folded crepe to a platter.
- Repeat the process with the remaining crepes.
- If you want to flame your crepes, heat a small amount of Grand Marnier in a metal ladle. When the alcohol is hot light it with a match and pour the flame over the top of the platter of crepes.
- Serve immediately, topped with additional sauce if desired.
Breakfast is undoubtedly my favorite meal of the day yet it is one that I am more apt to skip than not simply because I’m not a fan of cooking before I’ve had my morning dose of coffee. On weekends I love lounging around and sipping my coffee while I catch up on the news and plan my day ahead. By the time I am ready to get moving the breakfast hour has passed or what I want to make simply takes too long to get from bowl to table. But when I am really craving breakfast a Dutch baby is my go-to dish.
A Dutch baby is essentially a giant popover and it comes together and cooks up so quickly that it is silly not to make one. The key to a puffy Dutch baby is a very hot oven and eating it the minute it comes out of the oven. To achieve the hot oven I turn mine on before I start any of my other preparations. I cook the apples in the same cast iron skillet that I will bake in then pop the pan in the oven the minute my apples are done. It truly is fast; you can have go from bowl to table in twenty minutes. Why that’s just enough time to enjoy a second cup of coffee.
APPLE-CINNAMON DUTCH BABY
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 semi-tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I like Pink Lady)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Melt the butter in a 9 inch cast iron skillet set over medium high heat.
- Add the sliced apples and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Stirring occasionally, sautee the apples until they are soft and the sugar begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flour, sugar and salt.
- Add the batter to the apples and immediately place the skillet in the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until puffed and browned.
- Serve immediately.
Yorkshire pudding is essentially a giant popover that can turn even the simplest of meals into something special. The ingredients are quite simple–flour, milk, and eggs–but the results are impressive. And this version from Epicurious includes bacon and sage which makes it especially decadent. So go ahead and impress your guests, or yourself, and make this tonight. I’ve served it alongside everything from a herb crusted prime rib to simple grilled steaks. Either way, the old adage of everything being better with bacon is true; you just can’t go wrong with this dish.
BACON & SAGE YORKSHIRE PUDDING
6 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons fresh minced sage, divided
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Saute the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Pour the bacon drippings and the butter into a 12 x 9 x 2 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Place the dish in the oven for 10 minutes in order to heat the drippings.
- Whisk together the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sage, and the salt in a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl then add the flour mixture. Whisk until the batter is smooth.
- Whisk in 2/3 of the bacon.
- Remove the hot baking dish from the oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot dish.
- Return the dish to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 12 minutes or until the pudding is puffed and golden.
- Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining bacon and sage.