As a food blogger, I take it upon myself to observe food trends and the eating habits of the general public whenever I am out and about. Some might think that I am just being rude and was never taught not to stare, but I am willing to live with that misconception if it means that I can bring accurate observations to you, my loyal readers. That is how committed I am. You're welcome.
One eating habit that I've noticed has more to do with how people eat than with what they eat. There are generally two types of eaters at full-service restaurants. Type 1 eats in an even, circular fashion, taking a bite of protein followed by a bite of vegetables then a bite of the starch and repeat. These folks work the plate evenly, ensuring their taste buds a good sampling of each component, should their stomachs fill up prior to cleaning their plate. Type 2 attacks their plate in sections, starting with one item, say the potatoes, and sticking with it until it is gone. I fall into the extreme end of Type 2, where even a sandwich is fare game for eating in sections (the top piece of bread, followed by the cheese, followed by the turkey.) Don't worry mom, I don't dissect my sandwiches in public, only at home. I know, it's an odd habit, but I'm sure it stems from my interest in ingredients and what recipes are comprised of. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.
If you are a "Type 2" diner, you run the risk of filling up before you've had a chance to get a good taste of everything on your plate. Delicious side dishes often become the stars of the show, and the main entree ends up wrapped in foil for tomorrow's lunch. Such was the case with the delectable savory herbed popovers that I had a chance encounter with the other evening. Served alongside a steak as a variation on Yorkshire Pudding, these billowing and buttery hollow pastry poufs had me at hello (I might have even asked the server for another.) These egg-based popovers, named for the way that they "pop" out of the pan that they bake in, stole the spotlight with their crisp outside and custardy interior, so I only had room for a few bites of everything else. I was O.K. with that.
Here is my attempt at recreating those popovers. I've given them a lemon-thyme flavoring with a little cracked black pepper thrown in for a kick. These come together in mere minutes and are best eaten hot out of the oven. Serve them for breakfast with butter or jam, or serve them as part of a meal. Be sure to make extra for those "Type 2s." Here are my tips for these sure to impress light and lemony rolls:
- If you do not have a popover pan, never fear! Popovers can be made in 9 buttered muffin cups. Bake the popovers for about 25-30 minutes, then cut the slits, and then bake for 5 minutes longer.
- Eggs at room temperature tend to aerate better when they are whisked, which is important when preparing popovers. In order to bring eggs to room temperature quickly, simply submerge them in warm (not hot--you don't want to cook them!) water for a few minutes prior to adding to the batter.
- It is best to use whole milk for this recipe, as the fat content helps to keep the popovers nice and moist, but you can use 2% if you are trying to cut fat and calories from your diet.
- For zesting lemons and other citrus, or for grating cheese, ginger, or chocolate, there is simply no substitute for a Microplane grater in the kitchen. I highly recommend investing in one--they have made my life much easier!
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, room temperature
Zest of one lemon
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Special equipment: popover pan
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Place an oven rack in the lower third position. Generously butter the popover cups and place them in the oven as it preheats.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, water, eggs, and zest until well combined, and then whisk in the butter. Add the flour, thyme, salt, and pepper and whisk until the batter is combined, but slightly lumpy.
Divide the batter among the hot popover cups and sprinkle the tops with additional thyme and/or pepper as garnish. Bake until the popovers are puffed and golden, about 35 minutes. Cut a small 1/2-inch slit in the top of each popover using a sharp knife, then bake for 5 minutes more. Serve immediately.