popovers with black pepper, chives & parmesan

FamilyStyle Food

Last week I attended a conference for food professionals {IACP} in Portland, one of my very favorite cities for eating and living well. What a great experience – with so many people representing a huge array of expertise in the field of food and cooking, the exchange of information is amazing and energizing; I love that we all have something to learn from each other.

I found myself sitting next to pastry chef Cindy Mushet during one session. Cindy is the author of  the award-winning The Art & Soul of Baking, a big door stopper of a book. I have to admit it’s not one I invite into bed with me since it must weigh in at more than five pounds, way too unwieldy to perch on my teetering pile on the bedside table.

But the other day I needed to get busy baking something, so I flipped through it; there’s lots to learn in there, the book is full of beautiful photos and basic techniques as well as some advanced recipe variations for more adventerous bakers.

I wasn’t feeling like spending the whole day baking, so when I saw a recipe for Parmesan Herb popovers I was all in. Popovers are the best at delivering bang for the buck; minimal ingredients, time and technique but big on the “wow” factor.

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They are also delicious. Warm out of the oven and popped into your mouth they have a crisp exterior and a soft, almost creamy interior. Popovers are commonly sweet, but I like the idea of savory ones to serve instead of  the usual rolls or bread for a dinner party. Popovers are so easy to make at the last minute, and you can flavor them however you like.

I took Cindy’s basic recipe and tweaked it by adding freshly cracked black pepper, lemon zest and some of the chives that are blooming in big clumps in my yard right now.

While my popovers rose impressively, I noticed when I cut one open that they weren’t hollow inside as popovers typically are, but had a more substance. I might have to make another batch to practice my baking science, since I’m not sure why that happened. Did I use too much flour? Don’t know, but they were still light and delicious to eat.

Popovers with Black Pepper, Chives & Parmesan

Yield: 12 popovers

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups milk
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  4. 2 scant cups flour (10 ounces)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  8. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  9. 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat a 12-cup popover pan or muffin tin with melted butter or oil.
  3. Whisk together the milk, eggs and butter in a large bowl until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Place the empty pan in the oven to heat for 7 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and fill the cups evenly with the batter (this is less messy if you transfer batter to a 4 cup liquid measuring cup).
  5. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking until the popovers are deep golden brown, 15 - 18 more minutes.
  6. Cool briefly in the pan before removing and serving. You can reheat cooled popovers in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/05/popovers-with-black-pepper-chives-parmesan/

Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts

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This is a great time of year if you are a fan of Brussels sprouts – my hand is raised! – their season is brief and they taste so sweet and delicious when they’re super-fresh.

My local grocery store sells Brussels sprouts on the stalk every year around Thanksgiving, and I’ve grown to prefer buying them this way. Since you can pluck them off right before you want to cook them, they couldn’t be any fresher than if they’d grown in your own backyard garden.

I’ve always been intrigued by the unusual beauty of Brussels sprouts;  I love their miniature cabbage-like form and their distinctive taste, a combination of cauliflower and broccoli. And like cauliflower and broccoli – their siblings in the Brassica family – they take well to roasting and tossing with good Parmesan cheese – one of my favorite methods to use on any sturdy vegetable.

In addition to this rustic Italian-style recipe, I’ve recently given them the Julia Child treatment on my other blog, Dinner with Julia, where I prepared a recipe for Brussels Sprouts Braised in Butter and Cream from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Even if you are a confirmed Brussels sprouts avoider, you might change your mind after a taste of these buttery nuggets.

Brussels Sprouts on the stalk

Brussels Sprouts on the stalk

Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts

Serving Size: 4 side-dish servings

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  2. Fine sea salt
  3. Extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Trim the Brussels sprouts of any yellowing leaves. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil; add 2 teaspoons salt and the Brussels sprouts.
  2. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain and toss in a large bowl with enough olive oil to coat the cheese.
  3. Arrange them on a shallow pan and place under a hot broiler about 4 inches below heat source until golden, 1 or 2 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.
http://familystylefood.com/2009/11/parmesan-crusted-brussels-sprouts/