Holidays are a time to savor stability in an ever-changing world

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Leslie Lippincott, program director for Culinary Arts at College of the Albemarle, Edenton campus


By Leslie Lippincott
COA Culinary Arts

Sunday, December 25, 2016

“When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter your circumstances.” Thomas Keller, ad hoc at home.

And what do we do from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day but set out to deliberately eat together?

Like most families mine has our traditional Christmas meal, handed down from generation to generation. Additions have been made upon marriage and the blending of two family traditions created our new traditions. I’ll never forget the year I made Soy Sauce Glazed Acorn Squash rings instead of Green Bean Casserole. Hey, I like to try new things, what can I say? My ordinarily rebellious teenager very quickly informed me that this was NOT Christmas Dinner! I was instructed, in no uncertain terms, that Christmas Dinner was not subject to innovation, experimentation or change … period … ever! (And, yes, I did have to make Green Bean Casserole the next day.) That Christmas, I realized how truly important the continuity of this meal really is for us - stability in an ever-changing world, and warm, happy memories of past meals, shared around the same table, enjoying the same meal, together.

Our Christmas meal consists of Standing Rib roast with plenty of horseradish and mashed potatoes, but the star of the day is always the Popovers. We usually host Christmas dinner for family and friends with the dining room bursting at the seams as we try to fit in just one more chair. I’ve been a commercial cook for almost 40 years. I enjoy, am rejuvenated and tremendously happy being in a kitchen, whether home or commercial.

After all the eating, laughing, and story-telling is done, it’s the popovers everybody remembers. As Christmas approaches every year, the first question asked is – “Are you making Popovers?”

So here is the Popover recipe. Enjoy! I hope you create as many happy memories with it as our family and friends have.

 Holiday Popovers

This recipe has been adapted from The Doubleday Cookbook recipe. As with all cooking there is some science, or magic depending on your perspective, involved. This batter is related to pate a choux or éclair/cream puff batter as it uses the steam from the water in the batter in a hot oven to rise it, and make them “pop over”.

Make about 6 Pops (which is never enough)

1 cup sifted flour

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup milk

¼ cup water

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Beat all ingredients together in a bowl using a whisk or mixer. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula during beating. Spoon into a well-greased muffin tin or popover pan, filling each cup 2/3rds full. Bake 15 minutes and reduce temperature to 400°F and bake another 10 minutes or until well browned, puffed and firm.

Tips for Awesome Popovers:

Let the batter rest in a warm place prior to panning and baking, anywhere from half hour to an hour.

For more flavorful popovers, use the drippings from the roast beef to grease the pans. This is Yorkshire Pudding and delicious!

Cups must be well-greased, sides and bottoms.

Heat the empty well-greased muffin tin/popover pan in the oven until almost smoking hot.

Popover pans are available and the cups are taller and narrower than muffin cups to give the popovers more stability as they rise in the oven.

Slightly reheat in your toaster oven and serve with plenty of butter for the best Boxing Day breakfast. Get up early or they will be gone and Christmas comes but once a year …

Leslie Lippincott is program coordinator of College of the Albemarle’s Culinary Arts Program at its Edenton-Chowan campus