A Popover by any other name…is a Yorkshire Pudding

popover pizza crust

Yorkshire Pudding in a cast iron skillet.

All of this sunshine, rain, fresh air and renewal had me on a roll.  Spring performances had finished, and I was happily tidying up all of the neglected tasks in my life as we began to prepare for summer camps until food poisoning knocked me flat on Wednesday night.  This was the first time I’ve had food poisoning, and I have to say, what really kept me entirely incapacitated was all of the joint pain.  Yuck!  It was terrible!  Luckily, M is the best person to be taking care of anyone sick, and I managed to get to work on Friday (slowly and carefully, but in sympathetic company since my boss got the same bout of food poisoning) and today I almost feel normal.  The majority of joint pain is gone, and, while I’m not yet up for heavy foods, I can eat again.

mini york pud plated 2

Miniature Toad-In-The-Holes made in muffin pans and topped with onion gravy.

My saving grace was actually my well-used and well-loved Popover recipe.  It is the quickest, easiest way to tasty bread– exactly what I needed on Friday night when I had some appetite, but couldn’t handle much more than soft, plain bread.  Lately, I’ve been treating this Popover batter like Yorkshire Pudding, because, as far as I can tell, they are just about the same.  Yorkshire Puddings are baked in pans greased with bacon grease or meat drippings, and popovers are baked in small buttered cups.  Otherwise (especially when both are converted to gluten-free) I would venture to stay that these two eggy breads are one and the same.  I’ve been meaning to try adding sweeter additions to the popover batter, but in the meantime, savory Yorkshire pudding is becoming my go-to for a quick, tasty dinner.  Add gravy, meat, and veg and you have a delicious comfort meal in no time.  I’ve even cooked the batter in a cast-iron skillet and topped it like pizza crust on days when I have not pre made dough, and can’t be bother with more than a 30-minute bake time.

popover pizza topped

Yorkshire Pudding with pizza toppings.

I do not change anything to my original Popover recipe, except that I pour the entire batter in a baking pan (usually 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″) or my 12″ cast iron skillet.  I cook according to my usual recipe, but I start checking about 5 minutes earlier.  Sometimes, it can take 10-15 minutes longer for cook time.  You are looking for a crispy , golden brown top.  Pierce and peek inside (be careful of steam!) and the inside should be soft, but not gooey.

york pud plate top

Toad-In-The-Hole: sausages baked in a Yorkshire Pudding…

If you really want an easy dinner, fry up some sausages and place the fully-cooked sausage links in the uncooked batter.  The batter will cook up around the sausages and make “Toad In The Hole”.  I’ve also done this with sautéed mushrooms.  While the batter bakes, make up a gravy in the pan where you cooked the sausages.  Add a vegetable or two, and dinner is done!  It is also fantastic for breakfast as leftovers, but also quick enough to whip up fresh for breakfast on a day off (with or without the gravy).

york pud top full

…and topped with gravy.

The versatility of this batter has really earned it a place in my heart and often on my table.  Keep an eye out for some sweeter twists on this Popover batter in the future!

york pud plain

A half-batch of Yorkshire Pudding batter baked in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

Yorkshire Pudding

Servings: 6-8 | Prep Time: 5-10 minutes | Cook time: 25-45 minutes*

  • – 1 c. milk
  • -4 eggs
  • -1/3 c. tapioca starch/flour
  • -2/3 c. white rice flour
  • Pinch xanthan gum
  • -Dash salt 
  • Up to 1/2 tsp. dried herbs of choice (thyme, rosemary, garlic, etc), optional
  • Bacon grease, pan drippings, or oil
  • Optional: 6 cooked sausage links or 1 1/2 c. sautéed mushrooms for “Toad in the Hole”

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place a 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ pan or 12″ skillet in the oven to preheat.  Keep the pan warm until you are ready to pour in the batter.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended.  Add tapioca starch/flour, white rice flour, xanthan gum, herbs (if using), and salt.  Whisk until combined and smooth.  Carefully remove hot pan from oven.  Grease with drippings or oil.  Pour batter into hot pan.  If making Toad in the Hole, lay sausages or mushrooms into batter. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees for the final 15+ minutes.  It may be my old, finicky oven, or knowing my mother’s tried-and-true recipe also necessitates a temperature change, but this is the trick that works best for me.

*Start checking between 25-30 minutes, but if using a smaller pan (thicker batter) or adding sausages/mushrooms, the cooking time may be long–up to 45 minutes.

Advertisements

Thanksgiving 2012 recap

Well, Thanksgiving was about as successful as we expected it to be…so, not half-bad. 🙂  We had a ridiculous amount of food, as all cooks involved got slightly overzealous.  The six of us found ourselves with enough food for at least a dozen guests, if not more.  At final count we had the turkey, 2 types of stuffing, cranberry relish, popovers, spinach, gravy, sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, parsnips, brussel sprouts, braised carrots, ratatouille, hummus, crab dig with french bread and brie with cranberry chutney.  As I said, ridiculous.  Ah well, we’ve reached day four of leftovers and  I’m just about done with “Thanksgiving” flavors.  That being said, the shredded Turkey barbecue sandwiches, re-fried roasted potato salad, and coleslaw that graced last night’s dinner plater were awesome.  Use the strong flavors of regional foods (Asia, Barbecue, Mexican, etc) to jazz up the last of the leftovers languishing in your fridge!

I stayed in my pajamas through the parade and the dog show (and most of the cooking).  And started the day off right with one or three of these:

M was (mostly) in charge of the turkey this year.  We talked briefly about brining, something neither of us have ever attempted and decided not to try it.  Instead, we rubbed the whole turkey with herbed butter (including beneath the skin), tossed an onion, celery, carrots, apple, thyme, and cinnamon into the cavity and let it go.  It roasted for about 5.5 hours and we found ourselves with this transformation:

We followed Alton Brown’s tips generally and look at the perfect browning!  M and I have agree to try brining next year, simply because we are curious, but the herbed butter added succulence to the crisp skin and help keep this mostly moist.  The loose “stuffing” of vegetables shortened the cook time, reduced our risk of undercooked bread dressing, and added a boost of flavor to the turkey.

Meanwhile, I made my Gluten-Free Knockoff Pepperidge Farms Cornbread Stuffing again (and in the crock pot again), and added toasted pine nuts and cooked cranberries (cranberries+1 Tbsp each sugar and water, cooked for 15-20 minutes over medium heat until most berries have burst) as I ladled it into a casserole pan and finished it to crispy in the oven.  Unfortunately (again! ughh!) I forgot to take a proper photo of the stuffing.  I’ll have to stuff a chicken soon (when we’re ready to face a roasted bird again) and get some proper photos for you all!  The addition of pine nuts and cranberries was amazing!  I think I’ll try some new flavors (sausage!) next time.

The sweet potato souffle was forgotten amidst the last minute popover baking.  But I’d trade souffle for popovers any day.

The paler rolls are made from my French bread recipe.  Those were slightly disappointing.  I had trouble getting the rise I wanted out of the dough, but I’ll be working with this dough to see what other kinds of bread I can make in the future!  The actual loaves of French Bread turned out beautifully:

Picture-perfect next to my bread cubes, pre-stuffing. 🙂

Our downfall this year, aside from the vast quantities of food, was offering very filling appetizers.  The family tradition of pickles and olives is just right, enough to nibble on when the smells drifting from the oven become overwhelming.  But we also put out crab dip and my mother’s infamous brie with cranberry chutney.  Bad choice.  My mom was the only one to think to pace herself while I, as usual, inhaled the brie.  (There’s a reason I don’t stockpile cranberries in the freezer…the ability to make this chutney outside of Oct-Jan would be deadly).  By the time we sat down at the table, my mother was the only one who could finish her first plate!

Really, how could you resist?  I’ll be posting this delectable chutney recipe very soon.  I’m planning to can up a few jars for Christmas gifts within the week!  I have a ton of recipes and posts to share–Punc graduated her Puppy class on the Monday before Thanksgiving, I have several more recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers (in the meantime, check out last year’s Turkey-Broccoli Quiche and Mashed Potato Pancakes).  I already mentioned last night’s barbecue dinner.  It was simple enough: I shredded up slices of Turkey and added storebought barbecue sauce, hot sauce, and a touch of chicken broth until coated.  I modified this Mustard-Dill Vinagrette and poured it over sliced roasted potatoes that I had pan-fried.  I cobbled together a poor excuse for coleslaw dressing and shredded some cabbage and a couple carrot.  Serve as sandwiches and you’re done!  Bet you won’t guess it’s Thanksgiving leftovers!

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday!


Praise for Helen and Gluten-Free Popovers

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, my childhood was embodied by two delicious eggy pastries (or pastry-esque items): ‘Rolly-rollies’ and Popovers.  The thin French crepes and milder Yorkshire puddings hid in my baking repertoire for years, without my knowing that both nicknames disguised–to my lesser-travelled ears–‘exotic’ and difficult masterpieces.  But whatever you may call them, these delicious recipes have earned many fans among family and friends over the years.  My love for both of these is the direct responsibility of my maternal great-grandmother, Helen.

The granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants, Helen, from all recounts, was a formidable force throughout her life.  From the general love of her recipes through the generations, I think I’m safe to assume she was an even more formidable cook.  She passed on the original (gluten-filled) recipes to my grandmother, who taught my mother.  And the love grew.  These two were the most requested foods growing up and still remain some of my favorites to share, especially now that I’ve mastered gluten-free versions of both, with a lot of help found in the online Gluten-Free community.

Unlike my lucky success with her crepe recipe, the single egg in the original Popover recipe doesn’t quite have the strength to lift the heavy, moisture-sucking gluten-free flours.  Countless failed attempts have transpired over my 16 months of baking gluten-free.  But I finally found the Holy Grail of GF Popovers recipes in the Thanksgiving/Fall Issue of Living Without Magazine.  I was quite disappointed during my Thanksgiving post, when I tried to link the recipe, and found it was withheld to LivingWithout.com‘s register users.  But after expounding on crepes, I checked again, and the recipe has been released!

So here, without further ado, is my idea of the perfect popover recipe:

Living Without’s Crusty Popovers

I leave out the herbs when I make them.  I’m a purist.  If you are having some trouble (or have as temperamental an oven as mine) try turning down the oven temp by 50 degrees F halfway through the bake time without opening the oven.  Don’t interrupt that rise!  If its still not quite to your taste, try Living Without’s Yorkshire Puddings.  They’re almost the same, but might be tweaked enough to appease your tastebuds.

Here is my modified recipe:

Popovers

  • – 1 c. milk
  • -4 eggs
  • -1/3 c. tapioca starch/flour
  • -2/3 c. white rice flour
  • Pinch xanthan gum
  • -Dash salt 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place a 12 cup muffin tin in the oven to preheat.  Keep the tin warm until you are ready to pour in the batter.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended.  Add tapioca starch/flour, white rice flour, xanthan gum, and salt.  Whisk until combined and smooth.  Carefully remove hot baking tin from oven.  Grease with butter or oil.  Pour in batter, filling cups 3/4 full.  Place popovers in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees for the final 15 minutes.  It may be my old, finicky oven, or knowing my mother’s tried-and-true recipe also necessitates a temperature change, but this is the trick that works best for me.

And last, but not least, here’s my seal of approval:

Excuse the overexposure and, instead, marvel at that browned, crispy shell; the undeniable puff.  Imagine the soft, eggy interior….

Now quit your daydreams and go make some!


Thanksgiving Recipe Round-up

Well, perhaps I’m a little behind in blogosphere standards, but its better late than never to round-up my plans for Thanksgiving!  And since today is Prep Day #1, this update can help me build up my game plan for the next 48 hours.  Look at that multi-tasking skill!

This year, my family is doing Thanksgiving on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  My mother works Thursday night, I have a shift at a major American retail store early (so early!) Friday morning, and my sister is coming home with a friend on Wednesday then switching to her friend’s house for Thursday then back to our home for the weekend.  Plus, with Monday and Tuesday as my days off, I would have plenty of time to prep the food. All in all, Wednesday was a better day to celebrate.

We’re sticking to a fairly traditional menu, but this is my first Thanksgiving tackling gluten-free traditions.  I’ll admit, last year, only 4 weeks after going “off” gluten and at the home of an old family friend, I cheated.  Considerably.  (Confession: I am a stuffing addict).  I wasn’t ready to tackle the huge task of de-glutifying traditional foods, and I wasn’t so adjusted to making the fuss necessary to keep myself safe and healthy.  I didn’t want to impose.

This year, I’m closer.  At the very least, I will be entirely gluten-free.  My mother is still making a batch of her from-the-bag store-bought stuffing mix that I was raised on.  I’ll be following along with the mix-in recipe on the back of the packaging, starting with a base of old-fashioned, flour-free cornbread.  Other than that sticking point, all of our rolls, our pie crusts, our gravies will be wheat- and gluten-free.  I’d say that is several steps forward.

The clock is counting down on my prep time, so, here is our

Thanksgiving Menu

  • Turkey (21 lbs, no brine or anything snazzy.  Just my mother’s tried & true roasting.  I’ll keep an eye out for any family secrets–we’ve never had dry turkey, and we’ve never had to brine for that moisture)
  • Gravy isn’t too hard for us, as we’ve always made gravy with cornstarch, even before I stopped eating gluten.  An extra minute to double-check that our broth was gluten-free was all the prep we needed.
  • Stuffing
    • Pepperidge Farms Cornbread Stuffing for my mom, sister, & guests with the traditional celery/onion/herb add in listed on the bag.
    • GF Cornbread Stuffing made with Nicole Hunn’s Old Fashioned Cornbread, a recipe using only corn meal.  I made the batter last Friday, and spread it into a greased jelly roll pan (the wide, flat cookie sheets with a low lip all around) and baked the bread at the same temperature for 10-15 minutes.  The bread came out moist and thin, so that every crouton will have the crispy crust.  With this stuffing, I will be trying to imitate the recipe on the Pepperidge farm bag (and maybe win over the critics for an entirely GF Thanksgiving for next year).  Look out for onions, herbs, celery, broth, etc adding to the mix!
  • Potatoes (I’ll be the first to admit: we’re going a little overboard on potatoes this year.  Ah well, ’tis the season to indulge!)
    • Mashed Potatoes mixed until smooth with onion and chive cream cheese, cream, and butter.  Any extra will be mixed up for potato pancakes to go with our eggs and turkey hash the next morning.
    • Roasted Red Potatoes With Balsamic Dressing was one of two dishes my sister specifically requested she make.  I’m a sucker for balsamic vinegar, so a second potato dish joins our table.
    • Sweet Soul ‘Taters from Ree at The Pioneer Woman.  I made this recipe once, on a whim for no more special an occasion than a Tuesday night.  It was gone by the next morning–my mother and I polished it off for breakfast.  Sweet and crunchy, this will be the bridge dish between dinner and dessert.
  • Green Beans won’t get too fussy, although I was sorely tempted to try adding bacon and shallots for a casserole.  But this year, we stick to the classic: sauté’d with butter, letting the fresh green taste keep center stage.
  • Popovers will be gluten-free, mostly because my GF recipe starts in a hot oven, and my mother’s needs to start cold.  I used a recipe modified from Living Without‘s October issue

Popovers

  • – 1 c. milk
  • -4 eggs
  • -1/3 c. tapioca starch/flour
  • -2/3 c. white rice flour
  • -Dash salt 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place a 12 cup muffin tin in the oven to preheat.  Keep the tin warm until you are ready to pour in the batter.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended.  Add tapioca starch/flour, white rice flour, and salt.  Whisk until combined and smooth.  Carefully remove hot baking tin from oven.  Lightly grease with cooking spray.  Pour in batter, filling cup s 3/4 full.  Place popovers in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees for the final 15 minutes.  It may be my old, finicky oven, or knowing my mother’s tried-and-true recipe also necessitates a temperature change, but this is the trick that works best for me.

  • Cranberry Sauce is the second recipe my sister claimed.  All I know is that it will contain oranges as well.  We also have plenty of that lovely American staple: canned, jellied cranberry sauce.  We will serve it in the perfect can shape and all.  Some traditions cannot be broken.
  • Pumpkin Pie using my riff on Bette Hagman’s Dream Pastry Pie Crust and the filling recipe on the back of the Libby’s can of pureed pumpkin.  Again, a classic.

And we have our family’s tradition of pickles (sweet and dill) and olives (traditionally black, though we’re stirring things up and adding feta-stuffed green olives to the mix) and nuts to tide over the nibblers in the last hour, when all the smells drag everyone to the kitchen, milling apprehensively as we wait for popovers to rise, for the turkey to set, as we mash the potatoes.

The pre-dinner nibbles are a bit of a mystery.  I’m not sure who first set out the dish of pickles and olives on that first Thanksgiving…most who hear this tradition look at me like I’m a little crazy.  Finally, last year, my friend from New England backed up my insistence, as her family does the same.  Maybe its a northern thing?  My dad is from New England.  Either way, I’ll have a dish out for all of my Thanksgivings.  It keeps fingers from picking at the turkey wings.

I keep going back and forth as to whether I should make another vegetable dish (or another dessert) but time will be that deciding factor.  Today (Prep Day #1) I’ll be baking the sweet potatoes, mixing the wet and dry for Sweet Soul ‘Taters but storing the two parts separately.  I’ll be mixing the pie crust dough and let that refrigerate overnight.  My cornbread has been going stale on the counter all weekend.  Tomorrow, I’ll chop all the veggies, bake the pie, and set up mise en place.  The turkey will have to go in quite early Wednesday morning, so that we can eat by 1pm or 2pm, and having everything set up in a clean kitchen will let us have a little longer to sleep.

Thanksgiving dinner.  Here we go!


Baking Break-throughs (Link Love)

I spent yesterday evening with my lovely friend A, working on a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for weeks.  I’m slowly building up my base of flours and starches–not enough to try any basic mix yet, but I now have white rice flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, and corn starch, in addition to some store-bought GF AP mixes (Pamela’s, Bisquik, etc).  Fiddling with the ratio of egg to flour and adding rice flour to my mother’s gluten-full popover recipe led to the best end-result yet, though I have many more modifocations to make before I’m truly happy.  But today was a huge step in the right direction!  Mom approved, and even likes the extra bit of chew in the GF version compared to her usual recipes.  Its starting to feel like I’m understanding the interplay of flours and starches a little bit more, which is a welcome alternative to staring dazedly down at all of the little bags of white stuff.

Rice flour popovers 

Still, while I’m happy to find I have fairly easy access to these flours and starches (and I haven’t even visited the local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, yet!), I still need to find the balance in consumption/use to expense.  I can’t afford to buy new packages of flours every week.  Thankfully, being back home (and sharing a kitchen and food with family, rather than 5 roommates each buying their own food and promptly forgetting about it in the cramped recesses of our fridge) means I have much better access to fresh and varied produce and meats, with less strain on my budget and less fear of the food spoiling.  I’m far less reliant on starches than I was at school, where the mediocre meals had to been rounded out by rice, or more commonly found, potatoes, to actually feel substantial.

A few weeks before graduation, I stumbled across Kate Chan of Gluten Free Gobsmacked’s recipe for Chicken Potstickers.  I’ve been holding off as I tracked down all of the ingredients, but A and I both needed a distraction, so last night, we set to work.  I was a little intimidated, having never made pasta dough (with or without gluten), much less a filled, gluten-free pasta.  And though we were initially skeptical about the small quantities of ingredients going into the filling, it turned out to be more than enough.  In fact, we ran out of dough before running out of filling, and fried up a couple “meatballs” to finish off the chicken mixture.  With our inexperience, I’m quite pleased with how they came out.  We should have rolled the dough a tad thinner, and cut bigger circles, but we ended up with well over 40 miniature dumplings and an encouraging feeling of success.  I was further surprised at how much the dough puffed as it boiled, our little minis were nearly full-sized when cooked through and crisped.

Frying Chicken Potstickers 

Mom and the Brother were at work during this adventure, so I’ve used that as an excuse to pull out a batch for dinner tonight, along with some quick fried rice to use up leftover steak and veggies.  We’ll see what they’re opinions are, but, at the very least, I’m ecstatic.  I’ll admit, asian dumplings and pizza (okay, and Bagel Bites–I did survive 3 years of college before my diagnosis) have been my most missed foods. Between these darlings and Shirley at Gluten Free Easily’s recipe for Flourless Pizza, I’ve been deliciously satisfied!

Flourless pizza with sausage & tomatoes