Somehow, someway, the holiday season is already in full swing. I feel like it was just summer time, as if I was just running errands in flip flops and out walking Dexter in shorts and a tank top. Come to think of it, I was just wearing flip flops and tank tops. I live in Arizona now, after all. Unseasonably warm weather aside, December crept up on me this year. 2011 in general has been a whirlwind, but these last few months in particular have flown by. I know that Christmas morning will be here before I know it, which means I better get a move on my Christmas shopping.
As much as I like buying the perfect gift for a loved one, I'd rather make someone's face light up through the perfect holiday meal instead. Cooking in my kitchen, glass of wine in hand, is simply more enjoyable, as far as I'm concerned, than fighting the crowds at the mall during this time of year.
Growing up, my family spent Christmas Eve celebrating with several other families. Each family provided a certain dish of either ham, dips, appetizers or a simple dessert. The idea was to mix and mingle and munch. Every Christmas morning my mom would make breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls, keeping the food simple so that she could spend as much time with my brother and I, helping us set up and play with our new toys Santa had so lovingly left beneath the tree.
As I get older, I am starting to think about the traditions I want to eventually instill in my family. Do I want to go the way of a Christmas feast, complete with a roasted rack of lamb, or do I want to follow in my mother's footsteps, providing an uncomplicated, yet heart warming menu. Knowing myself, I'll probably do a little bit of both. But there is one item I know I'll include. It has that impressive quality that I typically like to showcase, but it's also deceptively simple to make. Enter the popover.
I can always count on popovers to induce "oohing and ahhing" from my guests. Not only are popover's sky high heights a sight to behold, but they are also airy, eggy and simply delicious. I usually serve popovers with a side of honey butter. This time around, however, I thought I'd try something a little different, strawberry butter. Boy, am I glad I did. This butter helps popovers make the move from simple side to main event, tasty enough to be served up as dessert.
Popovers with Strawberry Butter
Recipe Adapted from Neiman Marcus via Grouprecipes.com
3 1/2 cups whole milk
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Strawberry Butter (recipe follows)
* special equipment: nonstick popover pan
1. Place milk in a bowl or glass measuring cup and microwave for two minutes or until warm to the touch. Set aside.
2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together into a large bowl. Crack eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy. Turn mixer speed down to low and gradually add the warm milk. Next, gradually add the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 450º F. Spray popever pan generously with nonstick spray. Fill each well almost to the top with batter and place the popover pan on a cookie sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375º F and continue to bake for 10 minutes longer, until the popovers are deep golden brown. Remove pan from oven, pop out the popovers and let cool on a wire rack. Serve hot with Strawberry Butter.
* There will be extra batter left over. Just set aside and use once the first batch of popovers are finished.
Makes approximately 18 popovers
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1/2 cup good quality strawberry preserves
1. Place butter in a medium sized bowl and beat with an electric mixture until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the strawberry preserves and continue to beat until fluffy, about 2 more minutes.