Last summer, the kids and I spent a month in Italy, ensconced in a farmhouse with dear friends near the coast in Marche, with plenty of day trips to gorgeous beaches, amazing restaurants and mad legit medieval festivals. (Yes, this is going to be a tough act to follow. This summer will be a great time to teach the boys that life isn't always crazy perfect. See you at the neighborhood park!) Every morning, I woke up before everyone. (This only happens in a perfect Summer-in-Italy world, thanks to time zone changes.) My friends' son Guido Jack, another early riser, was often waiting on the sofa patiently, curious to see what I would make for breakfast. I felt the need to perform. With limited trips to the grocery store, my surprise options were few. But what about popovers?
Popovers are awesome. You can do anything to them, and all you need to start are some really basic ingredients — flour, milk, salt and eggs — and a muffin tin. You can add grated cheese, Nutella, mashed bananas, your favorite jam, a dollop of ripe mango or a spoonful of last night's barbecue pork. Sweet or savory, it's all delicious. I found a good basic recipe on Epicurious, but had success with a simplified version, cooking the pastries at 375° for 20 minutes, instead of changing the oven temperature. Your oven may vary, but experimenting can be fun, and even the failures taste pretty good.
The children were beyond impressed. The rest of the gang got up early with Guido Jack, just to experience the popovers in all their risen glory. It took them exactly two mornings to figure out that the delicacy tasted just as good fallen, and that the popovers were so easy to make, they didn't even have to behave very long to get me to make them. The adults were not uninterested. After all, how cool is it when they pop up, without the benefit of yeast or major souffle skills?
Popovers have become a vacation staple for our family. I guess the boys didn't figure out how easy they were, since they never request them at home. (Honestly, whipping up a batch is easier than toasting a bagel and spreading it with cream cheese.) We have a beach vacation planned for June and I can't wait to see their faces when they wake up to shrimp and bacon popovers. Fine, it's all about me. I can't wait to eat them!
Do you make a dish that's easy as pie (which, for the record, isn't easy at all for some of us), but never fails to impress? Do your children think you're more skilled in the kitchen than you really are?
Related: How to Make Popovers
(Images: Anne Postic)