There’s been some kind of mistake.… I’m supposed to live in New York. I’m quite sure about that. But in the absence of solid evidence that it’s going to happen any time soon, I paid my fantasy home city a brief visit to check that the two of us are still suited. Of course it was as wonderful as ever — once I’d got over the stone-cold greeting at JFK, surely the most churlishly unwelcoming airport in the world.
When it comes to being welcoming, the restaurant BLT (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) on East 57th Street has it taped. The waitress didn’t just bring delicious rolls the size of household buckets to the table the moment we sat down, she brought the recipe for them too. I’m serious. One of the dough mountains had a miniature recipe book dangling from its summit. The mini book has now crossed the Atlantic with me and is enjoying a cultural exchange with my cookery book collection in Oxford.
Shouldn’t more restaurants be doing this? Less of the ‘it’s a highly complex secret recipe that you couldn’t possibly recreate at home’ and more of the ‘yes, you can make it too and possibly just as well as we can.’
To be strictly accurate, BLT popovers are a cross between cheesy Yorkshire puddings and a hat you could wear to Ladies Day at Royal Ascot. And since BLT were so generous with the recipe, I’m sure they’d be happy for you to try it too.
BLT Popovers — makes 12
4 cups milk
4 cups flour
1.5 heaped tbsp salt
2.25 cups grated gruyere cheese
Place the popover pan in the oven. Heat the oven and pan to 350 degrees F. Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside. Whisk the eggs until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eggs). Set the mixture aside. Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this dry mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth. Once combined, remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick vegetable spray. While the batter is still slightly warm or room temperature (definitely not cool) fill each popover cup three quarters full. Top each popover with approximately 2.5 tbsp of the grated gruyere.
Bake at 350 degrees (175 degrees c) for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan and serve immediately.
I made my version in a pan half as deep as BLT’s, but I don’t like chomping through a popover the depth of a good sized flower pot. I greased the pan with butter instead of vegetable spray and since I used half as much batter, I cut the cooking time from 50 minutes to 40.
Ten out of ten to BLT. One and a half to JFK … and in the airport’s case I’m being generous.
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