In Dorie Greenspan’s description of this week’s recipe choice, Popovers, she writes, “Many of us have fond memories of the messy thrill of eating popovers dripping with butter and honey.”
Although I searched my personal Memory Bank very carefully, I have no such messy memories. Growing up in Manchester, Iowa, a small Midwestern farm community of 4,000 people, I don’t recall a popover ever crossing my path. As a 30-something adult, I first discovered these lovely puffy critters and enjoy them whenever the opportunity arises.
Making them myself? Really?
Since for this week’s Tuesdays Post I would be back in Aspen (elevation 7890’), I decided to bake the popovers last Wednesday, just before leaving Nevada (elevation 2180’). While preparing my first batch, I experienced a Mise en Place-Fail. Note to Readers: If you don’t add 3 large eggs, at room temperature, to your Popover batter, the result will be hockey pucks.
Before leaving Nevada, I had time for one do-over and the result was Good, not Better or Best, but Good. To be honest, “Good” really doesn’t work for me. I needed a Better and Best.
After arriving in Aspen, I fired off an SOS e-mail to my new friend, Marilyn Kakudo aka Piebird, a member of our Tuesdays with Dorie group, who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I consider her blog, Cook Teach Learn Grow, a must-read because she so clearly explains, through words, the art of baking. If I was going to attempt Popovers at high altitude, I needed Marilyn’s high altitude expertise.
In what I now know to be true Kakudo-style, Marilyn wrote a rather lengthy instructive e-mail explaining how to bake Popovers à la Aspen. Yesterday I did just that and the result was Better. At almost 8000’, I’m okay with Better because this week’s Post does have a Best.
The “Best” is what I discovered about “Chef Marilyn” as she is known in the Denver-area. Among our midst of dedicated home bakers (like me) are some phenomenal cooks with remarkable resumes who add so much depth to our Tuesday group. (It’s not for nothing that I was an investigative business reporter.) What I discovered is that Marilyn, who left a successful high tech career to pursue a culinary one, is in the latter group. Her food and wine credentials are impressive. As for me, I’m quite pleased and appreciative that she takes the time and makes the effort to share her considerable knowledge and experience with all of us. And, she does it very quietly.
Because I was moving back to the Colorado High Country with its high altitude baking challenges, I questioned whether I should continue baking with this Tuesday group. Considering that I think Marilyn will have my back, I’m all in.
Thanks to Paula, our Buenos Aires baker and Amy, who bakes for a family of five, for hosting this week and sharing with everyone the Popover recipe, originated by the late Marian Cunningham. Cunningham, an American culinary icon, died last month at the age of 90.