No Fail Popovers Are Over the Top

Each year I visit New York City as a committee member for James Beard Awards.. Our committee is always looking for great places for breakfast. I had heard that The Society Café attached to the Walker Hotel had wonderful breakfasts. Don’t miss a chance to visit this charming breakfast venue. It really is worth it. We were served tender, light yet crispy popovers– the American version of English Yorkshire Pudding. Puffed and golden brown, these perfect popovers became my gold standard. I noticed that the chef’s recipe called for warm milk that seemed unusual.

And then I stumbled on my dear friend and colleague Marlene Sorosky’s Over the Top Popover recipe. Marlene is one of the most accomplished cooking teachers in the USA and has written many cookbooks. She tested this over 25 times to get it to her satisfaction.

Her popover recipe, which is similar to the chef’s at Society Café, tells the reader that adding hot milk to the batter allows the eggs to stablize and support the batter. She bakes them at 375F for the whole time and only heats the pans for a couple of minutes prior to pouring the batter into the tins.  Her best tip is that you can make them in advance and hold them up to 4 hours— all they need is a quick reheat. She actually thinks they are better! You can find a few other popover variations at

I love to serve these for breakfast with cherry or apricot jam and sweet butter. They are also a delcious accompanimemnt to a brunch egg dish or for lunch. Frankly there is never a bad time to induldge in these airy, crispy, golden brown puffs of goodness.



This recipe makes 6 large popovers in a standard popover pan or 10 smaller ones in a mini popover pan, standard muffin tin, or 1/2 cup custard cups.


1½ cups whole, low-fat or nonfat milk

3 large eggs

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, optional

Pan spray


  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan until bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Or, heat in a microwave until hot, but not boiling. The hot milk allows the eggs to stablize and support the batter.


  1. Mix the eggs in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, by hand with a whisk, in a blender or a food processor, until frothy. While mixing, gradually pour in the hot milk. Add the flour, salt and sugar; mix on low until thoroughly incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed. Mix in the melted butter, if using. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.


  1. Position a rack in the middle or lower third of the oven. Preheat a conventional oven to 375° or convection oven to 350°. Place the popover pan, standard muffin tin or custard cups in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and spray the sides and top edges of cups with pan spray.


  1. Whisk the batter well and divide among the cups, filling almost to the top.  Bake until puffed and deeply browned, 35 to 40 minutes for small popovers, 45 to 50 minutes for large ones. The longer they bake, the less they will deflate when you take them out.  If they are browning unevenly the last 10 minutes, rotate the pan.


  1. Remove the popovers from the pan and serve immediately.


  1. Or, for crisper popovers, remove them to a rimmed baking sheet where they can be held uncovered for up to 4 hours. Before serving, preheat the oven to 450° and reheat for 3-5 minutes or until hot and crispy.


Bread and butter? Versatile Olive Oil Dips Take the Place of Butter



We’ve come a long way from simple packaged breads that you can pick up at the supermarket. Here in Los Angeles bread bakeries are springing up across the city. My favorites are The Bread Lounge and Clark Street Bakery at the moment, each with their own spin on crusty, chewy baguettes as well as many other varieties. These toothsome loaves need a fresh accompaniment idea.

Bread and butter? Not so fast. Creative olive oil combinations have taken the place of butter as an accompaniment for bread. I prefer the fruity flavor of olive oil with bread. Even more delicious are blending different flavors together. These sauces become the center of the table and are a wonderful beginning to any Mediterranean-inspired repast. A glass of chilled Rose or Chardonnay would be a refreshing pairing.

As the weather heats up, you’ll appreciate how easy these are to prepare— no cooking required. I like to serve these sauces in small glass bowls with a spoon for people to help themselves. Make sure to have an assorted bread basket with French baguette, walnut, sourdough and Foccacia along with bread plates.

These versatile sauces are also a wonderful glaze on grilled chicken, fish or vegetables,. They can also be used as a simple sauce to pasta and a quick dressing to drizzle on your favorite greens. Look for Meyer lemon-flavored olive oil— it offers a slightly sweet yet tart flavor to the oil. If you can’t find it, add a bit of lemon juice and zest to the oil and go from there. Make sure to select a good quality robust extra virgin olive oil.

Olive Oil Dipping Sauces

Serves 4 to 6

Lemon, Olive and Dried Cherry Sauce

1/2 cup lemon olive oil

2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, ends removes and sliced into very thin slivers

A few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives

2 tablespoons chopped dried cherries

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in small glass bowl and mix to combine. Cover and let rest for at least 4 hours so that the flavors have time to meld. Serve with a spoon or pour into small plates for serving with bread.


Advance Preparation: This can be made up to 1 week ahead and covered in an airtight container and kept at room temperature


Anchovy, Sun-Dried Tomato and Tapenade Sauce

1/2 cup fruity olive oil

2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped anchovies, (I prefer white anchovies if you can find them)

2 tablespoons green or black storebought Tapendade

2 tablespoons chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 1/teaspoon hot sauce or spicy chile paste, or to taste


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in small glass bowl and mix to combine. Cover and let rest for at least 4 hours so that the flavors have time to meld. Serve with a spoon or pour into small plates for serving with bread.


Advance Preparation: This can be made up to 1 week ahead and covered in an airtight container and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.


Note: You can find white anchovies at gourmet specialty stores in the refrigerated section. They have a sweeter, milder flavor than regular canned anchovies.


Caramelized Banana Foster Bread: Coffee Cake or Dessert


When the book Foster’s Market Favorites landed on my desk I was in heaven. Exquisite photography coupled with time-tested comfort dishes are highlighted from her amazing market in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The introduction written by her husband tells her story— from her roots in Tennessee to finally settling in North Carolina where she and her market have become a culinary institution.


This book is a collection of Sara Foster’s recipes from areas of her past—Chicken Salad from Soho Charcuterie, NYC, Says Bread Pudding from her early Market days and a plethora of Southern dishes like Pecan Sweet Potato Sticky Buns and Foster’s Pimento Cheese. I couldn’t get enough of the photos which truly made me hungry when I had just finished lunch! Kudos to photographer Peter Frank Edwards.


I settled on testing this recipe after looking at the picture. One word for you—YUM! Easy to put together, this recipe has made it into my Seriously Simple fallback recipe file. I did a bit of tweaking the recipe by slicing the banana that is caramelized rather than keeping it halved. I also used rum instead of bourbon to switch it up. It was hard to let the bread cool because I wanted to dive into it as it sat on a rack resting. I served it for dessert with vanilla ice cream to raves at a casual dinner party and the next day as a coffee cake. Either way, this clever take on Bananas Foster from New Orleans will leave your guests asking for more.


Foster’s Caramelized Banana Foster Bread


½ cup light brown sugar

5 ripe bananas

2 tablespoons bourbon or rum

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



1.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.


2.Spread the brown sugar evenly on the bottom of a cast -iron skillet over medium heat. Peel and slice 1 of the bananas into ½-inch slices and place on the sugar. Sprinkle the bourbon (or rum) over the top and cook, shaking the pan occasionally until the sugar melts and the banana begins to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue cooking and caramelizing, about 2 to 3 more minutes, or until all slices are nicely caramelized. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.


3.Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and salt in a large bowl and stir to mix.


4.In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slice and add the remaining 4 bananas, pecans and vanilla, mixing to break up the bananas and combine.


5.By hand, stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture just until the dry ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place on a rimmed baking sheet (this makes it easier to handle in and out of the oven).


6.Arrangethe caramelized banana slices evenly on top of the loaf and drizzle with any remaining caramel. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the bread rises and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center.


7.Remove from the oven and let sit to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack and continue to cool more before slicing and serving, about 10 minutes.





Grilled Pizzas with Caramelized Onions, Sausage, and Manchego Cheese


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound chicken or turkey Italian sausage (about 4 links), casing removed
  • 1 recipe Pizza Dough (recipe here), or 1 pound fresh store-bought pizza dough
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Manchego cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup caramelized onions (see below)
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves


  1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown for 6 to 7 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it cooks. Once cooked through and broken up into crumbles, remove from the heat and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  2. Lightly flour two rimless baking sheets. (If using purchased pizza dough, divide it into two balls.) Roll out a dough ball on a lightly floured surface to a thin 12-inch round for pizza. Coat both sides of the dough with olive oil cooking spray. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Arrange all the topping ingredients next to the grill.
  4. Transfer the dough to the grill and grill for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until the dough begins to puff and light grills marks appear on the bottom. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
  5. Using a large spatula, flip over the pizza rounds and move them to the coolest part of the grill. Spread each one evenly with a quarter of the cheeses, and half the sausage, onions and basil. Top with the remaining cheese. Move pizzas back to the center of the grill and cover for 3 minutes. Check and rotate them. Cover the grill and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn on the bottom. (You can use a pot cover if your barbecue doesn’t have a cover.) The cheese should be completely melted and the crust should be crisp and lightly charred. Remove from the grill and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting with a pizza wheel. Serve immediately.
  6. Alternatively, bake the pizzas in the oven: Preheat the oven to 475°F. Place the crusts on perforated pizza pans. Poke the crust gently and evenly with a fork. Cook in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the crusts are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and spread evenly with the topping. Return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Serves 8


Caramelized Onions


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large yellow, red or Maui onions, or a combination, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in large nonreactive saute pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring frequently, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until well softened.
  2. Add the wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar; reduce the heat to low; and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are very tender and caramelized, about another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool the onions and serve at room temperature.

Advance Prep

The onions may be prepared up to 1 month ahead, covered in an airtight container and refrigerated.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Pumpkin Chocolate Loaf



  • 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 11/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch nonstick loaf pan.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda and power, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a mixing bowl and stir together.
  4. With an electric mixer beat the butter in a large bowl until softened. Add the sugar and continue beating. Add the eggs and beat until well blended. Add the pumpkin, vanilla and finally the flour mixture, beating just until well blended.
  5. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler on medium-high heat until totally melted, about 5 minutes. Or melt in a glass bowl in the microwave for about 1½ –2 minutes or until completely melted and smooth.
  6. Spoon half of the batter into the loaf pan. Drop spoonfuls of half of the chocolate mixture on top of the batter and then swirl the chocolate into the batter with a wooden skewer. Repeat with the remaining batter and chocolate, making sure to swirl the chocolate into the pumpkin well.
  7. Bake the loaf for about 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean in the center. Let the loaf cool at least 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature in slices.


Quick Bread Tips

Serves 12 people.

Irish Soda Bread



  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan and top of the loaf
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (optional)
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, as needed


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 F. Dust the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with flour.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a large bowl. Add the butter and stir to coat with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly, with some pea-size pieces of butter. Stir in the currants and caraway seeds (if using). Stir in enough of the buttermilk to make a moist, soft dough, being sure to moisten all of the dry bits on the bottom of the bowl. Knead in the bowl just a few times to be sure the dough comes together — this is not a smooth dough.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Sprinkle the top with at least 1 tablespoon flour to give the loaf a rustic look. Transfer to the prepared pan. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow 4-inch wide X in the top of the dough. The X will open during baking and help the loaf bake more evenly.
  4. Bake until the top is deep golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the pan. Let cool on a wire cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve warm. (The bread is best the day it is made.)

Makes 1 loaf.