Growing up, I used to spend summers and winters in the Bay Area, at my Granny’s rambling house in the El Cerrito hills. I’ve heard that when my Granddad was alive, the kitchen, with its huge range and two ovens, was alive with cooking. Unfortunately, when Granny lost Granddad, she also lost her love of food. However, according to my mother, there was one family member who maintained a sense of love and fun in the kitchen: Aunt Polly. My mom’s main culinary mentor, because “she made all the things my parents never would. Baked Alaska, gazpacho, plum pudding and tall, eggy, air-filled popovers. She also made the best birthday cakes, like a fresh strawberry shortcake big enough to feed 14 people.” My mom also told me that Aunt Polly “was a happy cook. My mother was a good cook, but she wasn’t ever happy cooking. It makes a big difference, duty versus enjoyment.” Having spent most of my time cooking for pleasure, I second that.
In Aunt Polly’s honor, let me share this recipe for Bullock’s Popovers, made famous at the now defunct Bullock’s Wilshire department store. These popovers taste great with a simple soup and green salad, or with a big Saturday morning breakfast:
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
Equipment: 8 ramekins or large muffin tins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk or an electric mixer. Beat in milk until well blended.
In a small bowl, sift flour and salt. Work butter into flour mixture with whisk or mixer.
Gradually add flour mixture to eggs and milk and blend well.
Fill 8 buttered ramekins 3/4 full. Place on baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes (for a more eggy interior) and 1 hour (for a more crispy, dry popover).