Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover Popovers: The Perfect Bread Substitute

For you MOT (members of the tribe) who are looking forward to Passover this week with a mix of excitement (love the Seder!) and dread (oy, matzoh for an entire week!), I may have something for you that will excite you a little more and ease the dread. Matzoh meal popovers.

I was introduced to these buttery puffs of heaven as a child by my Nana. My grandmother somehow made hundreds of these and they were huge -- big enough to slice horizontally and use to make sandwiches. And I don't know how she did it because you can't just double the recipe; for more, you have to make each batch separately. She must have spent days making them.

But they're easy to make. A little boiling, a little stirring, a little baking... Few ingredients. And, yum. They're so good and so puffy that many years ago my late cat Sequoia who loved all things baked took an opportunity while they were cooling on the counter to pounce into them and take bites from almost every one when I left them to run to the market for more eggs and butter (and then I had to go out again, of course). They're so good that once when I brought them to a Seder, some Israelis who were also guests chided me for bringing treif to the Seder table. They'd never seen a "bread" before that you could make rise with eggs. They certainly hadn't seen these before and, in fact, I haven't seen them elsewhere. They're kind of a signature Passover dish for my family. But, I've gotten requests so I'm sharing this truly cherished family recipe now.

A couple of tips:
1. As I mentioned, make only one batch at a time; don't double or triple the recipe. The popover just won't rise as well.
2. Make sure you let the dough cool twice -- once when you add the matzoh meal so you don't cook the eggs and the other after adding the eggs to let the dough relax and firm up.
3. When you remove the popovers from the oven, my mom suggests poking a small hole on the bottom of each one to release steam and keep them from collapsing. Seems to work.
4. If you store them, don't cover them. The moisture from a plastic bag or container makes them soggy and moldy. Keep them in a paper bag or an open plastic bowl. You can also reheat them to good effect.

Tillie's Passover Popovers
Makes about 15

Ingredients

2 cups water
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups matzoh meal
6 extra large eggs (if smaller, add 2 extra egg whites)

1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Combine the water, sugar, salt, and butter in a medium-size pot and bring to a boil.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the matzoh meal. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
4. Beat in eggs, one at a time. I'm now in the habit of using my KitchenAid stand mixer to do this instead of by hand and it's made a huge difference. I also just bought this great beater blade for the KitchenAid that has little spatula-like wings and really scrapes everything along the sides of the bowl so I don't have to stop and do it manually.
5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes until cool.
6. Spoon onto greased cookie sheets or into muffin tins.


7. Bake at 450 degrees for 13 minutes, then turn down heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes. When brown, remove from oven and place on racks to cool. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke a hole on the bottom of each.


For those of you celebrating Passover, I wish you a good Seder with family and friends.

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