In mathematics, two negatives make a positive. I’d like to think that this rule applies to equations in the kitchen as well. Blunders (negatives) do happen on the road to success (positives).
So here is my story: the first negative was my initial attempts at making herb fritters (Corsican fritelles). They were okay – no wow factor that the aromatic herbs were supposed to impart (although everyone ate them up). I knew they could be better. The second negative was the result of my fledgling venture into cheese making with rennet, attempting to make homemade feta. Now there was a big negative, but I won’t go into details here about that as I’ll be posting about those experiments soon – warts and all!
Then I read a recipe by Laila @ Table of Colors for her grandpa’s popovers stuffed with a little whipped cream. Indeed, what are popovers except puffed, baked versions of fritters? They’re both a simple batter of eggs, milk and flour. Come to think of it, they’re actually like mini individual Yorkshire puddings. And, that goaty, definitely non-feta cheese was really more like a soft, piquant creamy cheese…perfect for filling.
Put these two negatives together and you get Corsican-inspired herb popovers stuffed with creamy soft cheese. Perfect for lunch or as a side for dinner (with or without the filling). Success at last.
Herb Popovers with Soft Cheese Filling
The basic popover recipe is based on the one posted by Laila @ Table of Colors, but I’ve added fresh herbs to the batter and modified the instructions. And, since not everyone has a goaty, creamy fresh cheese from failed experiments, I’ve recreated it using actual feta and crème fraîche or sour cream to get the right flavor and texture.
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups plain flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 leaves of wild garlic (ramsons), optional
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- olive oil
Clean and finely chop the fresh herbs. Set these aside.
Warm the milk – body temperature, not too hot (Laila recommends 1-1/2 minutes in the microwave). Meanwhile, put the eggs into a mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk until light yellow and frothy.
On low speed, slowly add the warmed milk until fully mixed. Add the flour, salt, cayenne pepper and finely chopped herbs. Whisk well for a few minutes. The batter will be thin and a little runny.
Like all good Yorkshire pudding recipes, let the batter sit for at least 30 minutes (covered at room temperature).
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin by measuring 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil into each cup, coating the sides and bottom.
Place this in the oven for about 5 minutes before you fill it with batter – watch to make sure the oil does not overheat and begin to smoke. Gently whisk the batter again. Carefully remove the hot muffin tin from the oven and pour batter into each cup, filling nearly to the top. Put the tin back into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Thirty minutes was too long in my oven as it tends to be hot.
The popovers should be light and fluffy with the herbs distributed throughout. Pull open and fill with the creamy filling below. Serve while still warm.
You can make this ahead of time, or simply mix it together while the popovers are baking.
- 1/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
- 2-3 Tablespoons Crème fraîche or sour cream
- Small bunch of chives, approximately 1 Tablespoon when snipped
Mash the feta with a fork and mix with the sour cream. Snip chives into small segments using clean kitchen scissors and fold into the cheese mixture.