We’re one of those Have-Dinner-Together-Every-Night families. Not because of some stated policy or because we think we need to have dinner together to remain close. It’s just what we like to do.
This past week was different though, because I had evening plans for the first three of the five weeknights and Hyla had a recital on Friday, so, as a family, we had one hurried dinner of leftovers on Thursday night, one hurried dinner out on Friday night (we went to the local college cafeteria before the recital and apparently hit the dinner rush, so had a long wait in line), and one hurried dinner out on Saturday night (the waitress forgot to put our order in, and we were trying to get to an 8.00 performance of Two Gentlemen of Verona — well worth seeing, by the way, if you live around here).
Anyway, tonight we were home and wanted to have an old fashioned, sit down, warm-you-up-on-a-cold-November-night dinner: roast beef, steamed peas, cheese, and yorkshire pudding.
I first made yorkshire pudding when I was a teenager and in love with all things British (in particular, Agatha Christie mysteries, Masterpiece Theatre, and anything to do with fox hunting, except for actually killing a fox). I had no idea what yorkshire pudding really was, having never seen nor tasted it, but I’d read about it as the traditional accompaniment to roast beef and Sunday supper, and when I found a recipe in my mother’s copy of The Joy of Cooking, I knew I had to try it.
On that first attempt, I remember feeling exotic and quite grown up, making a dish from across the ocean. I also felt confused about the recipe and how in the world I would get my hands on the “hot beef drippings” it called for. And I remember having to scrub the dish quite hard to get the burnt parts of the pudding off the pan.
These days, I make my own version (loosely based on Joy’s) and there’s no more mystery involved. It’s a simple recipe that you really could make any old evening (certainly without the roast beef). My version of the recipe is below. I hope it brings you as much warmth and comfort as it brings us.
Yield: 12 individual puddings
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (or you can use 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 water)
2 large eggs
3-4 Tablespoons butter
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a muffin tin, place approximately 1 teaspoon of butter in each cup. You can use more or less butter, depending on your taste and dietary restrictions.
- Put the muffin tin in the pre-heated oven and let the butter melt and begin to sizzle.
- While the muffin tin heats, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the flour-salt combination and add the milk.
- Whisk the liquid and dry ingredients together until they are well combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they are fluffy.
- Add the eggs to the flour-salt-milk mixture and then whisk for several minutes, until everything is well combined and the batter is frothy.
- Remove the muffin tin from the oven and evenly distribute the batter between the cups. You should have about 1/2 inch of batter in each cup, but if you have a bit more or less in each, don’t worry.
- Place the tin back in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The puddings will puff up out of the tin and begin to turn brown.
- Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the puddings are golden brown (or darker, if you like them that way) and there is no more liquid in the centers.
- Remove the puddings from the muffin tin and serve immediately.
Note: We’ve learned from experience that yorkshire puddings warmed up the next day just aren’t as good. You might as well just polish them off the first night.