The complimentary popovers served at the Zodiac Restaurant in Neiman Marcus (737 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-642-5900; plus two other area locations) are light and airy with a custardy center, and, we think, they’re a festive alternative to dinner rolls with Thanksgiving turkey. But they require soome judicious timing: the batter needs to rest for an hour before baking for 40 minutes in a hot oven. The finished pastries are best when eaten piping hot. If you want to serve them as they do at the Zodiac, whip together softened unsalted butter with strawberry preserves. Then, slather at will.

Zodiac Restaurant’s Popover (Makes 12 large popovers)

  • 3-1/2 cups milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature

(1) Microwave the milk on high for 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Crack the eggs into the work bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale.
(2) Turn down the mixer to low and add the milk. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Turn the machine off and let the batter rest for one hour at room temperature.
(3) Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place the rack in the middle position, bearing in mind that these popovers will rise three to four inches. When the oven is hot, preheat a 12-cup-capacity popover pan for at least 2 minutes, then oil generously with cooking spray. Fill the popover cups almost to the top with batter and place on a cookie sheet.
(4) Bake for 15 minutes.Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the popovers are puffed and a deep golden brown. Turn out the popovers immediately and serve hot.

photograph: Tyllie Barbosa