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December 12, 2003
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Measure For Measure
Good music meets good eats with Johnny Green's popover recipe

Editor's note: In the holiday spirit, here is a look back to a festive offering from 1969, when an annotated cook book called The Cook & the Cadenza was published by the International Committee of the Southern California Symphony – Hollywood Bowl Association as a fundraising tool for The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Capitalizing on the affinity between music and food "as the centers of good fellowship," this collection of culinary favorites included recipes by prominent figures in international relations (mostly ambassadors and consul generals) and a few dignitaries from the music world. We hope you enjoy the following recipe of the season by composer/arranger Johnny Green, to be relished with perfect accompaniment – his epic score for
Raintree County!

[Original annotation by Editor/Cook Book Chairman Mrs. Jerome K. Fisher:]

H.R.Trevor-Roper, the English historian-biographer, has said that the quality of a man's mind is revealed in everything he does: genius is evidenced in the most casual conversation or pursuit.

We are very much aware of this, as we read through John Green's popover recipe, beginning with his instructions on utensils to the end of his 15 steps in the preparation and baking, and we remember that this is the same John Green who holds five coveted OSCARS and is a Governor of the Performing Arts Council of the Los Angeles Music Center!

Only a man who had graduated from Harvard at the age of 19 in economics and has gone on to distinguish himself in the world of light and serious music as pianist, composer and conductor could conceive such a meticulous formula!

Here is genius at work, indeed!

And here is a masterpiece:

John Green's Popovers


1) Cookie sheet – 15 to 17 inches long by 12 inches wide.

2) 5 Pyrex oven-proof custard cups – about 2 inches deep; about 2 3/4 inches across the top.

3) Mixmaster or similar mixer – both the large and the small bowls.

4) A good baking oven with dependable heat control.


1) 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted.

2) 1/8 teaspoon salt.

3) 7/8 cups milk (don't use skim or non-fat; this is not a no-cal recipe!)

4) 1 tablespoon regular (salt) butter – melted DON'T LET IT BROWN!!!

5) 2 eggs.

6) 2 1/2 teaspoons soy oil or peanut oil or good salad oil.


1) Set your oven rack at a position that will give the popovers plenty of room to rise.

2) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

3) Arrange your five custard cups on the cookie sheet (on the kitchen counter – NOT IN THE OVEN!) with one cup towards each of the four corners and one in the middle.

4) Into each cup put 3/4 teaspoon of the oil. Then with your finger rub the oil all around, but no higher than 5/8 of an inch from the top.

5) Put the flour and the salt in the big bowl of your mixer.

6) At a slow mixer speed, add the milk to the flour/salt combination (turning the bowl by hand if it is not automatic), and using a rubber spatula to scrape the flour from the sides and bottom. Add the milk slowly and keep the mixer going until the flour and the milk are fully blended into a very smooth, totally lump-free mixture.

7) After letting the beaters drip all that they'll drip, take the big bowl off the mixer. Don't remove or wash the beaters.

8) Break the two eggs into the small bowl and, on the mixer, beat the eggs at a brisk speed until they are light, very bubbly and full of air. DO NOT LET THEM GO CREAMY OR LEMON-Y OR YOU'VE WRECKED YOUR POPOVERS!

9) Swap bowls, putting the big one back on to the mixer and, at a medium fast speed add the beaten eggs, moving them into the egg and milk mixture with your rubber spatula. Add the eggs at a nice smooth flow; neither dump nor trickle. Scrape the last little bit of the eggs out of the small bowl with your rubber spatula. Don't lose a drop. Keep going until the eggs are full blended into the batter.

10) Now, at your mixer's highest speed, add your melted butter and keep the mixture whirling for three minutes.

11) Now, as quickly as you can, ladle the batter into the custard cups up to about 3/8 of an inch from the top rim of the cups. (Remember, neither the cups nor the cookie sheet has been in the oven. They are at room temperature.)

12) Carefully slide the sheet into your pre-heated oven. Before you close the oven door be sure that the cups at the four corners are far enough in from the walls of the oven so that the expanded popovers will not touch the oven walls.

13) Close the oven door gently and let the popovers bake at the 450 degree heat for 30 minutes. If you haven't got a viewing glass in your oven door, DON'T YOU DARE OPEN THE OVEN DOOR TO PEEK THROUGHOUT THESE FIRST 30 MINUTES!!! (If you do, you'll have pancakes!)

14) At the end of the foregoing 30 minutes, reduce the oven heat to 350 and let the popovers bake for another 15 minutes. (NOW you can peek!)

15) Pull the popovers out of the oven. With a long, pliable metal spatula about an inch and a quarter wide, gently pry the popovers from the cups; they won't stick, they just have to be "helped" a little bit. If you have made them correctly, they should be enormous!

Serve immediately with cold sweet or whipped butter and the jam of your taste. The popovers can be reheated in the oven, with the door open, pre-heated to about 200 degrees. It takes about 1/2 an hour to 40 minutes. (Store them as you would any other bread. However, they won't keep as long as regular bread.)

John Green

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