Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Coffee Mug

Everybody has one somewhere.

Whether it contains crayons and pencils showcasing some insipid morale-boosting-epigram logo-ed on the side, like “Hang In There”, or is shaped like some free form blob of stippled ceramic nightmare that your seven-year-old made in his third grade art class, the coffee mug holds a dear place in many people’s hearts, and not only to drink tasty beverages from.

"Coffee Mugs are 'Winning'!!!!"

Many people use them to hold odds and ends around the house. For example, to hold used tooth brushes, a dull safety razor, and a Breelcreme caked pocket comb that resides in the back bathroom’s rusty medicine cabinet, or to hold the legion of Chinese condiment packets and chopsticks that you have accumulated over many months of greasy takeout, and, most importantly, to hold every plastic spork that has ever been manufactured on the planet.

However, with this kind of versatility, there is one use that is often neglected and overlooked; the coffee mug’s uses in the kitchen.

Okay, you’re saying, “Oh, please. C’mon, ‘the kitchen’ that’s the big revelation. I use a coffee mug every morning and even in the afternoon, I guess that puts me ahead of the curve, what gives?”

Have you ever actually looked at a coffee mug?

You know, the basic heavy, white, slightly cracked diner variety.

Why is it made like this?

Why is it so uniform in size?

Why is it so heavy?

Why can it take all this heat and abuse?

All of these questions are why the coffee mug should hold a strong place in the home and, for that matter, professional chef’s and anyone who cooks by feel, arsenal of kitchen gadgets.

It’s also cheap and easy to find, too.

A good solid Coffee Mug can be used for measuring ingredients, holding ingredients, mixing ingredients, and, due to it’s wondrous thermal properties, even baking ingredients. From sauces, to dressings, to holding that decadently flavorful bacon fat from last Sunday’s hangover breakfast, this is why the lowly coffee mug is a required, necessary, and comforting device for any kitchen.


Coffee Mug Popovers
Scallion and Parmigiano Flavor

Who doesn’t like a popover. They “pop”, they go “over”, they’re doughy, they can be sweet, they can be savory, and they can be very messy.

This is one of the many reasons that the indestructible Coffee Mug is an ideal vessel for the complicated things.

Everyone gets their own individual mug of popover to eat and then cleanup!

FULL Recipe after the JUMP

  • Three (3) tablespoons plus 1/2 cup (1 stick) Sweet Crême Butter, melted 
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano Cheese 
  • Eight (8) large Eggs, at room temperature 
  • 2 2/3 cups Whole Milk, at room temperature 
  • Three (3) large Scallions or Green Onions, finely chopped
  • One (1) clove fresh Garlic, minced 
  • Two (2) and 2/3 cups All-Purpose (AP) Flour 
  • One (1) teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • One (1) teaspoon dried Rosemary, Thyme, or Herbes de Provence (OPTIONAL


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and move the rack to the middle.

In a small saucepan. melt, but do not brown, the Butter.

Brush the insides of six (6) Coffee Mugs with about three (3) tablespoons of melted butter and then dust the insides of each mug with about 2/3 cup of the finely grated Parmigiano Cheese. For those of you without Coffee Mugs, first off, shame, shame, shame, secondly, use a large (1/2 cup) non-stick muffin pan and be prepared to be sneered at.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the Eggs, Milk, Green Onions, Garlic, and the remaing 1/2 cup of melted Butter.

This is completely OPTIONAL, if you are feeling "herby", add a teaspoon of your favorite dried herb, like Thyme or crushed Rosemary, to the egg mixture. This adds an even more savory component to an already tasty popover, see the VARIATIONS section below for some other ideas.

In a separate bowl, mix together the Flour, Salt, and remaining 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Cheese.

Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the eggs, a bit at a time, until a smooth batter forms.

Divide the batter among the prepared Coffee Mugs or muffin pan (grumble...).

Place each filled Coffee Mug onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake for about forty-five (45) to fifty (50) minutes until they are puffed up and crusty brown on top.

IMPORTANT TECHNIQUE NOTE : While these are baking, DO NOT open the oven door and "sneak-a-peek" at them. This is the first mistake that all popover makers make. Popovers like heat, and, more specifically, like constant heat. Opening the oven door even a crack can drop the temperature of the oven by five (5) to ten (10) degrees which keeps the popovers from rising and popping over, which is what we all want. So, trust your oven and wait it out.

I like to serve each one of these individually in their own Coffee Mug with a sprinkle of extra Cheese and some shaved Scallion on top; just warn people that the mugs are very hot!! These can also be turned out of the Coffee Mugs after they have cooled somewhat and placed in a basket lined with a clean dish towel and passed around "family style." Personally, I like serve them in the mug and cut the top off and place a pat of butter underneath then sprinkle with some extra cheese and Scallion, but that's up to you.

As I mentioned above, the addition of your favorite dried herbs is a great option for these popovers. If you would like these spicy, substitute two Jalapeño Peppers for the Scallions and add some ground Cumin to the batter for a South West flair, add some Madras Curry Powder and some Shallots instead of Scallions for an Indian approach, or you can simply just use a different type of cheese, like aged Gruyere or smoked Manchego.

Recipe ©2011, L. M. Sorré, Wait At The Bar