Dear SOS: Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills serves the best popovers I've tasted or seen just about anywhere, with one or two rare exceptions. These are beautiful, gargantuan globes that remain crisp. Most others pouf out.
Dear Stella: It so happens we had the same ecstatic experience after tasting these wonderful popovers. For best results, use traditional popover pans that have been well seasoned.
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups flour
Beat eggs with whip or hand mixer until lemon colored and foamy. Add milk and stir until well blended. Do not overbeat. Add flour all at once. Hand beat until foamy and smooth on top. Grease popover tins well but lightly with oil.
Fill cups with popover batter poured from pitcher for easy pouring, filling about to rim. Bake at 450 degrees 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes longer. Do not open oven door to check popovers or they will fall. Remove popovers from tins with sharp knife and serve at once. Makes 6 large or 12 small popovers.
Dear SOS: Back in January, Norma requested a tortilla soup that was mostly beans blended with tortillas. You gave her the recipe for Salmagundi's sopa de tortilla , which, by the way, is wonderful, too. I think this recipe sounds more like what Norma was looking for. Do you agree?
Dear Wendy: I do, I do. This meatless version of the soup was shared with us by Follow Your Heart restaurant in Canoga Park. The recipe makes a soup as thick as chili, which might be just the ticket for a cool night.
FOLLOW YOUR HEART TORTILLA FLATS SOUP
1/2 pound pinto beans
4 dried chile pods
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups tomato sauce
7 corn tortillas
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped green onions
1 pint sour cream
Soak pinto beans in water to cover 6 hours or overnight. Drain and discard soaking water. Place beans in large saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender, about 40 to 45 minutes. Drain.
Combine chile pods and 2 cups water in saucepan and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes.
Combine 5 cups water, onion, cabbage, carrots and celery in 6-quart saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add cooked, drained beans and tomato sauce to soup.
Place cooked chile pods with liquid, 4 corn tortillas and enough chicken broth to create desired consistency in blender container and blend until smooth. Add to soup. Add chili powder, cumin, granulated garlic and onion, sea salt, lemon juice, cilantro and green onions. Remove from heat. Top each serving with dollop of sour cream and garnish with olives and corn tortillas cut into bite-size triangles. Makes 6 servings.
Dear SOS: Do you have a recipe for lemon cake? I think it is made with a cake mix and a pudding mix. I have lemons from a friend's tree and would like to surprise him with a cake.
Dear Yvonne: The lemon cake you describe has been making the rounds for several years and, yes, it's a wonderfully moist and easy cake to make. This version is from Pioneer Boulangerie in Santa Monica.
1 (1-pound, 2.5-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3 3/4-ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
Combine yellow cake and lemon pudding mixes with eggs, oil and water and mix well 2 to 3 minutes with mixer. Turn into ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees 30 to 35 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven. While warm, pierce surface of cake with tines of fork and pour Lemon Icing evenly over cake. Makes 12 to 15 servings.
1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons water
Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, butter and water and beat with mixer until smooth. Pour over cake while still warm.
Dear SOS: We have a fig tree in our backyard loaded with figs. Do you have a recipe for fig jam?
Dear S.H.D.: Here's an interesting fig jam using rum and Sherry. A great gift idea for the upcoming holiday season.
4 pounds dried figs, stems removed, chopped
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups water
1 cup dark rum
1 cup sweet Sherry
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated peel of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon vanilla
Combine figs, sugar, cinnamon, water, rum, Sherry, lemon juice and lemon peel in 4-quart saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Spoon mixture into hot, sterilized jars. Adjust caps and process 10 to 15 minutes in simmering water bath canner. Store in dark, dry cool place. Makes about 10 (8-ounce) jars.
Only recipes of general interest will be printed. We are unable to answer all requests. Please include restaurant address when requesting recipes from restaurants. Send your letter with self-addressed, stamped envelope to Culinary SOS, Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.