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I’m not usually one to put the fate of my dinner in the hands of Rachel Ray, but as we made our way back down to the hotel lobby after dropping off our bags in our room, Cate said, “Let’s ask the concierge where to go.  That’s what Rach always says to do.”

And, well.  Given that I’ve been reading her blog every day without fail since before I even had one of my own and thus trust her implicitly with, not only my time but also what goes on my dinner table (the two most precious things in my life).  I agreed.

Plus it was late.  We were tired.  And sure, we could have headed into Boston or Cambridge, but local sounded good.

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The concierge, a Middle Eastern-looking man who was quite incongruously named “Ike”, smiled at us agreeably and suggested, first, that we head to Union Square (Somerville, MA, not NYC) where I knew from personal experience that there were a few good places to eat, and then that there was a “great seafood place just a five minute walk away” (his words, not mine) and that he would gladly give us instructions on how to get there.

Being the diehard Eat.Live.Be-ers that we are, Cate, Patsy and I thought “walk=exercise” and so we decided to go with the latter.

Plus, seafood in Boston…you can’t really go wrong there.  Right?

(No comment.)

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So we walked.

It was a bit of an epic journey.  There were hills.  A group of 40 year old bachelors who Cate was ready and willing to offer up my hand in marriage to, if need be.  Dark corners and abandoned alleyways.

But eventually, we made it.  Mount Vernon Restaurant.

As soon as we entered, we should have known that something was up.  First of all, the place was half empty.  Second of all, both the hostess/owner and our waitress looked like they were straight out of one of those diners you see in movies about the old west.  Townies who had really meant to make it to the big city, but had just gotten stuck in one of these places in a small town off the highway.  Lifers.

Except, we were in Somerville, MA.  (Which, granted, is not Boston or even Cambridge.  But is approximately ten minutes away from either of those places and should resemble a suburb and not middle-of-nowhere America.)

Anyway.  We suspended our doubts and disbelief long enough to allow the hostess to seat us, peruse a menu, and order.

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After ostensibly delivering our order to the “chef” (I wouldn’t call him that if my life depended on it), the waitress returned and asked us if we’d like popovers or Italian bread for the table.  And, well.  Given that there’s no way that Boston Italian bread can compare to the stuff you can get in NYC, we went with the “popovers”.

Although.  That’s not really the right word for them.  Tasteless cardboard seems more appropriate.  Burnt tasteless cardboard.

Now. I am no expert bread baker.  Nor had I ever had a popover in my life.  But I’ve made enough to know that it’s really hard to mess it up to the point that it’s completely inedible.  And yet…

Let’s just say that this was an inauspicious start to a disaster of a “meal”.  (Again…I wouldn’t call it that since what we were served was not food in any sense of the word.)

I’ll spare you the majority of the details, but let’s put it this way.  The best part of my lobster mac and cheese was the ritz topping.  Patsy tried exactly one of her baked stuffed shrimp before gagging uncontrollably.  And Cate was served a baked potato whose insides were the same shade of brown as its skin.  We left without eating any of it.  (And without paying for two of the meals.)

And, of course, being the big-mouthed New Yorker that I am (and seeing as how I do, even after years of fighting against it, take after my father who has never once held his tongue upon being served bad food). I let the hostess have a little piece of my mind.  It had nothing to do with her, and she was actually quite nice, but everyone in that kitchen needed to be guillotined on the spot.  And I let her know it.

Now you see why three food bloggers went to Boston and ended up eating granola bars for dinner.

The thing that gets to me most, though…is that cooking edible food isn’t rocket science.  It doesn’t need to be that hard.  All you need is a few good recipes.  Perhaps a copy of Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking (who is the woman on Gourmet’s list of gamechangers that we are celebrating this week), which is the one tome you will ever really need in the kitchen.  And you’re set.  In fact, I have two copies and I might donate one to our good friends over at Mount Vernon.  It will be my gift to the people of Somerville.

And perhaps I’ll send over a batch of these popovers as well.  Which, though they’re made from WHOLE GRAINS, are light and fluffy and have a certain air-like quality to them.  Not reminiscent of cardboard at all.  Exactly as good popovers should be.

As I mentioned before, this week we are cooking the recipes of Irma Rombauer and so I chose to make her white gazpacho to eat with my popovers.  Light, refreshing, and both sweet and tangy at the same time, this soup is perfect for the obscenely hot and humid weather we’ve been having (especially if you have cucumbers taking over your fridge.  Like some of us do.).
For more Irma Rombauer recipes, check out these blogs:

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Whole Grain Popovers
Makes 20, adapted from Good to the Grain

Ingredients

For the multigrain flour mix:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup barley flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour

For the popovers:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 cup multigrain flour mix (recipe above)
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Instructions

  1. To make the multigrain flour mix, whisk together all of the flours in a large bowl.  Store in an airtight container.
  2. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450.  Place the muffin tins in the oven to heat up.
  3. Measure the eggs, milk, flours, and salt into a bowl.  Measure half of the melted butter (1/4 cup) over the ingredients in the bowl and pour the other 1/4 cup into a small bowl.
  4. Using a hand mixer, mix the popover batter until combined, about 20 seconds.  Remove the muffin tins from the oven and brush every other cup liberally with butter.  Working quickly, fill each of the buttered cups 3/4 full. **Note – if using muffin tins and not popover tins, then use only the holes around the edges, NOT those in the middle.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.  Then, rotate the tins and lower teh oven temperature to 350.  Bake for 10 minutes more.
  6. Take the tins from the oven, slide a sharp knife around the popovers to remove, and eat immediately.

White Gazpacho
Serves 4-6, adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 lb seedless grapes
  • 1 cucumber, preferably seedless
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups milk or half and half (I used almond milk)
  • 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt (I used non-fat greek yogurt)
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in a large pot or blender.  Then, using an immersion blender or the regular blender, blend until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Put in the refrigerator to chill.

I am submitting the whole grain popovers to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Simona of Briciole and the white gazapcho to Souper Sundays over at Kahakai Kitchen.

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You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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87 Responses to Whole Grain Popovers and White Gazpacho

  1. bellini says:

    Great storu Joanne. Of course whute hazpachi is nbew to me but it is very intriguing and the popovers have to good for you!

  2. Lora says:

    What an awful restaurant experience. But oh such gorgeous popovers! Love the whole grain spin.

  3. Sanjeeta kk says:

    A popover with multi grain sounds so very healthy! And those cute little pop overs look wonderful. And this i is such an easy Gazpacho recipe I have ever come across. Thanks for suggesting such a delightful menu for my dinner today, Joanne 🙂

  4. Popovers are not hard. I can’t believe that restaurant handed you burnt and tasteless ones. Shame on them- did they not know who they were serving! LOL! Love your whole grain version and might just do it this weekend to stash in the freezer for my little guy. He starts his mommy’s day out in september and we need a quick breakfast!

  5. What an unexpected duo, I love it! I’ve always thought popovers would be an involved undertaking, but these seem pretty straightforward. I love the combination with the white gazpacho. I just made some yellow cherry tomato gazpacho that I’ll be posting about this weekend. This is a great summer meal.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve only had white gazpacho once but it was glorious. It had both white/green grapes and almonds. The almonds added a wonderful richness. That is incredibly lame about the dining experience. Somerville has so many great places!

  7. So disappointing about that dinner, good thing you made those awesome looking granola bars!
    I love that you always make a complete meal in your post, never just a bread or just a soup… how do you do it?! Oh and white gazpacho sounds so interesting!

  8. Nisrine says:

    I love how hollow they are and that they’re multigrain. Lovely, lovely popovers!

  9. Ugh, it stinks you had a bad dining experience out of all the FABULOUS ones in Boston! Glad you were able to “recreate” a meal ten times better!! I love popovers 🙂

    Sues

  10. Isn’t it funny that I’ve never had any form of gazpacho … the idea of chilled soup is interesting though! perhaps during the next hot spell, I’ll give Irma’s recipe a try! I DO love popovers and your whole wheat version looks terrific!

  11. I don’t know what popovers were but they look and sound a bit like Yorkshire pudding from UK. Maybe you had the mature/aged version. Just like mature cheese it takes time to develop a taste for aged popovers.

  12. Hannah says:

    No joke, I’ve seriously had white gazpacho on my mind these past few days. There are just so many different variations on how to make it! I haven’t seen cream cheese used before, but I can imagine that would make it nice and rich.

  13. brocstar says:

    This is reminds me of Chef Ramseys shows, “Kitchen Nightmares.” So gross! Sorry you had a bad experience.

  14. A tale for the ages. I was going to say the same thing as brocstar – Chef Ramsey needs to take a look at this place. Or perhaps it is not salvageable.

  15. Cara says:

    Joanne, this white gazpacho recipe is something I searched fervently for last year after enjoying a green grape & cucumber white gazpacho at Rialto on my birthday! For some reason I could never find exactly what I was looking for (and didn’t have a good enough grasp to just make it myself.) I was partly discouraged by all the heavy cream running around in the recipes I found, and yet just recently I was thinking about this again and it occurred to me: why not make the base out of yogurt and almond or coconut milk? Why am I not surprised that you beat me to it?!

  16. Alisa says:

    Ooh bummer about the dinner.

    I saw some of the comments, and have to admit, I don’t know if I’ve ever had gazpacho either. I mean, I’ve sipped on it, but I really don’t like cold tomato (except slices on sandwiches!).

    Those popovers look amazingly appealing though! I will have to try with some earth balance.

  17. Oh no! What an epic meal disaster! It sounds funny the way you tell it, but I’m sure being served a disgusting meal wasn’t your idea of fun at the time. =) Thankfully you redeemed the popover by claiming it for you own. They really are quite delicious when made well, as you found out.

  18. Sigh … I don’t know who to blame. Ike? Rachael Ray? Jean? Decisions, decisions… I do, however, want to mention that I *did* say that pizza smelled pretty grand! 😉 Your Fall weekend in the country will be much better. Swear. ‘Cause you know, I’ll take you to my favorite places. Not Ike’s.

  19. Eden says:

    Well, when we hit up the San Fran joints for foodbuzz festival, we’ll be treated like kings. Trust me, they worship foog bloggers..its kind of sick really.

  20. Pierce says:

    Bummer about the experience eating out, I really like what you did here with the popovers and that gazpacho. Hmmm…..I don’t know what to say about Racheal Ray…..

  21. Miriam says:

    Looks awesome! And great story, as usual :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  22. That Girl says:

    I’ve done red and green gazpacho, but never white. Such a great summer food.

  23. What a horrible dinner experience, but I love that it inspired you to make these popovers. I love a great whole grain recipe. Now I just need to pick up some millet flour and I’ll be set to try them. Thanks!

  24. Rachel says:

    What a horror story! Cardboard popovers and inedible seafood – yuck! I probably would have chosen the popovers too, since I can’t remember ever having them and I’ve always wanted to make them. I guess trying really bad ones is good motivation to make your own.

  25. Megan says:

    Oh geez. I wish you had asked me for advice! I live in Somerville. 🙂

    Your popovers look really good!

  26. Veronica says:

    Well, I’m glad they didn’t make you pay for all three meals, at least! That totally sucks. There’s nothing worse than a dinner letdown when you’re hungry and I’ve never been faced with something so bad I couldn’t eat it I would have been mad too. Your popovers and gazpacho would teach them a thing or two!

  27. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, I am glad that you said something. Nothing worse that leaving and feeling, “I should have said something.” Some of these places just think they can get away with serving poor quality. Sometimes they think that younger people will just not say anything or not know bad food when they taste it so, BRAVO! for saying something.
    Anyway, your soup and popovers are a hit. Blessings my dear, Catherine xo

  28. Karen says:

    5 different grains in those babies! Love the mixture and they look light and airy. I hate to get a bad meal in a restaurant. I just want to sit there and cry 🙂

  29. Looks and sounds super healthy and delicious both 🙂

  30. Maria says:

    Love the sound of those popovers! The soup looks really tasty too!

  31. Jeanette says:

    Isn’t it a bummer when you get a bad meal and know you could made something so much better at home – luckily you had your beautiful granola bars to munch on. What a nice pairing – these whole grain popovers and white gazpacho soup, Irma S. Rombauer would be proud!

  32. Dawn says:

    Great. Now, once again I have to call IT because drool has caused my keyboard to short out. They will be sending you the bill.

  33. Sofia says:

    you must go to popover cafe and try a popover from there. yours might be better, though. try the strawberry butter, at least. phenom.

  34. Anonymous says:

    gfhgfhgfhf

  35. I hope you let the concierge know he didn’t need to recommend that place to anymore guests!

  36. Gloria says:

    delightful! Joanne! absolutely nice, gloria

  37. Rachana says:

    What a delightful combination… Loved both the recipes, especially the gazpacho. Gonna try it out soon 🙂

  38. When we finally meet up in NY will you make me this soup with these popovers? Pretty please!

  39. girlichef says:

    Yikes! I. would. be. PISSED. OFF. …which it sounds like you appropriately were. There’s not much more that I hate than paying for crappy food. That totally sucks. But your popovers and gazpacho, however…looks perfect!

  40. Victoria says:

    Oh dear. And now we know. I hate hate hate going to a restaurant and being THAT disappointed. See, Rachael is WRONG! Never ask the concierge. Do you really think she does that? Her assistants and Food Network bitches pick all the restaurants where she eats. That’s the truth, my friend. We all know how I feel about this subject. Gag.

    Love you!! Have a great weekend 🙂

  41. Reeni says:

    Sounds like a place that needs a visit from Gordon Ramsey! I shudder to think what the kitchen looked like. So sorry that happened. Love your popovers with whole grains! And the white gazpacho – I never heard of such a thing. Very unique.

  42. Amy says:

    Paul and I rarely eat out anymore because we always end up disappointed and feeling like we wasted a lot of money. Without fail, he’ll turn to me and say “Babe, you could have made this way better.” That concierge should be fired for recommending that place. Boooo.

    I grew up eating popovers. Jewish household and all. But haven’t had one is AGES. Now I will go to bed dreaming of them. Damn you.

  43. Oh Geez, at least you got a really good story out of it. That’s worth it to me 😉

  44. Natalie says:

    haha, loved reading this story . will steer clear of mount vernon restaurant in the future.

  45. Katie says:

    White gazpacho? I didn’t even know that existed! Thanks for exposing me to a new dish!

  46. What a shame! I hope you also told the concierge who led you there in the first place.

    I love a good popover and wish I had one for a late breakfast with some jam!

  47. Peggy says:

    Bummer about that restaurant! It’s amazing that a place like that is still in business – unless all of it’s patrons don’t have taste buds!

    This gazpacho sounds delicious (I’ve never seen a white one before) and perfect for the ending days of summer =)

  48. Your popovers look wonderful, Joanne and the Gazpacho looks so good. I love the idea that you used almond milk. Fabulous post as always!

    ~Tammy?

  49. Sippity Sup says:

    These popovers are beautiful, but it is that gazpacho that enthralls me! GREG

  50. Chris says:

    Did you punch Ike in the nuggets when you got back to the hotel?

  51. bonnie says:

    oh i’m sorry there is nothing worse than being tired, craving good food and then disater. glad you didn’t pay for two fo the meals, lovely popovers!

  52. I go out for dinner so seldom that it really pisses me off to get bad food! Glad you set them straight. Those popovers look yummy too!

  53. Raina says:

    Yes, that is a bad sign when the restaurant is empty…bummer! Your popovers look delicious. I like that you used whole wheat. And that gazpacho….yum!

  54. Candace says:

    I have never heard of white gazpacho before. think I would like that even more than the tomato-ey kind. And the popovers look fantastic! Thanks goodness you had those amazing granola bars to fall back on! Yikes! That restaurant experience sounds awful.

  55. Shirley says:

    A happy Firendship DAy to you! A pleasure to know you.

  56. Deborah says:

    I hope you gave the concierge a piece of your mind, too!! Your popovers look just perfect. Popovers are one thing that I have never been able to perfect. I need to try your recipe!

  57. Allison says:

    I hate wasting a meal out on a bad one. At least you had girlfriends. I have never seen white gazpacho. Looks delicious.

  58. I REALLY hope that chef had a chance tasting your popovers ;-))
    our popovers look fabulous. Must be really great to eat with white gazpacho…just realized that I have never prepare them before.

  59. daphne says:

    mmmm… these look amazing! and what a trip from the sounds of it! more of it I say!

  60. Julie says:

    i didn’t know rachel ray had a blog! interesting haha i might just creep on it. although i know they’ll come in good handy in the fall when football season rolls aroundddd haha

  61. Such a great combo and they sound marvellous!

  62. Those popovers look awesome, I don’t suppose to deliver do you? To Rome?

  63. kankana says:

    I hate it when the dinner doesn’t turn the way you expect! This popovers came out just perfect .. so nice and fluffy.

  64. So sorry that your experience was awful, but your recipe looks amazing!

  65. Bad restaurant food is so depressing! Especially when you’re traveling and really want a good meal. Your homemade popovers and gazpacho sound so much better!

  66. So, was the dude who recommended this place related to anyone at this dive? While Gordon Ramsey can be a bit over-the-top with his “bleeps”, I think bad restaurant owners need to know they are serving garbage. So sorry! The weird thing is that, well, I find popovers to be “weird”. Give me a roll, with bread in it..not some custardy hollowed out thing. But, that’s me. No matter what, your version could be restaurant quality. Kudos to you.

  67. What a sad story. These homemade goods certainly make up form those horrid cardboard things. Yum.

  68. Kellly says:

    What a drag! Happily, your creations here are outstanding. Love the multigrain flour mix and I don’t think I’ve ever come across white gazpacho before… très chique.

  69. Wow! I’ve never heard of popovers. They sound very similar to a Yorshire Pudding but healthier 🙂 lol

  70. Dana says:

    Such pretty food! I have to say, I have not had great luck with concierge recommendations!

  71. Carolyn Jung says:

    Oh no, about the dismal dinner. And yes, a half-empty place is often a sign to be wary. Sigh.

  72. The white gazpacho looks heavenly, so nice with grapes! And the popovers sound scrumptious.

  73. Hi love your pop-overs made with whole grain. we’ll have to make these and freeze them for for fast breakfast when school starts. Thanks 🙂

  74. ~Bee says:

    So sorry about the bad dinner! Hope your next experience in Boston is lovely, there IS good food there, a lot of it actually, I promise!

    I love popovers but have never made them myself. These look lovely, and the whole grain just makes them better 🙂

    Just poppin by to let you know I gave you a silly little award thing–one of those “accept this award and pass it on!” kind of deals. Check out my blog to pick it up!

  75. Nothing beats a good popover–sad when a restaurant can’t get it right. I love your white gazpacho–so cooling and refreshing. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays. I didn’t manage to get around and visit before doing the roundup to see it but I went back in and added it tonight. 😉

  76. grace says:

    i’m glad you stood your ground. perhaps i can be bold vicariously through you, as i’m always one to back down, even when i’m offended in the worst way.
    happy day–this is an amazing and truly unique combination. nice work!

  77. Barbara says:

    Ghastly restaurant experience!

    Do like (and will try) the whole grain popovers. They aren’t as puffy and high as regular popovers, but better for you!
    The white gazpacho looks interesting. I’ve never had it.

  78. La Liz says:

    The Popover Cafe on the Upper West Side (87th St) makes great popovers . . . but your whole grain version looks tantalizing. Popovers are so delicate — they need to be eaten within minutes of being made. And White Gazpacho — a perfect hot-weather treat with popovers. Nice combo!

  79. Patsyk says:

    Your popovers look so perfect! I think a batch of those and that cookbook would do wonders for the people who work in the kitchen at that restaurant (can’t call them even cooks based on how bad the food was!).

    Great post… had me laughing when you described me gagging on my inedible dinner.

  80. Lori says:

    I have the Good to the Grain cookbook and I hadn’t even seen these popovers. Yours turned out great. That white gazpacho is so unique. Sounds like a great twist.

  81. Claudie says:

    Sorry to hear about this experience!
    I don’t know if I’d go through all the trouble to send them some popovers, but I’d definitely send them the recipe 🙂 the “chef” must really need it!

  82. Shannon says:

    glad you gave them a piece of your mind, hopefully you did the same to the concierge! love the sounds of those popovers, yum…

  83. Nicole says:

    oy veh – since i hail from north of boston, it pains me that you had a bad meal. oy.
    Glad you let them have it! Woot! Probably should have hung the concierge by his toes as well!

  84. Kerstin says:

    Oh no, that sucks. There’s a thai place I like in Union – email me next time 🙂

    Your popovers look perfect and I love that they’re whole grain!

  85. Ranjani says:

    Oh, sad…there are some great places to eat in Somerville, especially Union Sq (I live there). Also, your popovers look great!

  86. I love that you made whole grain popovers!! I have that cookbook but don’t remember seeing the recipe.

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