During the few months in-between finishing undergraduate and beginning graduate school, I lived a double life. By day I worked at a Jewish pre-school in Century City (my Bruin Woods experience gave me entree into a world where I had neither the educational or religious background). By evening I was a cocktail waitress at Lawry’s the Prime Rib in Beverly Hills. For someone like me, a budding sociologist and generally nosy person, Lawry’s was a ridiculously fascinating place to work. In fact, this post is an entire week late because I had trouble narrowing down my stories. In a nutshell, Lawry’s is a huge, always busy restaurant that could easily provide the entire plotline for one of those ensemble multi-plotted movies like Love Actually or New Years Eve.
Lawry’s also serves giant hunks of meat. Giant. Like another Los Angeles institution, In-and-Out, the nearly singular mainstay of Lawry’s menu is a variety of cuts of…you guessed it…prime rib. Like a good traditional English Sunday Supper, the prime rib is served with something called a spinning bowl salad, an array of deliciously cream-laden vegetables and, yorkshire pudding. Here is where today’s post comes in.
Somewhere along the way, my mother began serving prime rib for Christmas Dinner. Along side it, she also serves popovers–essentially, individual yorkshire puddings. If you’ve never had yorkshire pudding or popovers, they are hollow, steam filled almost pancake-like treats. They look fancy. But, if you have the equipment and a little self-restraint (do not, under any circumstance, open the oven door while they are baking), are actually very east to make.
These photos are, in fact, from last Christmas and, the chef at work is, my mom. But, with Easter just a few days away and the popularity of Easter roast, these would make a lovely pairing.
Returning to Lawry’s I can’t resist sharing one story. Probably the first among many in future posts. The vast majority of patrons to the bar at Lawry’s are there to have a pre-dinner beverage. Even so, Lawry’s, and thus, the bar, had its share of regulars. Every Sunday just as dinner service began, a couple came in for drinks before going down to supper. He would order two double vodka and tonics in rapid succession. He would then order a third. Each week it was the same routine. His wife/girlfriend/caretaker would excuse herself from the table, secretly pull me aside and ask that the third double be a single.
The obvious play to get a buzz before dinner wasn’t what made this couple remarkable. Nor was the secretive partner behavior. I was, after all, a waitress in a bar. That the man was in a wheelchair also lacked notability. I’ll give you a hint. His wheelchair was gold.
As clueless as I was and still am, this didn’t even make much of a difference to me until a certain movie came out that caused quite the stir. And even THEN, it wasn’t until I read an article in Vanity Fair about the movie (of course, I didn’t see the movie) I realized that for the better part of six months I’d been serving none other than Larry Flint.
I’ll tell you, if I had known who he was from the get-go, I would never have lightened up his drinks.
We were all holiday music all the time at that point. I only know one Easter-related holiday song…here comes Peter Cotton Tail hoppin’ down the bunny trail…hippity…hoppity…
I’ve used this recipe for years. It’s on a hand-written card from my mom and the credit is to Sunset Magazine.
- (makes 6)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 C flour
- 1 C whole milk
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 TBS melted butter
- Combine eggs, flour, milk and salt, pepper and melted butter. Whisk until smooth.
- Refrigerate batter for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat over to 425 degrees.
- Generously coat popover cups with butter.
- Place pan in oven for 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn down heat to 374 degrees.
- Remove batter from fridge, whisk and quickly add batter to hot pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes. (the following is a direct quote from my mother’s notes: DO NOT open the oven while baking. Bad things will happen [sad face]).
- Remove from oven and release the popovers.
- Can be made a day in advance, cooled and stored in an airtight bag. Reheat at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.