Monthly Archives: May 2013

Bananas

banana cream pie

I’ve always been more of a cake gal than a pie gal. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fruit pie—piping hot with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. But when it comes to pies, my heart’s always beaten just a little bit faster over cream pies. Chocolate cream, coconut cream and especially banana cream. It’s funny and surprising how much I adore banana cream pie and banana pudding (and basically any other kind of banana dessert), yet I detest bananas by themselves. I’ve finally just come around to tolerating them in fruit smoothies (even enjoying them frozen and combined with peanut butter, honey, almond milk, ground flax and oats). But when someone eats a banana in front of me and that scent makes its way over, I scrunch up my nose. It’s strange, I know. I’m pretty much just like Ron Swanson, when eating bananas are concerned…

I like switching up the crusts when making banana cream pie. Sometimes I go for a toasted walnut-shortbread crust but sometimes I just want chocolate. This press-in crust (made in a food processor) is as simple as they get. Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, a little brown sugar, melted butter and salt, done.

For the custard, it’s got to be rich (with good eggs and whole milk or half and half/heavy cream) and flecked with vanilla bean. Slice up three bananas so you can be sure to get banana in each bite, layer the bananas and custard and whip up some cream for topping and it’s a done deal. Definitely one of my favorite desserts. Any time I see banana pudding or banana cream pie on a menu, my eyes widen and my heart flutters. It’s the ultimate swoon. See for yourself.

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Banana Cream Pie

Serves about 8-12

For the custard:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups whole milk or alternatively 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup half and half or heavy cream)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk (and/or half and half/cream), vanilla bean seeds and pod and salt. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, egg yolks, corn starch and sugar in a large bowl, whisking together until smooth. As soon as the stove mixture has reached a boil, remove from heat. Gradually add half of the stove mixture to the egg mixture, whisking quickly, to temper. Add the rest and bring the pot back to the stove (on medium-medium high heat), whisking constantly until the mixture becomes thick and pudding-like. Remove from heat. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Add the butter (by Tbsp) and stir until melted and combined. Let the custard cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap (directly over the custard, so you don’t get pudding skin) and refrigerate for at least two hours; preferably four. You can put the bowl of custard in an ice bath to speed this process up if you’re in a hurry.

For the chocolate crust:

  • 1 package of Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (if you can’t find these, Oreos are fine but be sure to remove the icing. I’ll leave you to your own devices on the best method for doing that) ; )
  • 1/2 stick (or 4 oz.) of melted, unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the wafers in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Add the melted butter, salt and brown sugar and pulse to combine thoroughly. Press into a 10-inch pie or tart pan, making sure to go up the sides and keep an even layer of crust. Bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is set. Let cool completely.

Assembly: 

  • Custard
  • 3 ripe bananas (peeled and sliced to desired thickness—I prefer mine thin)
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (powdered or granulated is fine)

Once the crust is cooled, evenly place banana slices from 1 1/2 bananas on top of the crust. Then spread half of the custard mixture in an even layer. Repeat with the remaining banana slices (from 1 1/2 bananas) and top with the remainder of the custard.

Whip the heavy cream and sugar in a chilled bowl of a stand or hand-held mixer until stiff peaks form.

Top the pie with whipped cream however you’d like. (You can use more whipped cream but it will be harder to see what kind of pie it is, like I failed to do in the picture)! Garnish with dark chocolate shavings or curls or a light dusting of cocoa powder. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

*Note: If you know it’s going to be several hours or a day before you’re going to serve the pie, hold off on making the whipped cream until the last minute. Otherwise it will lose it’s body and become flat and melty. Plus, fresh whipped cream always tastes better!

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List Love

  • I just discovered this blog by some local Durhamites, called Starting Fresh, and it is beautiful. I especially want to make this beautiful cake
  • Enjoying this lifestyle blog I recently found
  • I wanna go to a garden party at Roberta’s! Well, and I just want to go to Roberta’s…

Beyond excited to go to NYC and Maine in a couple days! Planning on revisiting some of my favorite old haunts and conquering some new territory—(i.e. Abraco, Lucali, Mighty Quinn’s, Bob White Lunch and Supper Counter, Il Laboratorio del Gelato).

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How Lucky We Are

I suspect the cat’s already out of the bag but regardless, I felt it appropriate and necessary to share that something kind of big just happened. There’s a curious new piece of jewelry on my left ring finger…!

The weekend before last, Jay and I loaded the car to head to Asheville to see my mom and stepdad. It took me about 15 minutes in to realize we were on I-40 East (and if you’re familiar with Asheville you know that’s in the opposite direction). After I said something, he pulled out a card he had made with photos of us from four years and four months ago on our first trip (to the Outer Banks). There was a really sweet poem on the back. Even after this surprise I still had no idea, though I jokingly asked, “what are we eloping or something?”

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During the drive, passing through Plymouth, we saw this incredible abandoned old home on the side of the road. It was completely dilapidated and overgrown as if it were being swallowed by the earth. It seemed so stoic sitting there against the bleak grey sky, like a dismal Andrew Wyeth painting. I urged Jay to turn around so we could go explore and he was reluctant but for reasons I didn’t yet know about. (Can we just get there already, so I can ask you?!) But he obliged. There was a lone chair sitting on the front porch, as if it had been placed there for one of us to sit in.

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I found spotted a lady bug in the grass by the house—a good luck omen. It stayed on my arm as I wandered through the house. It was exhilarating and I felt like a little kid on an adventure, letting my curiosity enrapture me as I explored each room. There were kitchen cabinets still open, items still in the dish drying rack and a drinking glass still on the counter. A few items still in the refrigerator. Some pamphlets from a 1980s women’s spring ministry convention lay on the floor, along with some old bottles and other odd ephemera. A couple pieces of furniture remained; torn curtains and a An old pair of women’s shoes, half buried in dirt and leaves were particularly eerie. Jay kept worrying the floor was going to fall beneath me. Much of the roof and floor were already missing. I felt strange about disturbing too much of anything in the house. I think about who might have lived there before and how the house came to be left and forgotten and why some things were left behind. I wonder how many people drive by this house that used to be a home every day and don’t even see it.

Shortly after we left the house, we happened upon fields among fields of the most gorgeous yellow flowers. (We pulled over again). I stood amid them and they came up to my waist. It reminded me of when my mom and I (by total happenstance) discovered endless fields of lavender at the top of a hill in Provence.

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When we arrived in Kill Devil Hills, we sought out to find this pretty little bench not far from the beach that we found on our last trip. We found it under the same cool tree, with just a little less paint and a little more weather than before. A grey tabby cat greeted us and kept us company. Jay had me sit on the bench so he could take some photos like from before. Next thing I knew he was in front of me, down on one knee. The rest is a secret but of course I said yes.

It had rained on our way to the Outer Banks it rained and the weather forecast called for clouds and rain the whole weekend. But once we got there the rain stopped and it didn’t come back until the moment we left.

I love this man with all my heart. I like and love so many things about him…his sentimentality, his corny sense of humor (which compliments my corny sense of humor) and his ability to always pull out a new joke at the most opportune time. His affectation for accents and impersonations, his love, his patience, his smile, his intelligence, the way he smells, how strangely particular he is about his coffee mugs. The way he loves me just as I am and makes me feel like I can always be my true self. There are so many things. And the longer I know him the clearer it is we just go together. I’m excited to plan this big old party with him because that’s exactly what we want our wedding to be. A big old party with all of the people who matter most to us, all together, us celebrating them, celebrating us. Sometimes we jokingly refer to the old man and old lady version of ourselves as Henry and Mildred and so I told him, I look forward to growing into the Mildred to his Henry.

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List Love

  • I am over the moon excited for this movie and reunion of one of my favorite onscreen couples. I’m a huge fan of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset and have giant crushes on both Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. When I was living in NY, every time I found myself in Chelsea, I hoped I would bump into him. And Julie is just brilliant. I love her as an actor and writer, I find her really inspiring and she’s such a natural beauty.
  • I have mixed feelings about the Kentucky Derby. I worry for the animals’ welfare with all of the grueling training and the strain on their legs and lungs. It’s sad to me that they’re bred for this kind of a life, of constant training, showing and work and they don’t have a choice in the matter. However, I have Kentucky in my blood and part of me is drawn to this odd, fanciful tradition of horses, hats and mint juleps. So I made this Kentucky Bourbon Butter cake and it was divine.
  • Thug Kitchen has to be my new favorite blog, purely for the humor. I can’t get over how hysterical it is. Plant Nachos!
  • Oh this movie…it lingered with me for at least a few days after seeing it. It was like a modernized Greek tragedy. I’m always fascinated by stories involving human connection—how we can be connected to people we don’t even know exist and how our decisions and actions can affect them.

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Elderflower-Grapefruit Baby Bundts

One of my favorite cocktails is one made of gin, elderflower, grapefruit juice and a splash of tonic or club soda. Quite frankly, I’m a sucker for anything with gin or grapefruit or elderflower. Awhile back I came across this recipe for Elderflower Cake and thought it would be fun to experiment with, keeping my beloved cocktail in mind. So I made some tweaks and hoped for the best and these little beauties came out tender, with a happy balance of sweet and zesty.  They’d pair well with a little vanilla ice cream but they also hold their own.  The glaze I think is essential. It has a tinge of peachy-pink to it, making them feminine and springy and I imagine they’d be an excellent offering at a bridal shower or tea party.

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Elderflower and Grapefruit Baby Bundts

makes six baby bundts (in a 5 cup capacity pan) and possibly a few cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup elderflower liqueur

1/2 tbsp grapefruit zest

 

Cream butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on a stand mixer. Add in eggs one at a time.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.

 

Combine the buttermilk, elderflower liqueur and grapefruit zest in a separate bowl.

Add in the dry and wet mixes, alternating to the butter-sugar mixture and be careful not to overmix.

 

Butter/grease a baby bundt cake pan. Pour batter in. Depending on the size and capacity of your pan, you may have enough batter left for a few cupcakes.

 

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes of until golden and toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely and carefully un-mold from pan, then drizzle with glaze.

 

For the Glaze:

about 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp Elderflower liqueur

1 Tbsp fresh grapefruit juice

1 tsp grapefruit zest

Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more juice and/or liqueur; if it’s too thin, add more sugar. Drizzle over the bundts.

 

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