Actual bananas custard

When my husband was an toddler his pediatrician forbade his mother from feeding him any more bananas, due to unexpected weight gain. I guess he really never lost his taste for bananas. And, really, has never looked happier than I saw him tonight dipping my “Too-damned-many-bananas banana bread” into this banana custard. Oh sure, maybe when a kid or two were born and possibly our wedding (I don’t honestly know about that personally because I was on the verge of passing out with terror the whole time, but I’ve seen photos), he may have looked happier. He described the experience as “bananatopia.” I think that says it all. Anyway, so far, our general practitioner hasn’t pulled me aside and insisted I deprive him of bananas.

Actual bananas custard

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Time: < 40 min
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:

  • 6 ripe bananas
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground vanilla bean (or vanilla paste or extract)
  • 3 eggs

Preparation:

  1. Peel 6 ripe bananas and liquefy in a mixer or food processor.
  2. Add in 2 cups of milk and combine.
  3. Strain resulting mixture through a medium or fine strainer into a pitcher or large bowl.
  4. Discard remaining banana pulp in strainer.
  5. Return banana and milk mixture to mixer or processor.
  6. Add in 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla and thoroughly combine.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 whole eggs and set aside.
  8. Place banana mixture into a medium or large saucepan.
  9. Constantly, or at least frequently, stir over medium heat (6.5 on my electric, ceramic top stove) until mixture reaches at least 170′, or boils. Use a cooking thermometer to check temperature.
  10. Reduce heat to low.
  11. Spoon about a cup of the hot banana mixture into the bowl of eggs and combine. Now pour the egg and milk mixture into the saucepan. Tempering the eggs with the heated banana and milk mixture keeps the eggs from instantly cooking into appalling egg blobs or streaks when they hit the hot custard. Adding eggs now, rather than at step #6, probably prevents the eggs going grainy or lumpy, but you could live carelessly.
  12. Cook over low heat, stirring often, possibly constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the custard begins to thicken. Do not cook above 180′. Over 185′ the custard may curdle.
  13. Pour into individual serving cups or large bowl.
  14. Serve warm or chilled.

Notes: This recipe was adapted from a number of sources; however, the two most influential recipes were “Jen’s Favorite Cookies” Banana Pudding recipe and “Epicurious'” Creme Anglais recipe.  “Crafty Baking’s” Custard Problems and Solutions was invaluable for determining that, no, I really did not want to mix cornstarch and eggs in a banana custard. You could use 5 or 6 egg yolks instead of the 3 whole eggs. I didn’t because a) I wanted a more jelly-like custard,  b) I am incredibly lazy, c) I am shockingly cheap tight thrifty economical, and d) if I tried to store egg whites in my fridge there is a 100% likelihood that they would spill everywhere even if I put them in a hermetically sealed jar, inside a locked pirate trunk, and I swallowed the key.

Too-damned-many-bananas banana bread

IMG_20151028_185953Since I have come to grips with the fact that Allrecipes may, in fact, never publish my recipe submission and because my husband has access to an ongoing supply of very ripe, inexpensive bananas I present here a recipe that uses 5 bananas per each 9″ x 5″ bread loaf. Though not as visually pleasing as drier breads I think this is made up for by the flavor and texture. And toasting helps, of course.

The flavor and mouth-feel reminds me of a banana pudding, but it maintains its cohesion as a bread and is pretty marvelous toasted with butter. How this recipe worked, I don’t know, but it does. I read a lot of recipes trying to find one that used 5 or 6 bananas per loaf that wasn’t a soggy mess and most, maybe all, seemed to have a lot of ingredients and/or a whole lot of steps. I just couldn’t see going through all that for a loaf or two of banana bread. I’m really stuck on the concept that simplest and most efficient approach is also the most elegant and durable, in life and in cooking.

Too-damned-many-bananas banana bread

  • Servings: 2 9
  • Time: < 20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 10 very ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground vanilla bean (or substitute vanilla paste, or, in a pinch, extract)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350′.
  2. Grease two 9″ by 5″ bread loaf pans. I use a canola oil spray.
  3. Line a sturdy baking sheet with tin foil or parchment.
  4. Peel and dice bananas into mixer bowl.
  5. Starting mixer on low speed, blend bananas until smooth.
  6. Add baking soda, salt, and vanilla to bowl and combine.
  7. Add eggs and blend until thoroughly combined.
  8. Add sugar and combine.
  9. Add nuts now if you intend to use them.
  10. Add 1 cup of flour at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  11. Pour equal amounts of batter into each loaf pan.
  12. Place loaf pans on baking sheet.
  13. Bake in oven at 350′ for about 70 minutes, or until loaves are set firm, browned, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. I get a perfect loaf at exactly 75 minutes in my current oven. You may need to tent your loaves with tin foil to prevent them from getting too dark, depending upon your oven.
  14. Cool about 15 minutes.
  15. Invert loaf pan to remove banana bread.
  16. Slice and serve warm with a light topping of butter.

Notes:

I like to use ground vanilla beans because they don’t add any fluid to a recipe and they provide a distinct and beautiful flavor during longer baking processes.  Many recipes use butter, oil, or various dairy products to create a moist loaf. The bananas have so much moisture that the trick here is to not compound that problem by adding in more. My family puts enough butter on the finished product that I am afraid to add any more to the batter.

You can also substitute fresh sliced or diced apples in this recipe (about 4 cups), with some ginger and cardamom or cinnamon, and a cup of pecans and the recipe still works just fine. I found this out when our apple tree finally had a bumper crop and I was willing to try almost anything to not waste them. Cider and applesauce are easier, but apple-pecan bread is a real treat.

 

Quick buttery curry chickeny pasta in the microwave

I’ve only made this quick, delicious treat a couple of times and the optimal cook time for the pasta is yet to be determined. I would guess it is between 12 and 15 minutes, depending on the microwave.

Quick buttery curry chickeny pasta in the microwave

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: < 20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh yellow or white onion
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons chicken broth base powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pre-cooked chicken (or other protein source of choice)
  • 1 cup orzo pasta (these are the small, almond-shaped pastas used in Rice-a-roni)
  • 2 cups water
  • Optionally, add peas or carrot slices

Preparation:

  1. Place 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion and 3 Tablespoons butter in microwave safe bowl
  2. Microwave onions on high for 1 minute. Stir and cook 1 or more additional minutes, as desired, in 1 minute increments.
  3. Remove bowl from microwave onto heat-safe surface.
  4. If using a glass bowl please let it cool down before adding cold water. The change in temperature can cause the glass to shatter in a spectacular and dangerous manner.
  5. Stir in 4 teaspoons chicken broth powder, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pre-cooked chicken, and 1 cup orzo pasta.
  6. Stir in 2 cups of water. (Make sure glass bowls have cooled before adding!)
  7. Place a plate over the top of your bowl.
  8. Microwave on high for about 12 minutes and check. Microwave ovens vary in how quickly they cook food. Better safe than sorry. If you added more chicken, the corn and/ or peas then cooking time will be longer, up to about 22 minutes.
  9. Using hot pads, remove bowl from microwave, remove plate, stir, and check pasta for done-ness. The water should be absorbed, the pasta plump, and you should be able to easily cut an orzo piece in half with a fork or spoon. Stir.
  10. Cook additional minutes, as needed, up to about 22 minutes total cook time, or until water is all absorbed and orzo is plump and tender.
  11. Using hot pads, remove bowl from microwave and allow to sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.
  12. Eat it up; yum!

Notes:

Normally I don’t suggest any particular brand of any product, but here I make an exception. After many years of trying different curry powders and powdered chicken broth bases I happened across two that I like immensely: Sun Brand Madras curry powder, by Merwanjee Poonjiajee & Sons Private Ltd, which I initially found at Safeway but my husband now buys it for me in bulk online, and Orrington Farms Chicken Broth Base and Seasoning, which I found at our local Walmart.

The Sun Brand curry powder has a pleasant, gentle yet complex, warm combo of spices that blend and compliment each other, without one or two dominating the others and that is amenable to a variety of dishes. Their use of ginger is ginger and the fenugreek is discernible, but not overpowering.  A favorite curry powder is a highly subjective and personal matter, but if you haven’t tried the Sun Madras it is worth a try. It eclipsed my previous favorite by several magnitudes of enjoyment. As to the Orrington Farms chicken broth, I haven’t tried their other products, but the chicken plainly tastes like the broth I get when I cook chicken and isn’t hiding behind a bunch of salt or filler. It’s the first and only powdered chicken broth I’ve ever tried that I would willingly eat by itself as a cup of soup. I receive no product, compensation, or consideration for these product endorsements, but I’d be totally willing to do so. 🙂