Posts Tagged "bananas foster"

New Orleans, Bananas Foster, the Crime Commission, and Harry Chapin

Dear Kid,

“Mom,” I hear you say, “You wrote a delicious sounding blog about Bananas Foster yesterday. Whence came the name for this dessert?”

You are so polite when I get to make up your part of the conversation in my head.

Since I almost never turn down a request that I’ve made up, I turned to My Friend The Internet for some history on Bananas Foster.

It turns out that bananas weren’t as ubiquitous (go look it up) in the 1950s as they are today, and in those days New Orleans was one of (if not the) major ports through which bananas entered the US of A. Own Brennan, owner of the Amazing Brennan’s Restaurant which you can hear people all over the Food Network “ooh” and “ahh” about, decided to promote this exotic fruit.

Coincidentally, at about the same time Holiday Magazine (which I have never heard of but MFTI has) asked Owen for a new and inspiring recipe to include in an article they were writing about the Restaurant.

So Owen turned to his Chef (although I’m not sure if they capitalized Chef in those days the way we seem to now) Paul Blange for a banana inspired dessert. If then were now, Paul probably would have created something with bacon in the shape of a banana. But then was then, so Paul created Bananas Foster.

Bananas Foster at Brennan's New Orlean's RestaurantThe original recipe from Brennan’s is remarkably close to Alton’s but without the allspice and nutmeg (freshly grated or not) and with cinnamon (I am so smart!) and served over vanilla ice cream. It is often made tableside so you can watch the flambé part flambé. Extra points if your tablecloth catches on fire.

Bananas Foster was named for Richard Foster who was a FOO (Friend of Owen’s). Richard was chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission and “a local civic and business leader.” I’m guessing it never hurts to name a dessert after your local chairman of the Crime Commission.

These days, Brennan’s is still serving Banana’s Foster and they flambé (such a great word) 35,000 pounds of bananas each year (which is 5,000 more than crashed in Allentown, PA for those of you keeping track of such things).

Thanks for asking such a good question.

Love, Mom

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Alton and Mom Make Bananas Foster

Dear Kid,

Sometimes blog inspiration arrives in a burst. Sometimes it arrives by carrier pigeon. Sometimes it doesn’t really arrive at all. And sometimes it arrives in the form of the word “magnanimous.”

Last night, when Pi and Tal got home, they (and by “they” I mean Pi) bellowed upstairs. “Hi, Mom!!! Tal and I were thinking that if you were feeling magnanimous, you might want to make us dessert.” “What kind of dessert?” “Whatever you feel like making.” “Be down in a minute.”

Tal asked, “What is this word ‘mag, maj, mananim’?”

Whereupon we set out to teach her the word “magnanimous” to much giggling. It’s a fun word to teach to someone who does not speak English as a first language. To her credit, she learned it really quickly.

Since I was feeling rather magnanimous, I decided to make bananas foster. My way, not the way it’s supposed to be made.

Here are both recipes for your edification.

Bananas Foster (version Mom and version Alton Brown)

Before I continue, let me point out that I think Alton Brown is the Chief Chef, the cherry on the sundae, the Most Amazing Food Person In Our Time. So obviously his version is Right. My version is just what gets made in our house.

Let me also point out that Minions Love Bananas. And doesn’t that just make my little heart happy?

Alton: Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat.

Mom: Find non-stick pan. Move the drying pots off the stove so there is room to work. Turn up the heat to Reasonably High and melt a bunch of vegan butter (what with Pi not doing cow at the moment). Encourage the vegan butter to get on with melting. Put a tortilla in the pan to brown on both sides. Decide you’re not going to wait for any of this browning nonsense and settle for warming it up. Remove warm, buttery tortilla to a plate. Add more butter stuff to melt.

Bananas for Bananas Foster. Recipe from Alton and (take your pick)Alton: Add 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg and stir until sugar dissolves.

Mom: Add about-that-much brown sugar and stir. After reading Alton’s recipe (we’re good friends, so I can call him by his first name) decide cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg might be a good addition next time. Laugh mightily at the idea of grinding fresh nutmeg.

Alton: Add 1 tablespoon banana liqueur and bring sauce to simmer. Add 2 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over bananas as they are cooking.

Mom: Trip over the puppy trying to get the bananas. Giggle as puppy looks expectantly at the bananas. Giggle harder as puppy stares hard enough at the bananas to get them to jump out of their skins voluntarily. Peel and slice bananas into rounds (“coins” as Dad calls them). Share 2 pieces with a grateful dog. Put the bananas in the pan and stir. Laugh at the notion of being careful while doing this.

Alton: Remove bananas from pan to a serving dish. Bring sauce to a simmer and carefully add 1/4 cup dark rum. If the sauce is very hot, the alcohol will flame on its own. If not, using stick flame, carefully ignite and continue cooking until flame dies out, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. If sauce is too thin, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it is syrupy in consistency. Add 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest and stir to combine. Immediately spoon the sauce over bananas and serve. Serve with waffles, crepes, or ice cream.

Mom: Spoon most of the banana/brown sugar yumminess over half the tortilla. Fold tortilla over and spoon the rest on top. Cut in half if you are serving to two people (which you would only do if you don’t have enough ingredients to make two whole servings. Which reminds me, we need to get more tortillas, bananas, and brown sugar.).

NOTE: If you are me, do not even consider the whole “light on fire” thing since it would doubtless turn into a “light the entire kitchen on fire” thing. And while we do have a fire extinguisher (never used, I’m glad to point out), I don’t think foam is a good addition to this particular dessert.

Serve to incredibly happy teenagers.

Hope you have a sweet day, kiddo.

Love, Mom


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