Friday, January 22, 2010

Saturday Blog Showcase, Perfect Banana Pudding, Moveable Feast

I love Banana Pudding! Not the instant type, but real vanilla custard, poured over a layer of Nabisco Nilla Wafers covered with slices of ripe banana. As a child I considered it Heaven in a bowl! My Grandmother made a memorable Banana Pudding, always preparing it in a cut glass bowl and serving it with a dollop of whipped cream. 

Last week when I read Barbara's Banana Pudding post at Moveable Feast, it brought back warm childhood memories. I decided then and there to prepare it for the Saturday Blog Showcase hosted by Ann at Thibeault's Table and Lori at All That Splatters. Great idea Girls!

The recipe called for a 9X9 inch glass pan. I had bought these cute mini soup bowls in Paris and thought they would be perfect for the Banana Pudding. I was already breaking the Banana Pudding rules, but what the heck.

I lined them with Nilla Wafers and sliced bananas, Barbara was very explicit about the size of the banana slices, 3/8 inch rounds. I did my best!

I cooked the pudding and fill the bowls.
I then whipped up the meringue and baked them. About that time my son came into the kitchen and we couldn't wait to try one. Delish! A success! Thanks Barbara for a terrific recipe! I took the recipe directly from Barbara's Blog. The old copy and paste method.

 from Texas Cooking Online

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
4 egg yolks
1 box of Vanilla Wafers
5 large ripe bananas

For the meringue:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°.

Line the bottom of a 9x9-inch baking dish with a layer of vanilla wafers. (This recipe will not use the whole box, so you may snack along the way, but don't get carried away.)

Peel the bananas and slice into 3/8-inch rounds; use a ruler (I'm kidding!). Cover the banana slices with plastic wrap to keep them from darkening, and quickly make your pudding.

Note: I didn't do it this way. I made the pudding first, covered it with plastic wrap and then sliced the bananas.
My note; I did it the same way Barbara did! It sure seemed like a good idea to me.

Combine the sugar, flour and salt in bowl, mix well, and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, beat egg yolks well (just use a fork or a whisk, but beat well). Over medium heat, add the flour mixture to the egg yolks alternately with the milk and vanilla, stirring constantly.

Bring to a gentle boil and, when mixture begins to thicken, add butter, continuing to stir to prevent scorching. When the mixture reaches pudding consistency, remove from heat.

Place a layer of banana slices in the baking dish on top of the vanilla wafers. Don't stint and put one slice of banana per wafer. Line those banana slices up edge-to-edge.  

Pour, spreading as necessary, half of the pudding over the banana layer. Put down another layer of vanilla wafers, another layer of banana slices, and cover with the remaining pudding.

For the meringue, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar.  Beat and then add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Fold the vanilla into the meringue, and spread the meringue over the pudding, sealing it at the sides of the dish.
Place in a preheated 375° oven and bake until browned, 12 to 15 minutes, depending upon your oven.

This recipe makes 6 or 8 servings. Any leftovers should be covered and refrigerated.

And, yes, it's hard to cover anything with a meringue top and although banana pudding is not attractive after it's been refrigerated, it's still just as delicious.

All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Israeli Couscous Salad with Artichokes

Hungry? Make couscous salad. 
Rodney, Randy and I were ravished after spending the morning shopping at Findlay Market. I had bought Israeli couscous and Randy had fresh artichoke salad in the refrigerator. I thought the two would make a quick and satisfying lunch.
When I googled Israeli Couscous I found some interesting facts on Wikipedia.  It's usually steamed, eaten all over the world and traditionally served under meat or poultry. I had no steamer (although I am now in the market for a copper one) so I decided to cook it in chicken broth. I am not a person to cook in water if I have a flavorful broth available. Once cooked I added the artichoke salad Randy had bought at the market, two sliced scallions, and a handful of dried cranberries and walnuts.

Tossed together with a fruity vinaigrette, it made a quick and deliciously satisfying lunch. Especially eaten on this vintage tablecloth.

Cooking Couscous couldn't be simpler. 
For 4 servings;
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
couple pinches of salt
1 cup Israeli couscous, not instant

Bring the water, olive oil and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the couscous, cover, and turn the heat to low.
Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat off, let sit at least 5 minutes and toss with a fork.
Place in a bowl and toss with your favorite ingredients. 

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake to blend.

Couscous is also delicious prepared with blood oranges, julienne fennel, parsley and slivered almonds. I toss it with an orange vinaigrette and there are never any leftovers!

All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef
My home seems so plain after my "vintage" vacation!