Nannerpuss (Or, If You Like, Banana Pudding)

This is a little glimpse into the inner workings of my squirrel-y gray matter.

I sat down to write this post this morning – a post about banana pudding (and an excellent one at that) – when I got sidetracked.  I was trying to come up with a title, and I kept getting stuck on the silly name that my mother had for banana pudding when I was little: nanner-poo (please don’t judge).  From there, I got an endless loop of this:

Do you remember Nannerpuss?  When my oldest son was around three years old, this commercial was popular.  A friend/coworker and I had a mild obsession with this obnoxious dancing and singing banana puppet – mostly because my little boy would sing that annoyingly catchy song in his adorable little three-year-old voice.

As an aside – what does a banana really have to do with pancakes, anyway?  Ponder that and get back to me.

And that jingle?  It really is hard to get out of your head.  So this morning?  When it got stuck in my head?  I decided I needed to share it with all of you so that you could share in my misery joy. Now you, too, can enjoy this little ditty every time you make this glorious banana pudding (nannerpuss) recipe.

You’re welcome.

Now, onto the recipe.  This is an adaptation of an adaptation, so forgive me for indulging in a little background first (as though I haven’t already been more than a little self-indulgent this morning – see above).  As a southern girl, I grew up on banana pudding – layers of  ‘Nila Wafers, sliced bananas, vanilla custard/pudding, all topped with a toasty meringue.  Delightful.  The one thing that always bothered me was that the pudding/custard didn’t taste banana-y enough.  And why should it?  It was vanilla pudding after all.

So, I set out to figure out a way to make my custard more banana-y.  Because, hey! why not?

I turned to my trusty pals at Tastespotting, knowing that someone, somewhere, sometime must have had a similar idea.  And lo and behold, I was right.  Boulder Locavore (who I love, by the way), posted this version a while back.  It was an adaptation of award winning Chef Alex Seidel‘s recipe, which calls for you to make a banana-infused milk before you begin to make your pudding.  You do this by steeping very ripe or roasted bananas in whole milk and then letting the mixture sit overnight to allow the flavors to infuse.  I was intrigued, so I thought I’d give it a go.  Of course, I changed things up just a bit (as I do), but mostly I followed the recipe fairly closely.  What resulted was the most flavorful, silky-smooth banana pudding I’ve ever had.  Try it – I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Nannerpuss Banana Pudding

prep time: 24 hours

cook time: 15 minutes

yields: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 30 oz. banana milk
  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 very ripe bananas (the skin on mine was almost black they were so ripe)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 2 1/2 oz. sugar
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 9 oz. sugar
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 oz. egg yolks (approx. 7 egg yolks)
  • 8 oz. whole eggs (approx 5 whole eggs, without shells)
  • 1 3/4 oz. cornstarch
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Begin a day in advance – place your whole milk, very ripe bananas, vanilla bean (seeds and pod), 2 1/2 oz. sugar and 1 1/4 oz. butter in a heavy saucepan and bring almost to a boil.  Remove from the heat, cover, and chill overnight.
  2. Strain the banana milk through a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a rubber spatula to extract as much liquid from the bananas as possible.  Discard the mashed banana and vanilla bean pod.
  3. Combine banana milk, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan – bring to a simmer
  4. In a blender, combine egg yolks, whole eggs and cornstarch.  Blend on high to thoroughly combine.
  5. Once the milk mixture has come almost to boil, temper the egg mixture by adding a little bit (1/2-cup or so) of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture in the blender while it is running.  Then add the egg mixture to the hot milk, stirring constantly to avoid curdling.  Be careful – it sets up fast.
  6. Stir constantly, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as you do.  Remove from the heat if it starts to get too thick.
  7. Once the mixture is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat and pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
  8. Add the melted butter, stirring to combine.
  9. Set aside to cool.
  10. Whip the heavy whipping cream and 1 tablespoon of sugar to stiff peaks
  11. To assemble – have ready 12 half-pint mason jars
  12. Place two vanilla wafers in the bottom of each jar
  13. Place two to three slices of banana on top of the cookies
  14. Ladle 1/2-3/4 cup of custard into each jar
  15. Place two more vanilla wafers and three more banana slices in each jar
  16. Ladle the remaining custard into each jar
  17. Top each jar with a dollop of whipped cream.
  18. Enjoy warm, or chill if you prefer.

PS – voting in the Marx Foods’ Integrale Gauntlet is still open (until 1 PM PST tomorrow, in fact), so if you haven’t already, please go take a look at my Risotto Carbonara recipe, and then click over there and vote (for me, if you’re so inclined).  Thanks!

 

When You Need a Little Pick Me Up: Tiramisu

While there are plenty of things at which I excel, one of the things that I’m not so good at is keeping a tidy and well-organized house.  I struggle with day-to-day chores like vacuuming, dusting and keeping toys picked up and counters wiped off.  It’s just not my thing.  I envy people for whom this comes naturally – like my cousin.  Her house is always spotless, and her kids’ toys are neatly organized and stowed away in color-coordinated bins.  I’m working on it,. but I’m not there yet.My most recent foray into home organization can be seen above.  I got tired of everyone coming home (me included) and leaving their jackets draped across the backs of dining room chairs and kitchen stools, bags sitting on counters or floors and shoes strewn about the house.  I thought if we had a place by the front door where we could remove our shoes and hang our jackets and bags it would be a step in the right direction.  For the last year or so, I’ve been looking for photos of mudrooms and entryways, and when I found something I liked, I would add it to one of my pinterest pin boards.  My goal was to try to recreate these ideas at home on a very restricted budget. I finally managed to do this for under $150, and so far it seems to be working.

Now I just have  to get to work on organizing the rest of the house.  And keeping up with the laundry.  Which is never ending.  Just thinking about all of it is exhausting.

Yesterday, after a morning of house cleaning – which really just entailed me locking myself in my bedroom for four or five hours and filling trash bags with junk and removing every bit of stuff from all of the flat surfaces and thoroughly dusting each and every bit of furniture (including the bookshelves and the books), and vacuuming under the bed, dresser and side tables – I emerged with my lungs full of dust and a hankering for something a little indulgent (as you do).

I settled on Tiramisu, which in Italian means “pick me up.”  It seemed appropriate after a long morning of terrible housework, plus I knew it would be a hit at a neighborhood get together that evening.  Espresso-soaked lady fingers, layered with a rich combination of zabaglione and mascarpone – what’s not to love?

Tiramisu
prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 8-10 minutes
rest time: 2-4 hours
yields: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons honey granules (can use granulated sugar)
  • 4 tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 7 oz. packages lady fingers
  • 2 cups brewed espresso
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Begin by making the zabaglione.  Combine 5 egg yolks and 1/4 cup of honey granules in the top part of a double boiler.  Using a hand-held mixer, beat on high speed until light in color and foamy.  Bring water to a boil in the bottom part of the double boiler then reduce to a simmer. Add the marsala wine to the egg yolk mixter and place over the simmering water.  Continue to beat on high speed until it has thickened and increased in volume – it should form soft mounts.  Removed from the heat, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream, mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of honey granules.  Beat on high using the whisk attachment until light and fluffy.  Once the zabaglione has cooled, fold it into the mascarpone mixture.

For the espresso mixture, take two cups cooled espresso, add 2 tablespoons honey granules and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.  In a glass trifle or baking dish, assemble the Tiramisu.  Begin by dipping one side of each lady finger into the espresso mixture and then laying them in the bottom of the dish.  Once you’ve covered the bottom, pour 1/4 of the mascarpone/zabaglione mixture over the ladyfingers and spread it out to cover them.  Sprinkle this with a dusting of cocoa powder, and repeat three more times (ladyfingers, espresso, mascarpone, cocoa).

Once the whole thing is assembled, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

This was the perfect little pick me up yesterday – the strong espresso plays perfectly against the rich, creamy mascarpone and the eggy zabaglione. Paired with a hot cup of coffee or a bit of freshly brewed espresso, it’ll keep you going for hours.

Enjoy!

 

Once More, With Granola

We’re coming up on a long weekend.  Our school system has been generous, giving the children not only President’s Day, but the Friday prior as well.  Four whole days in a row, and we’re taking advantage of it by going on a little road trip.

Most of you probably know that traveling with children can be tricky.  Some kids are great – strap them in a booster seat, give them a book, some crayons and paper, or a movie, and they’re good to go (that’s my oldest).  Some kids, on the other hand, require a little more, shall we say, attention.  They get wiggly, antsy, bored, and, last but not least, impatient.  This can manifest itself in many ways.  In our case, our youngest expresses his displeasure by yelling, throwing toys and kicking the back of the seat in front of him.  Also, he’s not much of a car sleeper, so this behavior can go on indefinitely.  Pleasant.

Sometimes, snacks help.  Actually, most of the time, snacks help.  If he has food, he’s pretty happy.  That’s why I spent most of this morning attempting, once again, to make granola bars.

I say attempting, because I’ve tried and failed with granola bars many times.  This time around was a semi-success, which is good because we’re leaving tomorrow and I don’t have time to try, try and try again.

I wanted these to be relatively nourishing, since they will be our primary snack of choice over the long weekend.  Whole grains in the form of rolled oats and freshly ground flour, combined with unsweetened dried cherries, a very ripe banana, some raw Tupelo honey (courtesy Savannah Bee Company) and sucanat (dehydrated sugar cane), along with a relatively small amount of expeller-pressed coconut oil and some toasted cacao nibs come together to create a nutritionally-dense granola bar.

Also?  Tasty.

Banana Split Granola Bars
prep time: 10 minutes
bake time: 40 minutes
yield: 12 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup expeller-pressed coconut oil
  • 1 very ripe banana, pureed
  • 2 cups dried cherries
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.  Line it with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper.
  2. Combine the oats, flour, salt, soda and cacao nibs in a large bowl.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, coconut oil, sucanat, banana puree, and dried cherries.  Cook for a couple of minutes, until coconut oil has melted and sucanat has dissolved.  The cherries should also plump slightly.
  4. Remove from heat and add the vanilla to the liquid ingredients.
  5. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  6. Press the granola mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 300F for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan.
  8. Once cooled, remove from the pan and slice into 12 bars.
  9. Enjoy!

These weren’t perfect – they still managed to fall apart somewhat when I went to slice them.  However, the flavor is really good, and the texture is nice and chewy.  The cherries, cacao nibs and bananas combine to give a flavor profile reminiscent of a banana split – sweet, tart, chocolatey – without being dessert-like.  I think they would be especially good with a cup or so of chopped nuts thrown in (I left them out because my husband might decide to try them, and he’s allergic), and maybe a touch more fat in the form of butter, peanut-butter, or just more coconut oil (I think the fat helps to bind them at room temperature).

I think these, along with some popcorn and sliced fruit, will go a long way toward taming the beast-like child on our road trip tomorrow.  Which will go an even further way toward maintaining my sanity.  And that’s a good thing.