A Perfect Balance

I don’t have a romantic Valentine right now. I have lots of love, however. Friends, family, and my dear little dog Truffle (with the prospect of a kitten later this month) fill my life and my heart.

I tried this Valentine recipe out on my brother David, his wife Leigh, and my nephew Michael. Like most 11 year olds, Michael is fascinated by fire. So he was tickled by the idea of flambéing up some Bananas Foster. This dessert was so quick he didn’t have time to get bored.

The recipe below isn’t original—at least, it isn’t original to me. It comes from Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans, where the dish was invented in 1951 by Chef Paul Blangé. It was named after Richard Foster, a friend of the restaurant’s owner.

The Dutch-born Chef Paul is said to haunt the restaurant to this day, banging pots and pans and supervising the kitchen workers. He is particularly likely to look over their shoulders when they are making Bananas Foster.

I hope he doesn’t decide to haunt me. My version of his signature dish was a tad inelegant since I didn’t have the right pan with which to flambé. Most of my skillets are nonstick, and I had a feeling their coating wouldn’t like flames. So I used a stainless-steel pan with sides that were a little too high. As a result not quite all of my rum burned off.

The thing still tasted pretty darn wonderful. In fact, young Michael requested it for his birthday party. When I explained that we couldn’t legally serve a dish with alcohol (albeit flambéed alcohol) to his young friends he decided he would just have it for his FAMILY birthday party. “It balances hot and cold perfectly,” he pronounced. We are obviously teaching the child well.

Being cheap, I almost omitted the banana liqueur since I had to go out and buy it. Valentine’s Day falls only once a year, however, so I went to the liquor store. In any case, if Michael has his way, the liqueur won’t go to waste. I will be hauling it out to make Bananas Foster on a regular basis.

And I have sympathy for the child’s viewpoint. I have never seen the point of a banana split. Why would the texture of a banana add anything laudable to a sundae? Take that same banana and add a little butter and brown sugar and booze to the mix, however, and I swoon when it’s put on ice cream. A perfect balance, as Michael pointed out.

If you don’t want to make this dessert for Valentine’s day, wait a couple of weeks. As a New Orleans standard it makes idea fare for Mardi Gras. Let the good times—and the bananas—roll!

By the way, before I leave you with the recipe, please let me introduce … MY NEW BLOG! Since my blog about caring for my mother is winding down, I am starting What’s a Girl to Do, which will enable me to keep communicating with my readers. Of course, this blog will continue as well. How can I communicate if I don’t eat? I hope readers will read and subscribe to the new one as well, however.

Bananas Foster

Courtesy of Brennan’s Restaurant

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (a really nice touch; the cinnamon is there but subtle)
1/4 cup banana liqueur (I still think this could be optional!)
4 slightly under-ripe bananas cut in half lengthwise, then halved again
1/4 cup dark rum
vanilla ice cream

Instructions:

In a stainless-steel flambé pan or skillet combine the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the brown sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur; then place the bananas in the pan.

When the banana pieces soften and begin to brown carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot; then remove it from the flame, tip the pan slightly, and ignite the rum. (I used a long lighter for this; be careful!)

When the flames subside serve the bananas over ice cream and ladle sauce over all.

Serves 4.

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4 Responses to “A Perfect Balance”

  1. I am going right now to sign up for your new blog. I am excited to see it. I have never had Bananas Foster, though I have heard of it. I love the pictures and writing here as usual. I am off to subscribe to your new blog! :-)

  2. Alice says:

    What lovely photos! You and Michael of course — I’m not praising the bananas. But I have had them at Brennan’s, and they are spectacular!

  3. Ann says:

    Yummy!! Been a while since I’ve had bananas foster and reading your nephew’s description I totally agree! Now I just have to go to the liquor store!

  4. tinkyweisblat says:

    Elizabeth–Thanks! I’ll see you over at the other blog.

    Alice, I envy you the trip to Brennan’s. SOME day.

    Ann, the trip to the liquor store didn’t hurt as much as I thought it might…….

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