Going just bananas over delicious recipes

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Caramel sauce and chopped walnuts make a banana and vanilla sundae a standout. Tip: Before using fresh bananas in desserts and fruit salads, roll them in a shallow saucer of lemon juice – making sure to cover ends as well. This negates browning.

long-ago trip to New Orleans and Bananas Foster at Brennan’s opened my eyes to the delights of cooked bananas. Later, from recipes in Monet’s cookbook, I realized that cooking bananas was not uncommon – at least in France! This started a small collection of my own which pointed up one thing in common: they all use butter. Not margarine, not fake “can’t believe…” compounds, but real organic butter from real un-vaccinated cows. With that in mind, please enjoy the following (admittedly rich) offerings featuring Hawaii’s never out of season gift to our cuisine!

Monet’s Baked Bananas

(Bananes au gratin)

(For 6)

6 bananas

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice bananas in four lengthwise quarters. Arrange in a shallow buttered ovenproof dish. Combine confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and melted butter and pour half over the bananas. Bake for 20 minutes, basting with remaining sauce every five minutes. Serve hot or cold. Whipped cream would not be remiss here!

Bananas Foster

(for four)

4 Tbs. butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbs. banana liqueur

4 medium-size bananas, halved

1/4 cup rum

4 scoops vanilla ice cream (I recommend Breyer’s or Alden’s)

In flambé pan or shallow skillet, melt butter. Add sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur; stir to mix. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer 2 minutes. Place bananas in sauce. Cook, stirring and carefully turning bananas from time to time, until soft – about 4 minutes. Add rum, allow to heat slightly, ignite carefully (with a long fireplace match). With a small soup ladle or large-cupped serving spoon, divide evenly over vanilla ice cream ready in four shallow shallow bowls.

My second meeting with cooked bananas was during a visit to daughter Shelley and son-in-law Ray Allen during their three-year stay on beautiful Maui. Native luaus (not the big commercial ones) always included this staple. We give you the easy- version so you needn’t dig a barbecue pit!

Baked Bananas

Perfectly ripe bananas, 1 per person

Butter

Wash skin: do NOT peel. Place bananas into a baking pan with a little water in it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve as you would a baked potato, splitting the skin and inserting a pat of butter to melt inside. Simply unbelievable!

South America boasts bananas as well as the Hawaiian Islands. This one offers the richness of rum.

Dulce de

Platanos

2 perfectly ripe bananas

½ stick unsalted butter

2 tablespoons dark rum

1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (well shaken)

1 cup cane sugar

¼ cup heavy cream

Cut ends from bananas and peel. Cut each diagonally into ½-inch thick slices. In a large nonstick skillet heat butter over moderate heat until foam subsides; add bananas and cook, shaking occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter with a slotted spatula, retaining butter in skillet.

In a small saucepan, heat rum and coconut milk until warm. Add sugar to reserved butter in skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until caramelized, about 5 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and carefully whisk in warm coconut milk mixture (mixture will steam and caramel will harden,. Return to low heat, cooking and whisking until caramel is dissolved. Add bananas and cook without stirring until heated through and tender, about five minutes. (You may gently lift and fold pieces into sauce).

In very small saucepan heat cream until warm and pour over bananas. Gently shake skillet to incorporate cream into sauce. Cool slightly and serve as is, or over ice cream or sponge cake pieces.

This savory recipe can serve as a side with baked sweet potatoes or yams with pork, curry, or on its own as a dessert.

Scalloped

Bananas

¼ cup evaporated milk (not sweetened-condensed)

6 firm, not too ripe bananas

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¾ cup grated coconut

Butter for frying

Peel bananas and cut into diagonal pieces 2-3 inches long. Place evaporated milk in a small bowl. Mix cinnamon and coconut together and place in another bowl. Dip banana pieces in milk to coat, then roll in coconut mixture, making sure to cover ends as well. Fry in butter over medium heat, turning until crust is nicely brown and crisp.

Our final recipe is more familiar in homes throughout the country. Enjoy!

Allspice

Banana Bread

¾ cup pecan or walnut halves

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Scant ½ teaspoon allspice powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup real butter, softened

½ cup cane sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large (1 pound) bananas, mashed

¼ cup milk

¼ cup chopped dried prunes, dates or raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reserve ¼ cup nut halves for garnish. Coarsely chop remaining nuts. Combine flour, baking powder, allspice and salt in large bowl. Cream butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla. Alternately, just until blended, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture with half of the bananas and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in chopped nuts and fruit of choice. Turn into a well-greased 9x5-inch loaf pan, smoothing the top. Arrange reserved nut halves over top and bake till cake tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. (Some ovens bake hotter so test carefully for doneness). Serve with dinner as a sweet bread or with ice cream for dessert.

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at bcdailybee@bonnercountydailybee.com. or by phone at 208-265-4688.

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