The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

If you’ve never had good old fashioned Banana Pudding then you are seriously missing out!  This creamy dessert is so popular that there’s even a 2 day festival in hour of it.  I kid you not; there’s a National Banana Pudding Festival the first week of October in Centerville, Tennessee!

It’s generally associated with the Southern part of the United States but it’s popular in all parts of the country.  It’s not really known exactly how the dessert became a Southern Icon but it’s been a Southern specialty since the 1940’s if not longer.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding is pretty similar to the English Trifle in that it’s layers of creamy custard, fruit, and a soft spongy cookie which can be topped if desired with a dollop of whipped cream, or in some homes meringue.

This iconic dessert was further popularized by the Nabisco company when it published the recipe on the box of every Nabisco brand Nilla Wafers, which of course is featured as Wone of the key ingredients.

So back to the beginning, if  you’ve never had good Old Fashioned Banana Pudding you’re missing out.  So to rectify that here’s  a recipe for this yummy dessert.  And no instant Banana Pudding from a box doesn’t count!

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. Flour

1 Cup Sugar

1/4 Tsp. Salt

4 Cups Whole Milk

4 Egg Yolks

1 Tsp. Vanilla

4-5 Ripe Bananas

1 Box Vanilla Wafers (the Nabisco brand are called Nilla Wafers)

Directions:

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a saucepan.

Cook on medium heat about 15 – 20 minutes or until thick.  Keep stirring mixture as it cooks so it won’t scorch and stick to the pan.

Remove from  heat.

Layer vanilla wafers in the bottom of a dish or bowl.

Add a layer of banana slices, one on each wager works well.

Pour 1/2 of  pudding over the layers.

Repeat a layer of wafers and bananas on top of the pudding layer.

Pour the other half of the pudding over that new layer.

Top with crushed wafers if desired.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing

Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing

I recently found myself with several over ripe bananas and leftover Buttermilk.  I know over ripe bananas usually mean a batch or two of Banana Bread, but I still had a few loaves in the freezer.  Besides I wasn’t in the mood for Banana Bread.

I was however in the mood for cake!  So why not bake some banana cupcakes?  Then I remember that a local bakery sold this yummy banana cake with Chantilly Icing.  I think Chantilly icing must a a local Hawaii favorite because the recipe isn’t too easy to come by.

You might be wondering what Chantilly Icing is.  Well it’s sort of hard to describe, it’s sweet, creamy, and buttery; kind of but not quite like the frosting on a German Chocolate cake.

In Hawaii Chantilly icing is used on Chantilly Cake which is very similar to a German Chocolate Cake but with macadamia nuts instead of coconut flakes.  It’s also used to top Liliha Bakery’s Coco Puffs, those delectable chocolate cream filled puffs. It’s also used on Banana Cake!

So to make these really yummy Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing I used 2 different recipes.  The Banana Cake recipe and a recipe for that delicious Chantilly Frosting.  The frosting I made was more than enough to ice the cupcakes.  I refrigerated the leftover frosting and used them on a chocolate cake a few days later.

Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Butter, softened to room temperature

2 Cups Sugar

3 Eggs

1 Tsp. Vanilla

1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

2 Very Ripe Bananas, mashed

2 Tsp. Lemon Juice

3 Cups Flour

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 1/2 Cup Buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees

Line Cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers

Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.

Beat in vanilla and cinnamon.

Add lemon juice to mashed bananas and stir until smooth.

Add to butter mixture.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture.

Mix well.

Pour batter into cupcake wraps about 3/4 full.

Smooth tops.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool.

Frost when completely cooled.

Chantilly Icing

Ingredients:

1 2/3 Cup Butter

1 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk

1 1/2 Cup Baker’s or Caster Sugar

2 Tsp. Vannilla

2 Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

2 Tbs. Corn Starch

Directions:

Melt Butter in saucepan over medium low heat.

Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Whisk in milk, sugar, and vanilla.

Then whisk in eggs and yolks one at a time.

Cook on medium hear until it comes to s low boil.  Whisking is it intermittently.

Once it boils cook for another 2 minutes continuing to whisk intermittently.

Remove from heat then quickly sift in cornstarch while whisking.  Whisk cornstarch quickly and hard to prevent it from lumping.

Pour into a shallow bowl and cool to room temp.

Cover and refrigerate about 3 hours or until it’s in a spreadable consistency.

Frost cooled  cupcakes.


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Pickled Green Tomatoes

Pickled Green Tomatoes

My husband always talks about how his mother used to pickle green tomatoes when he was growing up in the Middle East.  He said pickled green tomatoes are delicious.

I’m sure they.  It’s also a great way to use the loads of tomatoes we grown in our backyard.  So here’s how we pickle green tomatoes.  First off you’ll want to make sure you pick them while they’re green.  It doesn’t really matter what type of tomato, we use cherry tomatoes as well as the large varieties, just as long as they’re still green and not ripe.

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Pickled Green Tomatoes

Supplies:

Mason Jars with Lids – I use the 64 oz. jars but you can use any size you like

Large Stock Pot – I use my Le Creuset 20 Qt. Stock Pot

Tongs or Jar Lifters

Baking Sheet

Ingredients:

Green Tomatoes – cut cherry tomatoes in half, large tomatoes can be cut in half or quarters

2 Large Jalapeno Peppers cut in half  (optional)

4 Small hot peppers whole (optional)

1 Lemon – quartered

2 Cups White Vinegar

2 Cups Water

1/4 Cup Salt

Procedure:

Wash and dry Green tomatoes and peppers – set aside.

Wash jars and lids with soap and water.

Boil a large pot of water.

Submerge jars and lids in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Remove jars and lids from water and drain.

Place jars upside down on paper towels and let dry.

When jars are dry place them right side up on baking sheet.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place jars in oven for 10 minutes. (Not lids).

Turn off oven but leave jars inside.

Boil water, vinegar, and salt in pot and boil until salt dissolves.  Turn off heat.

Remove jar or jars from oven and arrange tomatoes, peppers, and lemon inside quickly.  Jars and water mixture must both be  hot.

Pour liquid over tomatoes.

Cover with plastic wrap and let cool down.

When they have cooled down put lids on and store in a cool dark place for about 6 weeks for tomatoes to pickle.

Once you’ve opened the jar store in the fridge.  I will keep for about 2 months.

Use them however you use pickles.

 


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Lumpia – Filipino Egg Rolls

Lumpia – Filipino Egg Rolls

Lumpia is the Philippines’ version of Egg Rolls.  Like so many other Asian countries the Filipino Lumpia comes in many varieties.

There is Lumpiang Sariwa or “Fresh Lumpia” that are very thin crepe like wrappers that are filled with stir fried vegetables, shrimp, meats, or a combination of them.  Lumpiang Shanghai are meat filled deep fried egg rolls that are tightly wrapped to look like thin cigars or are cut into smaller pieces when served as appetizers, they are usually served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.  Then there are fried lumpia that closely resemble spring rolls.  Fried Lumpia can be filled with just about anything including ripe bananas which are actually called Turon or Banana Lumpia.

Fried Lumpia is a favorite in my house; I make them by the dozen and freeze them so we always have some on hand.  Making fried lumpia is pretty easy since I usually toss in whatever I have on hand including ground beef, green beans, tofu, carrots, bean sprouts, potatoes, and onions.  You can put any combination of meats, seafood, and veggies in a fried lumpia, it’s really not complicated.  Whatever ends up as my filling I always serve it with a garlic vinegar sauce, my family loves it!

Today I’ll share my version of Fried Lumpia.  I’ll list ingredients just remember they’re all pretty much optional and you can toss in whatever you prefer; but use at least 3 of the optional items in your filling.  You can buy frozen egg roll wrappers at any Asian Market, most packages contain 25 wrappers.

Fried Lumpia

Ingredients:

1 or 2 Package Egg Roll Wrapper – thawed

1 Lb. Ground Beef – but you can use pork, chicken, turkey, or shrimp instead

1 Small Onion Chopped

1 Tbs. Garlic Minced

2-3 Potatoes – Cooked and cubed (optional)

2 Cups Bean Sprouts (optional)

1 Package Firm Tofu – cut into small cubes

1 Cup Shredded Carrots (optional)

1 Cup Fresh String Beans – Thinly sliced (optional)

1 Cup Shredded Cabbage (optional)

1/8 Cup Soy Sauce

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1/2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Egg slightly beaten (to seal wrappers)

Oil for frying

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 Cup White or Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tsp. Garlic Minced

1/4 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/4 Tsp. Chili Pepper Flakes (optional)

Directions:

Heat about 1 Tbl. of oil in a wok or large skillet.

Saute chopped onions until they start to turn translucent.

Add minced garlic and saute for about 1 minute, be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add ground beef or whatever meat you are using.  If you are using shrimp add them later after veggies have cooked as shrimp cook quickly and will over cook if you have to cook veggies.

Add salt and pepper.  Cook until meat is well done and crumbly.

Add beans, carrots, cabbage if you are using them.  Cook until soft.

Add Bean Sprouts and cook until soft.

Gently stir in Tofu and soy sauce.

Remove from heat, drain liquid from pan, and set aside.

Thaw egg roll wrappers and remove from package.

Separate wrappers being careful not to tear.  Place on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  You will be using one wrapper at a time so keep the others under the damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Take one wrapper and place on flat surface.

Place about 1 to 1 1/2 heaping tbl. of filling along one side of the wrapper.

Fold over both ends and roll like a burrito.

Brush some beaten egg on the wrapper to seal.

Place on a plate if you will be frying the same day or place in freezer bag if you plan on freezing them for later.

Repeat until you use all the wrappers.

When you’re ready to fry heat about 2″ of oil in a pan or use your deep fryer.

If you are frying the ones you just made, fry them in hot oil until they turn dark golden brown.

Place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot.

If you are frying frozen lumpia, carefully place FROZEN lumpia in the heated oil.  Do not thaw them as they will get too soft and fall apart.  Fry them until dark golden brown.

To make the sauce just add all the sauce ingredients into a bowl and stir.

Other options for the fillings include shredding sweet potatoes, chopped water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots,and pretty much anything you like.


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Chicken Paella

Chicken Paella

Paella is probably Spain’s most popular dish.  It originated in the Valencia region located in Eastern Spain but can be found worldwide specially in countries that were once part of colonial Spain namely Cuba and the Philippines where it is also call Arroz Valenciana.

The word Paella mean “pan” in the Valencian dialect.  It is usually made and served in a “paella” pan which is basically a somewhat flat shallow skillet with or without a cover.  It is typically made with Bomba rice, a short grain rice variety cultivated in Spain’s eastern region.  Traditional Valencian Paella includes some type of meat such as chicken, duck, or rabbit, and some type of green bean.  It’s iconic yellow colored rice is achieved by adding saffron threads while cooking.

In modern time Paella has been adapted to use ingredients easily found in different areas of the country.  One of the most popular, an my favorite is Paella de Marisco which is seafood mixed with the rice.  This usually has shrimp, mussels or clams, squid, and sometimes lobster; is usually omits the vegetables.  Then there’s Paella Mixta which combines meats including Chorizo (Spanish pork sausage), seafood, and vegetables.  In short these days you can pretty much put whatever you want in a pealla.  My husband prefers chicken or vegetarian Paella.

When I was growing up surrounded by grandmothers, aunts, and uncles many of whom were fantastic cooks, Arroz Valenciana or Paella was a treat.  It would certainly be on a party menu, specially at Christmas.  These days I usually have to get my Paella fix in Spain.  It’s always one of our favorites when we’re in Barcelona, Majorca, or any part of Spain.

But since our yearly visits to Spain will not be possible this year we’ve found ourselves missing our favorite Spanish foods.  That’s why I’ve been making tapas boards lately.  I’ve also been making Paella.  In fact I’ve been making it often enough that’s I’ve recently decided to order a paella pan.

Today I’ll share my recipe for Chicken Paella because it’s ingredients are probably the easiest to find.  In fact you may already have it in your kitchen pantry.  I mentioned that Paellas are typically made with Bomba rice, but it’s not always easy to find in the US, at least in Hawaii.  I usually use Japanese short grain rice, the type you use to make sushi which is always found at any Asian market.  Saffron is not easily found in regular supermarkets  because it’s pretty expensive.  I usually buy Saffron when I’m in Turkey or the Middle East where it’s readily available at the local spice markets at a reasonably lower price.  If you don’t have Saffron you can use ground Turmeric to tint the rice yellow, but don’t use too much as it will leave a different flavor than what you want to achieve.  I’d use no more than a teaspoon of turmeric powder dissolved in a cup of chicken stock.

Chicken Paella

Ingredients:

1/2 Tsp. Crushed Saffron Threads

1/2 Cup White Wine

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

6-8 Chicken Thighs Bone-In with Skin

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Onion Chopped

2 Tbl. Minced Garlic

1 Tbs. Fresh Thyme chopped

1 1/2 Cup uncooked Bomba or other short grain rice

3 Cups Chicken Stock

Juice of 1 Lemon

1 Small Bag Frozen Peas

1 Red Pepper cut into strips

American Parsley – chopped (optional)

Lemon Wedges (optional)

Directions:

Stir Saffron into wine and set aside.

Heat Olive Oil in Paella pan or large skillet.

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Place thighs in heated oil skin side down and cook until golden brown, about 6-7 minutes.

Turn over and cook another 4-5 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  (You may have to cook chicken in batches depending on how big your pan is and how many thighs you are using.)

Add onions, garlic, and thyme to pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stir constantly to keep it from burning.

Add Rice and cook another 2 minutes while stirring constantly.

Add wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Stir in lemon juice and chicken stock.

Place chicken skin side  up on top of rice, cover, reduce heat to medium.

Simmer about 18 minutes until rice is almost cooked, it should be “al dente”.

Remove cover and add peas and pepper evenly over the pan.

Turn up heat to medium high and cook another 5 minutes or until rice begins to brown on the bottom and sides.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve hot with lemon wedges.

This dish pairs well with a pitcher of Sangria or a nice bottle of fruity red wine or a Chardonnay for white wine lovers.


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