Week of Delicious Meals, Part VI and Final!

And thus ends the tale of a very happy belly in NYC.

This was a particularly special, hectic, and excitement-filled week, but those who know me know that not a month passes that doesn’t come with a moment where my eyes glaze over with other-worldly happiness and I gush about how lucky we are to be living in New York, a culinary mecca of the world. It can be a big challenge to live here and live/eat well on a nonprofit salary, but I believe it all depends on where and how you spend your money. Incidentally, volunteering is a great way to meet new people, practice skills you don’t get to normally practice everyday, and gain access to corners you didn’t even know existed. You could eat incredible food from a Top Chef contestant, and meet Salman Rushdie!

I’m also happy to say that since my new year’s resolution earlier this year, its come to the point where I am experienced enough and confident enough to be truly happy as a practical, everyday cook, and not someone who uses “cooking as stress therapy”. I’m glad I caught the problem early, because IMO that’s a terrible habit to build. I was making all these big, complicated, spectacular dishes and getting very stressed while doing it. I was constantly worrying about missing ingredients, directions not followed word for word, trying to wash the dishes, and watch my timing, all at once. 

As a life-long learner, there will always be times when I take on more than I can handle, but its important to seek balance to find a satisfying middle ground. At this point, I’m happiest when I know I’m cooking and leveraging my ingredients for all they’re worth, even if it means using old tofu! 

To close out the week: salted caramel, chocolate ganache, banana cream pie. Sounds fancy, but I picked the recipe because the new roommate moved in earlier this month and the kitchen is bursting with dry goods. I also had a hand of bananas that was slowly attracting fruit flies in the kitchen.

The pie sounds complicated, but its so easy if you make the crust and ganache in the morning, and assemble the rest in the afternoon.

To make the crust, I processed about 2 1/2 cups nilla wafer cookies with 1/3 cup melted butter, and toasted it in the oven.

Then, in a glass bowl over boiling water, I melted about 8 oz. chocolate, and mixed it with 1/2 cup heavy cream. On it went, over the crust, and into the fridge to chill. 20130524-181747.jpg

Then, I made the salted caramel sauce.

1 cup sugar, dissolved in a saucepan and stirred until brown. In goes about 5 tbl butter, and 1/2 cup of heavy cream. I let it simmer a little while longer until the mixture thickened quite a bit and dashed some sea salt in there at the last moment. 20130524-181719.jpgNot pictured: making the custard. I used Bird’s custard powder (also leftover from a former roomie) because it was in the cupboard, but couldn’t explain why it was so flavorless until I looked at the ingredients. It’s only cornstarch and flavoring.

Custards are usually made by tempering eggs (or egg yolks) with cream (or milk), with sugar and vanilla, and so perhaps its the lack of eggyness that makes Bird’s powdered custard taste like something is missing. Its perfectly fine for this recipe because the custard is mostly a carrier for the banana, but I whipped up some heavy cream anyway and folded it into the custard to make it lighter and more mousse-like.

Layers, in order from top to bottom:

Whipped, custard cream
Drizzle of salted caramel
Spiral of banana slices
Custard
Drizzle of salted caramel
Spiral of banana slices
Custard
Drizzle of salted caramel
Banana slices
Chocolate ganache
Nilla wafer crust

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Try this recipe if you can. There are short cuts you can take at almost every step, including using store-bought chocolate syrup and caramel, or vanilla pudding instead of custard. Just make sure you’re getting good quality stuff!

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One thought on “Week of Delicious Meals, Part VI and Final!

  1. Pingback: More Banana Cream Pie! | yummyfoto

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