Cooking Cove: Going bananas over bananas

Cooking Cove: Going bananas over bananas

Banana Walnut Bread

By Barbara Beltrami

Rich in fiber and potassium, bananas are considered a healthful addition to most diets and a quick and satisfying snack. However I don’t usually get excited about them. If I do condescend to eat one, it must be just this side of ripe, firm with just a touch of green near the ends. On the other hand, my husband loves bananas that are just this side of rotten, soft and brown and begging for a visit from fruit flies. Those are the ones I use in recipes.

All that being said, I must confess that there are a couple of versions of bananas that I sometimes actually get a craving for. One is a banana on a popsicle stick, dipped in chocolate sauce and put in the freezer. Try that for a summer treat. Another is banana walnut bread, a comfort food if there ever was one. A third is Bananas Foster, a caramel-y dessert made with split bananas cooked with butter and brown sugar in a skillet, a heavely topping for whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. And how about banana-butterscotch cookies, a (somewhat) healthful goody that can be especially appreciated and popular with even the younger set of avowed junk foodies. Come to think of it, maybe I do like bananas!

Banana Walnut Bread

This recipe comes from one of those spiral bound cookbooks put out by some organization that my mother belonged to many many years ago. Although it is torn and tattered, I still cherish it for this recipe and a few others.

Banana Walnut Bread

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 ripe bananas, mashed

¼ cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan. In large mixing bowl, combine shortening, sugar and eggs. Sift together the flour and baking soda and add to wet mixture. Stir in bananas and walnuts. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter, cream cheese or jam and hot tea or coffee.

Bananas Foster

This dish originated in New Orleans in the 1950s and is traditionally made with a rum flambé. Playing with fire makes me nervous so I leave out the flambé part and just add a splash of rum to the bananas in the skillet right before serving.

Bananas Foster

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Half a stick of unsalted butter

4 bananas, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

1½ cups brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 ounces rum (optional)

One pint vanilla ice cream or 1 pint heavy cream, whipped

DIRECTIONS: In large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Gently add bananas; cook over medium heat until golden, about two minutes; gently turn and cook other side until golden, about two minutes. (Don’t worry if they break; they’ll still taste wonderful!). Remove from skillet and set aside to keep warm. Add brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, over low heat about two minutes. Turn off heat, add rum to skillet, if using, stir, and stand back in case it flames. Return bananas to skillet and gently spoon sauce over them. Place a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream in four dessert dishes. Top with bananas and sauce and serve immediately with vanilla wafers or ginger snaps.

Banana Butterscotch Cookies

I’ve had this recipe a long time, and as with so many old recipes, I can’t remember who gave it to me. There’s something about the combination of bananas and butterscotch that is absolutely intoxicating, especially as the cookies are baking.

Banana Butterscotch Cookies

YIELD: Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS:

2½ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup white granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

²⁄₃ cup unsalted butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Two very ripe bananas, mashed

2 cups butterscotch chips

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease cookie sheet. Sift together the flour, salt, baking power and baking soda. Cream together both sugars and the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla and combine with dry ingredients. Add mashed banana and butterscotch chips and stir in thoroughly. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Place on rack to cool before serving.

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