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Banana Bliss

Seasoning Mix:

One and one half teaspoons cinnamon (1 ½ teaspoon)
One half teaspoon ground anise seed (1/2 teaspoon)
One half teaspoon ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon)
One half teaspoon ground nutmeg (1/2 teaspoon)
One half teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon)

One half cup pecans, half or chopped pieces (1/2 cup)
4 large bananas
One half cup water (1/2 cup)
One half pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter (1/2 pound)
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoon banana cream liqueur
2 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
1 tablespoon cognac
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
Vanilla ice cream

Peel the bananas and cut them into diagonal slices about one half inch thick (1/2 inch) Set aside.

In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, roast the pecans, stirring constantly until they begin to darken and give off a rich toasted aroma. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, whisk together the water, butter and sugar. When the butter melts, add the seasoning mix and bring to a boil, whisk frequently. Wisk in the remaining ingredients, then add the reserved bananas and pecans. Continue to cook, stirring gently for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve warm.

To serve: Ladle one half cup (1/2 cup) of the sauce over 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Be sure the ice cream is very cold and the sauce is still warm.
Serve immediately.


New Orleans Bread Pudding with Chantilly Cream

Makes 8 servings

3 large eggs
One and one quarter cup sugar (1 ¼ cup)
One and one half teaspoons vanilla extract (1 ½ teaspoon)
One and one quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg (1 ¼ teaspoon)
One and one quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon (1 ¼ teaspoon)
One quarter cup unsalted butter, melted (1/4 cup)
2 cup milk
One half cup raisins (one half cup)
One half cup coarsely chopped pecans, dry roasted (1/2 cup)
5 cups very stale French or Italian bread cubes, with crusts on

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs on high speed until extremely frothy and bubbles are the size of pinheads, about 3 minutes (or with a metal whisk for about 6 minutes) Add sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and butter and beat on high until well blended. Beat in the milk, then stir in the raisins and pecans.

(During the preparation of this dish, the milk and egg mixture might come across as being too sweet and the rest of the ingredients as being too strong but it will all be absorbed by the bland bread. After baking, the results is a magnificent bread pudding)

Place the bread cubes in a greased loaf pan or baking dish. Pour the egg mixture over them and toss until the bread is soaked. Let sit until you see only a narrow bead of liquid around the pan’s edges. Soak for about 45 minutes or if possible 3 hours, patting the bread down into the liquid occasionally. Place in a reheated 350 degrees oven. Immediately lower the heat to 300 degrees and bake 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature at 425 degree and bake until pudding is well browned and puffy about 15 to 20 minutes more.

Chantilly Cream
Makes about 2 cups

Two thirds cup heavy cream (2/3 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
One quarter cup sugar (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoon dairy sour cream

Refrigerate a medium size bowl and beaters until very cold. Combine cream, vanilla, and grand marnier in the bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for one minute. Add sugar and sour cream and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Do not over beat (over beating will make the cream grainy, once the cream becomes grainy, you can’t return it to its former consistency)

Add the chantilly cream to your bread pudding and serve.