Banana Pie

Yelapa Style Banana Pie

Adapted from the Auguest 2018 issue of Food & Wine.

The recipe calls for a hot water pie crust because it is sturdy for eating on the beach. While it was good, I see no reason why a regular crust wouldn’t suffice if you are eating it at home. Also, The recipe calls for a 9 1/2″ deep dish pie pan. But the custard was a bit shallow for my pan so I increased it by 50%.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup water

3 large bananas, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch thick slices
3 large eggs, at room temp.
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped
1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, optional, for topping

Preheat oven to 375F. Whisk together flour & salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. Set aside.

Combine butter, shortening and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until butter & shortening are melted, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook 30-60 seconds.

Pour into well in flour. Working quickly, mix until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer to a clean surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.

Roll out between two pieces of parchment. Remove top parchment and carefully flip dough into 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate, patching if necessary. Line with parchment and fill with pie weights.

Bake in preheated oven until crust is set, about 18 minutes. Remove weights and parchment and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Reduce oven temp to 325F.

Line pie pan with banana slices.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until completely blended.
Add milk, condensed milk, salt and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk to combine. Carefully pour over bananas.

Bake 325F until edges are set and center is slightly jiggly, 45-50 minutes. Banana slices will rise to the top. Remove to wire rack & cool.

If desired, sprinkle with sugar and carmelize with a kitchen torch.

Serve warm or chilled.


Maple-Pecan Swirls

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated with streamlined directions.

Bake 375F 12 minutes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar (or regular sugar put through a food processor)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) butter, room temp. cut into 16 pieces
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. (2 ounces) cream cheese, room temp.
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, cooled
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

In mixer, mix flour, sugar & salt on low speed until combined (5 sec). On low speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, mix till crumbly. Add vanilla & cream cheese and mix until just forms large clumps.

Remove dough and knead by hand 2-3 turns to form cohesive mass. Pat into square (7 inches), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 20-30 minutes.

Pecan filling
Pulse pecans in food processor until finely ground.
While pulsing, add maple syrup in a steady, slow stream; add egg yolks and process until combined.
Transfer to a small bowl and cover. Refrigerate until needed.

Shape Cookies
Roll dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper to 11″ x 16″ rectangle.
Chill 30 minutes.

Using an offset spatula, spread pecan filling evenly, leave half inch border around all edges.

Starting at long end, roll tightly. Press to seal seam.

Spread turbinado sugar evenly on parchment. Roll log in sugar, pressing lightly. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Can be wrapped in plastic and stored 2 days.

To bake:
Preheat oven to 375F, adjust oven rack to middle.

Use chef’s knife to slice log into 1/4-inch thick rounds (you may discard the ends if you don’t like odd shaped cookies but I think that’s crazy!)

Place about 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets.

Lightly beat egg whites and brush tops of cookies. Bake one sheet at a time until lightly golden, about 12 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

It seemed like the egg white wash was just a way to use up the whites, but it did give the cookies a nice glaze.

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

This is from Ratio a cookbook for the mathematician in every cook.

The ratio = 1 part butter : 1 part sugar : 1 part egg : 1 part flour
by weight

The following makes enough for one 9″ loaf pan. The books says it will mix better if doubled to the pound ratio. I have only made it as follows but I am sure it will mix better with more ingredients, unless you have a small mixer.

Pound Cake
8 ounces butter, at room temperature, plus enough to butter the pan
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces eggs, at room temp. (about 4 large eggs, plus 1 large yolk), lightly whipped to combine
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ounces flour (about 1 3/4 cup)
1 tsp. baking powder (optional, but I hedged my bet and added it)

For the citrus glaze:
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter with paddle attachment for a minute. Add the sugar and salt and beat on med-high until the butter becomes very pale and volume has increased by about 1 third, 2-4 minutes.

Add the eggs slowly, so that they are gradually beaten into the batter, another minute or so. (If the batter appears to break, it should be ok when the flour is added.)

Add a tablespoon of each juice, all the zest and the vanilla.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to med-low. Add the flour. Mix only to incorporate the flour.

Pour batter into pan and bake 1 hour. Test, if blade or toothpick comes out clean remove and let rest 5 min. Turn out on rack to finish cooling.

Meanwhile, for the glaze combine the citrus juices and sugar in a small pan over med-high heat; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste to check the sweet-sour balance and adjust if necessary.

Brush cake with glaze on all sides.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. Cook’s has intricate directions and an explanation of why these steps works. Please see their website for full information.
Makes 22 large or 40 smaller cookies / 325F one tray at a time

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 tsp. instant espresso powder (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken up
4 Tbsp. butter

For rolling – place in separate bowls:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 325 with rack in middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in medium bowl.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla together in a large bowl.

Combine chocolate and butter in microwave safe bowl and microwave (at 50% power) until melted, stirring occasionally about 2-3 minutes.

Whisk melted chocolate into egg mixture until combined. Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Let sit at room temp. for 10 minutes.

Scoop about 2 Tbsp. batter at a time (these were too big for us so we used about 1 Tbsp.) Form into balls (a joke, just drop them). Drop into granulated sugar, roll into a ball and coat evenly with sugar. Then place in confectioner’s and roll to coat. Evenly space half (11 of the large size) on baking sheet.

Bake cookies one tray at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges begin to set but centers are still soft – about 12 minutes.

Let cool completely on sheet.

Pecan Pie

Adapted from

Single Pie crust

6 Tbsp. butter
1 1/4 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves

Roll pie crust and put in pie plate, put in fridge for 30 minute or 10 minutes in freezer.

Place a baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 350F.

Make filling:
Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add brown sugar, whisk until smooth.
Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, orange zest and salt.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk corn syrup mixture into eggs.

With a knife, coarsely chop 1 cup of pecans and put in pie shell.
Add remaining cup of pecan halves.
Pour filling mixture over pecans.

Place in preheated oven on baking pan. Bake until filling is set 50-60 minutes.

Cool completely.

Excellent served with ice cream or whipped cream, if your heart can handle it!

Fried Dough (Italian Chrusty/Cenci or Polish Chrusciki)

Before my mother suffered any noticeable signs of Alzheimer’s Disease she started typing up recipes to pass along to her grandchildren. Mom was not the most organized person (I think she relied on her intellect and my Dad), eventually she couldn’t remember what she had typed. She decided to discard the original recipes as she went to help keep track. Sigh. Given her limited computer skills, not all her documents were saved. Add her worsening disease and suffice it to say, some things are lost.

Here are three versions rescued by my sister Gail before things really fell apart. Sadly we still have to guess.  If you read each recipe you will see that they contradict each other.  If you make each one please let me know which works well.

Polish Chrusciki
I am sure this is Mom’s recipe because it has an unreasonable amount of egg yolks in it and Mom would never have used rum. Also, Lois’ recipe contains Mace.

6 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon mace
2 to 2 ½ cups sifted flour (approximately)
Shortening for frying
Dust with confectionary sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg yolks with salt and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in cream and mace. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Do not knead dough. Kneading will result in hard, tough cookies. Chill.
In a deep pot, heat shortening to 375F degrees.
Sprinkle confectionary sugar on pastry cloth. Using ¼ of the dough at a time, roll out dough as thin as possible. Cut into strips 1×3 inches. Make a slit down center of each strip (about 1 inch). Turn one end of strip in through slit. Fry a few strips at a time in preheated oil. Turning them at once. They are done when lightly brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towels. When cool dust with confectionary sugar or vanilla sugar.

Polish Chrusciki Version 2

2 cups flour
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 jigger rum

Add salt to eggs. Beat ill thick and lemon colored. Add sugar, butter and rum. Continue to beat. Fold in flour and knead on a well floured board until dough blisters.
Cut in half. Roll very thin. Cut in strips about 4” long. Slit each piece in center and pull on end through slit.

Fry in hot fat until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper.
Dust with powdered sugar when cool.

Italian Fried Crusty (Cenci)

These should be shaped into bow ties. Those directions are clearly missing below. Maybe one of my sisters will fill me in on how to shape them and I will adjust the recipe. Despite my family reputation as being a master of dough, I have never made Crusciki.

5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Grated zest of lemon

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a whisk until well blended. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla.

Sift the 4 cups of flour and baking powder together, add to egg mixture. Mix with your hands to form a ball of dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it until it is soft, but no longer sticky. Add more flour if necessary.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece at time, cover remaining pieces with a clean dishtowel.

Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. (A pasta machine set to the finest setting, can also be sued for thinning the dough) Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut into strips 5 1/2-inches long by 2 1/2-inches wide. Make two long slits, side by side, in the center of each strip. Here is where the twisting magic is missing Place on another towel, and continue rolling and cutting remaining pieces of dough.

In a deep pot, heat about 2-inches of vegetable oil to 375F. (Truthfully, you have to make up the temp here, I have two different recipes with 2 different temps.)

Fry the strips a few at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towel (or brown paper bags, Mom’s favorite.) and let cool. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

These do not keep well. Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container. Other recipes on the internet say that they can be re-crisped by warming in the oven.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups ground Graham Crackers
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Crush graham crackers in a plastic bag or in this modern world, blend them in the food processor.
Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Press into a pie plate.
For baked pie: Bake 375F for 7-8 min.
For cold filling: Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before filling

Lois’ Banana Cream Pie

A classic from my sister Lois.

1 9″ Graham cracker crust
2 bananas
1 8oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
2 c. milk
1 3 1/2 oz. instant vanilla pudding mix
toasted coconut

1. Slice the bananas into the crust.
2. Gradually add 1/2 cup milk to softened cream cheese, mixing until well blended. This can be done in a mixer on slow speed.
3. Add pudding mix and remaining milk, beat slowly for 1 minute. Pour into crust and chill until firm. Garnish with coconut.

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup coconut
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey or agave
1 T chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir all ingredients until combined.
Cover and chill in refrigerator.

Roll into balls. Store in airtight container and
refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Editor’s note: these are tasty little treats that are surprisingly filling.

Angel Food Cake

Making Babka with my mother’s recipe leaves behind many egg whites. Mom never really cared for Angel Cake so it was not something we had very often growing up. However, once I started making babka it seemed like a good use for the egg whites. When I was doing the baking, Mom found Angel Cake acceptable. This is the first year I made an Angel Cake since Mom left us for that great pinocle game in the sky. In her honor, I think we will have it drowned in frozen peaches in a heavy syrup and whipped cream.

This recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking. I don’t sift the flour and sugar as many times as the original directions and that works for me.

Angel Cake

Angel Cake

Preheat oven to 350F

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 1/4 cups egg white (about 10 whites, I use the seven left from Babka)
1 Tbsp. water (optional)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Sift sugar, set aside

Sift (again) together:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup of the sifted sugar

Whip egg whites, water and lemon juice until foamy.
Add 1 tsp cream of tartar.
Whip until stiff but not dry. Fold in vanilla and almond extracts.

Gradually whip in remaining sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Sift in 1/4 cup of flour mixture, gently fold into whites. Continue adding flour and folding in until all the flour is incorporated. Pour the batter into an ungreased 9-inch tube pan (ok, I only have a 10-inch pan and that also works for me).

Bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool upside down.