CASA GRANDE -- April is a fun month for foodies.
As well as Easter and April Fool’s Day, there’s also Fresh Tomato Day, Day of the Mushroom, Garlic Day, Plum Pudding Day, Picnic Day and Raisin Day, along with about a dozen other foods to celebrate.
National Banana Day is April 21 and it’s a perfect time to appreciate the versatile and healthy fruit.
Bananas are one of the top three most popular fruits in the world, right behind tomatoes and apples. Worldwide, more than 100 billion bananas are consumed annually.
And with a healthy dose of potassium, vitamins C and B6, magnesium, fiber and protein, bananas are healthy, fat free and low-calorie.
In our house, we eat plenty of bananas, but there are always a few that become a bit too ripe to eat as a snack. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to use bananas in baked goods. Among our favorites uses for overripe bananas are banana bread, banana pancakes and banana muffins. Banana pudding is pretty good too.
Bananas can be frozen to preserve them longer. To freeze, remove the fruit from its peel, put in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
Banana bread is easy to make and there are tons of recipes. One of the easiest methods for making banana bread with perfectly consistent sweet results is to start with a box of yellow cake mix. Of all the banana recipes I’ve tried over the years, this one hands-down is the one that receives the most positive feedback — and it’s super simple and consistently foolproof.
Easiest-ever banana bread
1 box yellow cake mix
¼ cup oil
1 cup water
½ cup chocolate chips or chunks, optional
Mash bananas and gradually add eggs, oil and water, mixing well. Add cake mix and stir for several minutes, until cake mix is fairly smooth. Stir in chocolate chips or chunks.
Pour batter into a nonstick loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Banana cream pie
2 cups milk
¾ cup white chocolate
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup cornstarch
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cream
2¼ cups wheat flour
½ cup cold salted butter, cubed
¼ cup cold water
For the pie dough, sift the wheat flour on a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle, add the cubed cold butter and rub the flour and butter between your fingers to incorporate. Add the water, knead everything in a ball and then flatten it into a disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Scatter some flour on the work surface and roll out the dough to fit and line the pie mold. Blind bake, with parchment with some dry beans for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the parchment and bake for another five minutes. Remove and set aside.
Melt the white chocolate in bain-marie. Brush the par-cooked pie crust with some of the white chocolate.
In a pot, heat the milk with the ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla extract to a simmer. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch. Pour some of the hot milk over the eggs and mix. Repeat this two times to prevent the eggs form curdling. Pour the mix back in the pot and slowly bring the heat up until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove and let cool slightly. Add the butter and white chocolate and incorporate.
Slice the bananas in rounds and arrange them in the pie crust, save some for garnish. Fill the pie crust with the cream to completely cover the bananas. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Let it cool on a wire rack and chill for at least 2 hours. Mount the whipped cream with the remaining sugar and add on top of the finished pie. Decorate with some of the reserved banana slices.
Banana sorbet with raspberry sauce
4 large bananas
juice of 1 lemon
1¼ cups raspberries
1 tablespoon cane sugar
½ cup water
Peel the bananas, slice them and place them in the freezer overnight; use a freezer-safe container.
Chop the frozen banana slices in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Serve immediately or return to the freezer for later.
For the raspberry sauce:
Take a medium saucepan and add the raspberries, (cane) sugar, water, lemon juice and bring to boil.
Reduce the heat and allow to simmer about 10 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from heat and put it in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Let it cool off for approx. 30-40 minutes.