Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fresh Homemade Banana Split

Fresh Homemade Banana Split
3 scoops ice cream - your choice of flavor
Homemade Fresh Strawberry Sauce
Homemade Fresh Pineapple Sauce
Homemade Fudge Sauce
Buttery Salted Roasted Pecans
Freshly Whipped Cream

Topped with a cherry and served in antique banana split boats.

Buttery Salted Roasted Pecans


My final decision about my banana splits was about nuts. Nuts or no nuts? Sweet nuts? Nuts in syrup? What kind of nuts?

I decided on pecans. Of course. Not sweet, but rather buttery and salty.

Be careful. Once you taste one, you will eat a handful before you even notice. And it will be hard to stop with that.

Buttery Salted Roasted Pecans
1/2 stick butter (4 Tbsp.)
2 cups pecan halves
Coarse sea salt, to taste

Melt butter in a medium mixing bowl. Add pecan halves and stir until well coated. Spread on a sheet pan and sprinkle with sea salt.

Roast at 275 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Spread on parchment paper to cool.

Fresh Homemade Sauces for Ice Cream (Banana Splits)

I knew all along that when I made banana splits, I would use fresh fruit and keep the sauces as simple as possible. I have enjoyed the syrupy sauces I've eaten at the ice cream shops, but it is summer! Let us eat fresh fruit.

Fresh Strawberry Sauce for Ice Cream
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced and divided
1/4 cup sugar (or a little more if your berries are tart)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine about two-thirds of the strawberries with sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining strawberries and the vanilla. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

Fresh Pineapple Sauce for Ice Cream
2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
Pinch cinnamon

Combine pineapple with lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add cinnamon. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

Homemade Fudge Sauce for Ice Cream
2/3 cup cream
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
pinch of salt
6 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped, divided
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine cream, syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of the chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, until the chocolate is barely simmering. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Banana Splits Boats

In thinking about making banana splits, I first thought of presentation. I didn't happen to have any proper banana splits boats sitting around. After all, I'd never even eaten one. And I don't know about you, but I'm not going to all the trouble to make something special, from scratch, only to serve it in something tacky.

I dreamed of many ways to make and serve the sundaes. I thought of making a bananas foster type dish and build on that. I thought about grilling the bananas. I thought of arranging scoops of ice cream on a dessert plate and placing bananas on each side like parenthesis.

Then one day, my shopping-loving husband came home with a pair of gorgeous crystal banana split dishes he found at an estate sale. They were perfect and my decision was made.

Aren't they pretty?

A Sampling of Banana Splits

Dairy King - Black Mountain, North Carolina

Earlier in the summer, we took Nina Linda to the Dairy King for an ice cream cone. As you can see from the photo, Dairy King is one of those old timey walk up to the window ice cream shops.

As we were enjoying our cones, I heard a lady from the next picnic table exclaim, "That is beautiful"! Of course, I had to turn around to gawk see what was so beautiful. Her husband had just set a banana split in front of her. It was indeed beautiful. I couldn't stop staring. Eventually, she stated that she was going to go ahead and eat it at about the same time Pritchard Parker started nudging me. Oh. Is it rude to stare at someone's food?

On the way home, I told him I had never had a banana split. I'm not sure why. I've had plenty of opportunities at those tasty freeze, dairy hut type places, but I always just had an ice cream cone.

My First Banana Split

The next day, I kept thinking about that banana split. Obsessing, really. When Pritchard Parker got home from work, I said, "Guess what's for dinner--banana splits"! My first banana split was made with vanilla soft serve ice cream. It was beautiful and delicious. (Pritchard Parker ate a proper dinner when we got home).

A few days later, I needed another banana split fix. This is the other style they serve at the Dairy King. It is made with hand scooped ice cream and you can order any of their flavors. I had chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Also this time, I had nuts--walnuts in syrup. This sundae was also beautiful and delicious.

Dairy Queen (the franchise) Banana Split

On a road trip, we stopped by a Dairy Queen for one of their versions of a banana split. Theirs, too, was beautiful and delicious. The girl who made it was very proud of it and served it with a huge smile. That made it taste all the better.

These are not all the banana splits I have eaten. But it was all done in the name of research. Because, you can probably guess what is coming. Yep, homemade banana splits.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

I made this beautiful and delicious cake for my Mother for her recent visit. Mama is a very young 85, is in great health and goes to the gym almost every day. She is a true Southern Cake Lady. She loves cake and believes it will solve many of the problems of the world.

If you are feeling down in the dumps, just get into the kitchen and bake a cake. It will cheer you right up, according to Mama. Have a friend who is bereaved? Take them a cake. Any kind of celebration whether birthday or a new birth, graduation or retirement, family reunion, holiday or wedding, calls for cake.

A visit from Mama definitely calls for cake!

This is a true pound cake with a fine crumb, tender, moist, and rich taste, and a golden brown crust. It is swirled with a delicious buttery cinnamon sugar filling and topped with a cream cheese glaze reminiscent of cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon Swirl Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
3 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.

Add half the sour cream to the butter mixture and mix to combine. Add half the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add the other half of the sour cream mixture, combine, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat well.

Lastly, add the vanilla and mix well but don't over mix.

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. flour

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together until well combined.

Bake the Cake:
Spray a tube or bundt pan with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 of the cake batter into prepared pan. Next drizzle some of the swirl mixture over the batter. Use a knife or chopstick to create a swirl pattern. Repeat the steps until all batter is used.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove the cake and let it cool completely.

Cream Cheese Glaze:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat ingredients together with a mixer until smooth and pourable. Pour the glaze over the cake and serve.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Panzanella, the Italian Bread Salad made with stale bread, olive oil, vinegar, and ripe tomatoes has many and varied additions. Just one look at "Google Images" and you will see that almost anything goes. I believe that traditionally the bread is soaked in water and then squeezed out. That method does not appeal to me. I like versions made with toasted bread or crispy croutons.

Also, basil is traditional. A few years ago we grew too much basil and I made too many batches of pesto. I don't dislike basil, I just overindulged and I haven't loved it since. Thyme can also be used but I chose to use lots of fresh parsley.

I saw beautiful images of Panzanella made with red onion or scallions (I used sweet Vidalia onions), bell pepper or not (I did), Cucumber or not (I did), Mozzarella or not (I did), black olives (I used pimiento stuffed green). Other things I saw include artichoke hearts, zucchini, radishes, avocado, chicken, pepperoni, shrimp. I saw salads arranged like a cobb salad and even panzanella skewers. If I had thought of anchovies, I would have added some.

I had some leftover croissants. I sliced them, drizzled with olive oil, toasted, then kept separate from the tomato mixture. After the salad had marinated in the refrigerator for a few hours, I served it over the toasted croissant slices. It was fantastic!

A Panzanella Salad
3 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
Sliced pimiento stuffed green olives
Mozzarella cheese, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup, or more, fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Red wine vinegar, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Stale bread for serving