Pros: excellent photography and new flairs on old recipes
Cons: presumes basic culinary knowledge
Being born and brought up in Maine, we made an occasional sojourn to the southern part of our eastern seaboard. When we did, I remember, we seemed to eat at those chain restraints that offer a watered down version of the local cuisine that would appeal to most travelers. That was what I grew up thinking southern cooking was. Kentucky Fried Chicken was the best the south had to offer, I thought, and if one was truly adventurous, there was always the side order of grits that could almost always be obtained once you drove past the Virginia state line.
What a different view I might have had if the Rushing’s first book Southern Comfort had come out in my childhood. This book takes the favorite old southern dishes and gives them an updated new tweak that is sure to make these tired old recipes new and favored status once more.
As is my custom, I chose a recipe to make that peeked my interest. Since my three quarter French heritage had given me a taste for crepes, I decided to make the Banana-Rum Crepes with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream. (Doesn’t that just sound sinful?) Well I can honestly say it was a wonderful dessert that was not the normal crepes I grew up with but a delightfully rich and flavorful treat.
The recipe although easy for me to follow would be a bit harder for those who have not had a lot of cooking experience. The recipes assume a certain level of basic culinary knowledge. This is a common mistake many cookbook authors seem to make in my opinion. Perhaps they do not wish to be condescending to their intended audience, or they forget that not everyone who picks up their book is an accomplished cook. Either way I found this book to also fall into this category.
The photography was a true highlight of this book. Ed Anderson, the photographer, made each dish look not only edible, but accomplished something few photos in cookbooks have ever done…his pictures actually made me salivate. I do not know how much effort he put into the individual pictures but they appeared hot, delicious, and inviting. I will hope to see many more of his pictures in this author’s future books as well as many others.
This cooking couple is one to watch in my opinion. I will be anxious to see what they will come up with for their next book. I believe this book is worth picking up and adding this book to your library.
Banana-Rum Crepes with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons dark rum
3 firm, ripe bananas
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cut into 6 even-sized dice
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
To make crepe batter, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until fully incorporated. In the separate, bowl, whisk together the flour and the cinnamon. Next, slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, moving from the inside to outside for a smooth batter. Strain the batter through a fine sieve into a bowl and then whisk in the melted butter and rum. Chill the batter, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.
To prepare the bananas, peel them, trim off the stem ends, and halve the fruit lengthwise. Slice each banana half crosswise into three pieces (you’ll have eighteen pieces total); set aside.
Preheat the broiler.
While the broiler is heating, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium-high speed until it reaches soft peaks. Add 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and whip until it is thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.
Place an 8 inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is warm, add one piece of the cold butter and 3 banana slices. Sauté the bananas until they are lightly golden on one side, then ladle ½ cup of crepe batter into the pan. Using a rubber spatula, lightly push in the edges of the batter and swirl the pan as though you were making an omelet. Once the crepe has formed in the pan, flip it over, spread 2 tablespoons of the remaining brown sugar evenly on top of the crepe, and place the crepe underneath the broiler. Once all the sugar has been caramelized and is a dark shiny amber color, carefully remove the crepe from the pan and turn out onto a plate. Repeat the process for the rest of the crepe batter and bananas.
Serve the crepes dusted with confectioners’’ sugar and topped with whipped cream.