I've been going bananas this week! Literally - trying to make sure I have all my deadlines, to dos and tasks completed before I take off for Dubai next week. Although I am not working anymore, I seem to be busier than I was when I had a job! LOL!
All this does not stop me from spoiling my men with quick, yummy desserts though.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know my panache for taking regular, common ingredients from my pantry and converting them into interesting and surprisingly good desserts. This time it was no different. I had bought bananas with the determination of making something with them for this months Jihva For Ingredients being hosted by my dear blog friend Mandira of Ahaar. Her chosen ingredient was of course the Banana.
To be honest I do not often cook with bananas. We simply munch on them pure and should they become too dark they eventually wander into the blender, where they are pureed to make a milkshake. So, as the days went by and my beautiful bananas went from yellow to speckled to brown I decided to be creative - or at least try. Being a bank holiday all the shops were closed so I had to rely on my pantry, fridge and booze cabinet for inspiration.
We all know that bananas are healthy, but I decided to go ahead a research it just a bit more and was surprised to find a few things I was unaware of.
Bananas are wonderfully sweet with firm and creamy flesh. They come ready packed in their own yellow wrapping. Bananas are true energy booster and contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that is known to make you feel happy and improve your mood. So if you are felling low - nothing like munching on a ripe banana.
The banana plant grows 10 to 26 feet in height and belongs to the Musaceae family. These fruits grow in clusters of 50 to 150, with individual fruits grouped in bunches, known as "hands," of 10 to 25 bananas.
Bananas come in hundreds of edible varieties that fall under two distinct species: the sweet banana and the plantain banana. Sweet bananas vary in size and color.
Many of us are accustomed to thinking that sweet bananas have yellow skins however, they can also feature red, pink, purple and black tones when ripe. Their flavor and texture range with some varieties being sweet while others have starchier characteristics.
Plantain bananas are usually cooked and considered more like a vegetable due to their starchier qualities; they have a higher beta-carotene concentration than most sweet bananas.
Bananas are a good source of both potassium and vitamin B6. They not only help to maintain bowel health, but are also good energy-boosting snacks. f you watch closely during tennis tournaments, you’ll notice many tennis players eating a banana during short breaks. This is because the banana with its combination of carbohydrates and vitamin B6 provides energy that boosts for at least another 90 minutes.
As bananas ripen, their starch is converted into sugar. Bananas help to maintain blood sugar levels and it is also a fruit which is easily digested.
When nutritional figures are put together, the banana is considered to be among the healthiest of fruits. The plantain, when cooked, rates slightly higher on the nutritional scale in vitamins and minerals but similar to the banana in protein and fiber content.
Bananas can be eaten freely, within limits. A banana weighing 100 g contains about 62 calories.
Selecting & Storing
As bananas are generally picked off the tree while they are still green, it is not unusual to see green bananas in the stores. Selecting bananas should be based on when you want to consume them. Bananas with more green coloration will take longer to ripen than those more yellow in hue and/or with brown spots.
Bananas should be firm, but not too hard, bright in appearance, and free from bruises or other injuries. Their stems and tips should be intact. The size of the banana does not affect its quality, so simply choose the size that best meets your needs.
Although bananas look resistant, they are actually very fragile. Care should be taken in their storage. Ripen bananas at room temperature not in the refrigerator. This interrupts the ripening process to such an extent that it will not be able to resume even if the bananas are returned to room temperature. Bananas should not be subjected to overly hot or cold temperatures.
Once ripe can be then be placed in the refrigerator. While their peel may darken, the flesh will not be affected. For maximum flavor when consuming refrigerated bananas, remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to come back to room temperature.
Bananas can also be frozen and will keep for about 2 months. Either purée them before freezing or simply remove the peel and wrap the bananas in plastic wrap. To prevent discoloration, add some lemon juice before freezing.
More banana information:
Medicinal Uses of Bananas
Banana on Wkipedia
Printable version here.
8 - 10 slices of brioche (substitute with toast bread slices) - cut into cubes
1 vanilla bean
250g Crème Fraiche
300 ml milk
4 cl Bailey's with Caramel
2-3 bananas - sliced
3-4 tablespoons almond slivers
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lay out the brioche cubes on a baking tray and gently brown them crisp and golden. Scrape out the vanilla bean and mix into a saucepan with the crème fraiche and milk. Place on a medium heat and bring to a boil.
In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and Bailey's until smooth and creamy. Gently add the milk to the egg mixture, whisking all the time so that the eggs do not curdle. Set aside.
Butter an oven-proof dish or smaller ramekins and lay the bottom out with the toasted brioche cubes. Spread out the banana slices over the top and gently pour in the Bailey's cream mixture so that the brioche cubes and bananas are completely covered.
Sprinkle the almond slivers and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve warm, drizzling more Bailey's cream over the top or even some rich chocolate sauce.
Soothing, comforting, warming and downright good. My take on the ole bread and butter pudding really put a smile on my men's faces. Nothing like digging into a delicious homemade, warm, sweet dessert when the weather is cold and chippy outside. The Bailey's Caramel cream added a slightly decadent falvoring to the pudding.
It's a pretty filling dessert so a word of advice serve this after a light meal. That way you can enjoy an extra portion
I thank Mandira for being so kind and accepting my late entry. ;-)
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