‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

1

December 25, 2010 by buttermilkbaker

Okay well officially it’s the morning of Christmas now, but I want to give you a sneak peek into our kitchen on the Eve. I’ve been feeling a little under the weather (sniffles, congested, blah blah), so we spent the grand majority of our day yesterday sitting on the couch watching every Bravo TV show we know and love: Top Chef, Housewives of BevHills, Millionaire Matchmaker. It got a smidge awkward during the Matchmaker episode when the creepo guy kept saying sexually explicit things to his date…and my Dad and brother were in the room. “Are you a sexter? A dominatrix? Are you vocal in the bedroom?” WHAT?!? I would be outta there in .06 seconds. Gross.

Anywho we had some yummy takeout (albeit unconventional) fare yesterday: Chinese for lunch, Tex-Mex for dinner. Highlights were steamed dumplings, shrimp eggrolls, and mooshi pork. Ohh yes. And for dinner? More shrimp! Tacos de camarones, rice and beans. Really hit the spot. Then it was time to get off my tuckus and start working in the kitchen!

Our menu today will consist of a spinach salad, roast chicken, green beans, potatoes (mashed or new?!), sauteed mushrooms, yeast rolls and, of course, dessert. We’ve got Buttermilk Mom’s chocolate cake and some pies from Whole Foods (punkin for Bro, cherry for Dad…and me), but we wanted something else that would be ohh I don’t know…unexpected? How about a cream pie? How about: Banana Cream Pie?!

Yup.

We went there. Sure did.

Here are the pics to prove it:

I started with a pre-made pie crust. Call me lazy, whatever. It’s delicious and saved me the cleanup of about 3 more bowls.

Let it thaw, prick it with a fork so the dough can expand in the oven without cracking, and pop it in for about 12-15 min at 375.

Meanwhile…

Let’s get the custard going. For banana cream pie, you basically want to make a really yummy (yet not overly sweet or rich–I still want to be able to taste the banana) vanilla pudding. What we have here is granulated sugah, vanilla extract, salt, corn starch, milk, buttah, and 3 egg yolks. The bananas come into play later in the game, but they offset the butter nicely, don’t you think?

Step 1: Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 3 tbsp corn starch in a pan over medium heat.

Step 2: Slowly add 2 cups of milk (any % is fine–I used 1% and it worked beautifully), stirring constantly. Continue cooking the mixture until simmering (little bubbles appear around the rim) and cook for 2 more minutes.

Step 3: Remove the pan from heat and test your mixture’s consistency–it should be starting to thicken by now. You can tell by checking what it looks like against your spoon.

If you drag your finger across the back of your spoon, the line should stay fairly in tact. If the custard is still too runny, the line will fill up. Here, the custard is definitely thickening, but it’s not completely done yet. Those egg yolks you see at right will fix that.

Step 4: Ladle small amounts of the hot liquid into your 3 egg yolks (already beaten), stirring or whisking the yolks constantly so as to avoid scrambling the eggs. This is called ‘tempering’, and is a concept I did not understand at all until I watched Ina do it once. (What would we do without her?) Essentially it just means when you have two liquids that are at different temperatures, you want to slowly bring the cooler one up to a higher temperature so that they mix more smoothly. This is particularly important with eggs, because if you just throw cool/room temp eggs into a piping hot liquid without tempering them first, they’re likely to scramble, aka you’ll have little pieces of solid eggyness in your liquid. And nobody wants that.

I’m pretty sure even I got a few morsels of cooked egg in my custard this time. What? I never said I was perfect!

Don’t worry, don’t worry, I strained the pudding later on. Presto chango, problem gone.

Step 4: Pour the tempered eggs back into the pot of warm liquid, place back on medium heat, stir constantly until simmering again. Cook 2 more minutes after you see the bubbles.

Now it’s getting reallllly thick and gooey.

Step 5: Take off the heat (for good this time) and add 1 tbsp butter and 1 1/4 tsp vanilla to the mixture. Stir, stir, stir until very smooth.

“Mom! Take a pic!”

Finally, pudding. Right around this time the pie crust was done, so I pulled it out to let it cool while I finished up the filling.

Step 6: Pour the pudding through a strainer.

Um, yuck. Who put eggy pieces in my pudding?!

Muuuch better.

Step 7: Thinly slice bananas into bottom of pie crust.

Step 8: Pour half of pudding over bananas and spread evenly.

Step 9: Repeat–add another layer of thinly sliced bananas, and pour rest of pudding over top.

Step 10: Cover with plastic wrap (and press against custard so as to prevent a skin from forming) and chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

I’ll be adding some fresh whipped cream (1/2 cup whipping cream, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla) just before we sit down to eat. Maybe a few more banana slices, maybe some toasted coconut, maybe some chocolate, or caramel, or chocolate and caramel sauce…

The possibilities are endless!

(You can also find the recipe here.)

Finally, the other meal items we felt we could prepare beforehand were the dressing (ie. make the cornbread), some spinach dip (even better after sitting in the fridge overnight), and the rolls. I used the same recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe that I used at Tgiving, you know, the Lion House dinner rolls. They were fantastic then and I’ve been dreaming of them ever since.

This time, I had a few new ideas in mind. I wanted to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast, but Pioneer Woman’s dough is a little, um, involved? Buttermilk Mom and I wondered whether the dinner roll recipe could be adapted to the sweet cinnamon goodness that are PW’s breakfast rolls. Turns out, they can!

One other change: we ran out of AP flour 75% of the way through rolling out the dough, so I added a bit of whole wheat. That’s why you’ll see some flecks of brown throughout the dough. Health food!

You can refer to my earlier post to see exactly how to roll out the dough, slice it and create the rolls. It’s super easy and kinda fun to make these cute spirals of yeasty goodness. Eh, eh??

The brilliance of this idea (thank you, Buttermilk Maja) is that you get TWO rolls out of ONE dough. Two for one! Who doesn’t love a deal like that?!

Regular rolls (sliced to be smaller than last time’s gargantuan loaves)…

…and cinnamon rolls!

2 rolls, 1 dough. 2 ROLLS, 1 DOUGH. Merry Christmas, people.

Off to heat these babies up and drench them in frosting. Then, PRESENTS!!!!!!

Merry, merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! I’ll be back to report on the meal soon-ish.

One thought on “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

  1. [...] Bananas”. It seems like every other recipe I do incorporates them somehow…banana bread, banana cream pie, all of my [...]

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