Saturday, March 18, 2006

Playing with Fire – FB2B, part 9

We are now in the period of Lent, a season of reflection and preparation for one of the most important holy days in the Christian calendar. I won’t go into the Bible history and theology of it. Rather, I want to break it down to one of the traditions many observers still practice – giving something up. Giving up something you like or enjoy doing for Lent is supposed to emulate Christ’s sacrifices while being in the desert for 40 days.

As young children, we were supposed to think long and hard about that special item or pastime that would suitably be considered worthy of denying ourselves for that period in order to make us more in tune with our religious beliefs. Even now, I’ve had whole, complex conversations with co-workers as to what I’ve given up in the past, oh what to do this year, how challenging it can be, etc. There are always the quippy answers like homework or chores (for children), NASCAR racing (not hard at all for me), or Catholicism (not really considered funny unless one is already an agnostic).

Sometimes, there is a certain strategy involved in practicing this form of self-sacrifice. What about the time I gave up meat and ended up on a business trip to the furthest reaches of the Midwest where they couldn’t understand why I wanted to know if there were dishes without bacon or any meat-type product in them? One sibling gave up family gossip one year. I’m still surprised she made it all the way, but at the end, she had no idea what was going on among the rest of the group.

So, for those of you who have given up some sweets but not others or play by the “Sundays don’t count” Rule (cowards), I give you a non-chocolate dessert that should tide you over until Easter morning, and, yes, as there are bananas in it, you can also play the "well, it has fruit in it, so it's not really a sweet" rule. You’ll see why this posted is titled what it is by the end of this recipe. And it doesn’t bear any link to those eternal flames that you might feel!

Tropical Bananas Foster
Prep Time: It goes very fast and will take about 15 minutes to finish once the butter is melted until it is served

Assembly:

3 bananas (not green, not ultra-ripe)
3 Tbsp salted butter
1/3 cup lightly packed, light brown sugar
1/2 lime, zest and juice of
1/4 cup dark rum
Toasted coconut to garnish
Toasted macadamia nuts to garnish
Vanilla ice cream to serve
Coconut gelato to serve (optional)
(these proportions will serve 6 adults)

If using coconut and macadamia nuts as garnish, which is highly recommended, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4). Put each on a separate ungreased baking sheet. No additional oil is needed as both items have their natural oils in which to cook. Watch carefully as the toasting process seems to go slowly at first, but it is quite easy for these to burn.*

Peel and cut bananas in half and then quarter each half. Place to the side. Melt butter in non-stick pan over low heat. Add brown sugar and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon, making sure that there are no lumps. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, until the sugar has melted and a light brown liquid caramel has formed.

Add bananas. It doesn’t matter if they are sliced-side up or down as you will stir the banana and caramel mixture so that each side has been coated in some of the liquid. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add zest of lime and lime juice. The mixture will bubble a bit.
Stir in lime juice to incorporate it into the caramel. Cook for 3 minutes more. If it seems too liquidy at this point, cook for another minute or so until it is thickened. It should lightly coat the back of the wooden spoon.

Here it is…..the bit you’ve been waiting for….Clear out the kitchen, someone hang onto the kids, lock the cats and dogs in the bathroom, keep the neighbors and stray relatives out of the house – we’re makin’ fire. Have a clear space, seriously. Pour the rum into the pan with the bananas and syrup. Very quickly, the second after that, light the mixture in the pan on fire with a match. You should see blue and red flames shooting upwards. [I managed to capture one small orange flame on camera, as you can see from the photo below.]

The flames will die down as the alcohol in the rum burns away. You can continue to cook the mixture on the stove for 2-3 minutes more to thicken again. Stir to incorporate the rum into the syrup. The fun part is to see the reactions of everyone as you show them the burning pan. It’s a great dinner party trick!

To serve: Put out the ice cream and gelato, a plate with the toasted coconut and macadamias, and allow everyone to take the bananas and syrup from the pan. Here’s a photo of what my creation looked like at the end.

*Kitchen Witch Tip:

The coconut and macadamias can be prepared in advance and placed in the refrigerator. Allow to cool and then place in separate covered containers or bags. Several minutes prior to serving – while preparing the bananas – take out of the refrigerator so that they come to room temperature. The rest of the dessert is made while your guests digest their dinner.

2 comments:

jax said...

nice blog kathy! your pictures are making me hungry...

as for lent, i'm giving up potatoes :)
-jackie

theexperimentalgourmand said...

Thanks, Jax! Glad you're enjoying them. This would be a fun meal to do for the homesick Yanks in London, too.

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