Are the days of the Maitre D’ steering the gueridon to your table in preparation for tableside service. The memories I have of this are due to the passion & professionalism a server exuded during his performance. He was just as important as the chef, but more impressionable since I saw everything come together right in front of me, like he was performing on a stage. He began my Caesar salad by whisking the egg yolk with a precise amount of fresh anchovy, squeeze of lemon juice, minced garlic, a spoonful of dijon, a dash of salt and two twists of the peppermill. Then the continuous sounds of the whisk brought together the base and streaming oil into a thick creamy dressing. A generous portion of parmesan cheese tossed with crisp romaine finished the tableside show. Just beautiful.
The spectacle at tableside
The simplicity of watching someone put together the ingredients of your meal is entertaining and delightful. But the most anticipated tableside event of the evening took place at the end in the form of something theatrically flambeéd. The spectacle of the fire rising in a flash of the pan wowed our table and several other tables around us too! The fragrant smell filled the room: Brown sugar, butter, vanilla, fresh bananas. Once the banana liqueur and dark rum were added to the caramelized deliciousness, the pan was tipped towards the flame to ignite the alcohol and whoooof the excitement of the flambé! Scoops of vanilla bean ice cream filled the dish and the caramelized bananas were poured over it. The hot and cold combination were brought together in perfect harmony. The heat of the caramel melted down the ice cream which pooled into a creamy vanilla bean sauce. It only took one spoonful to become a fan.
Oh, the sweet memories I have from when I was young and out dining with my parents. Those were the days people got dressed up to go out for dinner. Those were some great times and some very memorable dishes. I call the sweet desserts from our past Sweet Flashbacks; nearly forgotten, yet always mouthwatering and delicious.
Let’s take a look at some of these oldies but goodies! I think the first favorite that pleases any crowd can easily be Bananas Fosters, but there’s several other honorable mentions that are worth mentioning: Cherries Jubilee, Floating Islands, Baked Alaska and the sweet pillowy meringue of Pavlova.
Butter, sugar, cherries, squeeze of lemon or orange, caramelized together and flambeéd with brandy.
French Meringues scooped and placed in a large pan filled with sweetened whole milk and vanilla bean. Baked slowly and served with caramel sauce.
Ice Cream layers molded in a cake form that is covered in Italian meringue. Flambé the moment before serving.
The caramel banana concoction mentioned above that is flambeed with dark rum and banana liqueur; serve with ice cream.
Pillowy baked meringues filled with Chantilly cream and fresh fruit. Usually served with berry sauce.
Bananas Fosters Recipe – 2 Servings
Unsalted Butter 2 Tablespoons
Dark Brown Sugar ¼ Cup
Banana 1 each
Vanilla Bean ½ bean
Banana Liqueur Splash
Dark Myers Rum Splash
- In a sauté pan, melt the butter over high heat.
- Add the brown sugar.
- Stir the brown sugar with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t stick or burn.
- Cut bananas about ¼ inch thick coins. Add to the sauté pan.
- Cut vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the caramelized bananas.
- Once the bananas begin to soften, add a splash of the banana liqueur and rum over the bananas.
Do not pour alcohol directly from the bottle. Pour into a container first and then add to the sauté pan. This avoids the potential occurrence of the flame catching the alcohol stream leading into the bottle that will then explode.
- Tilt the sauté pan towards the flame (and away from you) to ignite the alcohol. Tilt the pan back up to upright position and place on the stove.
- Turn off heat.
- Spoon bananas and caramel onto vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy!
Printable version of this recipe
Images courtesy of Pixabay.com
Pastry Chef Keli Marks is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She received a full year education at the French Pastry School in Chicago, IL in exchange for being the very first assistant to Jacquy Pfeiffer & Sebastien Canonne, MOF when they opened the school in 1996.
Keli has been on the Food Network on three separate occasions: Sugar Rush, Romance Novel Cake Challenge and The Holiday Baking Championships. In addition, she was on the Chicago chapter’s board for Les Dames d’Escoffier from 2009 – 2011 and was a guest pastry chef at the famed James Beard House in NYC in 2013.
As the pastry chef owner of Bakery 28, she incorporates local ingredients from farmers within the Carolinas and promises to only use natural ingredients.
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