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Archive for June 8, 2013

TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Banana Pudding For Father’s Day

From-scratch banana pudding is so superior
to the quick-recipe variations. Photo by M.
Sheldrake | IST. Here’s the recipe.


Two years ago we published a recipe for a truly delicious banana pudding that we had at Virgil’s Real Barbecue in New york City (there’s an outpost in Atlantic City).

It’s a complex recipe, layering from-scratch banana pudding, pastry cream and banana caramel—with Nilla Wafers, of course.

Here‘s the banana pudding recipe, a delicious choice for Father’s Day (we’re making a double batch of it next week).

If you don’t have the time or energy to create the entire recipe, there are shortcuts. The end result is not as glorious as the from-scratch Virgil’s recipe; but if you haven’t had the original, you won’t know that.

Unfortunately, the “quick and easy” banana pudding recipes all use Cool Whip (made with HFCS and other ingredients we don’t like*). So we’re providing the easy option, but are lobbying for the from-scratch recipe.



  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 2 boxes (1-3/4 ounces) instant banana pudding mix
  • 30 vanilla wafers
  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping (e.g. Cool Whip)
  • 3 large rips bananas
  • Optional garnish: sliced bananas

    1. ADD milk to large bowl; whisk in pudding mix for 2 minutes or until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes.

    2. LAYER half of the wafers on the bottom and up the sides of a 2-quart serving bowl Add a layer of pudding topped with a layer of banana slices. Repeat layering, beginning with wafers.

    3. REFRIGERATE 3 hours or overnight to soften cookies. To serve…

    4. SPREAD whipped topping over pudding. Garnish with additional banana slices.
    *WHAT IS COOL WHIP? Cool Whip Original imitation whipped cream is made from water, hydrogenated vegetable oil (including coconut and palm oils), high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, skim milk, light cream, and less than 2% sodium caseinate, natural and artificial flavor, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, and beta carotene (as a coloring). Hmmm.


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    FATHER’S DAY: Watermelon Cucumber Cocktail

    Looking for a special cocktail for Father’s Day? We love this Melon Mirage cocktail, what some might call a Watermelon Martini. But just because something has gin or vodka and is served in a Martini glass doesn’t make it a Martini—see Martini History below.

    Yellow or orange watermelon, which you can find at farmers markets and specialty produce stores, makes it even more special.

    We adapted this recipe from from Arch Rock Fish restaurant in Santa Barbara. You can serve it in a Martini glass or any glass you like.


    Ingredients For 4 Cocktails

  • 5 cups cubed seedless watermelon (about 1-1/2 pounds, to yield 2 cups of watermelon juice)
  • 1 large English cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2/3 cup vodka
  • Ice
  • Cucumber slices, for garnish

    Watermelon and vodka with a touch of honey. Photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish | Santa Barbara.


    Yellow watermelon. Photo by Hannah
    Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.



    1. MUDDLE mint in the bottom of a large bowl or pitcher.

    2. PURÉE watermelon in a food processor or blender and sieve into the bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula.

    3. PURÉE the cucumber and sieve into the bowl.

    4. WHISK the lime juice and honey together in a small bowl. Add to juice mixture, stir, and add the vodka. Pour into glasses with ice cubes.

    5. GARNISH with a cucumber wheel and mint sprig.

    The original Martini, created in America, was a mixture of gin and vermouth, garnished with an olive. While not yet called the Martini, the 1888 Bartender’s Manual cites a recipe of half gin and half vermouth.

    The Italian vermouth maker, Martini, began marketing their product in 1863 and is thought by some to be the source of the cocktail’s name.

    Thanks to James Bond, the Vodka Martini, “shaken, not stirred,” entered popular culture in the book “Diamonds Are Forever” (1956). Earlier, in “Casino Royale,” the first Bond novel (1953), Bond orders a cocktail later named the Vesper: gin, vodka and Lillet, a fortified white wine, rather than vermouth.

    The Gibson is a Gin Martini garnished with a pickled cocktail onion. The oldest published recipe for the Gibson dates to 1908.

    In the 1990s, the concept of what a “Martini” was took off like a rocket, with menus of hundreds of different Martini “flavors,” savory and sweet. Marketers like to ride on the coattails of something that’s already popular. But these are really…


    While adding espresso (not espresso liqueur) to a Vodka Martini could logically be called an Espresso Martini, turning it into a sweet drink, such as an Espresso Martini with espresso liqueur, a Chocolate Martini with chocolate liqueur, or an Appletini with apple liqueur, abandons the spirit of the savory Martini cocktail.

    There is no liqueur in a Martini: Call those sweet drinks something else!


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