3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup for the custard and a 1/4 cup for the meringue)
1/3 cup flour
Dash of salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
45 Nilla Wafers
5 bananas, sliced
We rarely make banana pudding for ourselves so when we make it we go all out and triple the recipe to fill our big 12 inch vintage Bauer bowl.
Read the directions thoroughly, don't skip reading them and don't skim them. Then read them a second time to make sure you understand everything. I had all my ingredients laid out. I had separated the eggs into yolks and whites which was quit an accomplishment for me. I dare anyone to find a speck of yellow in my whites. I got out the double boiler, filled the bottom with water and set that thing to boil, a roiling boil. Here's where panic snuck in and where not having a firm grasp on the directions was my giant step into disaster. The directions said to mix the flour, sugar, salt and egg yolks in the double boiler. It didn't seem right but I was too busy measuring to look at my directions one more time. If I had I might have seen that I was supposed to add the milk as well. It's amazing how fast egg yolks will congeal when there's no liquid in the pot. By the time I realized my mistake it was too late to salvage the mix. The problem with starting over was I was out of eggs. A ten o'clock run back to the grocery store was now my only option.
Know your equipment. Fortunately, the big box grocery stores are open 24/7. I picked up another dozen organic free-range eggs and went back to work separating my yolks from my whites. The directions said to do all the mixing in a double boiler. Those directions don't say a thing about how big a boil you should be using. I chose to set my fire on high. The directions said I should have real custard in ten to twelve minutes. I started with the milk this time, which wasn't quit right but not a big enough mistake to make me throw the custard out. I was going strong now stirring, scooping up the flour and sugar, adding the eggs one egg at a time, and stirring them in. In about four minutes my mixture was starting to thicken and then thicken some more. I had the sense enough to pull the double boiler off the oventop but my custard was starting to get pretty lumpy. The unfortunate thing about eggs is they continue to cook in a hot mixture even after you've removed them from the flame or in my case the electric coil. That's when I looked at my utensils. There was the half-cup measuring cup with a trace of sugar and a drop of milk floating around its bottom. Damn. I'd used the half-cup rather than the full cup. That meant I'd only used half the milk and half the sugar I was supposed to have put in the mix. No wonder my goose (or in this case custard) was cooked well before its designated ten-minute time frame. That was it. I'd have to wait until the morning and admit my ineptitude to my partner and beg for assistance and a demotion from chef to trainee.
Go to the expert to learn. At seven the next morning Rick got up refreshed and we began anew He set the boil at a low simmering boil, better for making custard. I had separated the eggs and put them in the refrigerator. Not a major mistake but I was told eggs blend better at room temperature, cream whips better cold. Who knew? He then set me to measuring out all the ingredients and putting them in separate bowls. What a brilliant idea. Have everything ready before you start dumping things in, I always thought the tv chefs did this because they had limited time to put their concoctions together. I didn't realize they did this so they wouldn't make stupid mistakes like I did trying to read a direction and measure an ingredient at the same time. He started with the flour, sugar and salt and then slowly blended in the milk and the eggs. He had me stirring the mixture with a figure eight motion. This way I could get all the stuff hiding in the crook of the pot. In ten minutes he had the creamiest, smoothest custard I'd seen in the past twelve hours.
LAYING DOWN A RUNNER
Poras Chaudhary, photographer