"I particularly like this banana strudel recipe because it is so sensual to eat," says Jennifer Lamb, pastry chef at O'Neals', a restaurant across from Lincoln Center that's popular with theater-goers.
"The phyllo crust of the strudel is thin and crisp, while the hot bananas inside have a soft, comforting texture," explains Lamb, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America before going on to work as a line cook at the Waldorf-Astoria's fine dining room. It was there she met her future husband, Florimond Smoor, a sous- chef.
Part of what makes the dessert below so pleasurable are its contrasting temperatures, flavors, and textures, Lamb says. "The cold ice cream feels good on the tongue next to the hot pastry, and the blandness of the vanilla actually plays down the sweetness of the bananas," she says. "Once you start eating this dessert, it is difficult to stop. It never cloys on the palate."
Suggested wine: "There are few desserts that really go well with wine, and this one is no exception," says Charles Lawrence (MPH '76), a Baltimore physician and winetasting instructor in the university's Intersession program. One potential pairing would be the Essensia produced by California winemaker Quady. "Essensia is made from the Orange Muscat and has an alcohol level of 15 percent. It is not intensely sweet, and the somewhat orange flavor of this variety of muscat should complement the banana and cinnamon flavors," says Lawrence. What's more, "the ice cream should help to attenuate the alcoholic character of the wine." A second option would be the Moscato d'Asti of Northern Italy, "a lovely sparkling wine with a deliciously fruity aroma and flavor." Lawrence suspects, however, "that the banana and ice cream flavors might overwhelm this light, low alcohol wine."
1. Preheat oven to 375ø F.
2. Remove phyllo dough from the freezer about 1 hour before you want to prepare this dessert. Take dough out of box but leave plastic packaging closed until ready to use.
3. Peel bananas and slice them in half lengthwise. Slice each half into thin half moons. In the bowl, toss with the cinnamon and sugar until each piece of banana is thoroughly coated. Set aside.
4. Unwrap phyllo dough and lay out entire package of dough on counter or table. Remove one sheet from stack, place on counter and brush lightly with melted butter. Remove a second sheet and place it directly on top of the first sheet. Brush with another coat of melted butter. (Cover remaining dough with damp towel to keep from drying out.)
5. Spoon half of the banana mixture just below the center of the phyllo sheets, and spread the bananas out so that they cover the length of the dough. Leave about two inches of dough exposed at either end. Fold the lower half of the sheet over the banana mixture and roll the sheet tightly into a thick cylinder. Fold in the extra dough at either end as though making a bed and paint the entire log with melted butter.
6. Repeat with remaining bananas.
7. Place immediately into the oven on cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. Cut in half and serve immediately with ice cream. May also be refrigerated until ready to bake.
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