Brunch has become the way I do weekend lunch. For a girl with an early morning schedule, I would never survive the wait until actual brunch time to enjoy a towering plate of French toast. Instead, I eat when I rise and wait until the crowds have cleared around noon before reaching for the maple syrup.
On days when I don't want to change out of my pajamas, the challenge is to whip up something equally delicious and simple in my own kitchen. This is where caramelized bananas enter the picture. After learning about bananas foster—a dessert featuring warm caramelized bananas in a rum caramel sauce poured over vanilla ice cream—I knew there had to be a way to bring this idea to brunch. I removed the ice cream and replaced it with your typical breakfast fare. Is it a little decadent? Sure. But that's why we do brunch.
As a long time non-stick cookware user (a trait I inherited from my mother), I was excited, but a little skeptical, when Wolf Gourmet asked me to review its stainless steel and aluminum 10-Piece Cookware Set. Even though I associate the company with high quality, my only stainless steel cooking experience involved ruining my roommate's flimsy pan after trying (and failing) to fry an egg during my college years.
After a month of use, I can say with certainty that the pans have held up beautifully. The pans do well with deglazing after frying meat and vegetables to create sauces. With a seven-ply construction, the heavy pans heated food evenly, which felt reminiscent of cast iron. However, I was even more impressed with how it did with tasks for which I would normally use non-stick cookware. In the pursuit of brunch, I made crepes. I ran a light layer of olive oil around the pan, poured in the batter, and crossed my fingers that they would not stick. The crepes did not, but even more remarkable is that I didn't have to add more oil for the remainder of the batch. The layer of oil stayed in place and the crepes came out smoothly every time. I know I can't do that with my non-stick cookware.
And lastly—for the purpose of honest disclosure—after I spectacularly burned my first batch of bananas foster sauce to a charred black ash due to inattention, the pan recovered to looking brand new with a soak in warm water. The high heat of the runaway caramel did not harm the pan. However, I did notice the bottom of one pan had minor discoloration after a few weeks, but it was nothing a little baking soda scrub couldn't cure.
Ultimately, high quality makes all the difference with stainless steel cookware. After my own personal use, I would recommend Wolf Gourmet. I would like to offer one Pastry Affair reader the opportunity to try the 10-inch skillet out in your own kitchen.
Edit: Giveaway is closed.
Bananas Foster is a warm sauce to be poured over sweet dishes and desserts. Bananas are caramelized with brown sugar and butter. With the warmth of cinnamon and the spice of rum, the sauce is elevated to another level. Though the traditional dessert featured the sauce poured over vanilla ice cream, the sauce is as lovely served over waffles, French toast (made with challah), or crepes.
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Bananas Foster Sauce
Yields about 1 cup of sauce
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 medium ripe, firm bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons dark rum
In a heavy skillet, melt the brown sugar and butter over medium heat. Add the cinnamon and salt. Stir and bring sauce to a simmer. Add banana slices and cook, turning once, until soft, about 2-3 minutes per side.
Gently stir in the the rum; take care not to break apart the banana slices. To flambé, use a long lighter to ignite the vapor above the sauce. Let the flames burn until they go out on their own, about 30 seconds. However, the sauce can be served without flame and does not need to be flambéd if you are uncomfortable with the process.
Serve immediately over vanilla ice cream, French toast, or waffles.