March 7, 2013
I've written about Braden Perkins before as the co-creator of the Paris supper club Hidden Kitchen. He and his partner Laura Adrian closed HK a year and a half ago, and moved on to open an official restaurant they named Verjus.
Braden and I have now been friends for six years, and this has put me in the enviable position of tasting his food and cooking at his side on quite a few occasions. I never fail to be impressed by the zing and sense of fun that radiate from his dishes, and although they are too involved for me to try at home -- multiple preparations come together into a single plate, in typical chef fashion -- I always leave his table with inspiring takeaway ideas to jot down in my notebook.
A few weeks ago, Maxence and I were invited along with eight other friends to inaugurate Verjus' new chef's table, located on the top floor of the restaurant, in a cosy room that's lined with the couple's cookbook collection, and offers a bay-window view onto the incredible exterior staircases of the Théâtre du Palais-Royal across the street.
Braden served a tasting menu featuring some of the new dishes he had just finished developing, and my favorite was a slow-cooked egg served with soft polenta, frisée, and salsify, topped with pumpernickel crumbs and a touch of homemade kimchi.
And for dessert, Braden's pastry chef Cassie Choi, a Korean-American from LA, offered her take on American classics in three desserts: she reinterpreted the pecan pie, the lemon meringue tart, and the banana split, the latter taking the form of a frozen chocolate mousse with chocolate sauce, marinated cherries, and banana sorbet.
The banana sorbet was especially good, and when Braden and Cassie came up for a chat after the meal, they explained excitedly how it was made, following a tip Cassie had read about on The Kitchn: you freeze very (very) ripe bananas, and then whiz them in the food processor. It makes a lot of noise and at first it just turns into a gritty sludge, but if you persist -- as with so many things in life -- it all comes together and becomes this smooth, richly creamy banana sorbet that can be served right away.
I made a note of it, and as soon as we had an overripe banana in the fruit bowl, I let it ripen even further -- Braden warned me that it needed to be black-skin ripe for best flavor -- and tried the technique myself. I was a little worried because my food processor is not heavy-duty by any means, but it worked as advertised, and with just one banana we were able to make two small scoops to enjoy after dinner, with a liberal sprinkle of dark chocolate shavings.
Instant Banana Sorbet
- Very very ripe bananas, so ripe their skin is entirely black, preferably organic and from a fair-trade source
Yield: A single medium banana will yield two small scoops or one large scoop.
The day before, peel the bananas, slice them, and place them in a freezer-safe container in the freezer.
Remove the banana slices from the freezer and process them in a sturdy food processor or blender. At first, it will look a mess, but if you press on, it will soon come together and become smooth.
At this point, you could chose to add mix-ins, such as easy candied nuts, chopped chocolate, dried coconut flakes, caramel sauce or melted chocolate to create swirls, etc.
Serve immediately, or return to the freezer for later consumption.
Banana Coconut Bread (Vegan)
Wholesome Banana Chocolate Breakfast Bars
Banana Pecan Cake with Maple Glaze