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.
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