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April 12, 2024

Culinary Inspiration at Cedar Trails

Category: Culinary

Author: Cayla Rauss, Culinary Director

For numerous chefs, there exists a pivotal cookbook that served as the catalyst for their culinary journey. This single book ignited an idea, unlocking a passion for cooking they may not have realized they possessed. Cookbooks transcend mere collections of recipes; they serve as windows into cultures, histories, and personal narratives. With each page turn, a new adventure, tradition, or innovative technique unfolds.

Every recipe and cookbook, whether passed down through generations or reimagined, enriches our culinary culture at Cedar Trails Senior Living. Exploring culinary resources nurtures and evolves our love for food and cooking.

I have amassed a collection of over 100 cookbooks from various sources including relatives, friends, family, culinary school, baking school, and work. Among them, my favorite is “The Pastry Chef’s Little Black Book” by Michael Zebrowski and Michael Magnano.

This cookbook stands out to me because it presents baking recipes in industry volumes and metrics, making it incredibly efficient when preparing bread or desserts for larger quantities of customers. I have utilized this book in numerous kitchens, and every recipe has yielded divine results.

In my opinion, a cookbook becomes interesting when it features enticing pictures and a comprehensive ingredients list. I prefer cookbooks that provide detailed information rather than just bare-bones recipes, as knowing everything possible is crucial when trying a recipe for the first time.

Although I didn’t inherit any recipes, I cherish the memory of my grandmother’s beef stew, and I’ve attempted to recreate it multiple times without achieving the same perfection. Nevertheless, I hold onto the hope of one day mastering her recipe. Among my own creations, my favorite is my banana bread pudding. This recipe has been a hit in various kitchens, family gatherings, and parties, consistently earning praise and delight from those who taste it.

This recipe holds a special place among my favorite dishes.

Mouthwatering banana bread pudding with chocolate chips.

Cayla’s Banana Bread Pudding

3 loaves of bread. (I use brioche or a mix of brioche and raisin bread) – 1 qt. heavy cream – 6 egg yolks – 1 cup of sugar – 4 tbs vanilla – 8-10 over ripe bananas – 1 tsp salt – 2 cups chocolate chips (optional) – 2 cups brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the bread into large cubes or tear with hands into a lined and sprayed shallow hotel pan.
  3. In a bowl, have the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt set aside.
  4. In a medium size saucepot, bring the heavy cream and sugar to a simmer, whisking occasionally to prevent scorching.
  5. With a whisk in hand, slowly pour the heavy cream mixture into the bowl with the yolks. Stir vigorously the entire time to prevent the eggs from scrambling. You should now have a milky smooth crème anglaise. Set aside.
  6. Throw the pan of bread into the oven to toast lightly for about 6 minutes. This will just give the bread a slight crunch.
  7. Pull out bread and smash the ripe bananas into the bread. It is okay to have some chunks.
  8. Pour just enough crème anglaise over the bananas and bread to make moist. Set the rest aside.
  9. Glove up and mix the bread, bananas, and crème anglaise together. You want just enough crème anglaise to have a light coating but not make it mushy.
  10. OPTIONAL: Add chocolate chips at this time and lightly mix them into the banana bread pudding.
  11. Sprinkle brown sugar on top
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 until the top is golden brown but the inside is moist.
  13. Let cool for 20-30 minutes before serving.
  14. Cut and serve with some of the left-over crème anglaise drizzled on top.
  15. ENJOY!!!!

Generational recipes or new culinary creations can spark nostalgia and inspire our cooking journey. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, we all have that one foolproof recipe. Don’t overlook the power of beloved cookbooks and their stories. Keep sharing and savoring the diverse flavors that await us.

Cedar Trails Senior Living in Freeburg, IL offers independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near St. Elizabeth’s Hospital with convenient access to major shopping centers, including The Orchards Golf Club, Target, Eckerts Belleville Farm, Braeutigam Orchards, and the Belle Clair fairgrounds & Expo Center.

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