Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cooking with the King

Last Christmas my sister gave me a cookbook called Are You Hungry Tonight? Elvis's Favorite Recipes (compiled by Brenda Arlene Butler, the author of such classics as I Am Elvis: A Dictionary of Elvis Impersonators). It was so quirky and unexpected (I'm not an Elvis fan or anything) that I laughed out loud. But it wasn't until today that I actually attempted to make one of the recipes. In honor of Easter, I went for the Banana Coconut Chiffon Pie, which I'll be bringing to my parents' house tomorrow. But before I plunge ahead with the recipe I'd like to share the paragraph that accompanied the recipe in the cookbook. Just so you get the full effect of Elvis kitsch.

"Imagine you're driving through the South in the 1950s. Your way is marked by the old white U. S. Highway shields, not the red, white, and blue of the Interstate signs. The place names crop up on little white signs, not those huge green things. Memphis. Jackson. Tupelo. Shreveport. It gets awfully hot in the car, so you swing into one of those little roadside cafes for a glass of iced tea. My, but it's cool inside. They've got one of those little glass cases with all the pies displayed, and goodness doesn't the banana coconut chiffon look good!

As you leave, and push through the screen door, a big Cadillac with a bunch of boys in it pulls up. You chat a bit and they tell you they're headed to Shreveport to sing on the radio - on the Louisiana Hayride. You wish them well and promise to tune in."

Now that the scene's set we can proceed:

Ingredients:

Baked 9" pie shell (recipe on page 49) {Let it be said that I did not consult page 49, opting instead to buy a premade Keebler graham cracker pie shell. As someone uninterested in winning any Martha Stewart awards, I found no shame in this.)

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 eggs, separated
1 cup ripe, mashed bananas
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted this, partly because my salt had somehow solidified, partly because it sounded gross)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup finely grated coconut

Instructions:

Soften gelatin in 1/4 cup of cold water. In the top of a double boiler (or saucepan, for those of us not living in 1955), slightly beat the egg yolks. Stir in the bananas, sugar, and salt. Cook over boiling water (er, low heat), stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatin to the banana mixture. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Chill the mixture until it begins to thicken.

In a large bowl beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. (I started to do this until I realized that the egg whites would not be cooked. This skeeved me out, so I tossed them.) In another bowl beat the cream until stiff. Fold first the egg whites, then the whipped cream, and then the coconut into the banana mixture. Pour into the pie shell. Chill the pie until firm, about 4 hours. Garnish with additional whipped cream and banana slices, as desired.
So far it looks pretty good, but I won't know for sure until tomorrow. In closing, I'll leave you with this quote from the forward of the cookbook:

"He [Elvis] preferred honest, hearty, rib-sticking food, the kind that Southern women have always fed their tired men at the end of a long day."

That's certainly something to ponder.

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