Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Cooking for the Champ - Muhammad Ali's Favorite Recipes" by Lana Shabazz - "The Greatest's" passing (June 3, 2016)

Date I made this recipe:  June 3, 2016 – boxing legend Muhammad Ali passed away

Cooking for the Champ – Muhammad Ali's Favorite Recipes  by Lana Shabazz
Published by Jones-McMillon
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks – NYC – July 2013
Recipe:  Banana Pudding – p. 100

"...Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" this is a recipe for Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali passed away today and that makes me very sad.  What a legend!  What a boxer!  What a trash talker!  I loved him.

When I was a kid (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), we watched sports, including boxing, in our family, all day, every day.  And one of the greatest boxers of my time, if not all time, was Muhammad Ali. I loved watching the fights. 

And if you were watching Muhammad Ali, then chances are good that you were also watching ABC's sports commentator, Howard Cosell, or, as he said it, How-ard Co-sel-l in that very funny and clipped way he had.  Those two together were pure gold—as gold as the ABC jacket Howard wore while on the air.

These two men could not be more different and yet they struck up a friendship that lasted until Cosell died.  I think Howard didn't know what to make of Ali (formerly known as Cassius Clay).  Ali was not a shrinking violet and took to interviews the way he took to the ring:  with gusto.  When Ali said "I am the greatest" he was speaking truth and I think Cosell was just enamored with a guy who said such things with no apologies given.

Mind you though, as a kid, I was rather put off by Ali because I thought he was overconfident to the point of being rude.  But when you are 11 or 12 or 13, you think these things.  Still, when Ali fought Joe Frazier in 1971 (a fight dubbed "The Fight of the Century"), I was all about Joe.  And unbelievably, Frazier won.  I don't remember much of that event itself but do remember Ali.  Regardless of the decision that night, he was a force.

Some of you "youngsters" might recall when Ali lit the torch at the 2012 Olympics in London.  It was a moving moment to be sure.

And so ends another era and sheesh people, the list of people passing away who I grew up watching on TV, whether in sports or TV shows or also in films is getting longer and longer.  It makes me sad.  But it also makes me happy that I can honor some of these folks by cooking, the activity that helps center me and calm me when life just takes a detour.  And this cookbook, one I purchased several years ago, helped make things right.

After Andy and I each went through this cookbook, we had a long list of potential recipes – "Baked Stuffed Summer Squash" – p. 20; "Lana's Meat Loaf
 – p. 20 as well as "Lana's Meatloaf for Ali's Gang" – p. 21; "Asparagus Pie (With Meat)" – p. 23 and so on and we had barely left the Meat section.  Dessert was even more overwhelming but for whatever reason, that day we settled on Banana Pudding and was it ever delicious!  Neither one of our moms made it growing up but we wish they had.  Rich custard + bananas + vanilla wafers + meringue = our kind of dish!

And here's the thing:  I seem to recall that when I first purchased this cookbook at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in NYC (a rare find that I snapped up), I didn't see much of anything in this cookbook to float my boat.  Was I nuts?  This book was great and this banana pudding sealed the deal.

Muhammad Ali had many riches in his life and his cook, Lana Shabazz, was one of them.
Fare the well to The Greatest.

Banana Pudding – Yield:  8 to 10 servings
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
5 eggs
 2 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon banana extract (Ann's Note:  I substituted almond extract)
1 box vanilla wafers
6 medium-size ripe bananas, sliced
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Ann's Note:  I made half a recipe and it turned out great but it's best if eaten right away because the bananas will start to grow brown.  Tastes great but that can't be said for the appearance!

Heat oven to 425.

In a large sauce pan combine flour, salt, and 1 cup sugar.

Beat together 2 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks and add to mixture; beat until consistency is paste-like.  Add milk, stirring constantly over low flame until mixture thickens and begins to boil (about 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and add vanilla and banana extracts.

Line bottom of large casserole with vanilla wafers.  Place a layer of sliced bananas over the wafers then pour portion of custard over bananas.  Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard, ending with custard on top.  In a small bowl whip remaining egg whites, add cream of tartar, remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Pile on top of pudding and bake for 5 minutes or until delicately brown.  Serve warm or chilled.

Ann's Note:  If you half the recipe like I did, be sure to also divide the ingredients listed in the above steps (like eggs and sugar) accordingly.

3 comments: said...

I thought I had a great collection with 300 cookbooks!!! I read cookbooks like other people read novels. I stumbled on your post and I'm happy I did. I'm going to enjoy going through all of your blogs. I bought Lana's cookbook when it was FIRST published. Unfortunately, I no longer have it. My favorite dessert recipe was the Peach Cobbler. I would LOVE to get that recipe again. Meanwhile, I'm going to try the Banana Pudding.
Thanks for sharing.

Ally said...

I've been trying to find this cookbook for ages. Is there any chance you might be able to post up the Bean Pie recipe in there?

Ann said...

Ally, Almost all the cookbooks I've used so far are stored in my garage. If I can unearth it, I will post it. I know what box it is in, but uncovering the box may take some time. Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for this in thrift shops, antique shops and even public library sales because you never know.