T wo of my favorite shows on the Food Network – and they are only a few amongst a very limited number – are Iron Chef and Chopped. On Bravo, Top Chef is my show but we’ll give credit to the Food Network today. Chopped is like Top Chef’s elimination challenge round, where the contestants are given three to four ingredients (I think I even saw five once) and a limited amount of time to prepare an appetizer, entrée or dessert featuring those items. Each of the items chosen must be included in the dish or they are instantly up for omission unless another contestant entirely bombed the recipe (it did happen when one guy didn’t even finish on time – yikes!). The reason why I like these shows is due to the requirement of creativity and on the basis of spontaneity. No one knows what that ingredient will be and no one has any idea of how to incorporate it into a dish or make it into a tantalizing mood. With these two shows, a lot of flavors are challenged by incorporation in many ways that we haven’t even thought of before. Oddly enough, sometimes they work and when they do, good god, it’s a flavor explosion up and down the taste receptors in your mouth
Way back when food network had a lot of BBC shows, then again, it may have even been on the BBC channel for that matter, there it was a show called Ready! Set! Cook! Right, remember? That was probably the foundation to all of these instant challenge shows. I think it was on there but I also may be wrong since it has been ages, but, someone created peanut butter ice cream then paired it with bananas and bacon. Yes, you heard me, bacon. According to many culinarians on the Food Network (which is why they are so lowly regarded in my book), bacon “enhances” everything. Bacon is, apparently, that god factor that makes s*** taste glorious. I’ll tell you right now that they are wrong. So wrong, that I would even bet on it. Bacon, yes, does enhance certain aspects of certain flavors, but you cannot tell me that bacon sushi is the next best thing or bacon kissed chocolate is delicious. To some people that may just tickle their fancy, but, I for one fail to see the light.
When the chef presented the dish to the judges, they were dumbstruck. Bacon in ice cream? What the f***, was their reaction until they took a bite. Astonishingly, it worked. The flavors harmonized in the perfect umami. The saltiness of the peanut butter complimented the smokiness of the bacon which became smoothed by the sweet decadence of cooked banana. Stop. Think. In Africa, most of their curries pair off meat with ground nut or peanut butter with the occasional addition of plantains. The taste of plantains mimics that of the banana minus a difference in texture appeal due to the starch content. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches were one of my most favorite childhood treats for lunch since, ironically, I was never a jelly fan. Why? I don’t know, but, jelly never interested me unless it was strawberry. I loved strawberry jam. Mm.. Anyway, so if peanut butter and bananas work, bananas with meat work, and peanut butter with meet works – why not throw the whole thing together and call it a day? At least, call it the beginning of the day. So what better way to accent bananas and peanut butter than cinnamon? I love cinnamon. Cinnamon rocks my socks to Woodstock and back. Don’t forget the maple syrup either.
So David Lebovitz, I like to see you make a banana split with your phenomenal bacon ice cream and make sure you add chocolate, too. Lots of chocolate.
French Toast Strata
with Bananas, Peanut butter, and Bacon 2-3 slices of your favorite gluten free toast, cubed ½ cup egg substitute (or 2 eggs) 1 small banana or 2 baby bananas (AKA My size bananas) 1 Tbsp fake bacon bits (McCormick is gluten free) 1 tbsp peanut butter (Or nut butter substitute. I.e. almond butter, tahini, sun butter, etc) ¼ cup milk Cinnamon Allspice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small casserole dish, spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Add the cubed bread and bananas. Sprinkle on top some sugar, cinnamon, and allspice.
In a measuring cup or another bowl, add the peanut butter and milk together. Nuke it in the microwave until it becomes a smooth collaborated mixture. Let cook before gradually, adding in the egg substitute or beaten eggs. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the toast and bananas in the dish then let it sit for a few minutes to absorb. Sprinkle the bacon bits on top and bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature drizzled with either decadent chocolate sauce or rich maple syrup.