As you might imagine, I wanted to attend them all. Sometimes this meant getting back to my apartment in Forest Hills around midnight, but the classes were worth it.
I was excited when I learned that California chef and author Jack Lirio would be teaching a few classes. His beautiful displays of pastries and desserts were spectacular. They tasted great, too.
It was interesting to learn that Chef Lirio made the wedding cake when “The Fonz,” Henry Winkler, got married. The parents of Stacy, his bride-to-be, had tasted Lirio’s “Le Gorri” Raspberry Slices and ordered this as the wedding cake. Lirio, who seldom made large wedding cakes, accepted the order.
I laughed when I heard the story about how he had to carry two suitcases of frozen cake layers, rolls of marzipan, tools, pastry bags, a bottle of framboise and a 5-gallon tub of raspberry buttercream on a plane from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
One thing for sure, I doubt that I will ever try that six-page recipe from his “Cooking With Jack Lirio” cookbook, but I have made his Banana Cream Pie with a macaroon crust from his “Fast Fabulous Desserts.” It is a wonderful addition to a summertime meal.
BANANA CREAM PIE
8 ounces coconut macaroon cookies (hard dry macaroons)
½ stick and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cold water
1 envelope plain gelatin
6 egg yolks
½ cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 ice cubes
3 ripe bananas
Place cookies in bowl of food processor, fitted with steel blade. Process 1 minute or to coarse crumbs (about 1 ½ cups of crumbs). Melt ½ stick butter and pour onto crumbs. Process 5 seconds more, then dump in pie tin. Using a fork and/or fingers, press onto bottom and sides to form a crust. Chill 15 minutes in freezer.
Mix cold water and gelatin in a small saucer. Let soften 1 minute. Whisk yolks and sugar in a saucepan just until mixed. Whisk in cornstarch. Add milk, then place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly but casually. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to burp and bubble for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Transfer to a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons butter, cut into slices, gelatin mixture and vanilla. Then stir until butter has melted and gelatin has dissolved. Add ice cubes and stir until dissolved. Measure out 1 cup of the filling and place in freezer for 15 minutes or until partially set (filling will run over if you don’t do this). Slice bananas and stir into pudding in bowl. Dump into chilled crust, leveling nicely then refrigerate. When reserved cup of pudding (and pie itself) has softly set, beat with a spatula until fairly smooth, then spread on top of pie. Place in refrigerator until serving time. Just before serving, top with whipped cream and a few banana slices.
Email Prudence Hilburn at firstname.lastname@example.org