A few weeks ago I went to an exclusive dinner at Kendall College in Chicago (read in a snotty accent). It was a fundraising dinner and was made by chef Darin Nesbit, who grew up in Des Plaines and graduated from Kendall College. He moved to New Orleans and worked at various famous restaurants and now is an expert on New Orleans cuisine.
We tried gumbo, which is a spicy stew you wouldn't expect to find in a fancy restaurant. We also had a fried green tomato salad and barbecued shrimp with really good rosemary biscuits. But my favorite was dessert, bananas Foster.
Chef Nesbit said it is a classic New Orleans dish that was first made at Brennan's Restaurant for a customer named Dick Foster.
At the dinner Chef Nesbit served it on crepes. I like crepes, but I decided to serve bananas Foster on waffles. I got the idea when my brother asked for waffles for breakfast. We just made an extra batch in the morning.
When we first made bananas Foster, I thought it tasted too rummy so we switched the rum for heavy cream, but making it with cream takes away the ability to flambé.
A word from Mom: I've never been to New Orleans, but I've had my share of bananas Foster. At some restaurants the waitstaff prepares and flambés the dessert tableside to oohs and aahs.
This nonalcoholic version lacks that drama, but not the taste. As an aside, the first time we tested this recipe with the rum, we couldn't get the flames out quickly enough and the sauce and bananas tasted a little burned. Still edible, just a bit overdone.
Now that I know how easy it is to make, I find it a little odd that this dessert has such a reputation as a fine dining dessert. Served on waffles, bananas Foster can even be a scrumptious breakfast. Ice cream optional.
• Jerome Gabriel, a high school freshman, has been helping in the kitchen since he could hold a spoon. His mom in Daily Herald Food Editor Deborah Pankey.