Chef Yolanda Banks

Epicurean, Culinary Instructor & Cookbook Author

Acquire a taste for Fresh Fabulous

Bringing seasonal, healthy, global cuisine to your kitchen.

Fresh is Fabulous

I make delicious food that happens to be healthy... moderation over deprivation!

Desserts

Almond Thumbprint Cookies  
Ingredients

Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted Butter, softened
3/4 cup grated unblanched almonds
2 teaspoons vanilla

Frosting
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup half-and-half
2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Method

1. Heat oven to 350℉. For cookies, sift flour, sugar and salt into bowl. Cut in 1 cup butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Blend in almonds and vanilla. Work mixture with fingers until a ball of dough is formed. Then shape into 1-inch balls.
2. Place balls on greased cookie sheets; make a depression in center of each cookie. Bake about 8 minutes; remove from oven. Dent again and bake about 8 minutes longer; cool.
3. For frosting, combine softened butter, half and half, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and thick.

Servings
60

Source
Yolanda Banks


Apple Crisp  
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Ingredients

4 cups apples, sliced
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed, divided
1/2 cup all purpose white flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup butter, softened

Method

1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix apples with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar.  Place apples into an 8×8 pan.  Using the same bowl,  mix the remaining ingredients until well combined.  Cover the apples evenly with the topping.
2.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the apples are bubbly and the topping is nicely browned.
Servings: 4
Source: Yolanda Banks

Servings
4

Source
Yolanda Banks


Bananas Foster  
Ingredients

1 stick unsalted Butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup Myers dark rum
1/2 cup banana liqueur
4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 pint vanilla ice cream

Method

1. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Once melted, add brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
2. Remove pan from heat and carefully add the rum and liqueur.  Return pan to the stove and shake a couple of times until the flame dies.  (This is the alcohol cooking off.)
3. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook caramel sauce until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Add bananas and cook for 3 minutes, basting bananas with sauce until coated.  Serve warm over ice cream, spooning sauce on top.

Servings
4

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Blondies  
Haricot Verts is French for green beans. They are a more tender, longer, thinner counterpart to the common green bean seen in America, thus they take half the time to cook..

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 12 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips, optional

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray. Line a 9×13 in. pan with the parchment; set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with brown sugar; stir until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In a large bowl, combine flour through salt; mix well. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry; stirring until just combined. Add chips and stir until mixed well.
3. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Using the parchment, lift blondies from the pan and let cool completely. Cut into squares.

Source
Yolanda Banks


Blueberry Yogurt Parfait  
Ingredients

3 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup Agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Greek yogurt, preferably Fage
3/4 cup good quality granola

Method

1.  Combine blueberries, Agave, and vanilla in a medium bowl; mix well.  Let stand for at least 5 minutes at room temperature or until the blueberries begin to release their juices.
2.  When ready to serve, divide half the blueberry mixture into 6 small glasses.  Top with 1/4 cup yogurt, and 1 tablespoon of granola; repeat with remaining blueberries, yogurt, and granola. Continue filling all the cups until the ingredients have been evenly divided.

Notes

You can substitute honey or maple syrup for the Agave.  If you like it sweeter, add more Agave.  The parfaits can be prepared one hour in advance.  Chill until ready to serve.  The blueberry mixture can be made one day in advance; store covered in a non-reactive bowl in the refrigerator.  Replace blueberries with your favorite fruit or whatever is in season.  These parfaits make a beautiful dessert as well.  Just replace the granola with your favorite crumbled cookie.  (Gingersnaps go really well with the blueberries.)

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Cherry Crostata  
A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, or open-faced pie.

Ingredients

5 cups whole fresh cherries, pitted
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6-8 tablespoons ice water
(null) egg wash
raw sugar

Method

1. Combine cherries, both sugars, salt, vanilla, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cook for about 8 minutes or until sugar has dissolved.
2. Stir together cornstarch and water to form a thick slurry; stir it into the cherry mixture; mixing constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes to cook out the raw cornstarch flavor. Cherry filling should be thick.
3. Transfer to a shallow baking pan and let cool completely. Cherry filling can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble crostata.
4. Meanwhile, make the dough. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 6 tablespoons of ice water; pulse until dough just begins to form a ball. If too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
5. Turn dough out onto work surface, form into a ball. Cut in half, wrap both disks in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Dough can be frozen at this point for up to 2 months. Refrigerate overnight to thaw.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 12″-14″ round. Repeat with remaining dough. Transfer disks onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
7. Place half of the cherry filling into the center of each disk. Fold the edges of the pastry up over the filling to partially cover (center won’t be covered). Brush folded edges with egg wash and a sprinkling of raw sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting. Serve with vanilla gelato or whipped cream.

Notes

You can use any fruit that is in season or in a pinch use frozen fruit, but do not thaw first.

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Chocolate Chai Panna Cotta  
I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of low-fat desserts. But, this one is a real winner and so simple to make!

Ingredients

cooking spray
1 1/2 cups skim milk, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
3/4 cup light brown sugar
(null) pinch kosher salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 bags Chai tea
2 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, preferrably whole milk or 2%
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
mixed berries, garnish

Method

1. Spray 4 ramekins or glasses with cooking spray; set aside. Meanwhile, put 1/2 cup milk into a medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatin on top; stir and let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Add remaining milk to the pan, along with brown sugar, and salt, stirring well to combine. Place pan over medium heat. DO NOT BOIL! Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, about 5 minutes.
3. Add chocolate, whisking to melt. Once chocolate has melted, add tea bags. Turn off the heat and allow tea to steep in the milk mixture for about 10 minutes. Remove teas bags, squeezing to release excess liquid.
4. Whisk in yogurt and vanilla until fully incorporated. Strain through a sieve to remove any lumpy bits. Pour into prepared ramekins. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. 5. Panna Cotta can be made up to 2 days in advance. Garnish with fresh berries.
Servings: 4

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Chocolate Cupcakes  
Ingredients

cooking spray
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 extra large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, good quality, such as Nielsen-Massey
2 cups low-fat buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
4 tablespoons brewed coffee, room temperature
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups cocoa powder
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers; spray lightly with cooking spray, set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and both sugars on high speed until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes. Crack eggs into a separate bowl. Lower speed to medium-low; add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each is added. Scrape down the bowl, add vanilla and mix well.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee; set aside. In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
4. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in thirds to the egg and sugar mixture; scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.
5. Divide the batter among cupcake liners using a standard ice cream scoop. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven onto a rack. Allow cupcakes to cool for no more than 10 minutes in the muffin tins. Remove from tins onto rack and cool completely before frosting.

Source
Yolanda Banks


Chocolate Fondue  
Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons Godiva liqueur

Method

1. Place heavy cream, sugar, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low, and cook until sugar had dissolved, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat, add semi-sweet chocolate and Godiva liqueur.  Serve warm in fondue dish.

Servings
4

Source
Yolanda Banks


Chocolate Macaroons with Orange Ganache  
A macaroon is a French meringue-based confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, and ground almonds.

Ingredients

Cookies
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 cups slivered almonds , or almond flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup egg whites, (about 6 large), room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Ganache
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Method

For Cookies: 
1. Arrange racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Line 3 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse 1 cup powdered sugar with almonds until very fine, but not ground, for 60-90 seconds.
2. Add remaining sugar, cocoa, and salt; pulse until combined. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat egg whites until thick and frothy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time; increasing speed to medium-high. Beat until stiff peaks form, making sure not to over-beat. Fold 1/3 of meringue into almond mixture, mixing to incorporate. Fold in remaining meringue, gently mix until thoroughly combined.
5. Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4″ tip. Pipe quarter size rounds, spaced 1″ apart onto prepared baking sheets. Let stand until tops appear dry, about 10 minutes.
6. Bake cookies, rotating pans, until puffed and dry, about 10 minutes. Slide cookies, with parchment onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before handling.

For Ganache:
1. In a small saucepan, bring cream and butter to a simmer. Remove from heat, add chocolate, orange zest, and juice; whisk until chocolate has melted and is smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; cover. Once cooled, refrigerate until firm; about 20 minutes.
2. Spoon ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4″ tip. Pipe about 2 teaspoons ganache onto flat side of cooled cookie, leaving an 1/8″ border. Top with second cookie; lightly pressing to adhere.
3. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Layer in an airtight container between sheets of parchment and refrigerate overnight. Macaroons can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes

If you omit the chocolate you can add natural food coloring, and/or flavorings to cookies and fillings to make various flavored macaroons.  For example:  Raspberry with white chocolate filling, pistachio with pistachio filling, lemon and so on.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Chocolate Pecan Pie  
Ingredients

PIE DOUGH, makes 2-9 inch crusts
2 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cold shortening, cut into cubes
6-8 tablespoons ice water

FILLING
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2  cups light corn syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted Butter, melted
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecan halves

Method

1.  For the pie dough:  In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt; pulse for 10 seconds.  Add cold butter and shortening; pulsing to combine.  (You want the butter and shortening to resemble coarse crumbs.)
2.  Add 6 tablespoons of ice cold water, and pulse until the dough just begins to come together.  If too dry, add 1 tablespoon at a time, until moistened.  Remove dough from processor and shape into a flat disk, cut in half.  Wrap each piece with plastic wrap.  Chill dough dough for at least 30 minutes.
3.  Roll dough into a circle and place in pie plate.  Chill dough in the freezer for 15 minutes to prevent shrinking.  Remove when filling is ready.
4.  In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar and salt.  Add corn syrup, butter, chocolate, and vanilla; whisk until thoroughly incorporated and mixture is frothy.  Spread pecans over pie crust and pour egg mixture on top.  Bake until firm and golden brown, about 1 hour.

Servings
8

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Chocolate Truffles  
You can omit the alcohol entirely, or substitute it for Baileys, Kahlua, or Frangelico. These toppings are just suggestions, feel free to use whatever toppings you have on hand. You’re creativity is your only limitation.

Ingredients

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons unsalted Butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons VeeV Acai Spirit, if desired
(null) cocoa powder, sifted
natural coconut, shredded
powdered sugar, sifted
peppermint candy, finely chopped
Heath bar, finely chopped
pistachios, finely chopped

Method

1. Place chocolate in a medium bowl, set aside. Heat cream over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Bring just to the boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate; whisking to combine.
2. Add butter, vanilla, and VeeV. Whisk again until smooth and creamy.
3. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm; at least 2 hours or overnight.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a melon baller scoop out balls of ganache. (You may need to roll them in your hand if you want uniform balls.). Place balls onto parchment.
5. Once all the truffles are scooped, dip them into the desired toppings. Place truffles into cellophane bags or boxes for gifts. Truffles will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Source
Yolanda Banks


Easy Pineapple Tart  
Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Ingredients

1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed overnight in the refrigerated
flour, for dusting
1 large pineapple, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
4 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Unroll 1 pastry sheet into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Transfer to baking sheet, repeat with remaining sheet.
3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar over each pastry sheet, leaving a 1-inch border.
4. Divide pineapple evenly among pastry sheets. (You may have some leftover.) Arrange pineapple slices in 2 or 3 rows, slightly overlapping each slice.
5. Fold edge of pastry over outer row of pineapple, pleating dough to fit.
6. Beat egg and water; brush pastry edges with egg wash. Brush 1 tablespoon of butter onto each tart. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over each pastry and pineapple. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon over each.
7. Bake tarts for about 30-35 minutes or until pastry is golden and puffed and pineapple is tender.

Notes

You can substitute apples, pears, mangoes, apricots or any other seasonal fruit of your choice.

Servings
12

Source
Yolanda Banks


Grilled Pineapple with Lime Syrup  
Grilling fruit brings out the natural sweetness in it.  Peaches, plums, pears, apples, mangoes, and nectarines all taste wonderful grilled.

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 limes, zested
2 tablespoons dark rum
6 1-inch thick pineapple slices, cut in half

Method

1.  Place sugar, water, and lime zest in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15-20 minutes or until syrup has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.  Add rum; mix well.
2.  Heat a grill or grill pan until hot.  Place pineapple on grill and cook 2 minutes a side.  To serve:  Place 2 slices of pineapple on each plate, drizzle with syrup.

Notes

If you don’t have a grill or grill pan, the fruit can be placed directly under the broiler for about the same amount of time.

Servings
8

Source
Yolanda Banks


Hawaiian Bread Pudding with Pineapple Salted Caramel Sauce  
I’m not a fan of heavy, dense bread pudding. This is the opposite, very light and airy. You can substitute challah, brioche or even croissants for the Hawaiian bread. Just be sure to use day old bread, because it soaks up to custard better; which yields a lighter pudding.

Ingredients

Custard
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 cups 2 % milk
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 cups day-old Hawaiian bread, cut into 1″ cubes
cooking spray
16 slices fresh pineapple, thinly sliced
Pineapple Salted Caramel Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Method

1. In a blender, puree eggs through salt. Place bread into a large bowl and pour custard mixture over bread; let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To assemble, spray 8 ramekins with cooking spray. Place 2 slices of pineapple into the ramekin, top with custard soaked bread; do not pack. Repeat with remaining ramekins. Pour excess liquid over bread mixture.
3. Place ramekins into a large roasting pan; fill pan halfway up ramekins with hot water. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove puddings from pan and set aside.
4. For the sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly until sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Whisk in cream, rum, vanilla, and salt; bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until caramel has thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add pineapple and cook until pineapple is warm, another 3 minutes or so. If sauce thins out, let it reduce until it reaches desired consistancy. If sauce is too thick, thin with a little cream. Sauce can be made a couple days in advance. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Warm over low heat.

Servings
8

Source
Yolanda Banks


Lemon Raspberry Tart  
Ingredients

Dough
9 tablespoons unsalted Butter, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 3/4 cups all purpose white flour
(null) pinch salt
1 large egg, beaten
Filling
1 1/2 medium lemons
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
12 ounces fresh raspberries

Method

1.  Beat butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add flour and salt, beat until crumbly.  Add egg and mix just until the dough comes together.  Wrap with plastic wrap; chill 15 minutes.
2.  Butter a 9-inch tart pan; fit dough into tart pan, pressing down and working the dough up the sides; chill dough in tart pan 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Poke tart with a fork and place beans or pie weights into the shell; bake for 10 minutes.
3.  Zest lemons, set aside.  Cut lemons into segments, and place all filling ingredients except zest and raspberries into a blender; puree.  Strain lemon filling, add zest and mix.  Place into pre-baked tart shell; top with raspberries.  Lower oven to 300 degrees; bake tart 15 minutes.
4.  To serve, bring tart to room temperature, then refrigerate.  Serve tart cold or at room temperature.

Servings
6

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Mango Coconut Sorbet  
This is a cross between sorbet and sherbet. Sorbet is typically made up of fruit and simple syrup, while is basically sorbet with milk added. This is my low-fat version of the popular Thai dessert, Sticky Rice with Mango and Coconut Cream.

Ingredients

3 cups mango, roughly chopped
1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup coconut cream, preferably Coco Lopez
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
coconut rum, such as Parrot Bay, optional

Method

1. Freeze the insert of an ice cream maker for at least 24 hours. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth; transfer to a bowl and chill for at least 2 hours or until very cold.
2. Pour chilled mixture into the insert of ice cream maker. Process for 20 minutes. Transfer puree into a plastic container; freeze for at least 2 hours or until firm.
3. For a grown-up version, top sorbet with coconut rum.

Notes

You can substitute any fruit of your liking for the mango.
Servings: 10

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Maple Ginger Pots de Creme  
Pots de creme is a dessert custard. The literally translation is “pot of custard” or “pot of creme”.

Ingredients

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
(null) pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon candied ginger pieces, finely ground or grated

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a blender, combine syrup, egg yolks, and vanilla; blend to combine. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine half and half, salt, and cinnamon; cook over medium heat until mixture reaches 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge. (Do Not Boil!)
3. Remove the middle disk from the lid of the blender. Turn blender on and slowly add hot milk mixture to egg mixture. Blend until completely combined. Strain through a sieve. Divide mixture evenly among 8 (4-ounce) ramekins.
4. Place ramekins into a large casserole dish or roasting pan; add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up ramekins. Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until custard has just set, and center jiggles slightly. Remove ramekins from pan; allow to cool completely before chilling. Cover and chill for 4 hours.
5. To serve: sprinkle about 1/2 a teaspoon of candied ginger “sugar” evenly on top; using a torch “burn” sugar evenly until sugar hardens. Or place under the broiler to achieve a similar effect.

Notes

Custard can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Servings
8

Source
Yolanda Banks


Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies  
Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup Organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried tart cherries, optional
1 cup pecan halves, chopped, optional

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a couple of baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape bowl with a spatula; add eggs, beating until combined. Add vanilla, mix well and scrape.
3. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients; mixing until just combined. Add chocolate and cherries and pecans, if using. Chill batter in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before baking. Batter can be transfered to a Ziplock bag and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
4. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2-inches apart. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

Source
Yolanda Banks


Peach Cobbler  
If using fresh peaches, pit and peel. I love to add blackberries to this cobbler when they are in season. Feel free to substitute any fruit that is in season for the peaches.

Ingredients

4 pounds fresh or frozen peaches, thawed
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Biscuit Topping
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/3 cups low fat buttermilk
muscovado sugar, (sugar in the raw)

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine peaches, brown sugar, cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and vanilla; mix well.  Let sit while the oven preheats.
2.  Once the oven has preheated, transfer peaches to a large casserole dish or divide evenly into two smaller dishes.  Place peach mixture into the oven; bake for about 15 minutes or until peaches have softened and liquid is syrupy.
3.  While the peaches are cooking, make the biscuit topping.  Sift flour, baking powder, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt into a medium bowl.  Cut in cold butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
4.  Add buttermilk and mix with a large spoon until the dough just comes together.  Place dollops of biscuit onto the hot peaches.  Sprinkle muscovado sugar on top and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are golden and peach mixture is bubbly.

Notes

Always taste the fruit before adding the sugar, some fruit may be sweeter than others.

Servings
8

Source
Yolanda Banks


Peach Pie  
I only make pies with whatever fruit is in season. Apples and pears in the winter. Peaches, berries, and nectarines in the summer. You can always replace fresh fruit with frozen, but it won’t be as good!

Ingredients

2 prepared pie crusts
10 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
3/4 cup Organic cane sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Method

1. Gently place crust into pie plate. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. While crust refrigerates, make filling.
2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and vanilla; mix well. Let peaches sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You can add more sugar if you’d like, but I prefer to let the flavor of the seasonal fruit shine.).
3. Remove crust from fridge. Place peaches into crust; dot with butter. Brush edges of crust with egg wash; place second crust on top. Fold top crust over the edges of the bottom crust, pressing to adhere. Cut 3 slits into top of crust to allow steam to escape.
4. Brush pie with egg wash. Refrigerate pie for 30 minutes before baking. (This prevents the crust from shrinking in the oven.).
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pie onto a baking sheet. Bake pie for 1 hour or until golden brown and bubbling. Let pie cool for at least an hour before cutting. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Servings: 8

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Pistachio Baklava “Cigars”  
I only make pies with whatever fruit is in season. Apples and pears in the winter. Peaches, berries, and nectarines in the summer. You can always replace fresh fruit with frozen, but it won’t be as good!

Ingredients

1 cup pistachios, unsalted, shelled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(null) pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted, divided
honey
phyllo dough

Method

1. In a food processor, combine pistachios, cinnamon, salt and sugar; pulse into coarse crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of butter; pulse to combine. Mixture may be made up to 1 day in advance; store, covered in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a dry work surface, place 1 sheet of phyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush melted butter evenly over phyllo. Cover with another sheet of phyllo and brush with butter. Fold in half, brush with butter and cut in half. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of nut mixture onto one end of phyllo, drizzle about a teaspoon of honey over nuts and roll up tightly into a cigar. Repeat with remaining phyllo, stacking 2 sheets, buttering, and folding in half, until all of the nut mixture is gone.
3. Place cigars onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush with remaining butter and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Using a serrated knife, cut cigars in thirds on the bias. Drizzle with more honey; allow to cool completely. Cigars can be made up to 2 days in advance. Place into an airtight container and cover; store at room temperature.

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Port & Honey Poached Pears with Cardamom “Cream”  
Feel free to replace the yogurt with fresh whipped cream or mascarpone for a more indulgent dessert.

Ingredients

2 cups water
2 cups ruby port
2/3 cup honey
2 whole vanilla beans, split lengthwise
6 whole cardamom pods, smashed
4 whole star anise
4 Bosc pears, ripe, but firm, peeled, halved, cored
1 cup Greek yogurt, not fat-free
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, toasted

Method

1. Bring water, port, honey, vanilla beans, cardamom and star anise to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and add pears. (Cover pears with a parchment circle. This step is optional, but it helps keep the pears from drying out.)
2. After about 15 minutes, check pears to make sure they are still submerged in poaching liquid. If not, turn pears over so they will cook evenly on both sides. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until pears are fork tender.
3. Remove from heat and let pears steep in liquid for another 30 minutes or more. (The longer they steep, the more flavor they will have.) If you’re making in advance, store pears, refrigerated, in their poaching liquid for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
4. Remove pears from poaching liquid; set aside. Bring poaching liquid to a boil; reduce heat to medium-high and reduce until liquid has thickened to a syrup-like consistency. This will take about 15-20 minutes. (This step can also be done up to 2 days in advance.)
5. Meanwhile make cardamom “cream”. Place yogurt into a small bowl; add cardamom and stir well to combine.
6. To serve: Place a pear halve onto a small plate, top with a dollop of yogurt. Drizzle reduced poaching liquid on top.

Notes

For a more elegant presentation, leave the stem intact and poach the pears whole.

Servings
8

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Ricotta Cream, Amaretti & Strawberry Parfait  
Grade B maple syrup has a deep, rich, concentrated maple flavor. It has a much darker appearance than the lighter Grade A maple syrup. As a result, it is a little pricer, so feel free to substitute it with Grade A.

Ingredients

2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons Frangelico, Italian hazelnut liqueur
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B
1 cup Amaretti cookies, crushed
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped, optional

Method

1. Place ricotta into a small strainer set over a bowl; refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow excess liquid to drain. While ricotta drains, combine strawberries and maple syrup in a medium bowl; mix well and set aside. (Taste strawberries and add more syrup to reach desired level of sweetness.).
2. Transfer drained ricotta to a food processor or blender. Add Frangelico and process until smooth.
3. To serve: Begin layering ingredients into 4 wine goblets or parfait glasses. Place 1/4 cup of ricotta cream into the bottom of each glass. Top with 1/4 cup strawberries and their juices. Top strawberries with 1/4 cup amaretti cookies. Add another 1/4 cup ricotta cream to each glass, then 1/4 cup strawberries with juices. Top each glass with 1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts, if using.
4. Parfaits can be up to 30 minutes in advance; refrigerate until ready to serve. Don’t allow to sit for too long or cookies will lose their crunch.
Servings: 4

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Roasted Pears in Pink Peppercorn Syrup  
Grade B maple syrup has a deep, rich, concentrated maple flavor. It has a much darker appearance than the lighter Grade A maple syrup. As a result, it is a little pricer, so feel free to substitute it with Grade A.

Ingredients

1 cup water
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 Bosc pears, halved and cored
yogurt
slivered almonds

Method

1. Combine water, sugar, and peppercorns in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. (Syrup can be made up to a week in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.)
2. Preheat oven to 400. Place pears and butter into a baking dish; top with half of the syrup (reserve remaining for another use). Roast, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, basting twice with syrup.
3. Pears can be roasted up to 4 hours in advance. Let sauce and pears stand at room temperature. Re-heat before serving. To serve: place 1 pear half onto each plate, top with a dollop of yogurt, sprinkle almonds on top and drizzle with syrup.
Servings: 8

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream  
Ingredients

cooking spray
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, good quality, such as, Nielsen Massey
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
4 tablespoons Meringue powder
12 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, good quality, such as, Nielsen Massey
11 ounces Organic strawberry jam, optional

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers; spray lightly with cooking spray, set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes. Crack eggs into a separate bowl. Lower speed to medium-low, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each is added. Scrape down the bowl and mix until well blended.
3. In a small bowl, whisk milk, yogurt, and vanilla; set aside. In a large bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. On low speed, add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately in thirds to the egg and sugar mixture; scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.
5. Divide batter among cupcake liners using a standard ice cream scoop. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven onto a rack. Allow cupcakes to cool for no more than 10 minutes in the muffin tins. Remove from tins onto rack and cool completely before frosting.
6. For the Strawberry Buttercream: Combine water and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form. Add 4 cups of sugar, one cup at a time, beating at low speed after each addition. Add half of the butter and 4 more cups of sugar; beat until combined. Add the remaining butter and sugar, salt, and vanilla; beat at low speed until combined. Once combined, beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Fold in strawberry jam, if using; mix until well blended. Makes approximately 7 cups of frosting. (May be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Vanilla Panna Cotta w/ Port Balsamic Grapes  
Panna cotta can be made up to 3 days in advance; keep chilled.

Ingredients

2 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
1 cup 2 % milk
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split in half, scraped
salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups red grapes
3 tablespoons tawny port
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, good quality
3 tablespoons honey

Method

1. Spray 6 ramekins with cooking spray, set aside. Pour milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top; let stand until gelatin softens, about 3 minutes.
2. While gelatin softens, stir half and half, sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil; remove from heat.
3. Add vanilla and gelatin mixture; whisk to combine. Divide custard evenly among ramekins. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours or until set. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Top with grapes.

For the Port Balsamic Grapes:
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place grapes, port, vinegar and honey into a skillet, mix well. Place skillet in the oven; roast for 10-12 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Cool to room temperature before serving.
2. Grapes can be made up to one week in advance. Keep covered; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Servings
6

Source
Yolanda Banks

 


Watermelon Lime Paletas  
A Paleta is a Latin American ice pop usually made from fresh fruit. The name comes from the Latin “palo” meaning to stick.

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 lime, zested
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 cups watermelon, seeded, chopped
1 cup watermelon, diced
paper cups
popscicle sticks

Method

1. Place sugar, lime zest and water into a small saucepan, make an x in the middle of the sugar. Bring to a boil; do not stir! Boil until sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature, then chill until cold. Syrup can be made 1 week in advance if refrigerating or up to 2 months in advance if freezing. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Place syrup, lime juice and 3 cups of watermelon into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in diced watermelon. Divide among molds or paper cups. Freeze until pops begin to set, about 2 hours. Place sticks into center of cups and freeze until firm, about 5 hours total.
4. Dip cups into hot water to loosen pops. Remove and serve.

Notes

You can substitute any fruit of your choice for the watermelon.

Source
Yolanda Banks

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Chef Yolanda's Latest Creations

 

 
 
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