♪♪ -"Cook's Country" is about more than just getting dinner on the table.
We're also fascinated by the people and stories behind the dishes.
We go inside kitchens in every corner of the country to learn how real people cook, and we look back through time to see how history influences the way we eat today.
We bring that inspiration back to our test kitchen so we can share it with you.
This is "Cook's Country."
♪♪ Today on "Cook's Country"... Bridget makes banana pudding pie... Jack talks vanilla...
I share the story of Augustus Jackson, the inventor of eggless ice cream... and Morgan makes no-churn ice cream.
That's all right here on "Cook's Country."
♪♪ ♪♪ -Bananas became popular after the Civil War here in America when faster steamships made it easier to transport perishable goods from the Caribbean and South America.
And as bananas became popular, so did recipes that used them, including trifles, puddings, and pies.
And today Bridget's going to make us a pudding pie.
-I am making a pudding pie -- a banana pudding pie.
Those are three of the most perfect words ever conjured, and to put them together is really something special.
And this recipe was inspired by a visit that we made to Buxton Hall Barbecue, and the former pastry chef there, Ashley Capps, created banana pudding pie.
And even though she's no longer there, this pie remains.
This is so delicious, and I love every bit of it, but it does start with a crust because we're making a pie.
-And I see Nilla Wafers.
-This is 4 cups of Nilla Wafers.
It's about 8 1/3 ounces.
And to this, we're going to add 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar.
It's gonna give a little deeper flavor than just adding white sugar at this point.
So, we have a little bit of salt in there.
It's just to heighten the flavors.
This is 1/4 teaspoon of table salt.
And then I love this.
This is a tablespoon of all-purpose flour.
Now, this is a crumb crust, but this little bit of flour is really going to give this some substance and help the crust hold together.
-That's really clever.
So I'm going to do my best here, there we go, to get the lid on.
And I'm going to pulse this until it's just all finely ground.
That's going to take about 10 pulses.
It's all finely ground.
And whenever you're making crumb crust, it's always a good idea to err on the side of little too fine rather than coarse, because coarse crumb crust will just fall apart very easily.
-I've done that.
-Yeah, me too.
But this is 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter that I've melted.
Going to pour that right in here.
And I'm going to let this go probably another eight or so pulses until it's all combined.
I'll need to go in there and scrape down the sides, because you always have to.
That looks great.
So, now I've got a 9-inch pie plate here.
Just going to pour this into the dish.
So, I'm just going to start pushing it towards the sides.
Now, a lot of times when you're making a crumb crust, you'll start to pack the bottom first and then work to the sides.
-But you might end up with a really, really thin edge around the pie.
We're going to go and create the edge first.
That's to make sure that we get a nice, substantial crust around the edge of the plate.
We want it to be about 1/4-inch thick.
Alright, so now that I've got some of this going around the sides, I'm going to go ahead and start to press it in there.
And I also want to press down on the top here just so that it looks nice and even with the edge.
Now I just want to scatter the rest into the bottom, and then I'm going to press it down and really get into these corners.
So that looks great.
And I'm going to put it in a 325-degree oven.
I just want to bake it until it starts to smell really fragrant, kind of toasty.
And we'll see some browning around the edges.
That's going to take probably 18, 20 minutes.
-[ Sniffs ] Mm-mm-mmm.
That is one good-looking cookie!
Goodness, that smells good!
[ Sniffs ] -[ Laughs ] Can you just eat that?
-I probably could.
-So our crust is nice.
Just a little bit toasty brown.
That only took about 18 minutes.
We're going to set this off to cool just a little bit while we make our pudding base.
So this is in between a pastry cream and a pudding base.
We want something that's nice and rich and creamy, but we want it to be sliceable and we want it to retain its slice shape.
So first thing I'm going to do is use a little bit of gelatin.
This is 2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin, and I'm going to bloom it in some half-and-half.
This is 1/2 cup of half-and-half.
What does that add up to?
-[ Laughs ] I don't know.
-So I'm going to let this gelatin soften just for about 5 minutes.
-And as you know, it's always better to soften gelatin before you heat it, and, that way, you don't get those little rubbery bits.
-So we'll set this off to the side.
For our custard here, we've got 1 1/4 cups of half-and-half.
And I'm going to add 3/4 cup of granulated sugar.
I've got 5 egg yolks here.
They're going to add lots of richness.
And I've got 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
So we're using both gelatin and all-purpose flour to thicken this pastry cream.
And we did that because if we used all gelatin, really, the pie just bounced right off the counter and out the door on its own.
But with all flour, really it kind of dulled the banana flavor, so the hybrid of the two is great.
I've got a little bit of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of table salt.
And a couple of flavors that are really inspired by the Buxton Hall Barbecue pie flavor.
And the first of all is a pinch of allspice.
So it's just a really lovely warm spice.
And similarly we're adding a pinch of cinnamon.
I'm going to turn the burner to medium, and I want to whisk this.
Just make sure everything's mixed.
And then I'm going to continue to whisk this constantly, really get into those corners.
What I'm looking for is visual cues.
I want big bubbles to kind of break all across the surface.
I'm also going to take the temperature of this mixture, and it should register around 180 degrees.
But, again, that's going to take about 5 to 7 minutes.
But any time you're working with pastry cream, you really want to see what's in the pot, not what's on the clock.
Alright, Julia, you can see... -Mm-hmm!
-...that there are bubbles all over the surface.
-Yes, it's much thicker.
-Yes, it's starting to bloop.
-[ Chuckles ] -Alright.
But I do want to check the temp.
I'm looking for about 180.
And that looks great.
I'm gonna slide this off heat because we don't want it to continue to cook.
Got 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
-And this is nice and cold, so it's going to emulsify into that pastry cream.
I also have a tablespoon of vanilla extract... -Ooh, nice!
-...and our gelatin mixture.
That goes right in.
And I'm going to whisk this in.
If I could hand that to you.
-Just making sure it's all nice and smooth.
Yeah, so, we've made vanilla pudding pie.
Let's turn it into banana.
I'm just going to leave my whisk here for a second.
We have 2 ripe bananas.
And when you're choosing bananas for this recipe, you want to choose bananas that are ripe but not overly ripe.
You don't want to use green bananas because they're just going to taste a little piney.
They always taste a little bit sour to me.
-So I just want to cut these into 1/4-inch slices.
There we go.
Because the pudding is nice and warm, we're adding the bananas right in there.
It really is going to kind of bloom that banana flavor.
-On to our pie crust here.
I'm going to pour this in.
-So, the pie crust is still a little warm, and that's okay?
-That's totally fine.
So, now this needs to chill, as do we.
So I'm going to put a little piece of parchment paper right on the top, because one of the worst things is about pudding is... pudding skin.
-So just pressing this onto the surface, and this is going to go into the fridge.
I'm going to leave it in there until it's really well-chilled.
So that is a minimum of 4 hours, but you can leave it in there up to overnight.
It's time to make the topping for our banana pudding pie.
Guess what we're making.
-Oh, it's your favorite!
-It is my favorite.
I love meringue.
It almost has a pillowy marshmallowy feel and taste, especially when it's toasted.
So let's get going.
I've got 4 egg whites here.
Large egg whites.
We used 5 yolks earlier.
So 4 out of 5 ain't bad.
We're going to sweeten this with white sugar.
This is 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.
And I'm going to add an equal amount of brown sugar.
This is light brown sugar.
It's going to add a deeper flavor for our meringue.
I've got a little bit of cream of tartar.
This is 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar.
And I've got 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
Just a little will do.
And I'll go ahead and whisk this mixture together.
Now, we're not just going to put this on our mixer and let it whip until it's nice and big and fluffy.
We're going to make a Swiss meringue.
So I'm going to put this over a saucepan of water.
I've got about an inch of water here in the bottom.
The bottom of this should not touch that water.
So we're just going to put this right over the top.
I'm gonna turn it down a little bit, and I'm gonna whisk this constantly, just like that.
And what I'm really looking for is for the temperature of the mixture to reach between 160 and 165.
So this is gonna take about 5, maybe 7 minutes.
I'm gonna keep checking it with the thermometer, though.
You can see this is looking kind of frothy.
I like the color of it.
-Now, would you mind grabbing that thermometer there and take the temperature?
-Again, I'm looking for between 160 and 165.
There we go.
So, don't want to cook this anymore.
So now we can put it on our stand mixer.
So I'm gonna let the mixer go on high 2 to 3 minutes.
I'm looking for the mixture to become thick and creamy, voluminous.
It should reach stiff peaks.
So, while I'm doing this, if you wouldn't mind getting the pie.
-I just want to give it a little peek here, see where we are.
How about that?
Stands right up.
-And you can see how glossy and shiny it is and creamy.
Let's go down and see that pie.
Thank you for getting the pie out of the fridge for me.
I just want to gently peel back.
-Yeah, I love how the bananas rose to the top of the pie.
Well, that's just to remind us that it's a banana pudding pie.
So we're going to pile this meringue right on top.
I mean, that is just gorgeous.
-It's like a snowdrift of sugar.
-I'm just going to push this meringue to the edges of the pie crust.
So to the rest of this.
I'm now going to make some beautiful swirls and swoops, and there really is no rhyme or reason for this.
You just want to kind of make it even.
-I love it when I see a torch on the counter.
Means we're about to have some fun.
-We're going to torch this.
Now, you could put this under the broiler, and we do have instructions for that on our website.
But instead we're going to use a torch to brown the top.
You can be a lot more specific where you want to get a little bit more brown and you can just control the whole process a little easier.
So... -And you look cool.
-Yeah, you do.
So I want to hold it about 2 inches away from the meringue.
You can always start farther away, but as soon as you get going... -That browns quickly.
-Yeah, it does.
Toasting of that meringue is really just what makes this so spectacular.
So that looks great.
Now I just want to clean up a little bit, and then it's banana pudding pie time.
-You deserve it.
You know, the first slice is always hardest, and it's good to have a couple of different knives because you never quite know what's going to make the cut.
-That's a boning knife.
-That is a boning knife.
But it's great for cutting through pies because you want to make sure to cut all the way down through that crust on the bottom.
-And because the blade is a lot thinner, there's a lot less drag through the meringue.
-Get you a nice, healthy slice.
-[ Laughs ] We've met!
-[ Laughs ] Ohh!
That one's for you.
-That is a healthy slice.
-How's that looking?
-Ooh, that's gorgeous!
I'm going in.
-I'm going to -- taking the whole tip off.
I'm getting a little bit of everything.
That vanilla wafer crust.
That is an eye-opener for me.
-That little bit of cinnamon.
-That little bit of allspice.
You know, it's just nuanced, but it takes the sweetness right off the edge.
And I hate pies that are overly sweet.
This strikes that balance perfectly.
-But it has that brown sugar, so it's got a depth of flavor.
-Bridget, this is magnificent.
-Least I could do.
-So, if you want to make this showstopper of a pie, make a crust using vanilla wafers and brown sugar.
Add gelatin and flour to the filling and top it all off with a cooked Swiss meringue.
From "Cook's Country," a magnificent recipe for banana pudding pie.
This might be my new birthday pie.
-[ Laughs ] ♪♪ -There are so many wonderful ways to bring vanilla into your home kitchen, and I'm here to explain to you the different forms that vanilla takes.
And I'm going to start with the most familiar.
This is vanilla extract, and I should say this is our favorite pure extract.
Everything on the table actually won a taste test within its category.
Extract is made with vanilla beans soaked in water and alcohol.
It's got an oaky flavor, and it's boozy because it's 35% alcohol in the final product.
Next to it is imitation.
Now, I'm going to give you permission to go save a lot of money if you want to buy imitation extract.
When we've done taste tests here in the test kitchen, some of my colleagues -- I'm not going to share their names -- have actually chosen the baked goods made with imitation extract over the ones made with pure extract.
And the reason for that is there's only one of the 500 flavor compounds that is in pure that's in imitation, but it's the most potent.
It's the vanilla.
And also most brands don't have any alcohol, so there's no booze to interfere with the vanilla flavor.
So if you want to choose imitation extract, go ahead and do that.
It's a one-for-one replacement for pure extract in any recipe.
Next up on the table, we have vanilla beans.
Now, if you want specks in your dessert, this is the classic choice.
If you're shopping for vanilla beans, the most important thing is to actually make sure they're pliable.
They will dry out over time.
And if they are hard and don't flex, that means they've lost a lot of their flavor.
And since they're so expensive -- they're the most expensive thing here on the table -- that's really a shame.
Now, if you want to use a vanilla bean in a recipe that calls for extract, you should assume that the seeds are going to be equivalent in one medium vanilla bean to about a tablespoon of extract.
So let's move on to some of the things you may be less familiar with that you will see in a lot of professional kitchens.
First up, we have vanilla paste, and I'll show you what this is.
It's made with vanilla extract, ground vanilla beans, and it's got some sugars and some gums in it.
It really has a consistency of almost like maple syrup.
It will give you those lovely seeds in the final dish, and it's shelf-stable.
So if you're worried about your vanilla beans drying up before you get to them, the vanilla paste is a great option because it's going to last in your pantry indefinitely.
If you want to use vanilla paste in a recipe that calls for extract, it's a one-to-one substitute.
So, simple, easy to remember.
Last on the table, we have two forms of what's called dry vanilla.
Now, the first one is ground vanilla, and this is 100% vanilla beans that literally has been ground.
[ Sniffs] Oh, my heavens.
This has the most potent aroma of anything on the table because, of course, it's 100% pure vanilla that's been ground.
So if you want to use this in a recipe that calls for extract, actually use half as much.
So, a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of extract, you'd only use 1 teaspoon of the ground vanilla.
It's also pretty expensive since it's 100% vanilla.
The last thing here on the table is vanilla powder.
Now, this is made with vanilla derivatives and sugars.
It can be sprinkled directly on baked goods, so if you wanted to sprinkle some over cookies or a tart, you can do that.
Both the vanilla powder and the ground vanilla can be added to spice rubs, and you can put them on meats before they go onto the barbecue.
It also can be used one-for-one for extract.
So there you have it.
It's the wonderful world of vanilla, with so many options.
♪♪ -Augustus Jackson, known as the "Father of Ice Cream," has a special place in American culinary history.
Jackson was a chef in the White House in the 1830s before leaving to open his own confectionery in Philadelphia.
He sold quarts of his eggless ice cream for a dollar apiece to other Black-owned parlors in the city.
Although Dolly Madison was originally credited with creating eggless ice cream, historian Adrian Miller says that Jackson actually invented it.
This eggless ice cream became known as "Philadelphia style."
At "Cook's Country," our recipe for no-churn ice cream built on Jackson's ice-cream ingenuity.
♪♪ -Ice-cream makers have come a long way since 1843, when the first home ice-cream makers were produced.
But the technology remains kind of similar.
The mixture must be chilled and churned in order to create creamy, delicious ice cream.
But Morgan's here, and she's going to flip everything on its head and give us some granny technology to make ice cream that we don't have to churn.
-Yes, I'm going to "churn" it on its head.
-Oh, I love it!
So, this is actually from our previous editor Tucker Shaw's grandmother's recipe box.
So, she had a recipe for orange no-churn ice cream that I loved.
It made ice cream that was soft and scoopable and tasted delicious.
So today I'm going to make a mint Oreo one and show you how to make a salted-caramel coconut one.
Oh, I'm sold.
-There are a ton of other flavors on our website.
-Ice cream is my favorite dessert, so I have high standards.
Well, we're kindred spirits.
Ice cream's my favorite dessert, too.
So, you start with 2 cups of heavy cream.
That's that one for you.
We're making this at the same time.
You add that right to the blender.
We're going to blend this until it hits soft peaks, which will take about 20 seconds.
And then we're going to keep blending for another 10 seconds or so until it actually gets to stiff peaks.
-So, what this actually is going to do is it actually incorporates some air.
So, when you churn ice cream, it's incorporating air into the mixture while it's freezing.
Heavy cream has enough fat in it that it's actually holding some of those air bubbles, or churning.
If you have a more powerful blender, you can actually turn this into butter, so you want to be a little careful in how long you blend it and go by the visual cues, not the time.
-So, you can see how it's stiff peaks now.
So now we have all this air incorporated in here, like the ice-cream maker would do when it churns.
-I have a cup of sweetened condensed milk, and this will keep the ice cream soft and scoopable in the freezer.
So this doesn't freeze that well.
So the ice cream will actually not turn into a rock-hard mixture.
For me, I have 1/4 cup of corn syrup.
-You, because you're making salted-caramel coconut, have 1/4 cup of caramel sauce.
And this is, again, another one of those soft sugars.
-Next step is 1/4 cup of whole milk.
-So, I tried to make it without this, and the ice cream just gets a little greasy.
This actually cuts through that 2 cups of heavy cream.
I also have 2 tablespoons of sugar up next.
-So, next up, we have extracts.
You have a teaspoon of vanilla.
I have 3/4 teaspoon of peppermint.
-We both have salt.
You have 1/2 teaspoon because yours is salted caramel.
-I want it to be nice and salty.
I have 1/4 teaspoon.
I don't want my mint to be salty.
-And then I have a little bit of green food coloring -- 1/8 teaspoon.
I'm a firm believer that mint ice cream needs to be green.
Okay, so I'm going to stir it in.
If you don't stir it, all that heavy cream that's stuck at the bottom, it won't incorporate.
-So gotta stir.
And we let this go another 20 seconds.
Everything should be really nicely incorporated.
If you see stuff getting stuck, you can definitely scrape it down.
Mine looks nicely incorporated.
-Mine looks the same.
Into the loaf pan it goes.
So, the loaf pan gives us a lot more surface area, which helps it freeze faster and more efficiently.
The faster it freezes, the less ice crystals you get and the more creamy the ice cream.
-You can add just about 1/2 cup of anything you want.
I have 1/2 cup of chopped chocolate sandwich cookies that I'm going to stir in.
I love when you get a chunk of those in the frozen ice cream.
So I'm going to stir this in and get it nice and incorporated.
You can see how it's about the texture of a milkshake.
That helps suspend things.
Okay, so, you have 1/4 cup of toasted coconut, and you can just go crazy with that.
So, you have 1/3 cup of caramel, and I want you to lightly drizzle it overtop.
So, now I want you to take the tines of the fork and very lightly swirl it in.
I don't want you to do too many swirls.
-[ Laughs ] I like the noise.
I'm glad you picked up on the noise.
-I think that's stunning.
So, the reason you want to be careful while you're swirling is you want these nice pockets of caramel.
That's gonna be real fun while you're eating.
And then also, if you actually stirred in too much -- this is that liquid sugar -- your ice cream won't freeze.
-We just cover it with plastic, and you want to put it directly over the surface of the ice cream.
-If you don't, you can get ice crystals there.
-Not good, no.
-So now we just have to freeze them, which will take about 6 hours till it's firm.
Of course, you can let it go a little longer than that.
So just right in the freezer?
-Right in the freezer.
This is the moment.
-These look spectacular.
I could just see a whole lineup of different flavors, and you'd think that I would do that for a party, but I would just do that for myself.
-I mean, that sounds like a great night.
[ Laughter ] Okay.
So I have two bowls.
So I'll get you a scoop of this if you trade me a scoop of that?
-There we go.
Here's one for you.
Oh, that's beautiful!
I love the green.
I told you.
-It's like a Technicolor fantasy.
I'm gonna tuck into the one I made here, the caramel coconut.
-I'm gonna go for the mint cookie first.
Anything salted caramel... -Mm-hmm.
-It's pretty much one of my favorite flavors.
Because you can't stop eating it.
Well, that's how I feel about the mint.
-The texture to me is just like what you think of with churned ice cream.
There's not an ice crystal to be found anywhere.
-That salted caramel -- [Smooches] Excellent.
-That wakes me up.
-That's a peppermint pickup right there.
So soft and creamy and customizable.
-This is the first of many?
Many ice-cream dates.
-I'll see you in round two of our ice-cream date.
So if you'd like to take your turn at no-churn ice cream, start by whipping heavy cream in a blender.
Use sweetened condensed milk to make the ice cream soft and scoopable.
Mix in lots of fun flavors.
So from "Cook's Country" and Morgan's ice-cream shop, it's our fabulous no-churn ice cream.
And you can get this recipe and all the recipes from this season, along with product reviews and select episodes.
And they're all on our website.
I think we're gonna need a bigger bowl.
What flavor should we try next?