When I mention Edie Falco, you probably think of Carmela Soprano. I’ve barely seen more than the pilot and finale of The Sopranos, an embarrassing fact for a TV addict like me. I have to watch it one day. Since I’m a Sopranos novice, I think of Jackie Peyton, the main character on Nurse Jackie, when I think of Edie Falco.
Nurse Jackie is one of my favorite shows on TV. It’s smart, touching, and one of the few shows that actually makes me laugh out loud, typically multiple times each episode. The thirty minutes fly by, as I forget to even glance at the clock. The credits roll far too soon, leaving me hungry for another episode.
Jackie is, of course, a nurse. She is great at her job and cares about her patients as she does her family, fighting for the best for those around her. She is a flawed person, having battled drug addiction which left her marriage in shambles. Her desire to be a good person and do the right thing despite her flaws is inspiring and quite relatable. She, like all of us, is just trying to do the best she can, which isn’t always good enough.
If you haven’t watched Nurse Jackie, perhaps you can catch up on Netflix or OnDemand. It is definitely worth seeking out. I would actually love to start watching from the beginning again.
Mom also loves the show, even if she hates to admit a Showtime show, full of swearing and adult situations, is one of her favorites. It’s one of the many things we bond over. Another is this Banana Cream Pie. She has always loved banana cream pie and wanted to make it, and I’ve never had it before! Ever! Can you believe that? Some high quality graham crackers from Zingerman’s inspired me to get in the kitchen and make one.
I used the famous recipe from Emeril’s New Orleans, as featured by Wolfgang Puck on the Best Thing I Ever Ate. Since I’ll unfortunately probably never get to New Orleans, I figured I’d make it to see what all the fuss is about. Let me tell you, this did not disappoint one bit. I loved every bite and can’t wait to make it again . . . maybe with some peanut butter. I made my first ever graham cracker crust, which was perfectly thick, crunchy, and slightly grainy, providing structure and texture to the layered bananas and thick, velvety vanilla bean pastry cream. And then because it’s my favorite thing on Earth, I topped it with Italian meringue, which is lighter and a little sweeter than whipped cream. Together the flavors and textures are a pretty unspeakably amazing combination. My prescription: make this pie and watch Nurse Jackie.
2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk (I used almond milk)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod and beans reserved
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
½ cup cornstarch
9 medium bananas, ripe but firm, sliced into ½ inch thick slices
1 recipe Italian meringue
Make the pastry cream. In a large saucepan, combine cream, milk, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla bean pod and seeds. Bring to a slow boil, whisking frequently. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, eggs, cornstarch, and 1 cup sugar until lightened in color and texture. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. Do not stop whisking. Then, slowly add the egg mixture to the hot cream mixture in the pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the cream has thickened substantially, about 5 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl. Allow to cool at room temperature about 30 minutes, before covering with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerating for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Make the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Pour into a pie pan and press in firmly with your hands, going all the way up the sides. Using a measuring cup press the bottom in very firmly. Bake for 15-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely.
Assemble the pie. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the pastry cream. Spread ½ cup pastry cream over the bottom of the cooled crust, smoothing into an even layer with a rubber spatula. Cover with bananas in a circular pattern. Press down on the bananas firmly but gently. Spread ¾ cup cream over the bananas, then cover with another layer of bananas and press down on them. Spread another ¾ cup cream over this layer of bananas and layer remaining bananas over the top, leaving about ½ inch border. Press down on bananas before topping with remaining cream. Cover the bananas entirely with the cream or they will brown. Cover the pie tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
When ready to serve the pie, top with Italian meringue. Do not top more than 30 minutes in advance or it will slide off. Alternatively, top individual pieces with meringue.
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse