Today I don’t have bananas for the recipe, so I’ll use sweet potatoes. The family Thanksgiving sweet potato recipe uses apples, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and a little butter (these days probably a butter substitute). I have a bag of Granny Smith apples–usually too expensive for baking but after doing the math, the bag came out to 39¢ a pound, as opposed to 69¢ for whatever was on sale. The brown sugar sounds a bit heavy for the delicacy of the cinnamon/raisin/Australian port/lemon peel combination, and I’m almost out, so I’ll just use a few tablespoons and use honey for the rest. Looking for nuts, I have also found some ground walnuts left over from making qatayef at Ramadan. And what spice might be delicate enough to go with cinnamon? I have some maHalab (the label says “mahlab”) that was used for some middle eastern pastry, expensive but delicious, and I can grind the round, clove-sized seeds to powder in the coffee grinder. Raisins of course. A half a lime for juice, but lemon for the grated peel. Some of the apples get cored and stuffed with the raisin/walnut/spice mixture, and the rest are sliced with the sweet potatoes.
I pour a shot glass of good Australian port over the finished product. A shame to use it for baking, really, I think to myself, and pour myself a small libation. It tastes of orchards in the fall sun, exotic kisses, and other things mostly harmless.
I have no idea how long I baked it; I was trying to fix my new mp3 player that flaked out on me when I tried to delete one of the demo songs that came with it. (Yes, I finally got it to turn off and reinitialize itself, then I downloaded the new software from the website, and now it seems to be fine.)
The seasoning was absolutely perfect. The apples I scored around the middle first, and they held their shape while baking. I can’t decide if I like it better when they disintegrate or not. The sweet potatoes were firmer than I’m used to even though they seemed fully cooked; maybe they should be baked in a larger pan where they can sit in the bottom and simmer in juices, or maybe they should be microwaved briefly before baking.
This tastes really great with Australian port.
A toast to absent friends.