The history of Rum is as sweet as its mother plant the sugar cane. The plant is a tall thick grass, with origins in present day Indonesia. Throughout the years, the cultivation of sugar cane was spread throughout the world. But it wasn’t until it landed in the Caribbean, did it truly thrive in the warm climate. Once refined to make crystalized sugar, the process leaves behind a byproduct known as molasses. Later it was discovered that when mixed with water and left in the sun, it fermented and created Rum. By the 1650s, this mixture was distilled into a spirit, referred to as “Kill Devil” in the English colonies, for its propensity to cause one to become nauseous after overindulging. Presently, the drink has been attached to pirate lore, as those iconic seabound outlaws commonly sailed throughout the Caribbean.
This August 16 is the day invoked to celebrate the spirit, and Benny’s Chop House (444 N. Wabash Ave., 312-626-2444) has an unrivaled Piece of Eight cocktail ($12). The specially mixed drink contains the refined Plantation 5 year Rum, their House Falernum syrup, and ginger beer for a unique beverage. The sweet hints of the simple syrup provide a sweet homage, to the roots of the celebrated Rum.
It’s National Banana Lover’s Day, August 27 at Benny’s Chop House
Perhaps the most popular of the cream pie family, banana cream was even voted the soldiers’ favorite dessert in a survey conducted by the US Armed Forces in 1951. This result lead to a top secret study to determine if banana cream pie could be altered to create super human strength in the soldiers who consumed it, but it was quickly decided that it was too comical a dessert to be used for such dubious purposes.
Banana Creme Pie is celebrated August 27 on National Banana Lover’s Day. This classic diner dessert may vary in terms of additives — chocolate shavings, graham cracker crust versus pastry dough, cinnamon, coffee or other updated nuances — but in its traditional form, involves three primary simplistic ingredients that combine into an elegant trifecta: crust, banana filling and a light meringue topping. Pastry chef Aaron Lindgren of Benny’s Chop House (444 N. Wabash Ave., 312-626-2444) shares his coveted Banana Cream Pie recipe, otherwise, we recommend that you celebrate by enjoying a large piece ($8.99) at Benny’s.
Banana Cream Pie Recipe Chef Aaron Lindgren, Benny’s Chop House Pastry Chef
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 2 egg yolks
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ripe bananas (large)
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped, sweetened with a little powdered sugar and a drop of vanilla extracts
- Vanilla extracts (one or two drops for whipped cream).
- 2 Cups Graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ Cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt for crust
- 4oz. Butter (melted)
Preparation: Graham cracker shell: Toast graham cracker crumbs and combine with melted butter, sugar, and salt. Fill pie pan with crumb mixture by pressing into a shell shape with the palm of the hand. Toast again until it browns lightly. Cool, and set aside.
Custard: Mix sugar with flour and salt in top of a double boiler. Gradually stir in milk; continue cooking, stirring constantly, over boiling water until thickened. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. To the beaten egg add a small amount of the milk mixture while stirring vigorously; return egg mixture to the milk mixture in the double boiler and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 more minutes over hot water (not boiling). Remove from heat; add butter, salt and vanilla then cool.
Assembly: Slice 2 large bananas into the baked pie shell. Pour cooked mixture over bananas all at once. Chill for 1 hour or more. Just before serving, cover custard with the thinly sliced remaining banana. Whip cream to soft peaks, add vanilla and sugar. Finish by garnishing pie with clouds of soft whipped cream.
Benny’s Chop House, located at 444 N. Wabash Ave. in Chicago, IL 60611, serves 100% USDA Prime natural, dry-aged and wet-aged steaks and other cuisine in a sophisticated setting. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight. The bar and lounge remains open an hour later. Live music is presented Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. For more information contact Benny’s at (312) 626-2444 or visit bennyschophouse.com.