One of my culinary inspirations growing up was Nathalie Dupree. Her cooking show on TV was one of my favorites, and to this day, I swear by her cookbook New Southern Cooking. But the best thing about her show was that things didn't have to be perfect. She would spill a little flour on the counter, pick egg shells out of the bowl, or maybe get a few cake crumbs stuck in the frosting. But that was alright - it almost made it better, more homemade.
I do enjoy recipes from perfectionist chefs, like Martha Stewart, from time to time. But when it comes right down to it, perfect pastries are not my style. I like things to look, taste, and feel homemade.
based on Nathalie Dupree's recipe
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup flour
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 a pinch of nutmeg
30-40 vanilla wafers
4 bananas, sliced
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
To make the custard, mix together the 1/2 cup of sugar, the flour, and the salt. Pour the milk into a heavy saucepan and add the dry ingredients. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat. Beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk. Pour a little bit of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking together. Then add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Bring the custard to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly, and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking dish with vanilla wafers. Next, line it with a layer of banana slices. Repeat, alternating layers of wafers and bananas until you have used them all.
Then pour over the custard so that it completely covers the bananas and the wafers.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Spread the meringue fully over the top of the pudding, so that it touches the edges of the baking dish.
Bake until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. You may serve the pudding warm or chilled. Serves 6-8.