Banana Cream Pie and Coconut Cream Pie Recipe

I had a couple of pie shells that I had to use today so I decided to make pies – I had bananas and coconut, so banana and coconut cream pies were the obvious choices.  The recipe for the custard on the pie is the same, I just doubled it and used half over bananas and half mixed with coconut.  The pies were simply delicious.  I used the egg whites to make a meringue topping – just so I I could do something with them – but you can serve the pie with whipped cream instead.  Unfortunately I don’t have a broiler in my oven, so it didn’t come out as well as it could.  The pie itself was delicious, however.

  • 1 9″ pie shell
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large bananas, sliced OR 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • whipped cream


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar

Bake the pie shell according to instructions or your recipe. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350F

Beat egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.

Place sugar, flour and salt in a medium sauce pan and place on the stove over medium heat.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil, lower the temperature and cook for two minutes.  Scoop a ladle of custard from the sauce pan and transfer to the bowl with the egg yolks. Mix well.  Pour egg yolk mixture back into the sauce pan, mix and cook for two more minutes.  Mix in the butter and vanilla extract, stirring until they are incorporated.

If making a banana cream pie, place the banana slices on the bottom of the pie shell, then pour custard over it.

If making a coconut pie, stir the coconut into the custard.

Pour the custard into the pie shell.  Bake for 12′.  Cool and then transfer to the refrigerator for an hour.

If making the meringue, using the whisk attachment in an electric mixer, beat together the egg whites and cream and tartar until it becomes foamy.  Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until it forms stiff peaks.  Spoon meringue onto the cooled pie and put under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.

Adapted from Rudy Pfeffer’s recipe at

Marga’s Favorite Recipes

Tofu Ropa Vieja

I made Ropa Vieja for dinner tonight, one of my old-time favorites, and decided to serve the same thing to my vegetarian daughter.  She was quite happy with the results. Really, all I did was make the sauce, reserve some of it before I added the beef, add some vegetable base and tofu.  She was happy and I was happy I was able to feed her.  I’m sure you can substitute another meat substitute for tofu, but that’s what I had at home.  I always serve this with fresh sourdough bread.

Tofu Ropa Vieja


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable base
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu, cubed


Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until they start to caramelize.  Add the bell pepper and cook until soft.  Add the tomato sauce, wine, bay leaf and vegetable base.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.  Uncover, and the tofu cubes and cook for another 15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and serve.

Tofu Marsala

Tonight I made chicken Marsala for Mike and I and adapted the recipe so that Mika, my vegetarian daughter, could have it with tofu.  Really, all it took to adapt it was to use a separate pan to cook the chicken and substitute tofu for the chicken.  But here it is in case she ever wants to make it herself.  It was truly delicious.

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Marsala wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable base
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu, sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • dash of dried or chopped sage
  • salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat in a frying pan.  Add the shallot and cook for one minute.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates.  Set aside.

Bring Marsala wine to a boil in a medium size sauce pan.  Boil for 30 seconds and then add vegetable base, water, whipping cream and reserved mushrooms.  Comine and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pan-fry tofu slices.

When sauce is ready, add the remaining 2 Tbsp Marsala wine, the lemon juice and the sage. Stir and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve the pan-friend tofu with the sauce.

Chickpea Milanesas Recipe

My oldest daughter is a vegetarian, so I try to find vegetarian equivalents of the meals with eat.  I’m not eager to make two meals, so the easier the vegetarian version can be, the better.  This version for chickpea milanesas qualifies as easy.  She likes them well enough that I’ve already made them four times.

Chickpea Milanesas

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes or chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • olive oil for frying
  • lemon juice

Using an electric blender, puree chickpeas and water together.  Mix in the flour, spices and salt and pepper.

Put breadcrumbs in a large plate.  Four your hands.  Take a large spoonfull of batter and flatten it using your hands.  Press onto the breadcrumbs, then turn and repeat.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Using a spatula, transfer the milanesas onto the oil and fry for a couple of minutes until golden. Turn and repeat. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving.

Marga’s Best Recipes

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This year Christmas Eve’s dessert was Sticky Toffee Pudding.  I first had and fell in love with this dessert at the Golden Tea Garden in Hayward, and had made it once before.  It was a good choice.  I served it with vanilla ice cream.  I followed the instructions from this epicurious recipe pretty closely, but if I made it again I’d follow the advise of one of the reviewers and double the amount of sauce, pour same half of it on the cake the day I make it and then top it with the other half.

I made the cake the day before and the sauce a few hours earlier.


For the pudding

  • 1 pckg (~6 oz) pitted dates
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

For the sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp brandy
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


For the pudding

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a bundt pan or 6 ramekins.

Place dates and water in a small sauce pan and heat until it starts to boil.  Remove from heat and add baking soda.  Using a blender, puree.
In a separate bowl, sift flour.  Whisk in the baking powder and salt.
Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Mix in the vanilla.  Mix in one egg, then half of the flour mixture and half of the date puree.  Repeat with the additional egg and rest of flour and puree.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry, 30 to 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Unmold.

For the sauce

Put the sugar, butter and cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Turn off the heat and mix in the brandy and vanilla extract.

Pour sauce over the cake and serve.

Mushroom Marsala Gnocchi

This was probably my favorite dish of my 2017 Christmas Eve dinner.  And no wonder, I love gnocchi, I love Marsala sauce, and the two together are just dynamite.  Indeed, even my husband who hates gnocchi couldn’t stop eating it – even though this was already the 8th course of the night!  I used a combination of



  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • dried sage
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 pckg (~1 lb) vacuum-sealed gnocchi


Melt butter in a wide sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms, turn heat down to medium-low and cook until soft, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add marsala, borth and cream and cook for a few minutes.  Sprinkle sage and black pepper and mix in the lemon juice.

Meanwhile, book the gnocchi according to package instructions.  Add gnocchi to sauce in the pan and mix well.  Serve.

Pear & Goat Cheese Salad with Caramelized Walnuts and Cranberries

I wanted to make a different salad for Christmas this year and finally decided on a pear and goat cheese salad.  Alas, I couldn’t decide on any particular recipe, so I ended up making my regular Mixed Green Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette and simply adding the ingredients I wanted to use.  It came out delicious.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. raspberry vinegar
  • 5 oz mixed greens
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup caramelized walnuts*
  • 3 Tbsp. goat cheese


In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and raspberry vinegar. Set aside.

Toss together mixed greens, green onions, cranberries and walnuts in a salad bowl.  Add vinaigrette and mix well.  Crumble goat cheese on top and mix again.

* To caramelized walnuts, place 1/4 cup walnut pieces, 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. butter in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and sugar melt and the walnut pieces are well coated with it.  Pour onto parchment paper and quickly separate the pieces.  Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Spiced Chickpeas

I wanted a light snack with Middle Eastern flavors to accompany the mint pomegranate lassi I served as a first course for my Christmas 2017 dinner.  This recipe for chickpeas hit that spot.  They are good, easy to make, and they will keep for at least a couple of days in an air-tight bowl or jar.


  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste


Drain, rinse and pat dry the garbanzos.

Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan.  Add chickpeas and spices. Mix well and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas pop, about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and serve.

Pomegranate Mint Lassi

I discovered this delicious drink at All Spice restaurant in San Mateo, and I was hooked.   I’m a big lover of sweet lassis, and I couldn’t believe I had never had a mint one before – when it seems like such an obvious flavor combination.  I wasn’t sure what the pomegranate contributed – I still don’t know – but the drink at the restaurant was so delicious I just had to try it myself.

I did as a first course for my 2017 Christmas Eve dinner – and it was a big hit.  The recipe is very simple, you need:

  • plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • pomegranate juice
  • honey
  • dried mint

I can’t tell you the proportions as I simply combined the yogurt with the lassi until it had the right consistency and then added honey until it was sweet enough – beating with an immersion blender, but you can just put everything in a blender.  I then added mint until I could taste it.   I tried it with both fresh and dried mint, but dried mint works far better.  The key to this lassi is to let it rest for at least half an hour before serving, as the flavors need time to combine.  But make it, you won’t be disappointed.

Cooking What I Missed: From Aguascalientes to French Guiana

I have been working on my International Foods Project for over 17 years.  I’m making my way through the world cuisines cooking alphabetically and I have yet to get to H!  And this, despite the fact that I have skipped many cuisines on my way here.  I am taking this as the opportunity to visit them – albeit cooking just one dish from each instead of a full meal.  So far, none of these dishes have wowed me: perhaps there was a reason why I skipped the cuisines in the first place.

What we had were:

I have ten more “make up” cuisines to go before moving on to finish the “Gs” (I thought I was finished, and then I found six more G cuisines!).  My hope is to start H at least by the end of the year.