The Mailbox: Teri Watson

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6D

Taking over the kitchen

I am a recently widowed older man and I am now doing all of my own cooking. I am using a lot of recipes my late wife had. I would like to have some new recipes that are easy to prepare and make one or two servings.

Can someone help? Thank you.

– Allen Wrenn, Folsom

Icebox potato candy

Growing up my mom would make icebox potato candy when we were on a tight budget. I'd love to have that recipe. Does anyone have it? Thank you.

– Cindy Young, Rancho Cordova

Frank Fat's banana cream pie

Prep time: 45 minutes

Cook time: 14 minutes for crust

Serves 8

Wendy Bonham of Sacramento has two sons who both married Southern women who love banana cream pie. Bonham was hoping for Frank Fat's banana cream pie recipe so she could make it and surprise one daughter-in-law for her birthday.

This popular recipe has been featured in The Bee before. As noted when the recipe was originally printed in the paper, this banana cream pie was created some 70 years ago by chef Bob How, who started working for Frank Fat when the restaurant opened in 1939. The popularity of the banana cream pie took off and it has been on the menu ever since. Lina Fat, Frank Fat's daughter-in-law, updated the pie recipe, keeping the filling the same but substituting butter and margarine for the lard in the crust for a flakier, more tender shell.

The recipe is in "The Lina Fat Cookbook" (The Crossing Press, 1992). Judy Wallauch of Granite Bay shared the recipe when it was featured in the Mailbox a few years ago.

Note: The prep time does not include the 1-hour chill time for the dough, the 30-minute freeze time for the crust before baking, the cool time for the baked crust or the 2-hour chill time for pie before topping it with whipped cream.


Rich pie pastry for a single-crust 10-inch pie:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons firm cold butter

4 tablespoons firm cold margarine

3 tablespoons ice water

Custard filling:

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups whole milk

4 bananas


1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the crust: Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process 2 seconds. Cut butter and margarine into 1/2-inch chunks and distribute over the flour. Process until fat particles look like small peas, 6 to 8 seconds. With motor running, add ice water through the feed tube. Process just until dough forms a ball.

(To make dough without a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. With a pastry blender or two table knives, cut butter and margarine into flour until fat particles look like small peas. While stirring with a fork, sprinkle water over mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all flour is moistened and dough forms a ball.)

Shape dough into a 4-inch round. Dust with flour. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured board, roll out chilled dough until it is 1/2-inch thick and 2 inches larger in diameter than a 10-inch pie pan. Fit pastry into pan, making a high fluted edge. Prick bottom of pastry in several places with a fork. Place pastry-lined pan in freezer for 30 minutes. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Place on a rack and let cool completely before filling.

For the custard filling: In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly with an electric mixer. Add sugar, cornstarch, butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat until well-mixed.

In a heavy 3-quart pan, heat milk just to scalding. Pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring to blend well.

Return egg-milk mixture to remaining milk in pan. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until custard has thickened enough to lightly coat a metal spoon. Remove from heat and let custard cool to room temperature.

Peel bananas and cut into 1/4-inch slices, placing the slices into an even layer over the bottom of the cooled pie crust. Pour custard over the bananas.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Just before serving, whip cream, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until stiff. Spread in an even layer over the pie.

Note: If you are using a shallow pie plate, you may have custard and bananas left over. These can be layered in dessert cups and refrigerated.

Per serving: 605 cal.; 11 g pro.; 68 g carb.; 33 g fat (17 sat., 11 monounsat., 4 polyunsat.); 181 mg chol.; 466 mg sod.; 49 percent calories from fat.


If you have recipes in reply to Mailbox reader requests, or questions or comments, write to: Mailbox, c/o Taste, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. You also can email or fax (916) 556-5625. Please include your full name, your city and phone number.

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