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As I do every day, I began by making my dessert for the evening. I had made an extremely rich and flavorful batch of caramelized banana ice cream two days before and wanted to use it for dessert last night. I had discovered the key to the ice cream is to roast the bananas with butter and a mix of dark sugars until they get rich and sticky in the oven, puree them, and build the ice cream on top of that flavor.

There are, I presume, still pastry chefs and restaurants who serve a dessert called, 'Death by Chocolate". I wanted to serve "Life With Bananas", so decided on a caramelized banana tart to pair with the ice cream. I made a batch of caramel, poured it in a pyrex pie dish and laid sliced bananas over the top in a nice pattern. The cake base is simple; banana creamed with butter and more dark sugar, eggs, sour cream and flour. This all goes over the caramelized bananas and gets baked, then turned out, a la an upside down cake. It is simple, but rich and quite delicious. Dessert was in the oven and to my mind, done.

I always start my guests out with a small taste of a chilled soup; a pure expression of flavor that will cool and clear their palates, readying them for the bursts of flavor still to come, but wanted to move beyond where I had been. I had been making a carrot-ginger puree, sort of a traditional combination of flavors and was happy but not fully satisfied with it as a starter. My first addition to it was a spoon of a yellow Thai curry paste to the initial sauteeing of the onions, carrots and ginger as the soup was starting. And I wanted a hint more sweetness, so I began pureeing the soup with orange juice after pouring off a bit of the cooking liquid. This I liked. This was a good direction.

But I also wanted a greater depth of flavor and felt the need to do something about the color.
Beets were the perfect flavor and color to augment the base sweetness of the carrot and I keep gallon jars of roasted beets packed in balsamic vinegar in my refrigerator for salads, so this step was easy. I plopped the equivilent of about four beets into my cooking carrot-ginger liquid and pureed all of it together. The color was a brilliant not-quite-blood red; I loved it.
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