Bananas Foster by Ella Brennan

(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game Changers in Food – see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)

At #34, this week we have Ella Brennan, the queen of New Orleans cuisine. It is so strange that I was in New Orleans last year and never heard of Ella Brennan! Commander’s Palace and Brennan’s? Yes. Hurricanes from Pat O’Brien’s? Oh yes. While reading about Ella, I wish there was more I’d learnt about her while I was in New Orleans because she is quite the restaurateur who’s made an impact internationally. Unlike Paula Deen in Savannah, I heard absolutely nothing of Ella in New Orleans. Sad. Or maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right direction.

Ella’s story begins in High School when her brother, Owen Brennan, acquired a restaurant in New Orleans’ French Quarter, which over the years gained its popular name, Brennan’s. She criticized everything in the restaurant and didn’t fail to tell her brother how she felt about the food either. So, Owen asked her to step in and prove her worth. And prove she did. By 18, she was practically running the restaurant, including operations. She had a voracious appetite for knowledge of the restaurant business and picked up as much as she could from tons of books she read and anyone from the restaurant arena she met. From there, she slowly worked her way up as a restaurant scion. She’s had her share of ups and downs in life, battling through family feuds (she gave up working with Brennan’s during the rift with Owen’s family), growing her restaurant empire through acquisitions, including Commander’s Palace, and also braving the shutting down of restaurants that didn’t quite make the mark. But, in her entire career that spans over the last 65 years or so, she’s forged on in taking Louisiana cooking worldwide and pioneering the notion of nouvelle Creole cuisine. In 1996, Commander’s Palace was honored with the Lifetime Outstanding Restaurant Award by the James Beard Foundation and later, also with a Lifetime Service Award.

Now, Ella’s not been known to cook though she has inspired and created some of the signature dishes you eat and hear of in New Orleans. One of those being Bananas Foster that she invented with the then chef of Brennan’s (it is extremely strange that Martha Stewart features the exact same recipe as hers on her site). And that is what I chose for my weekly series feature. What’s even better? I got to eat ALL of this deliciousness because the husband is allergic to bananas! Haha!

This dish absolutely strengthened my thoughts on butter and brown sugar being caramelized BFFs. I had to restrain myself from swiping at the mixture melting together because it is awesome! With the rum kicking in, the bananas that cook in this mixture take on a divine taste that you won’t want to see the end of. I hope you enjoy! Bon Appetit!

Bananas Foster by Ella Brennan

Ingredients and instructions:

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup banana liqueur (if you can’t find any, you could use 1/2 teaspoon of banana extract mixed with water and a little rum to make 1/4 cup – I did this and it turned out really well)
  • 4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream

On low heat in a skillet or heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Once the sugar has melted, gently add the banana liqueur or the banana extract with water mixture. Put the bananas in, cut side down. Let it cook till it gets soft and the underneath starts browning.

This is where it gets interesting. Once the bananas are ready, slowly add the rum. Let the rum get hot and start smoking. Stand as far as you can and gently tip the pan on its side to ignite the rum. Once the flames subside, turn the heat off.

Serve your bananas with ice cream or Cool Whip, like I did, and drizzle with the warm sauce.


Here’s a list of the other bloggers participating in this series. Do go over to their blogs to see what yummy dishes they’ve whipped up. If you’d like to join the group, please get in touch with Mary of One Perfect Bite
Val – More Than Burnt Toast [] Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed [] Susan The Spice Garden [] Heather girlichef [] Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney [] Jeanette – Healthy Living [] Mary – One Perfect Bite [] Kathleen Bake Away with Me [] Sue – The View from Great Island [] Barbara – Movable Feasts [] Linda A There and Back Again [] Nancy – Picadillo [] Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits [] Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen [] Annie – Most Lovely Things [] Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook [] Alyce – More Time at the Table [] AmritaBeetles Kitchen Escapades 

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25 responses to “Bananas Foster by Ella Brennan

  1. Yup, banana and brown sugar and butter all go hand in hand. I love the caramelized affect of bananas. So good! Add vanilla ice-cream, and that's danger, in a good way. :)

  2. My parents loved going to Brennen's whenever they went to New Orleans. One year they brought back the Brennen's cookbook and we got into making banana's Foster. I still love them. Even though I don't eat much sugar, on occasion I've made a sugar reduced version of the recipe. They're delicous!

  3. I bet you thought I wasn't coming :-). I'm sorry to be late. This was a really wonderful choice to highlight the food of Ella Brennan. I have never made this dish and now have no excuse not to. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings…Mary

  4. The next time I'm in New Orleans, I'm getting the cookbook too! I'm sure a reduced version of this would still be perfect since bananas on their own are sweet :)

  5. This is definitely an outstanding dessert and does bring me back to thoughts of New Orleans. We may use bananas in baked goods but this by far has the most banana flavor. So anyone looking for a blast of banana flavor need not look past this dessert! Your pictures are amazing.
    Also, nice to find out about Ella. The restaurant business is tough enough as is, but throwing the family relationship in there would make things even more difficult!

  6. I would if it was still around! :P You could reduce the amount of sugar if you don't like your desserts too sweet, the bananas will as it is add some sweetness to the whole dish.

  7. I am really enjoying these 50 Women Game Changer posts, Beetle! So informative. And I love this recipe. It looks luscious. And yay! I can easily make this since bananas are a-plenty here :)

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