KIMMSWICK, MO. – Oprah had lunch at The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery once and said that hereafter, it would be her all-time favorite place.
In the last month I’ve eaten there twice and I’m with Oprah! This is one of the most alluring and charming eateries I’ve been to in ages. Being out-of-doors yet in the shade on a beautiful sunshiny spring Missouri day is enticing. The atmosphere is festive and fun. It’s also very homey since it’s situated in the heart of a remarkable old house in this historic Mississippi river town founded in 1859.
Aside from that, there’s the food – all homemade. The Blue Owl is known world-wide for its Levee High Apple Pie but when I saw White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie on the menu, wowie zowie. I knew what my dessert would be!
Kimmswick is 10 to 12 miles south of St. Louis on Interstate 55. My sister and brother-in-law, Lori and Bob, treated me to lunch at the Blue Owl on my first recent visit to St. Louis.
When Gemini (Jim and I) returned to St. Louis a week later, Bob and Lori treated us to a Blue Owl lunch once again. We were joined that day by my favorite nephew John, and my favorite niece, Lynda. And because what I had the first time was so delicious, I ordered it the second time around.
The Blue Owl has what they call “The Terrific Trio.” You can order three things for $12.95: salad or soup, a sandwich and a dessert. I chose a strawberry tossed salad with poppy seed dressing (out of this world), a croissant filled with delectable chicken salad (made my taste buds mighty happy), and of course the White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie. It was positively mouth-watering delicious.
Others at my tables on our two visits ordered the Quiche which the Blue Owl also is known for, The Country Burger, BBQ Beef, the Reuben, Lemon Meringue Pie, and the Carmel Apple Pecan Pie.
There was not one mention of disappointment from anyone – only raves.
I don’t recall the name of our server during our second visit, but the first time it was Susie Nelson. What a delightful and friendly lady who was right there to satisfy all our dining needs.
We also had the privilege of meeting the very pleasant Mary Hostetter, owner of the Blue Owl. Hers is a wonderful success story of how she first established, “From the Kitchen of Mary,” in 1983. In her home kitchen, Mary made pastries, cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, pies and candies that she sold at craft shows, festivals and fairs in St. Louis.
In 1984, she received orders for 30,000 Christmas cookies and pastries and found herself working 21 hours a day seven days a week to have them ready for customers by Christmas. With the demand exceeding her ability to produce, Mary began to dream of having a commercial location, commercial equipment and employees to help her.
She gave it a try in this quaint, old building hiring five employees and setting the goal of serving 30 customers a day. Like they say, the rest is history. Now these 28 years later, the Blue Owl serves more than 300 customers per day during the week and many more on Saturdays and Sundays. The original staff of five has grown to 75 hard-working people. Mary says they are a “blessing in my life.” She gives them much of the credit for the Blue Owl’s success.
Mary adds a P.S. to her story: “Yes,” she says, “dreams do come true.”
The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery sells a cookbook which has their recipe for White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie. I did not buy one, but Rachel Ray’s recipe below sounds very much like the pie I so enjoyed.
How about we give this one a try?
Ingredients and tips:
Tip: Fluff up pastry cream by using sweetened beaten egg whites instead of whipped cream. Tip: Thicken custards with gelatin or cornstarch instead of whole milk. Tip: Boost a crumb crust, which we swapped in for ease, with walnuts for extra protein and antioxidants.
- 1 5.3 ounce box pure butter shortbread cookies, broken
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1 1/4 ounce package gelatin
- 2 eggs plus 3 egg whites
- 1 2/3 cups reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
- 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 small bananas, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped, plus about 1/4 ounce for shaving
- 1 tablespoon banana liqueur, such as Hiram Walker
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a food processor, pulse the cookies and walnuts in 5-second intervals until crumbs just hold together when pinched. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and press evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool.
2. In a cup, stir together the gelatin and 1/4 cup cold water and let stand. In a medium bowl, beat the 2 whole eggs. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, the cornstarch and salt and cook over medium heat, whisking, until just beginning to boil. Gradually whisk half of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs, and then whisk that mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Divide the custard between 2 medium bowls; stir 2 teaspoons of the softened gelatin into 1 bowl, then stir in the bananas. Spoon the banana mixture evenly into the crust; refrigerate the pie. Stir the chopped white chocolate into the other bowl of custard along with the remaining gelatin; stir in the banana liqueur and vanilla.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. With the machine on, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high and beat until just stiff and glossy. Fold one-third of the whipped egg whites into the white chocolate custard, then fold that mixture into the remaining egg whites. Scrape the mixture over the banana layer to fill the pie plate. Refrigerate until set, about 2 1/2 hours.
5. When ready to serve, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff. Spoon on top of the pie. Shave the remaining white chocolate on top and serve cold.
Sounds scrumptious, huh?