Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pueblo Red Corn Chili...killer to the core!

I once worked with a woman who was raised by Pueblo Indians. She owns a restaurant here in Arizona and for months I have been absolutely addicted to this red corn chili. Oh my word! It's sooo painfully good. Like I'm in pain from eating so much!! This chili is gorgeously unique in that it has hominy in it instead of beans and is thick with shredded beef. Balanced flavor. Hot and satisfying. I couldn't stop. The kicker was the fresh Traditional Indian fry bread she served with it. Fry bread I learned how to make!!! Again with me and the bread. It really wouldn't be authentic Chef Tess without mentioning the bread to go with the chili right?

My big let down was no chili recipe. Really. She wouldn't give me the recipe for the chili. Instead I have done a lot of steady recipe testing. This is what I came up with. It is actually a traditional Mexican soup called Pozole. It uses pork, but you can use beef and call it red corn and beef chili. For certain it will knock your socks off. Be warned it is hot. I tend to go a little less hot than the traditional because I have kids. Regardless, it is so simple to make! Don't be afraid to try the white hominy! It has a wonderful flavor and makes a unique soup! Great texture!! Most divine with toasted corn chips or served with fat warm tortillas. Also one to add to your list of freezes beautifully. If you're really good, I may just post the fry bread recipe. First make your chili!!
Pozole1- 8 oz can tomato sauce
3T chile powder--not for chili beans, but ground ancho chile or hot New Mexico chile
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1T dry oregano
1 T ground coriander seed (these come with most pre-made spice racks...check yours!)
1 lb lean pork, cut into cubes
6 cups Mexican Style Hominy (canned, or fresh cooked--read directions on package)
1 small can green chile (or one fresh roasted, skinned and seeded)
3 T minced garlic
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups chicken or pork stock

Juice of 4 limes
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 bunch chopped cilantro (optional for some... a "must have" in my kitchen!)
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Put first 11 ingredients in a crock pot, solar oven, or pot on the stove, and cook low until the pork is cooked, about 1 hour stove top, 2-3 hours high crock pot or solar oven.

At the end of cooking, add lime juice, green onion, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper!
Excellent served with baked blue corn chips and a dollop of fat free sour cream.
Stephanie's notes:Very low fat if you use lean pork. Vegetarians try the "soyrizo" found in the produce section.
It can be made without meat or meat alternatives, but isn't technically Pozole, just call it red corn stew. For people like my friend Ronit, this is also gluten free!! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Pie and My Guy...

I love it when my friends "write in" and ask me to do a specific news. It helps me to not have to think too much. My mother asked me how to make a good pie crust. It's not often I get to teach my mom a thing or two, but this one is for her. So, this time it's about pie crust. Thank you for making it easy!

I once dated a boy from church who's mom told him to marry me after she tried my pie crust. She was the bishop's wife. Her exact words where, "You can't buy crust like that!" She meant it in a good way and I was utterly flattered. I was only 17 years old. I don't think she meant for her son to marry me right then! I say this because her words hit me hard. One may never know what great encouragement will do for a youth. I'm glad she said what she did. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I "grew up". Why did it hit me? Granted, my parents had told me for years they thought I was a great baker, but she helped it sink into my heart. I think it had something to do with her adorable son. I didn't marry her son by the way. I don't even know where he or his mother are today. It was what I needed at the time. 2 years later I was in culinary school for pastry training. I met my husband, Ace-man, in Arizona during that time. When we met, my husband thought I was going to culinary school to be an eye doctor. He had no idea what "culinary" was. Seriously. We've been married almost 13 years. I tell that story because this upcoming recipe is the one I used on " that pie"-- the pivotal pie-- and have used for the last 17 years. That pie may have changed the course of history --for me anyway!. I'm so glad I made that pie crust!! It's one of my core recipes. It's pretty basic. I used it to make a pastry crust good enough to pass the inspection of some pretty cranky chefs. Once I used it for a final exam that was so high stress I think it took 10 years off my life. The pie crust was well received and I passed with an "A". More importantly, it brought me here to Arizona where I met Ace-man. Hi Honey!

If you want to make some great crust, here are some tips. The most basic tips pertain to the main ingredients in crust. Flour and fat I am often asked a lot about flour. Here's a little "101". Typically I have three kinds of flour on hand for most of my baking. Cake flour, bread flour, and pastry flour. Those who are unfamiliar with the different types of flour may be excited to know that if you use all purpose flour, it works for almost all the things you bake (thus the "all purpose" term). The main differences in flour type is the protein content of the flour. This gets important for bread because generally one wants there to be a lot of wheat protein (or gluten). That protein sticks together when exposed to liquid to form long strands and a balloon like mesh to hold gas caused by yeast action. However, if you want a tender cake or pastry, you don't want a lot of that protein to get stuck together! If that happens, your cookie, cake or pie will have a very hard (hockey puck) texture. This also explains the generally high fat, low moisture content of most cookie and pastry recipes. The fat coats the protein and won't let it stick together. Ever heard of short bread? It's called that because the protein strands are "short". Pastry flour has a slightly lower protein content than all purpose flour 9% as opposed to 11%. That 2% can make a real difference. For pie crust, pastry flour is best! If you use whole wheat, find whole wheat pastry flour in the health food section of your grocery store. Yes, you can still use all purpose flour!! Please--please-- please--Just don't mix the dough so terribly long that the proteins get terribly over connected and your crust is terribly hard. How many times can I use "terribly" in a sentence?!

More words on pie:
*Pie dough is good in the fridge up to 4 days--Pat the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Allow dough to soften to room temperature a bit before trying to roll it out.

*Did you know pie dough is good in the freezer for up to 3 months? Yes!! You can make your own freezer pies! Most custard based pies will become runny, and remember that cornstarch will not hold it's thickening once frozen(except for the weird stuff added in processed foods). However, if you thicken your filling with all natural flour (birds and flowers in a light green meadow...ahhhh) it will hold forever!

*You can freeze a pie filled with fruit filling and just add 20 minutes to the baking time of the original recipe.

*Freeze uncooked crust in aluminum pie pans, put in a gallon size freezer bag and stack them if you want to maximize freezer space.

*When you want to bake frozen pies transfer them out of the foil into a stoneware pie plate for crispiest crust.

*Unbaked pie shells can also be filled with savory fillings like Quiche and pot pie stew!

*Now here is the bonus of freezing. Because of the expansion of freezing and defrosting, those protein strands we talked about will stretch, break, and become even more tender. Meaning if you freeze your dough, you can count on flakier crust! How cool is that?!

Basic Pastry crust:
2 9 inch single shells or
1 9 inch two crust pie:

2 1/4 cup pastry flour (for whole wheat pastry flour increase water to about 1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening (crisco works but if you want non trans-fat try "Spectrum" brand)
3T cold water
3T vinegar--this is my secret ingredient! SShhhhhh!
Directions: Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening with a pastry blender. combine lightly until the mix resembles course meal or tiny peas: its texture will not be uniform, but will contain small crumbs and small bits and pieces. Sprinkle water and vinegar over mixture one Tablespoon at a time and mix lightly with a fork, using only enough water so that the pastry will hold together when pressed gently into a ball. This will vary on the moisture content of the flour.
Divide the dough into two balls. Roll the bottom dough out in a circle 2 inches larger than the pie pan(that's 11 inches in diameter), then fit it loosely but firmly into the pan. I do this by lightly folding the dough in half and gently picking it up with my hands. You may roll it out on parchment paper or wax paper to ease this "pick up" process. By far my favorite method is to roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper. I use a light swipe of a damp washcloth first on the counter, this moisture holds the paper in place. Once rolled, I remove the top piece of paper, flip the crust into the pan and remove the second piece of paper. Roll out the top crust. Fill the pie generously with pie filling of your choice, then put on the top and prick in several places with a fork or cut vents. Crimp or flute the edges and bake as directed I usually cover the edges with a strip of foil or a metal ring called a pie guard. Pie will get nice and brown but the edges will get almost black without the pie guard.
Or... just buy the dough from the freezer section! You don't have to make your own! But try it once! You may be surprised how much you like it!! I don't know how many hundred thousand recipes there are for pie filling, but here are 3.I don't want my letters to be too long so I won't do too many recipes!
Diabetic: Please note that if you are sugar restricted, sugar is optional or if you use Splenda sweetener, it won't "cook out". Yes! You can just use a can of pre-made pie filling. No, I am not coming to your house to check!
Apple pie filling:
1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey (splenda is okay)
1/2 tsp salt2 tsp cinnamon plus spice blend
3T flour
6 large firm granny smith apples, cored, peeled and cut in thin slices
1T vanilla
3T melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and put in a prepared pie crust (bottom). Top with other half of the dough, rolled out to a 12 inch diameter. Using a knife, cut off the extra edge so that there is about a half inch of dough hanging all around the outside edge of the pie plate. Roll this "dough lip" under until almost flush with the edge. Seal edged lightly pressing down with a fork or pinching with your fingers into a crimped fashion. Cut several vents in the top (small decorative cookie cutters are sometimes used)--you can now freeze it or bake at 425 degrees 10 minutes. Cover edges with foil or pie guard and lower oven to 350 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes. For frozen, bake at 425 10 minutes and lower to 350, then bake 50 min. to an hour.
Blueberry is my favorite pie-
-the Ooompa Looumpa's usually have to roll me out of the chocolate factory for a squeeze!

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3T flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar1
T lemon juice1
1/2 tsp double strength Madagascar Vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2T melted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the pie pan (9 inch) with half the pastry dough . Wash over the blueberries if you use fresh. If using frozen blueberries, it is not necessary to defrost them completely. Sprinkle the flour over the blueberries in a large bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Mix and coat well. Pile the mixture into the pan and roll remaining pastry dough to 12 inch diameter. Drape over the top of the blueberry filling of love and happiness. Follow crimping instructions used for the apple pie filling. Cut vents (5-6 cute little holes or one 1 inch hole in the middle). Freeze, then put in a gallon size bag with baking instructions-- or just Bake 10 minutes at 425 then lower to 350 for 30-40 minutes. To bake from frozen, add 20 minutes to final baking time.

Tough guys eat Quiche!
Ham and Cheese Quiche For the freezer (or not)
2 9 inch pastry shells
2 cups diced fully cooked ham (soo good with crab instead of ham)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
2T minced fresh onion
1 clove fresh pressed garlic
4 eggs
2 cups half and half
3/4 tsp dill weed
fresh cracked pepper
Directions: Bake pastry crust 10 minutes at 400 degrees. While baking crust, combine onion, garlic, eggs, half and half, and seasonings. Removed crusts from oven and cool, divide cheese and ham between the two shells, then pour in the egg mixture. Cover and Freeze up to 3 months (make sure they are set up flat or they'll leak all over!) or... put back in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. To cook from frozen bake 400 degrees 50-55 minutes. If you cut the pie into 8 pieces it is 25 carbs. each.

Tess notes: In general, it takes between 2 and 3 T of flour to thicken a 4 cup recipe of fresh fruit for a pie filling. Except peaches-- they take 4T of flour. Sugar is optional always! I don't use a lot of Splenda but a lot of my diabetic friends do. You can cook your own pie filling on the stove top too! Just simmer 10-12 minutes. Cook the full amount of time to allow the flour to thicken and the starch to cook fully. Allow to cool and use as you would any can of pre-made filling! The benefit is that this will have more fruit and no additives! If I am going to use a filling right away and not freeze it... I use cornstarch to thicken it. It takes 1-2T (usually right about half as much flour), and the starch cooks much faster so it will be ready quickly- 5-7 minutes. I have been know to use maple syrup in place of sugar in peach pie or Carmel sauce in place of sugar in apple pie--or vise versa.
. If you grind your own flour (over-achiever!--You are probably one of my best students!),Pastry flour: use 2/3 hard wheat, 1/3 whole barley or whole oats by weight (for cake flour I do exactly half and half) . Oats and barley have a very very low gluten content--unfortunately for those on gluten free diets, they do have a small amount of gluten. The flavor of these grains in pretty neutral. Or you can just use soft wheat for the cake flour and add 1/3 hard wheat for pastry. I love the taste of oats and barley.

Here's to more pie... and having a great guy to eat it with!! Thanks Ace!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Home-Spun Breakfast Cereal

Made at home? Can It Be Done? Oh dear! Yes!! Cold Cereal is a big one for most budgets. What do you pay for a box of this stuff? If your family is anything like mine, breakfast cereal is a main food group. There are a ton of choices out there. Walking down the cereal aisle can be scary! Some cereals are loaded with sugar and not a speck of whole grain. Hopefully this I can help your budget and your nutrition levels. I'll even tell you how to bake this in a solar oven. How fun is that?
Whatever your reason for making your own cereal--be it family nutrition, budget, or both... here are two great recipes! One is for granola and one is for grape-nuts.
First in line is granola. My husband ate so much granola the last time I made it, that he asked me to never make it again. He had no self control and couldn't be held responsible for his consumption levels. I happen to love granola. I still make it. He still nags me. What is a girl to do? I used to giggle about moms who made homemade granola. It just seemed so "hippie-like". Strap on your wood clogs and whip out your long braided hair. Peace. Love. Nature. Low and behold, I have become what I of" those granola moms". Do you see my eyes rolling right now? It's not sooo bad. In fact, I am starting to think that it is one of life's lost arts. Try it sometime!

My granola recipe1 cup cold pressed oil (canola,coconut or grape seed are great!)--regular oil or melted butter work--peanut butter isn't too shabby either.
1 cup honey
2T double strength vanilla (I do go heavy on vanilla)
2 cups whole wheat cake or pastry flour (white all purpose works)
2 tsp salt
2T Cinnamon
10 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped nuts, optional (we don't want too much fat, right?--Ahh. I do love a good almond or hazelnut.)
2 cups dried fruit (raisins, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries... whatever you love!)
Directions: In a batter bowl, combine the oil, honey, and vanilla. In a separate 8 quart mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit. Divide granola between two stoneware bar pans, or two large cookie sheets, Bake at 325 degrees 15 minutes. Stir and cook 10 more minutes until golden brown and crispy. Add dried fruit. Store in an airtight container once cooled. Enjoy! This recipe yields 15 cups ( 4lb 8oz)--30 servings!
Cook's notes: If you use peanut butter, you may need to mix this with your hands or a good big electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Oil seems to mix better. The original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups butter and 2 cups brown sugar. Splenda can be used, but cereal will be not hold together like granola.
Like" Honey Bunches of Oats"?--Mix this granola with 2 large boxes of whole grain corn flakes or frosted flakes! Corn flakes are one of the cheapest breakfast cereals out there! Add to that this inexpensive and healthy granola, and it makes cereal go a long way!--Usually 4 gallon size bags!
Grape nuts are next in line. I've made these for a long time and love the fact that they are almost free! Especially since I make my own bread. Yes. Bread. That is the only ingredient! These require the use of a meat grinder (mine has actually never been used on meat... how weird!) Most often we use it for sprouted wheat bread or grape nuts. I don't sell meat grinders. They can be purchased at most Wal-mart stores near the home canning supplies or in specialty Spanish food markets. I've even seen them as an attachment to some electric mixers. I have the hand grinder because I want to feel like a circus monkey is banging a drum in my kitchen. Um... Or something to do with not using electricity all the time... Hopefully you will enjoy these as much as we do! You can either use whole wheat bread that you may have goofed and it is now really heavy (instead of a paperweight), or it can also be made with regular whole wheat bread. Whatever you have. My whole wheat bread recipe can be obtained in the blog entry "Are you Afraid of germs."

Mom's "Grape Nut" Squiggles 1-2 loaves whole wheat bread
Directions: Grind through a meat grinder. It comes out in long squiggles. Place on a stoneware bar pan or deep heavy sheet pan . It usually takes one pan for each loaf of bread used. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until brown and dry. I break them up a bit with a metal spatula! Serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner with milk or soy milk and sugar or honey. MMM. Yes. It is that simple!
Solar Cereal notes: To bake in a solar oven, make sure you have a dark medium bar pan, divide cereal in half and bake one at a time in the sun oven with the glass top unclasped. This will allow cereals to dry and get crispy golden. Once oven temperature gets to 325, put in cereal and bake the same amount of time!
Global Sun Ovens -
Did you know that homemade bread is the best air freshener out there?
Who doesn't just fill with joy and happiness at the smell of homemade bread?!
Here's my 2-Cents. Bread is worth learning how to make!
Not only is it cheaper and more nutritious, it's more fun!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Sound of Music Meets Culinary School...Cottage Cheese Dill Rolls!

I was recently reunited with a good friend named Tara...

from Culinary school who shared a common over-excitement for a certain dinner roll with me. We adored the tender crust and soft dough with flecks of dill and sprinkled with salt. Tara went on to use this recipe at Deer Valley in Utah in a loaf bread. We lost touch. To my amazement what was lost has been found! We both just recently found we still love this recipe and use it! Both of us teach cooking classes. Both still bake bread. Both still love to find our inner creative spirit--Tara calls it the "Great Cooking Spirit". And of course, we will always love Chocolate...

I think it was a friendship unlike any I had at culinary school because we both attended the same church. I kept hearing about this "Mormon girl" . I guess it was odd to some people. I was thrilled to finally meet her, of all places, in the restroom as I hummed a church song. Finding a sister is always good. Finding one while removing curlers hidden under your chef hat is even better! Yea, I did learn something from "The Sound of Music". "How do you solve a problem like Maria"... or Stephanie? I had a date later that night with a handsome young man, so I didn't want hat head! Instead of a guitar case I carried a knife case. As for the date... I married the guy! It was fate all around that day!!

We always washed out hands before making case anyone wondered.

Now, the recipe still remains just as true as a good friendship. If the friend is a true friend it won't matter how long it's been, you can still do things together and share memories. Which we did on Wednesday evening...Laughter through tears is one of my favorite emotions! If it's a good recipe, no matter how long ago you last used it, it will still make good on it's word (so to speak). This recipe in particular lends itself the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving dinner. It may become a tradition! --So, imagine my guitar going pling-pling as I sing in a very Julie Andrews kind of way, "lets start at the very beginning, a very good place to start... when you read you begin with ABC, when you bake you begin with dough and cheese"... or something like that....

So, this one is for Tara! Thanks for bringing back all the memories of Advanced Pastry and the love of baking we had... and continue to share! She is to blame for this grand new blog you are reading. I don't think I would be doing it without her encouragement! I copied this directly from Tara's site:

Cottage Dill Rolls

1/4 c warm water

2 T sugar

1/4 oz dry yeast

6 oz cottage cheese

1 egg

2-4 T minced onion

1 T fresh dill, chopped fine

1/2 t baking soda

10 oz AP flour

egg wash:

1 egg

2 t water or milk or cream

kosher salt

Proof the yeast, water and sugar in a small bowl for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, egg, onion, dill, and baking soda. Add the yeast and mix. Add the flour and knead until you have a firm but smooth dough. Let double in size. Form into 2 oz balls and let rise again. Mix the egg and water or milk or cream together to make an egg wash. Paint the rolls and garnish with a good amount of kosher salt. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. (It took 20 minutes in my oven, and I rotated them halfway through.) Enjoy!
posted by TARA,

Tess Notes:

To my whole grain bakers: Whole wheat flour can be used, I prefer King Arthur White Wheat--a whole grain flour, or fresh home ground flour from hard white wheat.

Do not use soft wheat as this will not give enough protein for good bread. If you have any questions, post comments.

In anticipation of a few who aren't pastry chefs with baking scales,.... here are the dry weight measurements as close as possible to the recipe..: 1/4 oz dry yeast is 1 1/2 tsp....I use the 4T minced onion... (yea that's 1/4 cup!), If you use dry dill, use 1 1/2 tsp....10 oz flour equals 2 cups.For those who can't weigh rolls, This should yield 10-12 rolls. I bake mine on stoneware. If you want to make this into a gorgeous loaf, double the recipe. Bake 425 degrees for 15 minutes then lower to 350 for 15-20 more...or until internal temperature is over 175 degrees.

Are You Afraid of Germs?

I am young still, but very "Old School" when it comes to how I cook and what we eat. I am hearing more and more how odd it is that we make bread every week.
Recently I did a bread seminar at a nearby elementary school and was almost shocked that only one little girl knew where bread came from! She said it came from flour. She didn't know what wheat was. I was there with my jars of wheat and my grain mill. I talked in depth about the growing process and what grain goes through to make bread. We flapped our wings and pretended to be "The Little Red Hen". I had a diagram of what grain looks like inside the seed and showed them the bran, endosperm, and germ. I giggled inside when one of them looked very concerned about wheat germ. "Will I get sick?". Yea, I guess in an antibacterial gel and hand soup world, her question was pretty normal. Scary that we have come to that point in our understanding of grain though. With a big glowing smile of love and happiness I was sure to tell her that these where the only safe germs to eat and we should eat them everyday!! No. She didn't have a wheat allergy. They sent home a form for that before I came to the school... in case anyone is all freaked out about it.
So how do we get away from the white flour and into the germ kind (with bran and the whole grain)? This is ultimately the kind of bread..."STAFF of LIFE" kind of bread we all should be eating. I have some ideas. Simple, but effective in making the transition. First of all, you may need to buy whole grain flour. I hate to make it sound simple. It is, however, that simple. I grind my own but I am a little nutty. Hard wheat makes good soft bread. Soft wheat makes good soft cakes and cookies. Use the whole grain BREAD flour. It has the high protein content you need for good dough development. Secondly, you will need a good recipe for whole grain bread that doesn't end up so dry you have to pile a ton of butter on it just to get it choked down your gizzard. Yea, it will feel like you need a gizzard if it's that dry!! We aren't birds who can just eat that whole seed! I do know a few very cool chicks and buzzards. Even they prefer soft bread. Amazingly the Little Red Hen had it right!! We should all help make the bread! We should be creating learning environments now more than ever where children learn to appreciate the value of work and a job well done. My kids get right in the dough with me. I could write pages and pages on the subject. I have. This is the bare bones recipe. I won't lie to you... it will take practice. Bread making is quickly becoming a lost art. I am good with teaching art. I hope you will be good with trying to learn something new.
The protein in wheat flour goes through many changes during the course of the dough making process. Many people ask me for quick recipes and I have to say that really you don't want to skimp on the fermentation process. What is that? In simple terms it is the chemical process the yeast goes through. The fermentation process conditions the natural protein in the wheat called gluten. This sponge like mesh is responsible for the trapping of gas that leavens bread. Cutting corners in this fermentation process or not allowing this process to take it's full round on the gluten will not allow the mesh to become as strong and elastic as it could be. Your bread will not stay fresh as long. It will not raise as well. It will not have a full rounded mild flavor. Most "quick" recipes give you bread that has a very strong "yeasty" flavor. How do I get into bread if I have a very busy day? I usually add less yeast and let it raise longer. I still handle the dough just as much as a quick bread, but I fit it into my schedule. If I want quick dinner rolls and I know my family will eat them all I may skimp and just use more yeast, but for bread that I know will be on my kitchen counter and ready for sandwiches, I want something that will stay moist and taste just as good cold as warm. Just as good two days later.
I have no doubt you will have questions, especially if this is your first bread making experience. Feel free to ask. I am really nice. Promise.

My Bare Bones Recipe for whole wheat bread
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup cool water (not cold, but cool to the touch)
6 cups whole wheat bread flour (spankin' fresh! with no hint of bitterness)
2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 T honey
1/4 cup oil
Directions:Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl make a well in the mixture. Dissolve the honey in the 2 1/4 cup water and add the oil of your choice. Pour the liquid and the yeast mixture into the well of flour. Stirring from the center, first combine the ingredients to make a smooth batter, then fold in the remaining flour from the sides of the bowl, mixing them together into a soft dough. Soft dough is the key!! Since the whole grain flour takes a while to absorb water, wait 10 minutes--then evaluate the dough. Add water or flour if more is required, but do this slowly as it will probably take less flour than you think. If you want really good bread--best keeping quality, flavor, and rise--knead the dough about 600 strokes without adding any more flour. The dough should remain soft and should become elastic and smooth. Rest whenever you want, but aim for 600 strokes. This is about 6 minutes on medium speed in a Kitchen-Aid mixer. This may seem like an amazing and outrageous requirement, but after many hundreds of loaves, I'm convinced that thorough kneading makes the critical difference. As you continue to work the dough, toward the end of the kneading, it will become lustrous, utterly supple and elastic. It should actually be white if you look closely, with brown bran flecks clearly visible against pale gluten. Form the dough into a ball and put in an un-greased crock. Spray LIGHTLY with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to ferment. At about 80 degrees, this will take 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Wet your finger and poke it into the dough (called the ripe test). If your finger goes in without very much resistance and the hole remains when your finger is removed, the dough is ready to be punched down. For best results, do not wait until it sighs and collapses when poked. Gently press out the accumulated gas. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured table and keeping the smooth surface, carefully unbroken, deflate the dough by pressing it with wet or floury hand from one side to another. Cut it in half and form each part gently int a round ball, still preserving the smooth surface on the outside. Roll dough int a rectangle and fold into thirds. Roll, pinch, and form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan (standard size only! 8inch by 4 inch--or loaves will be squat-ty). Loaves should take 35-45 minutes for their final rise (called proof)--I cover them with a loose gallon size bag. Make sure the surface doesn't get dry or the top crust will separate from the loaf when baking...Preheat oven to 425 degrees. When oven is hot and only then, place loaves in the oven. If all has gone well, the loaves will arch over the top of the pan, touching the sides all the way up! The dough feels spongy but not soggy. Place in hot oven. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until internal temperature is over 175 degrees (can be measured with a chef style meat thermometer). Allow to cool before placing in a bag. Keeps 3-4 days if you kept the dough soft.

For a full picture tutorial, visit my friend Kate's blog: Bare Bones Bread Tutorial! She did a wonderful job!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friday's Freeze Frame...

Every Friday it comes to this...

I make pizza. Pizza by the ton. I imagine that explains a lot. Especially if it causes brain damage. Or excitability in children. Or the complete inability to get me to stop talking about bread. Whatever it is about homemade pizza, we have it. Yes. All the symptoms that come with it as well. I can't explain what draws me or the majority of the country to the pizza parlor but I for one have pizza in my parlor. If I had a fancy parlor I would definitely make space for a pizza table. As it is, we have a tiny enough space for a 4 seat er table in my kitchen. Just right for my boys to go completely berserk at the thought of Friday night pizza. So I thought it only fair to post the recipe I use for homemade oven rise pizza dough. Apparently it has been quite a hit with all who have tried it. Cheaper than the frozen oven rise pizza by about 5$ a piece too. Not bad for the 10 minutes it takes to wind up the ol' Kitchen-aid and get it done!

Oven rise pizza dough (for your freezer)
6 cups bread flour
2 1/4 cups water
1T baking powder
1T yeast
1T salt
1/4 cup oil.
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a mixer and knead 5 minutes. Let dough rest 5 minutes. Form into 3 9 inch crusts placed on cardboard cake rounds or lined sheet pans. Top with cold sauce and toppings (be sure vegetables are blanched). Freeze then transfer to gallon size freezer bags that are labeled clearly. Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes, preferably on a pizza stone. Serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.
Note: pre-cook meat and veggies for best results. put cheese right on sauce, and then toppings, this will ensure cheese stays on pizza.

What will I do when my boys are teenagers? EEEk!

How Will I Know?

I Knead to Know... don't mind the pun. I had to do it. I get asked a lot how often I make bread. It comes to this...whenever we need it. Or knead it. Or want it. I was once taking a finance class and the man in the blue suit said I should separate my "wants" and my "needs". I am pretty sure he wasn't talking about dough. The more I Knead bread the more bread I want. So it's a vicious cycle...

As a matter of extreme fact, this photo actually is a picture of what my kneads look like. Scary isn't it? So if you have any questions... on a knead to know basis, I am happy to help. Just a random thought late at night. Not up with my babies...again. Sick and wrong. Sick and wrong.

It Starts With a Dream

This is the recipe that started it all...

My Mother's 5 Day bread dough. It is good in the fridge for 5 days. She developed the recipe her Senior year of college as a food science final. Then the remainder of my growing up years, she developed it further until now... It is practically perfect in every way. A regular Mary Poppins kind of bread. Make the dough Monday and you can have rolls, pizza, bread... you name it for the rest of the week. The only rules are: the dough has to stay covered tightly, and the dough needs to get punched down once a day. This recipe makes 4 loaves, or 48 rolls. Or one pizza, 12 rolls, 6 hot dog buns, monkey bread, and 12 soft pretzels. It is an all purpose dough. Yes you can make 4 dozen cinnamon rolls and sit down with a fork and 12 friends and eat the whole pan... I haven't done it (...yet) but I assume it can be done. Diabetics... shoot up. I don't want to be held liable for a sugar coma. You know this isn't low carbo. Remember, follow the recipe as close as possible and you will have success. Pay especially close attention to the directions. Don't just read the ingredients and do it your way. It won't be as perfect as it could be...Really. Seriously. Do what it says. Really. I will say that and there will still be some who write and tell me my recipe is a stink-bug (even though they didn't measure right and added the salt right to the yeast and...their own way mixing...). There is no secret ingredient! Kung Fu Panda freaks. It is how you follow the directions... OH...and this recipe is for baking at sea level. If you are farther up in the sure to note the changes.

Geneve's 5 Day Bread Dough--

2T active dry yeast (over 3000 feet use 1 T only)
4 cups milk, cold is best (cold soy milk is wonderful!)
3/4 cup honey
1T salt
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg replacement)
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup mashed potatoes. cooled to body temp again. The consistency of thick oatmeal.
1T baking powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
12-14 cups all purpose flour (I have used fine ground white wheat and been fine doing all whole grain, use only 12-14 cups total if whole wheat is used )

Directions. Dissolve yeast in milk. Stir in honey. Allow yeast to get all foamy and look like it is having a hay day. Add egg, oil, mashed potato, baking powder, 2cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups all purpose flour and salt, in that order. Do not let yeast come in contact with salt on it's own or it will kill the yeast. Beat until smooth. Allow dough to rest 10-15 minutes.

Add enough of the flour remaining to make a soft dough that is easy to handle but not dry. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 full minutes. about 600 turns. Yea. 600 by hand. 5-6 minutes by machine on medium speed. Form into a ball and place in an ungreased 2gallon bowl, covered tightly. If you don't have a large enough bowl...use two smaller bowls. Or...just half the recipe if you are worried. Put in the fridge. Punch down after 2 hours (this may be faster if you use warm ingredients or flour. If the dough is over 85 degrees when you put it in the fridge, be sure to punch down sooner. Also...if you have kids who open the fridge a lot, be sure to lower the temperature a bit so that your fridge is really as cold as it should be) Form into a ball again. Cover tightly and chill at least 8 hours. Be sure to punch down daily (this not only expels gas, but also ensures even temperature in the dough). Shape into 4 loaves...see :loaf molding (I roll the dough out 12 inches by 8 inches, fold into thirds and roll into a loaf) and put into well oiled 8inch by 4 inch by 4 inch loaf pans. Larger loaf pans are not recommended. Cover loaves with a light mist of oil and then cover with plastic for 1 1/2 to 2 and 1/2 hours depending on the temperature of your home. Bread will be just over the top of the pan. Make sure oven is pre-heated! 400degrees. Bake at 400 degrees for (12-15 minutes for over 3000 feet altitude) 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15- 20 minutes (I use a meat thermometer. At 170 degrees the bread is baked through). Remove promptly from pans and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before putting in storage bags. Do not store in the fridge.


Spiced Ginger Peach Carmel Rolls with Toasted Almonds

So how sick and wrong is it? I'm really taking a poll. I don't think I could possibly add more filling if I tried but isn't that what makes a good sweet roll? One of my biggest fears it that one day I will wake up and realize that there isn't a 12 step program for obsessive sugar disorder. keeps me up at night. That and the crazy realization that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter if I make more sweet rolls than the next guy, as long as mine are better!! Should I start sharing recipes here or just tease you with my skills and magic? I guess that will be my next step.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let Me Sleep You Crazy Man!

Deep Fried Fluffy Dough Logs of Love and Indescribable Happiness...
or Pumpkin Doughnuts...

I have a friend who had an incurable sickness called KK. Krispy Kreme. I have to say I don't blame him but I just can't bring myself to drive all the way across town to get a deep fried dough ball... So when he asked if I had a recipe for pumpkin doughnuts my evil and twisted mind floated back to the days when I was up all night, not with babies, but with doughnuts. I can't help confessing right here and now that I may have intentionally fumbled with a doughnut or two just so I could sample the "broken" ones... still warm out of the fryer. The security guards loved to come by my corner of the bakery late at night. They would find broken pieces of fritters and jelly filled Bismark just begging for a friendly visitor to sample them. So can I help it if now as a mom and at home late at night I can't shut off my brain and end up in the wee hours concocting something as evil as a deep fried yeast raised fluffy pumpkin doughnut covered in maple glaze... and then topped with a rich cream cheese frosting, chocolate chunks and toasted almonds. Is it wrong? I may not be right in the head, but tell me these doughnuts look amazing! I'm telling you right now, if I could only eat with my eyes, I'd be a size 6. I really need to stop answering emails... those little voices in my head that beg for a recipe that has never been tackled. This was one of those voices. Thanks a lot. Mr. Evil. Now if I could only make this thigh fit in my pant leg...

Pumpkin doughnuts1 cup warm milk (not too hot now)
2 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkg)
1 tsp salt
1 cup packed canned pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp almond extract
Vegetable shortening ( for frying)

Put the milk, yeast, sugar, pumpkin in a mixer with a whisk and mix until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Mix with a dough hook until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes (by hand about 300 turns). Put dough in a covered bowl and raise about 1 hour until doubled. Lightly flour a counter top and roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts or bars. I like the bars. Allow to raise uncovered 1 hour. Using a heavy pot and a thermometer, heat about 4 inches of oil to 360 degrees (with a candy thermometer). Lower the doughnuts into the hot fat, and brown on one side then carefully turn over. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all the doughnuts are cooked (this yields 16 good size bars or about 20 doughnuts and holes). When cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting or glaze with a maple glaze.

Maple glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3T hot water
1/4 tsp maple flavor
dash of salt.
Mix until smooth and spread over doughnuts with a silicone brush.

Painted Decorative Bread

I am a bread artist. It is one of my favorite mediums... and why shouldn't it be? Bread is one of the most personal and comforting foods around. I spent many years learning its rhythm and style. Learning to appreciate it's personality. I love it. I may in fact have an unusually unrealistic obsession with bread. I am okay with that. It reaches millions of souls. It fills a void. It brings strength. I think if I was a food, I would be bread. So, here is a picture of my work. Whole grain satisfying loaves painted with an all natural edible compound (no I won't tell you what it is!!). In the future I will tell all. In the meantime... take a look at pure love. This is my passion.

My Chef Tess Story begins...

Chef Tess is a nickname. My real name is Stephanie. Tess was the name my mother used whenever she wanted me to join her in the kitchen. It stuck all through my childhood and beyond. Even now if she has a cooking idea she calls me "little Tess". I am a real chef and a real mom! I am a graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Scottsdale Arizona as of thirteen years, and a good ol' American gal! Originally I worked as a pastry chef at the Phoenician Resort and then as an assistant banquet chef at another resort in Arizona. There I worked in several capacities including line cook, baker and vegetable and fruit display artist. I loved my experiences. When I got pregnant with my first son, it just had to stop. Morning sickness was killing me! Hot pastrami and sauerkraut on a grill don't help!
In a few months I was blessed with a gorgeous baby boy. I put my full attention on my new son. It was quite and lonely and I soon realized that I am one of the worst cases of "Social Butterfly" out there. I was off to the library, absorbing all I could on the food world. I added book after book to the learning I had already received at culinary school. I have enjoyed the benefits of being a full time mother for the last 9 years. I won't lie. It was hard to go from two incomes to one and it was even harder to downsize so we could pay off debt.
Reality hit. Practical everyday cooking became a way of life! I have used my skills to fine tune my family's budget. I focused on health and nutrition, whole grain cookery, and making those things taste wonderful! In that time, I put aside my full time work in the restaurant industry, but used my creative mind, desire to learn, and my heart to create wonderful cooking classes and outstandingly fun hands on seminars. I have been teaching food seminars for the last 5 years. I love to see the sparkle in a student's eyes when they finally grasp a concept! It is so exciting! Many of my students have gone on to become wonderful "chefs". Imagine my joy in seeing them find their inner artist and find a new talent they never knew they had! Please feel welcome! I hope you will enjoy your visit !
Please be advised, I am a real gal. I am practical and down-to-earth . I am also organized, happy, light hearted, open, and find it easy to love everyone I meet. If you are expecting anything more than a person, you will be disappointed. I make mistakes, I cook from a box sometimes. I am as real as it gets. When I don't know something, I will tell you! If you will join me on a journey of learning, we will both become our best selves. That being said, I hope that you feel welcome to visit me anytime! I am always thrilled to make a new friend!