Monday, November 30, 2009

My Chef Tess Spice Sale!

Have you ever looked at Chef Tess Bakeresse Etsy ? I've had a few people ask if I ever put my spice blends on sale. I'm happy to announce that yes...I do. Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning , Wise Woman of The East Spice Blend, Chef Tess Fajita Seasoning are all usually 6.99$ This month they will be$ 4.99 each. I grind the spices fresh to order. Wise woman of the East has several sweet spices, citrus, and floral. Sniff that?'ll just have to take my word for it.
Your pies and cookies will never be the same. I mean that in a good way.

I dry my own onions and garlic for the savory blends so they are extra special. They are also ground fresh to sitting around and losing flavor.
Happy baking and cooking this holiday season folks.

Lisa's Onion Tart

This is one of the best parts of an Evil Think Tank. I love seeing creative sparks fly. It's much better than throwing olives and you don't leave smelling like olive juice. Lisa had a tart pan before I even showed up at her house with my gobs of devilish ingredients. William Sanoma. Nice. Rectangular Tart Pan. We wanted a nice savory tart (no comments from the peanut gallery).
For Lisa's tart we used:
1 recipe of pie dough like we used in the Mango Frangipane Tart with Spiced Pomegranate Mola...
Prepared, rolled, formed and baked the same way as well.
3 pieces dry pear, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 onions, sliced thin (use your favorite)
2T butter
1 tsp thyme
1 cup chopped cooked ham
2 cups shredded Colby jack cheese
3 large green garlic stuffed olives
Pepper and paprika to taste
Saute the onions, pears, thyme and butter until the onions look like this. Medium heat.
Put that ham on the bottom of the prepared tart pan. It would not be a bad idea to spread some cream cheese in there...I think smoked salmon would be divine.
Cover ham with the onion pear mixture. Cover with cheese and add the three olives in a decorative manner over the top of the tart. Sprinkle with pepper and paprika. Yes, you must shake your hips for dramatic effect.
Bake 375 degrees 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
Enjoy warm. Refrigerate left overs.
Thank you Lisa for sharing your evil tart with me.
There you go.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bread of Life...Tree Ornaments

Sunday is the day I share a little of my soul. Enjoy.

Black Friday is the day we put up our Christmas tree. It has been for years. It's a great time for me to get my head on straight about the season. I'm not saying going shopping is wrong by any far stretch. I do in fact love a good battle over the last bike on the Wal-mart clearance rack. I'm just saying that for me, I need the clarity. I take out the cherished ornaments that remind me of people I love. Angel crocheted ornament from my dear friend Heather who taught me painstakingly how to crochet with the fine thread.

My favorite Holiday ham...
Salt dough tree made by my sister Auntie Em one of her lean years. A gift from her heart that I treasure.

The family ornament that my sister Jen gave me the first year we had our baby...after years of wondering if the child would ever appear. What a sweet feeling to know God truly did remember our family.
A new addition living with Cussin' Granny...the John Deer tractor. We're not hillbillies...not...not...not. Okay, maybe just a little. We only have one of these. One is good, this one to remember Granny's loving father who would take her deep into the potato fields on their Colorado farm so he could spend more time with his sweet daughter. She spent a lot of time taking naps curled up at the feet of her daddy on that tractor.
The ornament that goes up first every year...the most simple of all.
A long thick harsh nail. To remind us most of all that the season we celebrate isn't just because the Lord thought it would be great to send a child to earth...but that the sacrifice was going to be complete. The work of redemption would not go unfinished. That God should be thanked for the Gift of His Son. It's spelled Christmas with a capitol "C".
God Bless.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Chipotle Turkey Gravy

On "Black Friday" I try to stay home. I love making breakfast for the family and putting up the Christmas tree first. I think it puts things in a proper order in my mind. This particular Friday I made a recipe I had been working on this week.

I received an email from a teacher who has been to Space Camp. At the time, it was just such a sweet letter I had to look into what she was asking me about. I honestly, love getting mail like that and try to get things done quickly. This gal wanted to know how to make light fluffy sweet potato biscuits. She enjoyed them at her local whole foods market and wanted a recipe that would work. She wanted fluffy slightly sweet with a very light hint of spice. I was immediately intrigued. My adoration for sweet potatoes is almost as close as my bliss over blackberries. Space camp... I've never been there. I've never once claimed to be good enough at math to even go to Space Camp. Biscuit I can do. Smothered in a light buttermilk chipotle gravy with chunks of turkey sausage I can do. Gentleman...and ladies, begin countdown. Check your oven dials. It's time...

Tess' Sweet potato biscuits (yield 8 large or 16 small)
Dry ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup butter or (organic vegetable shortening)
1/2 tsp salt
2T sugar (or granulated fructose)
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Wet ingredients:
2/3 cup milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. I cook the sausage gravy at the same time I make the biscuits. Don't worry if you can't do both at the same time yet. It's not landing the shuttle.

First you will need to mash some sweet potato.
I prefer the fork smashing compared to the ever popular version many mothers see. You know, the kids chewing it and spitting it out version.
It takes about 1/2 a small sweet potato to make 1/3 cup mashed. Not much, right?
Combine the sweet potato with buttermilk or milk (or water if you are vegan). The colder the liquid the better.
In a separate bowl, combine the shortening or butter with the dry ingredients. Mix until the shortening has been cut into tiny pieces, the size of a pea. If you don't know what that looks like see:Tuesday Tutorial Pecan Pie. It has great pictures on what shortening cut into flour looks like in the pastry world.
Once the liquid ingredients are combined, add them to the flour/shortening mixture.
Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix very gingerly (like my fancy talk?)
Until a light dough is formed. There will be lumps and pieces of sweet potato.
Knead the dough 4-5 times, then roll out on an floured counter top. It will be about as high as a...canning ring.
Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes.

It's still not as hot as re-entering the Earth's atmosphere in there.
While they bake you can make the sausage gravy.
Tess' buttermilk chipotle Turkey Gravy
1 lb lean mild turkey sausage
1 T minced chipotle pepper
1/4 cup minced onion
2T minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda (you only need the baking soda if you use the real buttermilk here...)
2 cups milk (You may need a little more if you prefer a gravy on the thin side.)

In a large 16 inch family skillet with deep sides, cook the sausage over medium heat along with the chipotle pepper onion and garlic. When turkey is cooked through, add the flour and cook 3-4 minutes until dark. Add the soda and buttermilk (soda neutralizes the acid in the buttermilk so it doesn't curdle and you still get that nice slightly tart taste of the buttermilk...nice.) Add the rest of the milk stir constantly. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stir periodically. Serve over hot sweet potato biscuits. Wonderful with cranberry relish.
There you go. Thanks for the great letter Heather!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ace's Fried Ice Cream

My crazy husband Ace called me while I was out shopping for a few minutes. He was so excited because he (the non-gourmet) had taken a new leap in his culinary skills. He loves Fried Ice cream. Every time we see it on the menu he tells me, "nobody can make it as amazing as my fried ice cream." I always giggle...because he can't do much more in the kitchen than boil water. Imagine my utter joy when he said he and made a very French version out of totally gourmet ice cream Real vanilla bean and everything.

This is what I came home to.

French Fried Ice Cream. That's all I have to say about that.

Ahhh The Winner of The Tart Pan and Cooking Class

Thanks to all the folks who participated in Tart Week...Tart Pan and Cooking Class Giveaway!. Special thanks to for sponsoring this event. Those who don't win and still need a tart pan...some evil baking stuff ...My tart pan can be found here:

This week's winner is: Carol in NE Kansas. Please send me a private email to along with your shipping information and I will connect you with a nice new tart pan my dear. Thanks again to all who participated. Come back again and I will have more for you. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Smooooches all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Great Cussin' Granny's Buttermilk Custard Tart

I'm pretty sure Granny comes from a totally different generation than I do. The one with a different kitchen towels for every day of the week embroidered with the day's labor. Case in point...she's of the stock that does wash on Monday...every Monday. Iron on Tuesday...every single time. Baking only on Saturday would kill me. She also washes and puts up her hair in rollers. I'm just saying...who does that? Putting up my hair in rollers would make me a prime candidate for alien mind control. Those metal bad boys are sure to pick up radio waves clear from Savanna, Georgia! Radio waves or mind always lingers on the buttermilk custard tart. Always. For those who don't know, I live with my Mother in Law (Cussin' Granny). Random Thoughts...Hospice Chick-a-dee of Glory .

Cussin' Granny does a lot more than she should. I first I thought it odd to have someone who saw the necessity to iron every shirt in the house. On the other hand... I have never looked more tidy. She has brought a whole new level of neat-o-ness to my frilly blouse collection. She insists it is something she enjoys and feels it her way of contributing to the family. I almost feel guilty coming home from a hectic morning and seeing piles of clean folded laundry on my bed. Perhaps she thinks it's a small thing...but it is in fact, epic to me. Such a labor of love.
She also washes dishes. For a small fee, I can drop her off at your house. Just kidding. I wouldn't part with her for anything.

I must also report that Granny does make a pretty mean buttermilk custard. She admits freely that she doesn't like to cook. There are a handful of dishes she makes that she considers good. If she never cooked again, it wouldn't effect her core creative being. I would probably fall into a very dramatic heap of self pity should that scenario fall upon me. So it's nice when we have a common ground dish. In all honesty, buttermilk custard has a special place in my heart. I've loved it since the first moment my pink glossed lips had the privilege of making it's acquaintance. It was the first Thanksgiving I ever spent with Ace's family. It's a creamy custard that's slightly tart with mild hints of vanilla and nutmeg. Granny...this one's for you my friend. Today we made it into a tart using the new tart pan (hint hint...Tart Week...Tart Pan and Cooking Class Giveaway! )You may want to make this one part of your life.
Granny keeps her recipe collection in a tidy little box on top of the fridge.
Yea, a recipe box like this...totally vintage. It fits me so much it's almost scary.
Aaaa! Someone save me! Mrs. Brady left her recipe box here! If I start wanting to wear bell bottom pant and sing cheesy songs while waving my thumbs...again (it has been known to happen)...shoot me. Bury this recipe box with me. I love it eternally.
Remember yesterday? Vaguely? I know. It was pretty evil.

Mango Frangipane Tart with Spiced Pomegranate Mola... The recipe and directions for the crust of the tart are there. If you make the buttermilk custard, you will need somewhere to put it. Follow them up to the part where you have baked the crust for 20 minutes.

Face helped with almost all the pie and tart baking today. That's saying a lot for a 6 year old. Or could it be the sugar coated rubber spatulas are the main hypnotic draw?

Great Granny's Buttermilk Custard Tart
1 prepared tart shell (see yesterday's post above for the detailed instructions for that...)
1 cup sugar
2T flour
2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs (whisked)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla
dash of nutmeg

Combine the sugar and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Really beat them well. Rocket science right?
Pour into the partially baked 10 inch tart shell.
Bake 350 degrees, until a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean (about 35 minutes).
When it's done baking, I take a butterfly spatula and place it flush to the top of the tart and sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices. This custard is also epic topped with fresh fruit. Serve warm or cold. Be sure to refrigerate.

There you go. A Petersen tradition. Forever.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mango Frangipane Tart with Spiced Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Blackberries

We are about to embark on a dangerous visit to the Evil Think Tank. Our first journey without Evil Tara, though her evil master genius was deeply felt as the founding idea. Frangipane with pear in a lovely tart was a Tara-ism. However, due to forces beyond my control, I had to find another lab assistant this time. So, Lisa (clan of the cave hair ), the one and only friend who came over to help me pack stuff to move...was allowed the unique chance to see my mind at work. She was even gracious enough to let me come to her house with a bunch of random supplies...

This is how an Evil Think Tank works. I bring the basics...and we decide together just how to improve the all around wickedness of the indulgence. After perusing the supplies...
The melting of the minds agreed we needed blackberries and some onions. Not to go together in a tart. Lisa made a run to the local produce market while I stayed with her sweet daughter and got to watch the "pony show"...which I don't ever get to watch when my little boys are around. So nice to have some girl time.

Is it a sign? Our produce came out to exactly...

I'm just saying...
Make the crust. You will need
2 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening ( I used Spectrum brand organic)
1/4 cup butter
3T vinegar
3T cold water

Preheat your oven to 400. Combine salt, flour, shortening and butter. For more exact directions please see Tuesday Tutorial Pecan Pie .
My friends, Lisa has been making pie crust since she was 6. I just let her do it. I'm nice like that. She didn't even cuss at me and tell me, " Make your own crust you lazy freak". That's a true friend my dear.
Form into a ball and chill in the fridge about 30 minutes. You can get a lot of evil planning done while it is in the Big House. Planning it's escape might be first on your wicked agenda.
Roll out between two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper until a 12 inch circle is formed. Remove paper and flip the dough into the tart pan. Yes, hip action is required. I would be amiss if I didn't mention that this lovely pan was sent to me from Let me tell you...they didn't fool around. It's a gorgeous weight and a fabulous invaluable tart tool.
Trim the dough flush to the edge of the tart pan. I love this tart pan. It's really heavy and non-stick. It bakes evenly and the bottom comes out so I can remove the tart from the pan and serve them more easily.
Trimming the dough is fun to do, fun to do, to do, to do... You know I watched too much Mr. Rogers as a kid right?
Roll the dough so it is even with the lip of the pan. Flute inward, like this...or for further instructions on fluting see the Tuesday Tutorial Pecan Pie. It's all mapped out for you there.
I know you can do it.
Now you will need aluminum foil and dry uncooked pinto beans. Nobody crack open a can of Boston Baked Beans and put those in there. I will cry...after I point and laugh. No, really, I won't laugh. Just don't do it.

Arrange like so...
Did I mention I love this tart pan?
Bake 400 degrees 20-25 minutes. While it bakes we will prepare the frangipane filling.
For my recipe you need:
1 cup butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cup fine ground toasted almonds
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup all purpose flour
We went non-traditional and used the almonds with the skin still on. It was for the added fiber. Really. It made it healthier somehow.

Pulse in the food processor 2 minutes.
Oh baby, you are soooo fine. You're totally nuts...but you're fine.

Whip the softened butter, with the sugar with a very strong paddle. Kitchen Aid comes to mind.
Now, gracious hearts, add the cream cheese. Whip 3 minutes. Scrape down the side with a nice rubber spatula.

You will need one egg, and one egg yolk. I'm not totally insane, but I took an egg out and separated it...then asked Lisa, "Hey, where did I put the eggs?!"
Yea. See that little piece of silver at the top of the next picture...that's how far away the eggs where. I'm just don't have to be a genius to make this tart my friends.

With the mixer on low, add the whole egg (out of the shell...I have to say that you know), and the yolk. Also add the super fine and sexy almond powder of bliss and the 1/3 cup flour, and 2 tsp vanilla. Beat on medium speed about 2 more minutes until well combined. No, this next picture is not a random photo of my thighs. Freaky as that would be.
Remove the tart shell from the oven (20 minutes to bake at 400, remember?) Remove the beans in the foil by holding the edges of the foil after it cools slightly. Lift those beans up in that foil like you are "the Stork" delivering a little baby-ga-ga bundle. Then, we chopped 4 pieces of dry apricot, 3 dried pears. Randomly we decided not to use the plums. Which is also part of the Think Tank. Yes my friends, it's about being a total woman and fickle enough to change the unfathomable mind that a woman possesses. I can own that.
Now...Lisa unveiled the most evil potion of all. One that will forever live in infamy for it's freaky psycho influence on the otherwise perfectly sweet and love filled blackberries...behold...the most wonderfully tart and yet heroine like liquid I have yet seen drizzled on a berry...
Don't ask me where you can get that stuff. I don't think it's street legal. However, Lisa might leave a comment and let everyone know who her source is...or some kind of anonymous tip.
Pomegranate molasses. EVIL. Pomegranate molasses with blackberries...pure evil genius.
Oooo-wah-haaaa-haaa-haa. Bow to me my lovelies. That's the berries talking. I would never insist upon such mindless hero worship. Evil mind control is for the sourdough starter (Lost? Random thoughts...Sourdough.)
While those bask in the glow of joy...spread out the frangipane filling. See how thick the tart pan is? Really...I'm totally in love.
Oh have mercy. Please...someone save me from myself.
It's like "The Blob"...but it doesn't chase perfectly primped sock hop gals out of movie theaters and ooze out of ventilation shafts (though I'm pretty sure you can't run for long from this stuff...). Poor tender little dried fruitlets didn't have a chance.

Once that blob of glee had been spread out to the edges, artfully arrange the mango on top. Art-fully-fingers...engage. Watched a little too much Inspector Gadget as well.
Bake...375 degrees for about 1 hour. We where not,by any far stretch, satisfied with the level of toxic sugar bomb we had we did more stuff while the tart baked. Zany stuff like chopped candied ginger, about 1 T.
Galactic destructive mind processing decided we needed some more addictive powders and colorful stuff with the blackberries in the evil we added 1 tsp double strength Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, 1 tsp micro-grated orange zest...and a dash of Saigon cinnamon and nutmeg. Popping one of these little things in your mouth was like tasting the entire Spirit of Christmas. If that makes any sense. It was like that mulberry candle everyone burns at the advent of the season to make their home drip with the feelings of love and warmth that filled your soul as a child. It was that a berry.

Yes...I know. It's awe inspiring.
Sing with me now, "It's the hap-happiest Season of Aaaaaallllll".
(This picture has been censored by Mothers Against Mind Control)
Speaking of insanity...add
some chopped butter toffee walnuts, about 1/2 cup. Those got piled in the middle of the tart, along with the ginger after it was removed from the oven, though they could have easily been put on the tart before the baking. Now for the moment of utter bliss.
I found out that it is possible to want a tart blackberry too much. Shame how that tart would have been beautiful totally unadorned with the berries...however, it wouldn't have been nearly as fulfilled as a tart. Indeed, it may have spent the rest of it's lifetime thinking of the berry that got away. I can't be responsible for that kind of indignant shame or agony inflicted by bitter separation.
Tell me...wouldn't it be wimperingly sad to keep them apart? Wimperingly is a word, it means "I'm a total dork"... in Chef-Tess-a-neese. My private language reserved for the few and chosen who are just daring enough to embark into the Evil Think Tank. the love song from "Titanic" fills your otherwise perfectly sweet thoughts...gaze your shining little peepers on this confection being drizzled with the syrup that was at the bottom of the bowl of berries. Yes my friends. I can't speak either.
Mmmfffph theee tart was pefectpppffff.

No...I'm not talking with my mouth full.

Fork test. Holy crazy bus! Did I or did I not eat the whole thing?! Lisa helped. I swear. That molasses left from the blackberries was drizzled on the rest of the tart...because we where just that naughty.
Brace yourselves...
Lisa's daughter asked..." Is this Bad or Good?" which I answered, " YES". I ask myself that same question every time I enter the Think Tank. I must say...I'm still trying to sort it all out in my very cute, but deranged mind.

There you go. Now...that means go make one.
Which means you need to go visit and gear up for the holiday baking. Need a tart pan...some evil baking stuff ...My tart pan can be found here: Thanks to we get to have this tart pan giveaway this week! Isn't that nice?

They will be shipping one to a lucky winner here on my blog. My generosity knows no bounds (over 20$ worth of a calphalon tart pan that is)...
Oh...and pop over to the Tart Week...Tart Pan and Cooking Class Giveaway! You know you want to have an Evil Think Tank with me! No, you won't have to wear an aluminum foil cone on your head...on your first think tank anyway.