Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cooking with Chef Tess to Air on the Heartland Network in Las Vegas

I received an epic call from the owner of TgoTV a few nights ago and I'm still having a hard time digesting the gravity of the news.  Since my pilot episode launched in November, there hasn't been another episode of the show added to her network, and I was beginning to think that it was a pretty dream, but that it might not go much further.  Theresa Goss, the network owner and my Producer,let me know that she had been in a meeting with the head of the Heartland TV Network in Las Vegas.  During her meeting, she had been able to show them my pilot episode. She said that they loved it and wanted it on their network on local TV with the possibility of it going national on all their affiliate stations.  After I dropped the phone and stopped giggling with joy, I was able to compose myself enough to just scream! Hooooray!!!!!! 

 Long story short, the papers have been signed and my show will be airing on Heartland TV  in Las Vegas on channels 34.2 and on Cox cable channel 97 every Saturday at 1:30 pm starting March 25th! YES!!!!

There are several Heartland TV Affiliate Stations Nationally and this definitely has the potential to take the show across the country.  I'm trying to maintain some level of calm, but in my house, I've been squealing with absolute joy for days on end!  

That being said, not only has it been a remarkable few days, but I have been filled with so much gratitude.  The journey is still going to be long, but thankfully, there's new opportunities still ahead and I am so excited! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I have a New Job!

 I have had a remarkable few weeks.  The blessings that have come into my life have left me overwhelmed with gratitude and where there once has been extreme stress and frustration, there has come new levels of peace and happiness. So great have been the blessings, that I have frequently found myself just crying a little...because of the joy. 

Case in point, I was at a breaking point with my job as a traditional pastry chef.  The long hours on my feet and the wonky early morning hours (seriously 2 am was kicking my butt) were just getting to me.  I needed something with a lot more security and to feel like I was making a difference, not just making cakes. 

The good Lord heard my prayers.  Just over three weeks ago after a whirlwind of interviews and a flight to Colorado where I met the president of Panhandle Milling, I was offered a fantastic position as their Culinary Marketing Specialist.  That's just a fancy way of saying that I get to write package labels, food blogs, magazine articles, cookbooks and develop recipes for their company and its clients.  I get to do what I love best and they are taking good care of this girl.  I have never felt more blessed! Seriously. I am still based in Phoenix, but will travel a little more to their mill locations in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. 

That being said, not only has it been a remarkable few weeks, but I have been filled with so much gratitude.  So far, they are living up to their promises as a company in every way.  The journey is still going to be long, but thankfully, there's new opportunities still ahead and I am so excited to be part of what they are doing! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chef Tess Bakeresse Named one of the top 100 food blogs

I received an amazing email this week from the founder of feedspot. Chef Tess Bakeresse  was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Chef Blogs  on the web. For more details, the article is  Here. I just had to share this outstanding news! Seriously. Especially after starting this little blog initially so that I could get a little peace at dinner time because my sweet cooking class students would call with cooking questions as they were preparing dinner and I wanted them to have a fast resource.  I am amazed at where this blog has gone and the things it has brought into my life along the way.  Thank you all for being a part of that journey.  I love you so much!

We've come a long way my darlings!  

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, February 20, 2017

Streets Fine Chicken in Dallas TX, Rambling Review

 Y'all know that if I don't like a restaurant, I don't give it a review on my blog.  As a general rule, I just think it is classy to only share what is awesome and not rip another establishment down. That being said, I was in Dallas last week with Evil TARA ...the original giant brain in my Evil Think Tanks ...see the ETT for details on how those kitchen shenanigans ensued.  At any rate, she's the one who originally said, "Steph, you should start a blog." To which I replied, "What's a blog?"  I had so much to learn and she opened the floodgate.  We've had a lot of fun along the way.  Now, back to Dallas.

During a two day visit with my remarkable friend, we were looking for a place to have a quick dinner.  We found this one.  Streets Fine Chicken

I should have known that I'd love it just based on the first few items on the menu...Chickarones, fried chicken skins with chili lime salt, and the chicken lollipops, smoked 'n' fried chicken drumsticks rolled in a Grand Marnier horseradish molasses.
 We ordered the lollies. How could we not?
They were fall-off-the-bone tender smoked  and then deep fried giving it a very unique crisp-tender contrast.  That perfect little drumette was then covered in this sticky-savory molasses that literally made me giddy.  The presentation was spot-on and the flavors were perfect. 

Next we got the Chickarones. In Arizona and across the country people have fried pig skins all the time.  I thought this was a brilliant use of chicken skin, plus when I bake chicken, I really love the crispy skin!  These were so crispy and warm with a mild chili and lime salt.   

 I think I can't admit how many of them I ate.  I was on vacation. Don't judge me. Seriously though, they were crispy heaven! They were everything one would expect in a fried pork skin, but with chicken...and way better than pork. Waaaay better. 
After that, we were on to the main stage.  They had two things that were their specialty.  Fried chicken and something called "Sin Killer Chicken".  Tara had had Peri Peri chicken in France and insisted that I'd love it.  I had to trust that, plus the description sounded absolutely divine!

We ordered it with the creamy baked brie macaroni and cheese.  I wish I had words to describe the flavor explosion. Tangy, sweet, spicy with hints of citrus and herbs then grilled to a tender perfection.  I was in love.  Life changing chicken.  I never say that, but this was awesome.
Sin Killer is flame grilled chicken marinated in olive oil, agave nectar, orange peel, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, onion, Peri Peri peppers, herbs and spices; There was also a light and super fluffy honey biscuit; creamy brie mac n' cheese made with gouda and creamy brie - baked then toasted to perfection. 
By the time we got to their signature fried chicken and roasted brussel sprouts, I could barely take a bite.  The few tastes I did have were really remarkable. It wasn't fried chicken that you could ever put in a bucket.  It was really delightful. 
Needless to say, I really adore this chicken place.  The service was every bit as awesome as the food served with a smile and a Texas accent.  Whenever I'm in Dallas, this will definitely be on my list of places to go!

There you go darlings! Go visit these guys!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tess' Top Secret Loaded Potato Salad (Banquet Sized Recipe)

Once upon a time my favorite friend Heather invited me over for a barbecue. She whipped out a giant vat of potato salad that she had made and it blew my freakishly adorable mind-space. Number one, because she made just enough for me, and maybe a tablespoon or two for the rest of the guests. You know, I love good potato salad. I do. Don't judge me. Secretly you do too. I bet I'm not the only one who has it as a midnight snack instead of cheesecake. Well. Maybe only if there isn't cheesecake in the house. Number two,  It was perfect. It had just the right balance of zing and zang. The best part...
It had bacon in it. Yeah. Bacon.  Then she confessed to me her ultimate secret for the best potato salad ever. The secret ingredient she used, besides the bacon fat in the dressing, was also the use of pickle brine in the dressing. That's when things got crazy! I started to squeal gleefully!  I pulled out ceremonial head-garb and started singing...The Heather and Tess Ya-ya Sisterhood dancing ensued as I confessed that I too had been using pickle juice in my potato salad dressing for years! After we removed our ceremonial head-garb and stopped dancing, we continued comparing recipe similarities, and it always came back to the pickle juice being the secret ingredient. Ya know...and the bacon. Confession...I have used pickle brine in my potato salad since I was in my twenties, So, since last week...give or take a few decades. This is just a brilliant use of an otherwise "useless" liquid that generally gets thrown away in the trash anyway! I couldn't wrap my head around the bacon fat for my clients, but for the family barbecue, it was absolutely spot-on!

Several years later as I was developing a potato salad recipe for catering and personal chef events, this loaded potato salad just kept appearing in my universe.  It was a sign.  It needed to be part of what I just served regularly.  It is a potato salad without eggs (though you could add those if you wanted to do so) and it is a potato salad that has to always use dill pickle juice instead of vinegar in the sauce. Don't ask me why...except that the saltiness of the pickle brine with the potatoes give it a punch of flavor! To give balance to the tangy zip of the pickle juice, I use sweet pickle relish as well.  It seems weird, but it works! Yes! This is a banquet size recipe that will make 60 servings. Obviously it can be cut back if you need to do so...but it will ensure that there is something for your guests to eat after you've had your "taste". 

Tess' Loaded Potato Salad

yield 60 ½ cup servings

5 pounds red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes, skin on, washed

2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
 ¾ cup dill pickle juice OR white vinegar
1 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked
1 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme, ground
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
1/2 tsp curry powder
1T  minced garlic
1/4 lb bacon crumbles
1 cup green onions, sliced thin
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

In a large pot of salted water, add potatoes and cook until just fork tender. Remove from boiling water and cool. Combine remaining ingredients in a large 2 gallon bowl. Mix with potatoes, adjusting seasoning as needed, chill well.

Serve with your favorite stuff...or just eat it at midnight in your jammies and slippers in front of the open fridge door. I'm not going to judge you. Just make sure to wear the ceremonial head-garb. Xoxo!

There you go.

Always My Very Best,

Chef Tess

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cooking With Chef Tess TV Show! Launched Today!

The tease is here, but you can actually view the 11 minute pilot episode for free right now on the : TGoTV Network! I'm so very blessed and excited to be part of this network. My producer Therese Goss has worked tirelessly to make this possible for me and my family!

Please share this with your friends and family and help get the word out far and wide that we're here!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Lemon and herb Roasted Turkey with Cheddar and Citrus Cranberry Sauce Grilled Cheese

Our next grilled cheese of glory for grown-up people who don't just want cheese and bread is this freakishly delicious concoction. It is basically a Thanksgiving feast between two slices of sweet potato bread from the Fall Sweet Potato Bread Tutorial. It really is a bread to keep on hand for the next several months.

Let's start with the relish. I think it is probably one of my all-time favorite recipes for Thanksgiving and we love it!
Teapot Cranberry Relish Photo from Taste of Home

The citrus cranberry relish is one that I adapted from a Taste of Home recipe found Here. I use orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar glaze and zest from orange and lemon to give it added flavor contrasts. I also love the addition of a hint of fennel seed. It gives the sauce a remarkable depth. If you make it for Thanksgiving, it is good in the fridge up to a month! Use it on Turkey sammiches yes, but it is also amazing in oatmeal (really?!), as an addition to muffins and cookies or as a relish for pot roasts and chicken.

Tess' Citrus Balsamic Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 package (16 oz) fresh or  frozen cranberries
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar glaze  here
  • 2 cups dried cherries or apricots
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fennel seed, optional
Directions:   In a large saucepan, cook the cranberries, sugar, juice and balsamic glaze over medium heat until the berries pop, about 15-20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Cool slightly and transfer to quart jar and cover with a lid.  Good in the fridge up to 1 month.  

Let's talk Turkey. Seriously. This has to be right.
Ina Gartner's Herb Roasted Turkey photo from Food
I don't mess with perfection on the turkey and my go-to the last few years has been the tutorial posted by Ina Gartner in 2008. Always perfect. Always flavorful. Would we expect anything less from Ina? She's one of my all-time favorite chefs.  Get her Printable Recipe  and you can also watch the full tutorial here
For the Grown-up grilled cheese...
Place 1-2 slices of warm turkey breast (above) on a slice of sweet potato bread. Top with 2 slices of sharp cheddar cheese. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of the citrus cranberry sauce.  Grill in a skillet  with a few tablespoons of olive oil or butter over medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.  Server warm.
There you go darlings! A wicked delicious sandwich for fall! Use both the recipes for the components for your Thanksgiving dinner too! 
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Prosciutto-wrapped Cantaloupe in a Firecracker Lime Sauce

It's getting into the season where people have parties! I'm so excited! I love getting together with my favorite people and laughing and talking and cheering each other onward to remarkable and amazing things! In a life where working like crazy is just "part of the deal", the time we get to spend with our "peeeeeps" is what makes it all worthwhile. So here's one of my favorite appetizer recipes from catering and gatherings.

Prosciutto wrapped melon is a classic appetizer. It has been for years in culinary circles. The salty sweet contrast is delightful with a hint of smokiness from the meat.  It is a great make-ahead magic appetizer.  What isn't classic in my version is the addition of a really rockin' sauce. It's not the mint stuff.  Don't ask me why. I just don't like mint with prosciutto.  There. I said it.

On the other hand...This sauce adds a chile and lime firecracker pop that will absolutely take it over the top. It doesn't overpower the flavors of the melon and prosciutto.  Most firecracker sauce recipes are more oriental in flavor and include soy sauce and ginger. This one is completely different from those varieties and highly addictive. The sauce takes just a few ingredients, you probably already have most of them on hand.  The thing I like best about them is that you can make the melon balls wrapped in the prosciutto up to a day ahead of time and wrap the tray in plastic. Then, just before serving them add a drizzle of the sauce. I like appetizers like that, since I want to be in the middle of the festivities with my friends.   So here's the magic... I think you'll love it.

My Favorite Firecracker Lime Sauce

1 cup honey
2 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup Rice vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
zest of 2 limes
1 Tablespoon Chile flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions: Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Yields 2 cups

To Serve you will need:

1 cantaloupe
24 slices  high quality prosciutto, cut in half
48 frilled or twisted toothpicks

  1. Cut the cantaloupe in half. Remove the seeds. With a melon-baller, scoop out rounds of melon, as you would if you scooped ice cream. 
  2. Wrap each melon ball in 1/2 a slice of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick where the slice meets.
  3. Place on a platter.
  4. At service drizzle the  a few tablespoons of sauce over the melon balls and garnish.

There you go darlings! Have fun at your parties.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Yankee Rosemary Pot Roast and Swiss Grilled cheese on Sweet Potato bread

This is by and far one of the most delicious celebrations of opposites you will ever put in your mouth! The sweet and the savory intermingled into an explosion of flavors that can only be described as "The Ultimate Fall Sammich". Yup. September is upon us and I am finally giving in to the impulse to actually bake again at home! All hail the Sweet Potato Bread! Fall Sweet Potato Bread is one that has been a classic here on the blog for many years!  I served this sandwich variation at the Bistro regularly and it always had people begging for more! The slightly sweet soft spiced bread wraps around a tender herbaceous hunk of pot roast that is drenched in a rosemary gravy of glory!!

 This post will be two posts in one...the Yankee Rosemary Pot Roast Recipe, and the Sweet Potato bread. That way you can decide if you want to just make the roast, or just the bread...but either way, be prepared for bliss! 

This is a variation of the original post of Jan D'Atri's Cola Braised Pot Roast. My variation is designed to bode well for this sandwich. It has more garlic, rosemary, onion and beefy goodness! Here's where to start...

Chef Tess' Rosemary Yankee Pot Roast
4-5 pound boneless chuck roast or rump roast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large sweet yellow onion, diced and sautéed
3 Tablespoons FRESH garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon beef bullion (non-msg)
1 Tablespoon  black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 (12 oz) can cola (I used Blue Sky All Natural Soda)
2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour

Season the roast on all sides by sprinkling with bullion powder and  pepper over the entire roast. Sautee diced onion in a little oil until golden brown and set aside. Heat a Dutch oven on high heat and add oil. When oil is hot,  place roast in pot and cook until browned on all sides.  Add beef broth, cola, garlic, sautéed onion,  and remaining teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil, stirring to release browned bits.  Add tomato paste and stir.  For crock-pot cooking method, transfer meat and juices to crock-pot and cook on high for about 4-5 hours (or until fork tender) or cook overnight in crock-pot on low heat. For oven method, cover Dutch oven and cook at 325 degrees in the oven for 3 1/2 hours. Liquid should be at least 1/3 of the way up the roast. Add more beef broth if necessary. At the end of cooking, sprinkle with fresh rosemary.
To make gravy: Remove roast from pot and keep warm. Pour beef liquid through a strainer to catch onion bits, mash through and then discard remaining onions. In a bowl, add 1/2-cup hot beef liquid to  2 tablespoons of flour. Whisk to combine eliminating lumps.  Slowly whisk mixture into the remaining liquid on the pot. Whisk frequently until mixture comes to a boil. Cook for another 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Serve roast with hot gravy.

The Sweet Potato Bread is my original recipe made in full in the Fall Sweet Potato Bread Tutorial with the embellishments and leaves.  Here, I'm just giving you the recipe for the plain loaves. 

Chef Tess' Sweet Potato 5 Day Bread Dough
yield: 4 loaves 
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 Or Organic Maple SYRUP
1T salt
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg replacement)
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes. cooled to body temp again. The consistency of thick oatmeal.
1T baking powder

 2T cinnamon, 
2tsp ground ginger and 
1T vanilla
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 sweet potato, baking powder, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups all purpose flour  spices, vanilla 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 2 gallon 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). This dough can be made up to 5 days before Thanksgiving! So, it's nice to have around. It's also amazing to make into rolls instead of bread, should you choose to do something else. This makes four loaves. Four.
I will only make one here, but you'll get the idea.

Take one quarter of the dough and roll it into a tight ball.
I like to expel as much air as possible so it raises rather uniformly.
Gather the dough at the bottom and make a tight ball out of the dough.
Place on a parchment lined baking stone or baking sheet, at least 12 inches by 10 inches. Allow to raise until doubled, uncovered, lightly misted with water. When almost raised, turn on the oven to 425 degrees.  Bake 425 degrees 15 minutes and lower the temperature to 350 for the final 15-20 minutes of baking.  Allow to cool. Slice and wrap tightly. 

To make into the Yankee Rosemary Pot Roast and Swiss Grilled Cheese simply place a slice of the warm pot roast and 2-3 slices of Swiss cheese on a thick slice of the sweet potato bread. Grill on the stove in a medium skillet over medium heat with melted butter until golden and toasted . Garnish with minced fresh rosemary if desired.

There you go darlings! 
A wicked sandwich for Fall!

Always My Very Best,

Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chimichurri and Roasted Garlic Mac-n-Cheese

I shared Twisted Mac and Cheese of the Day Base Recipe earlier.  If you are looking for a perfect macaroni casserole style recipe, here's my family favorite. It freezes beautifully. It works perfectly. Every. Single. Time. Just remember the secrets for success ( here ).  

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of my favorite twists on this base that will make your life simple!  

Enters...the Chimichurri!  This is just a twist that will rock your world! I adapted this recipe from  a Bon Appetit Chimichurri Recipe that I loved for beef. 

 If you're not familiar with it...Chimichurri is a sauce that is traditionally used as a marinade for meat in Central and South America. I almost want to call it a vinaigrette based pesto if I over simplify what it is.  I fell in love with it the first time it's flavors were unleashed on my pallet! It really lends a powerful punch of flavor and there are hundreds of variations on the internet.  This one is special because it is what I use for meat, but also for vegetarian dishes like this twisted macaroni.  I simply stir 1 cup of the prepared sauce into the base recipe and top it with roasted garlic.  Suddenly, everyone can't stop eating the pasta!

Here's my recipe for the sauce...

Chef Tess' Chimichurri Sauce

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2T fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4-5 cloves garlic
1 shallot 
1/2 jalapeno, seeded
1 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dry oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a covered food processor and pulse until smooth.

For the mac-n-cheese, scoop one cup of chimichurri in the base mixture and bake according to the original directions.  Top with roasted garlic, lime, and spices to taste.  We serve it with Sweet and Hot Slow Cooked Pork...

There you go darlings! Fast and easy delicious additions to your freezer meal collection!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, August 22, 2016

Baklava Puff Pastry Cups

Baklava! I can't even say the word "baklava" without wanting to belly dance. My mom, the Mega Mom is a belly dancer (or a least she used to be). She used to go to dance the competitions. I remember my grown brother going once to support her and watch the show. My brother is a professor. He's very reserved.  He takes after my dad.   He called me afterward and said, "I need therapy after that. Seriously. A grown man should never see his grey haired mother belly dance." 

 I, on the other hand, take after my mother in many ways. I think it rocked that she got up there and danced. Reeeeeaaallly rocked! The Mega Mom is strong. She's dramatic and thoughtful. She's a powerful woman warrior!  Whenever I used to go home to visit my mom in Utah, I'd try to get in at least one or two belly dancing classes with her. I loved how they celebrated all the shapes and sizes that women came in to class. There was no body shame connected with belly dancing at the Tribal class whatsoever.  In fact, we actually would spend a few minutes at the beginning of class rubbing our bellies talking about the power of women. I loved it. That of course brings us to the subject of these little bad-boy baklava cups...because your belly size will not have to be an issue of concern if you decide to make these a regular part of your life.  I reserve them for special occasions...but you can always make any given Tuesday a special occasion.  Whip off your shirt and do a few belly dancing moves and nobody will even complain about the dessert. I swear.  Dude. I digress.

Okay. Here's the deal. This Baklava cup is a faster simpler way to have all the flavors of the ever popular and traditional layered baklava, without the work of layering. I've adapted it from a recipe I found for Puff Pastry Baklava  on the Pepperidge Farm website a couple years back.  I use their puff pastry a lot. It is simple to use and the price is reasonable.  The twist is going to be how I make the filling using a golden syrup that tastes similar to a "Sugar Daddy" candy and mix that with sugar, my cinnamon spice blend and just a hint of lavender and rose petal. The honey sauce that I drizzle over the top of the baked pastry is remarkable with just the slightest amount of heat from cayenne and the contrast of creamy vanilla. Serve these cups warm with a scoop of ice cream on top and I promise that everyone will rub their bellies, start talking about how strong and awesome you are...and maybe even start kissing you. I can't promise the kissing part. 

Chef Tess Baklava Puff Pastry Cups
yield 12 cups

1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry 

4 oz. butter
1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup or light molasses
3 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp good Saigon cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp dry culinary lavender

 Additional: 4 oz melted butter to drizzle over baked cups

honey sauce:
1/2 cup honey
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dry culinary lavender
1 tsp dry culinary rose petal

Pull the puff pastry from the package and allow to defrost at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes.  Heat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease 2 12 cup muffin tins.
Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 9x12-inch rectangle. With a sharp knife, score the pastry surface to make 12 (about 4-inch) squares.  
form into a cup in the muffin tins.

Heat the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the walnuts.  Cook and stir until the walnuts are lightly browned.  Stir in the syrup, sugar and spice. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.
 Spread 1/4 cup walnut mixture in each of 12 bottom pastry cups.  
Drizzle with the additional butter, about 1/2 Tablespoon per cup. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 17-20 minutes, until golden brown.

To make the honey sauce:
 combine the honey, lemon juice, cayenne, and vanilla.  Drizzle the sauce over the pastries and sprinkle with dry lavender and rose petal.

There you go my darlings! A ridiculously simple and rich dessert sure to please even your most conservative Professors...and ensure that everyone needs therapy.  Thanks Mega Mom! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess