Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Easy 5 Ingredient French Silk Pie

Probably one of my most requested pies at  Bistro 'a la mode is my French silk chocolate pie. I don't whip mine with egg and it is not like a fluffy mousse...I have seen those and I don't really like the raw egg scenario. Plus, I don't want a chocolate mousse pie (even those are amazing). My pie is different.  It is just like a giant chocolate truffle in a pie shell and super ridiculously evil, good, evil, good. At the bistro I add a few  more nuances to the  flavor by infusing it with citrus and rose petal. This is a simpler recipe for you. It is not low calorie. I'm not even going to pretend. 

5 Ingredient French Silk Pie

  • 1 prepared baked pie crust, 9 inch, baked and cooled *
  • 2 cups  high quality dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup real butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

In a half gallon pot, combine the heavy cream, butter and vanilla bean paste (you can use regular vanilla). Bring cream mixture to a boil.  While cream mixture is cooking, place chocolate in a bowl.  Pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk well until the chocolate is melted and there are no lumps.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the baked pie shell and transfer to the fridge until the pie is set. Allow pie to come to room temperature before serving. I top mine with chocolate mousse or homemade whip cream.

There you go darlings!

Never made pie crust? 

Here's the tutorial from the post on Pecan Pie and Perfect Crust with my darling BFF Gena! You'll love it!

My perfect pie crust recipe:

2 1/4 cup pastry flour (all purpose will work)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter 
3 T cold water
3 T white distilled vinegar (trust me?)

Combine the flour and the salt in a large bowl.
I keep the fat pretty cold. Yes, if you look closely I do use butter. It helps with the "mouth feel" of the crust. Buttery and not so greasy. You can use half crisco half butter if you prefer the texture. 
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. If you don't have a pastry blender, you can certainly use the wire whisk from your mixer.
Or, my personal favorite...the techno-chef fingers. Just make sure your hands are freezing cold. It's winter, I'm sure you can work that out.

Mmmm pea size.

I use vinegar in my crust. I have for years. It helps with the flaky texture and it actually does make an amazing crust. I made my darling Gena try the crust. Gena was convinced after just one taste. Should you doubt me, please, just try it once. If you don't like it, never return to it. I doubt you'll feel that way though.

Make a well in the dry stuff and add 3 T cold water and 3 T vinegar. You may need more or less, so go with 2 T of vinegar at first...but I can't think if the last time I needed to change the recipe and add more water or vinegar than what it says.

Lightly combine, just until mixed. Overmixing the dough will always result in hard non-flake-like crust. You have been warned. I bring it together.

Kneading it only a few times and making into a ball.
Refrigerate about 30 minutes. It will be easier to work with, and it gives the gluten (protein in the wheat) time to rest so the dough will roll out easier.

Take half of the dough. With your hands form it into a patty. I put my dough between two pieces of wax paper. I've used this method since my granny W. Forever. It's never failed me. Lightly...and I do mean lightly...wipe the counter top with a lightly damp clean washcloth. Place a piece of wax paper down, about 1 foot by 1 foot. Put the dough down. Top with another piece of wax paper of same proportions. Wax paper helps contribute to a tender crust, using extra flour on the counter instead may lead to a dry crust if overdone. This keeps me good.
Totally not necessary to have a Candy-land rolling pin. Gena just has this old thing laying around so I had to use it. Totally cute isn't it?! Roll the dough out into a circle. This may take practice to get it just right. Take your time.
Once to the edges of the wax paper, remove the top piece of paper. Place crust, uncovered side down in the pan, with an inch or so of crust hanging over the edge of the pan.
Now remove the second piece of crust.
Trim the edge so it hangs over about 3/4 inch, then fold it under so it leaves a little rim on the pan. This one comes up about 1/2 inch.
I will now play the flute for your listening pleasure...pppflllkkkkiiispuutttt. Like so.
Don't expect your first pie to look this neat and tidy. I may have made several thousand pies in the course of my days. If, however, yours looks this nice, keep in mind you are a freaky genius and I don't even know what to say.
You will need a 400 degree pre-heated oven. I'm not kidding on that point either. It's really important to heat that bad boy up first. Your crust will be better. Now here's what I do. I have these magic beans see...and they go on this layer of aluminum foil, right on top of the crust. They hold the crust down when it bakes so it doesn't get air bubbles. If you resist the urge to prick holes in the crust, you will be rewarded with a pecan pie that actually isn't glued to the pan by molten carmel superglue stuff that leaked through. Be impressed that I know that...and do, please, learn from my hideous mistake. I made it only once, and I will remember it forever. The humanity of chiseling pie crust off the bottom of the pan. It was a pathetic, dramatic display I don't want to repeat. Use the dry uncooked beans...not like a can of pork-n-beans. The dry know? Or, use the fancy pie weights...whatever.
Bake 10-15 minutes, just to make the crust nice and pre-cook-like. It will not be golden yet. Very techno-baking term.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bistro A’la Mode brings new menu style to Mesa - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Seriously. Special thanks to the awesome Trevor Godfrey at East Valley Tribune for this great article on the Bistro:  Bistro A’la Mode brings new menu style to Mesa - East Valley Tribune: Mesa!

Some highlights from last week's Menu:

Grown-up Grilled Cheese

9 grain Artisan Rosemary and Herb Turkey and cranberry relish grown-up grilled cheese.
 Grilled ham and Swiss Croissant with bacon jam...
 Grilled 9 grain Artisan bread with French-onion, Swiss cheese and Prime Rib

 Twisted Mac-n-Cheese

Green Chile Enchilada...
 Country Sausage, sweet corn and cream cheese with chives...
 Bacon Blue Cheese with crispy French onions...

Pastries you might have had last week:

 Almond pound cake with grilled pineapple glaze and toffee lemon mousse
 S'more Stacked brownie with homemade graham cracker and milk chocolate hazelnut mousse.
Toasted Pecan Caramel sticky buns...
 French Frangipane Pear and cranberry tart with vanilla bean mousse...
Okay. That's enough torture for all of you who didn't come see us.  Follow us on our new facebook page for more wonderful posts and daily updates on our menu! It changes all the time so you'll never be bored, but it has enough staples that you'll never be scared to come by either. You know who you are. You. Like my husband Ace who orders the same thing every time we go to a restaurant. You can still have everything that is always on the menu. The specials will change all the time though. Be ready.

Bistro a'la Mode Facebook Page

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Twisted Bistro Make-Ahead Mac-n-Cheese

One of my favorite dishes to create daily at  Bistro 'A la Mode is the Twisted Mac-n-Cheese.  It is all from scratch and the flavor of the day changes depending on what I want to do, so it has been a good comfort food creative outlet.   I make a base recipe that is the best make-ahead macaroni and cheese recipe I have ever created for a baked casserole-style Mac. Once the macaroni canvas is made, then I twist it...

This week we did: 

Obviously I won't be sharing the exact recipes I use in the Bistro here on the blog, but if you are looking for a perfect macaroni casserole style recipe, here's my family favorite. 

My Tips for success:

  •  Slightly undercook the pasta.  I generally only cook it about 7 minutes. It will be a little crunchy, but the sauce is a little loose and the noodles will absorb the extra as they bake. This ensures you have a great texture on the pasta, even though it is baked later. 
  • Use subtle spices in the sauce to add depth.  My secret is the mustard, cayanne and a hint of nutmeg. Don't use too much nutmeg or it will taste like pudding. You want it to be subtle, yet enough of a nuance that people beg you for your secret ingredient. I use fresh grated, about 1/16 of a tsp. Just a hint. 
  • Watch the heat when you add the cheese to your sauce. I take my white sauce off the stove, let it cool about 5 minutes, and then add the real cheese. Real cheese in creamy sauces will tend to get a "grainy" texture if it is heated too high, so this step keeps it creamy-luscious.

Chef Tess Make-Ahead Mac-n-cheese
yield: 8 1 cup servings

1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked about 7 minutes (slightly undercooked)
1/2 cup butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
8 cups milk
1T dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 lb Monterrey jack cheese, shredded


  • In a gallon sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute about 3 minutes until tender, but not burned. Add the flour and stir well with a whisk, about 4 minutes.  Add the milk and remaining ingredients gradually, while whisking and bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer about 10 minutes.  Be sure to stir every 2-3 minutes so the milk doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan.  
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Allow it to cool about 5 minutes then stir in the shredded cheese. Smooth perfect cheese sauce can't be done if you cook the cheese on the stove, it will get a grainy texture if the cheese gets too hot...and you want it to be creamy smooth right?
  • In a large 9inch by 13 inch deep casserole pan, lightly grease the pan. Pour the cooked, drained pasta into the pan and season well with salt and pepper.  Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and stir to combine.  
  • Top with breadcrumbs or twisted variation of your choice (see twisted ideas above). Usually just a drizzle of savory sauce and a different crumble of bacon or cheese on top will kick it to the next level of awesome!  I have so many more flavor variations to make it is sometimes scary how my brain works!

To Bake Immediately:
Bake the casserole at 400 degrees until sauce is bubbling and the topping of choice is crisp, about 20-25 minutes. 

To save for later: Cover casserole with foil and place in the fridge. May be kept up to 5 days. Ready to heat and eat. Bake, covered with foil, 400 degrees 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and allow to bake 10 minutes more, until topping is crisp. 

To make into a freezer meal:  Cover with foil, label and date and transfer to the freezer. 
To prepare: Thaw the casserole in the fridge for 24 hours and follow the directions for the refrigerator version. OR bake from frozen, covered with foil 1 hour 20 minutes. I recommend thawing first. It just gives your sauce a really great texture.  

There you go darlings!

Come and see me at the Bistro. I'd love to give you a big hug!

Our Menu PDF

Follow our daily Twisted Mac updated on our page:
 Palm Street Culinary on Facebook

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Long Awaited Bistro A'La Mode Opening!

 Those who have been following the latest changes in our Chef Tess world have known that we are opening a sweet awesome Bistro on the east wing of Stonebridge Manor in Mesa, AZ. It has been through the generosity of owner, Michael Mills that this new venture is possible and I'm super honored to call this my new home. I'll be here daily (Monday-Friday) baking bread, making pastries, and overseeing the full crew with the help of Master chefs Chef Mika D.Chevalier and Chef Benjamin Romine . I couldn't be more thrilled, excited, anxious and full of happiness if I tried! I feel like the good Lord has opened up the roof of my house and filled it with blessings. 

The Official name is 

Bistro  à la Mode

Opening for Business December 2nd.

 We will have outdoor seating during our
 wonderful Arizona winter weather.
 And slip into the Manor, should there be any rain. 

All our bread will be made in-house from my Chef Tess recipes daily! So you'll get to have my deliciousness whenever you need it!

Here is the official menu...for now. Going with the theme of our place, being that there will always be something new and unexpected on the menu. A few things will stay the same, but there will always be a few little "something-somethings" that are "of the day" and it will be surprising and amazing! 

Bistro á la Mode
@Palm Street Culinary (Palm Street Culinary on Facebook)
4012 E Palm Street - Mesa, AZ 85215 – 
(480) 641-4148
Monday-Friday 10:30am-2:30pm

All of our sandwiches come with our specialty pickle and one á la Mode side.

The Grown-up Grilled Cheese of the day /$4.99 
Artisan Bread/Savory Cheese/Chef’s Choice

This will change daily and will include choices like this:

Cheddar on artisan bread with caramelized red onion bacon jam.

Apple Stuffed gingerbread with salted caramel sauce
Jalapeno Popper Stuffed French Toast

Southwest Chicken Salad á la Pico/$6.99 
Croissant/Chicken/chilies/ smoky chipotle ranch

Beef Salad á la Bistro/$6.99 
Tomato herb baguette/beef filet minion/tomato/balsamic glaze

Caprese Stack/$4.99 
Herb Focaccia/tomato/fresh mozzarella/basil/balsamic glaze

All of our Salads come with one á la Mode side.

Caesar Pleaser/$5.99 

Romaine lettuce/Croutons/Parmesan/ Caesar Dressing

Spinach Bliss/$5.99 
spinach/pear &beet blend/walnuts/crispy onion/blue cheese balsamic

The Pueblo/$5.99 
Mixed greens/cheese blend/tortilla strips/chipotle ranch dressing

Greek Olympian/$5.99 
Mixed greens/tomato/cucumber/olive/red onion/ peppers/herb feta/ Greek dressing

All Sides are $2.00

Grandma's Loaded Potato salad Roasted potato/celery/bacon/olives

Sweet-hot Coleslaw  Cabbage/roasted peppers/pineapple/creamy

Asiago Cheese Mashed Potato

Chicken Salad Chicken/chilies/ smoky chipotle ranch

Beef Salad beef filet minion/mayonnaise/red onion

Sweet Potato Tots w/BBQ dipping sauce

Twisted Mac-n-Cheese of the Day

Combo meals
All combos come with 24oz drink and one á la Mode side.
#1 half sandwich $5.99
#2 half salad $5.99
#3 full sandwich $ 7.99
#4 full salad $7.99

Pot Pie
All pot-pie comes á la Mode asiago mashed potatoes.

Chicken Marsala Pot Pie/ $5.25 

Crust/Chicken Marsala/potato/carrot/mixed mushroom

Beef Burgundy/ $5.25 
Crust/Beef Burgundy/potato/ carrot

Available in cup $2.75 or bowl $3.50 served a slice of Artisan bread and whipped herb butter

Southwest Roasted Corn Bisque

Tuscan White Bean and Kale


Coke products 24oz $2.19

Coke/Diet Coke/Lemonade/ Powerade/ Sprite/Dr.Pepper

Ice Tea  24oz $2.19

Coffee 20 oz $1.89/ 24 oz $2.19
Decaf / Regular
Orange Juice 10 oz $2.19
Hot Chocolate 20 oz $1.89/24 oz $2.19
Beer $3.25
House Wine $3.75
Cabernet Sauvignon/Chardonnay/White Zinfandel


All desserts are served á la Mode with premium vanilla ice cream or white chocolate whip cream.

Tess Pastry of the Day/ $3.00 
House-made Tart, Cake or Pastry of the day 

This will change daily so you'll need to follow us on facebook ( Palm Street Culinary on Facebookor call and see what the special is. I'll be doing things like...

 Homemade apple danish
 Pecan sticky buns...
French Macarons

Homemade Pie of the Day/$3.00
 Flaky crust/gourmet filling

Salted Caramel butter Bars/ $4.25 
Shortbread crust/creamy caramel filling/lightly salted

Bistro á la Mode 
@Palm Street Culinary
4012 E Palm Street 
Mesa, AZ 85215 

(480) 641-4148

Monday-Friday 10:30am-2:30pm
                   Monday-Friday 10:30am-2:30pm
                  Opening for Business December 2nd

 Follow Palm Street Culinary on Facebook for all the latest updates on the daily menu specials! I'm so very excited to share with all of you!

See you there darlings! Don't worry. I'll still be posting blog posts and recipes here as well. Xoxo!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess