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

Directions: 

  • 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!



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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

Sandwiches
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



Salads
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

Sides
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



Soups
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



Drinks

Coke products 24oz $2.19

Coke/Diet Coke/Lemonade/ Powerade/ Sprite/Dr.Pepper
Ice Tea  24oz $2.19
Sweet/unsweet/raspberry
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
Milk
Beer $3.25
House Wine $3.75
Cabernet Sauvignon/Chardonnay/White Zinfandel



Desserts

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...

Doughsants
 Cupcakes/brownies
 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


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Best Ever Make-Ahead Potato Gratin Casserole




 Hello my darlings! It has been a crazy couple of weeks as we're busting out all the stops getting things together for the Bistro. Here's where we are so far on the interior. The rest of the equipment is coming really quickly!  The floors, walls and electrical are all in place. There's been a slight delay on the opening date so keep checking back...it should be in the next couple weeks. 

When I haven't been in the kitchen working on perfecting the new menu with Chef Benjamin at Stonebridge Manor we've been catering some remarkable and beautiful weddings. Thing have been so wicked-fun! Benjamin is super easy to work with, quick to smile, and totally professional. Seriously. What's not to love? Look at him. He's just a freakin' fun dude! Yup. I've finally found my match in crazy-weirdness in the kitchen. Big things ahead with this guy!
 At any rate, one of my favorite things to do for large-scale events is get a lot of preparation done the day before the function, and though this isn't the exact recipe we use at the Manor, this is one of my all time favorite potato gratin casserole recipes because of the fact that I can make it ahead of an event and still have time the "day of" to do the fun stuff...like this...


So, here's the simple recipe for the potatoes. They're perfectly cheesy and loaded with awesome flavor. 

Chef Tess Make-Ahead Potato Gratin
12 servings

5 ½ lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/8th inch thick (about 10 potatoes)
2 cups sour cream
2 cup whole milk
2T salt
¼ cup flour

¼ cup butter or olive oil
2 medium onion, minced
3T garlic, minced
2tsp Thyme, fresh (or1 tsp dry)
2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
2tsp white pepper

1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups cheddar cheese or Asiago, shredded


Make the gratins: combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Making sure to Prep and assemble the sour cream, milk, salt and flour in a bowl before slicing potatoes (so they don't brown). Do not store sliced potatoes in water or the gratin will be watery and flavorless.



 Saute the minced onion and garlic in butter until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, fennel seeds and pepper. Add the sauted onion mixture into the potato mixture. Turn bowl of potatoes into a 9 by 16 inch GREASED baking dish, pressing the potatoes into a flat even layer.

 Top with cheese. 
  Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees 1 hr 45 minutes. Transfer the gratins from oven to a cooling rack. Cool uncovered 45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated up to 3 days.
 For service: Remove from the fridge and allow to warm to room temp (about 45 minutes) remove the plastic wrap. Bake at 450 degrees uncovered for 25-30 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

There you go my darlings! Make some great potatoes!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Latest Wedding Cake...Country Natural Fall Cake

 My friend Nikki is getting married today and she asked me to bake her cake. It is a country wedding, very casual, but still classy enough to need something special.

I had to share the pictures.
 What do you think of this trend in cakes?

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess