Friday, September 30, 2011

An ETT on BFFF...Brownie Pudding

This is going to be a very special Best Food, Finds and Friends Friday...because last night I was blessed to be able to visit with my darling culinary school friend Evil Tara! Yes, that is a term of endearment. Those who have been friends and readers of the blog-o-glory will know, all too well how we call our cooking adventures the Evil Think Tank or ETT. The ETT started originally at the beginning of this blog the first time I ever held a digital camera almost 3 years ago. Tara invited me over to cook...and to let me use her camera so I'd have some pictures to put on my blog. Yes, things at my house were *that* tight. I started this little adventure on a shoestring budget and a dream.  
The ETT went on from there as a grand delightful time when Evil Tara and Evil Tess needed time out creating culinary delights from a combination of ingredients of our choice. Sometimes we'd end up at a special market or grocery store. Always there was some new thing to create.  As it has progressed, I've had a few ETT's without Tara. I've been to other dear friends' homes and enjoyed creating with them...but always the resulting event was to be the same. Random ingredients and creative minds. It's like a melting pot of all things amazing...and usually involves a block of chocolate. Ironically, last night was not an exception. To my joy, we had a few sweet visitors and got to play "dessert fairies" after our adventures and deliver some little bowls of happiness to a few of our dear friends in the area. 

It's not an ETT without the 
Evil clip boards and evil bobble-head giant pens-o-love-and-destruction. Oh, and I can't even work my magic without my lucky socks.
 Tara found my camera and took a shot. Bwhaaha! Can you see the smoke coming out of my ears? OH...and the foot pop with the magic socks is a nice touch. Does popping one's foot out like that help them think better? I think YES. I know the pen the size of a rolling pin helped!
 So, we decided to make a variation of Brownie Pudding from the Barefoot Contessa. We'll give her full credit for this one because it was a truly amazing recipe. I think it's one to keep forever in my Evil notes.   What came out was a cross between a hot chocolate pudding and a fudge brownie. It's a warm, gooey, rich almost brownie fudge "cobbler" effect if I can put it that way. I was stunned by the simplicity and the straight forward heavenly globs of goo that ensued. Ahhh. You really want to have this in your life. 
Barefoot Contessa's Brownie Pudding


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow.

We did add the vanilla bean to the butter as it was melting. Small change but the vanilla will actually have a nice pronounced flavor if you do that. This is a vanilla bean collection. It appears I'm still, somehow, keeping up the bean week theme for this week by using these today...right?! Say yes. Please say yes. They may be the only healthy thing in this post.
Cut the bean in half with a sharp knife and add the contents of the bean to the butter...along with the bean.
Be sure to take the bean out of the butter before you put the butter in the batter. Ya know...because that would be just sad.
 Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the framboise, if using and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined.
Instead of the alcohol, we used 1/2 tsp of each of these. Amazing! I'm a big fan of the whole new Mix-a-meal line of these Powdered flavorings. I use them in a lot of my homemade cake, cookie and muffin mixes and today I just had to try them in this brownie pudding. I'm totally addicted. 
Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. We did a large pan and then a second batch using 4 smaller loaf pans.
Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. (That "halfway up the side" is a key phrase here. If you go too high you will have only chocolate pudding...not brownie pudding. half of the pan will be cooking at a higher temperature than the water, producing that brownie on top!).
Tara also thought it was quite humorous that I had chocolate all over my hands and still managed to take pictures of the pudding. Look...I never claimed I had clean hands while in the Evil Think Tank.  
 A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding

How evil is that?!

I also managed to put some caramel  and chopped chocolate on half of the brownie pudding while it was still warm and it could melt. You know, strictly for scientific reasons. There must be a control side and an evil variation side, right? Only so we could compare flavors. (Wink, wink...) 
Friends who came by made the ultimate sacrifice...and ate some of the evil thing. Xoxo to Kim.
Hugs to Amy...who didn't stay for the tasting but brought us peaches!
Plus two or three late night chocolate deliveries from the ETT to girls we adore who spoke up on Facebook during the ETT! Xoxo ladies! You soooo got chocolate because you are loved. was fun reading comments on Facebook while we created! How fun! It was almost as good as having you all here!

There you go! I love the ETT! We'll be doing this again really soon and look forward to many, many more culinary adventures together. God bless. Big hugs...and keep moving onward and upward!
Your Friend,
Chef Tess

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Thoughts...Twinkie hot dogs and Seafood dogs...

A while ago I wrote on one of my pages that I would be happy to review products. Imagine my joy at receiving this email! (Yes, it's a joke from a very cool friend and his wife!)
"Dear Bakeresse ,

While perusing your informative and entertaining blog this evening, I noticed a request for submission of "products to review".  Based on the given subject matter, I presume you prefer culinary products, as opposed to the "products of a slightly disturbed mind".  Regardless, I've enclosed photos of two of my latest entrees, and am interested in your feedback.  As you may appreciate, the initial reviews at home were somewhat mixed.  In synthesizing the data, it appears that the demographic including children ages 11 and younger are very much in favor, while those who are a bit less adventurous were unappeased by the complexity of the ingredients.
Looking forward to your expert opinion,
John Miles

Here are the photos he sent of the seafood hot dogs: 

While coming in a close second...Twinkie Hot dogs. Ya know...a Twinkie  used as a hot dog bun.

Thank you John! This made my day! 

Your Friend, 
Chef Tess

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

3 New Bean Flavors!

Roll that fabulous Bean Footage!

 Now, in reading the title of this post did you think I was all excited about some new jelly-belly flavors? If you're just joining our zany crew...It's "How You Bean?!" week here on the blog. I've been sharing new legumes and hopefully also sharing the love!  I wanted to share 3 bean flavor variations that you may not have ever thought of doing with beans. I mentioned this in class and said, "You know, because there's more to do with your beans than make chili." To which one of my friends replied, "But what if you like chili?!"...Then, every time I mentioned chili there after, someone else in the class would chime in, "...or they're also good in chili!" We had some good laughs!  As for these recipes,  I shared them with my class, but not any of the fancy-Schmancy photos that will make anyone else want to ever delve into the realm of experimentation. So...Yes, I have been dancing with beans all week! Singing bean songs. Wearing beans in my hair...okay...maybe not in my hair. I do have the earrings though.   Did you miss the printable version of the recipes? Find it here
 One of the beautiful things I adore about beans is that they are the perfect canvas for flavor. I think these 3 recipes will give you some great ideas for adding some pizzazz to your bean life! 
 Chef Tess' Thai Beans in Spicy Peanut Sauce
1 lb black beans (red beans, zuni Gold or Aztec work amazing here too), soaked overnight (or quick soaked)
Place beans in a large stock pot with 6 cups of fresh water and simmer until tender.
In a separate pan, make the sauce:
Saute:1 cup chopped onion, 2 T minced garlic in 1 T sesame oil
When onion is tender add: 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup soy sauce, ¼ cup dehydrated peanut butter, 2 tsp chile flakes and 2 tsp ginger. Add sauce to tender beans and simmer 10 minutes. Just before serving, garnish with ½ cup chopped green onion and ½ cup chopped cilantro.

The next one I made using the large Mortgage Lifter beans I mentioned on Monday's How You Bean Post. This recipe uses all the food storage Items I have in my pantry! I even used Freeze Dried Cheese as a garnish. I admit...some thick shavings of Parmesan cheese would almost make me cry with these Italian white beans. 
 Italian White beans with Olives, Peppers and Pesto
1 lb white beans, cooked until tender, about 6 cups
1 cup hot water
½ cup dehydrated onion
½ cup freeze dried bell peppers
¼ cup basil pesto
2T Mixed Olive Tempanade
Black pepper and lemon juice to taste
Combine all and simmer until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Serve Hot with Crusty Italian Bread and fresh minced rosemary or oregano.

Last but not least...the French~style. 
 French White Bean and Ham
1 lb cooked white beans (about 6 cups total)
1 cup hot water
¾ cup freeze dried ham
1 T Herbs de Provence
1 clove fresh pressed garlic
¼ cup sundried tomato
¼ cup dehydrated butter
Chopped fresh parsley
Simmer all ingredients together until ham is hydrated (about 15 minutes). Serve hot with crusty French Bread. 

In case you missed the size of these beans...look very carefully at this picture and you can see how they are, indeed the same width as my regular fork!

There you go! Some bean ammo! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How You Bean?! Class printable PDF

For those who live on the other side of the world and don't have the chance to come to my classes (thank you all for the email, by the way! Xoxo), I thought I'd share my class notes today for Tutorial Tuesday. There's some great bean advice, recipes and good ways to use the beans.  I have attached the links to get the printable PDF's of the class tutorials, notes, and recipes. Enjoy! Xoxo!'s my handy dandy chart for how long to soak and cook beans. Enjoy! Oh...and for those who came to the class...the font is now fixed and it's actually a readable size! So...print away. Love you all!~ Chef Tess.

Chef Tess' Bean-Stock-Pot List
Dried Beans (1 cup) Soaking Overnight Regular Cooking Time Pressure Cooking Time
Adzuki (red)
none 45-50 min 15-20 min
Black (Turtle)
overnight 45-60 min 15-20 min
Black-Eyed Pea
overnight 1 hour 10 min.
Chick-pea (garbanzo) overnight 1 1/2- 2 ½ hour 20-25 min
Fava beans overnight 45-60 min Not recommended
Kidney overnight 1-1/2 hour 10-15 minutes
Lentil, red none 20-30 min 5-7 min
Lentil, Green none 30-45 min 6-8 minutes
Lima, baby overnight 45-50 min Not recommended
Lima, large overnight 60-90 min Not recommended
Mung Bean overnight 1 ½ hours 8-10 minutes
Split pea (green, yellow) none 35-45 min Not recommended
Pinto (Bolita, Zuni, Cranberry, Anasazi) overnight 1 ½ hours 10 minutes
Soy Bean overnight 3 hours Not recommended
White (navy) overnight 45-60 min 15-20 min
White (Mortgage Lifter) Overnight 1 ½ hour-2 hour 20-25 minutes
Tutorial, Basic Beans 101, Chef Tess.pdf
Chef Tess Bean 101 Class.pdf

Monday, September 26, 2011

How You Bean?! Dove Creek, Colorado Rocks!

A little while back I talked about how to cook basic beans from scratch and gave a picture by picture tutorial on the whole process Here.  I'm kicking off a bean week today, since I'm teaching a Bean class tomorrow morning at Honeyville Farms in Chandler at 10 AM. 

Today we're kicking it up to the next bean level. I'm going to show you some of my favorite beans. I don't think we can do all of them today...but this will give you some amazing ideas for new varieties and some great food to make with them! Are we ready? I want to start by saying that I LOVE the people in Dove Creek , Colorado who are largely responsible for the beans you're going to see today. I have been told that Dove Creek is in fact the "Pinto Bean Capital of the World". They have so many beans there that are such awesome quality, that I'm told they even use them in cookies and ice cream sauce! Wow! Now that's bean-tastic!  I don't work for them and they didn't even send me these beans...but I adore them! Smooches!

 Moki Bean Soup Mix is one of my favorite combinations of beans from Dove Creek. It's chuck full of the indescribably good variety. I'll break down a few just for fun.
 It has such an amazing variety of beans and includes my favorite (and I added some of the Zuni Gold and Mortgage Lifters to this mix for you too see...)
 I just said Mortgage Lifter huh? I mentioned them to my sister Auntie Em and she said, "What a cool name for a bean!" I have to agree. The kicker on these bad boys... the size!
 Here is a Mortgage Lifter next to a large Lima bean  to give you a comparison in the girth of this little monster. Ironically...they're also too big to stick up your nose. So...maybe that's a product perk.
 I had to tell my husband about ten times that they were not, in fact, Jordan Almonds...they're that big! They are Aztec or Pueblo beans of an heirloom variety. The story goes that a farmer was about to lose his farm, but had such a great crop of these beans that he named them the "Mortgage lifter". Seriously!
 Cooked they taste very similar to a navy bean or white bean...but they are a giant version and full of flavor! They have a creamy buttery texture and are absolutely outstanding! 
 I mean really! Look at them! The size of my thumb! I'm so excited to use them in a French white bean soup and some with Italian Pesto and feta. They're gorgeous!
 You can order them  from Kokopelli's Kitchen online for around 7$ a pound Here. Or, they have them a lot less expensive (around 2.50$ a pound) at the Honeyville store. Look at the
Mortgage Lifters, Large Lima beans and small Lima beans all in a row. There. Now you can see what I'm saying.
 Here's a classic black eyed pea. Before the rock band...there was the bean. So yes, for all of you musical geeks-o-glory. Tune your brains on this one. Elvis loved them. They're just classic.
 Here are my favorite loves. Anasazi beans because well...they look like a hot biker with tats. There. I said it.  You can get them here
 Dried Black Beans are a staple in southwest cooking, but also ones that I use for a spicy peanut oriental  bean topping. It's incredible!

Okay, now two really cool additions. Bolita beans. They are actually a nice bean with a much richer flavor than a pinto. They also tend to absorb flavor very very well! They're perfect for Polynesian Style Sweet and Sour Beans
 Bolita Beans are a beautiful pinkish golden color...almost salmon. I have to thank one of my dear friends named Elsie for showing me the light on Bolita beans. She's 92 years old, born and raised in Colorado and a huge bean fan. She had not been able to find Bolita beans for a long time and when we did find them here locally at our Honeyville Farms store, she was thrilled! Beefy BBQ Beans are perhaps my favorite place to put them. 

Zuni Gold is an heirloom variety bean from Mexico and is very rare in the USA. However I found some! Again, Honeyville. I love that store.
Classic  Dried Pinto Beans are so pretty aren't they? I think they may be just one of my favorite friends. 
Hello friends. Now I've used cooked pintos in place of fat in my cookies and brownies. Perhaps my favorite use  is taking instant refried bean flakes dry, and putting them in my spice and seed mill. In this way I make a powder with the instant bean flakes. For a fat replacement I use the following ratio:
1/2 cup butter replaced with: 1/4 cup bean powder (mix with the dry ingredients) Increase the water in the recipe by 1/2 cup. 

 I use this in brownies in place of fat and in cookies as well. It adds fiber and protein and makes them really moist. Granny says they make really good fudge too. 
Classic Small Red Beans look like movie stars huh? Red beans usually come in three varieties: 

  • Azuki bean, commonly used in Japanese and Chinese cuisine, particularly as red bean paste
  • Kidney bean, commonly used in Indian and North American cuisine, such as chili con carne and red beans and rice
  • Miva Mahogany, a rainforest tree

I adore them made into Instant beans and used in my Bean and Rice Fajita Casserole:
Bean and Rice Fajita Casserole
2 cups  instant red or black beans  (make your own here)
1 cup long grain rice
½ cup Honeyville bell pepper trio
½ cup honeyville dehydrated onion
1T Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning blend
½ tsp cumin seed
½ tsp oregano leaves (or 1 drop oil of oregano)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
½ cup Honeyville cheese sauce powder
¼ cup powdered tomato
Place contents of jar in a deep covered casserole and add 6 cups of very hot water. Place covered in a solar oven or conventional oven 30-35 minutes.

Next up is a Garbanzo bean.  I called them Gonzo beans when I was a kid. I can't figure out why except that maybe I had an unusually odd obsession with the Muppets...and I like crooked noses. Hmm. Neither of which explains why I like these beans. Oddly enough the cooked beans can be dehydrated in a low oven for a few hours and taste remarkably similar to a peanut...but are low fat. Deep fried cooked garbazo (chick-peas) are very popular here in the Southwest as a snack in our Spanish markets. I love them!

We use Garbanzo beans most ofen in homemade hummus

Broken red lentils are also a big winner for food storage. Most often used in Indian cooking for making Dahl. Dahl is a thick creamy lentil stew that's usually full of spices and deep flavor. It is usually cooked for several hours over low heat until thick and heavenly.  I'll be posting that recipe soon. Just for the record. I'm a big fan!

We serve it here with spiced Basmati Rice and some fresh cilantro. It doesn't hurt to have some naan flat bread too. 

There you go! More bean ammo to help with your food storage adventures! Keep going, saving money, and working hard! God bless.
Your Friend,
Chef Tess