Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Chef Tess Gluten Free Bread (Whole Grain and Divine!)

 I have heard the cries of my gluten free friends for far too long and I'm finally happy to report that I've perfected my own recipe for remarkable tasty gluten free bread. Auntie Em can now have a sandwich on something besides rice cakes. Hallelujah! Or in her words, "Halle-freakin'-loooooja!" 

I tried several recipes from a lot of different sources and never really found one that I liked enough to post on my blog. I'm picky about bread.  Some of the loaves I saw were pretty...ugly. They didn't look like sandwich bread. In fact, the number one complaint I hear about converting to a gluten free the lack of really good bread. Gooooood bread. Bread that tastes like the bread you "left behind" to become gluten free.  So, I've been playing with some good GF flours and starches...and look! It slices like bread, it is mild and nutty whole grain bread not overloaded with simple starches. Auntie Em is also diabetic so we can't go crazy with the starch.  I went so far as to get several different gluten free bread mixes to see what they were using. Still...this homemade one has been the best to date. 
 Look! It's really bread!

You will need some Tapioca flour.

Here's the 411. Tapica flour is also known as Tapioca starch. This flour, made from cassava root is primarily used to thicken sauces or add chewiness to lighten baked goods. The 4 lb bag was right around 7$ at Honeyville Farms in Chandler, AZ. 

You will also need some good  whole grain sorghum flour. I really adore how sorghum bakes.  I found this at Preparing Wisely in Mesa, AZ. I prefer the fine grind if you can find it. 

You will also need brown rice flour. I got some outstanding Honeyville Farms  brown rice flour that I used in conjunction with the sorghum. It was a remarkable. 

Next you'll also need some Xanthan gum. 
It mimics gluten in baked goods and is 100% natural. 

 Chef Tess Gluten Free Sandwich Bread
1/3 cup egg whites
1 egg
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1 1/2 cups warm skim milk (or soy milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
2 cup whole grain sorghum flour ( I love Twin Valley Mills Sorghum flour)
1 ½ cup Honeyville Farms  brown rice flour
1T active dry yeast

Directions:  In a gallon size mixer bowl combine salt, xanthan gum, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and brown rice flour.

 Combine egg, egg whites, vinegar, olive oil, honey and milk in a bowl. Add the yeast to the wet ingredients.

Combine wet and dry ingredients and knead by hand 3-4 minutes. Honestly, you can use a spoon.

 The dough doesn't look like regular bread dough. It's more like a thick ice cream...but not cold...and sticky as heck-fire. Yes. Heck-fire is sticky. 

Form into a rough ball. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes. This gives the dough time to absorb the moisture so it can be formed into a descent loaf. Yeah. Most of the recipes I saw ended up more like a batter bread and the loaves looked really pathetic. Sorry to anyone who has made those posts and said they are great. I didn't see many that even looked like a normal loaf of sandwich bread. One even said, "look at this gorgeous loaf!" I was looking...alas. I digress. 

Sprinkle counter top with ¼ cup extra sorghum flour. Put dough on counter and gently form into a loaf by rolling into a log shape. Use a light hand and cover with more flour if needed.

 Lightly grease an 9 inch by 4 inch bread pan.   Leave uncovered on the counter 45 minutes. I slashed the top of the loaf with a knife just before baking so it would look more like regular baked bread when it raised in the oven. Don't be afraid, but it won't raise much on the counter.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 350 degrees 60-65 minutes until 170 degrees internal temperature.

 When bread is finished, let cool 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.

 Slice with a very sharp bread knife after bread has cooled. Wrap tightly after bread cools to reserve moisture. 

I've found that letting the bread cool completely before slicing is the best for great thin slices. 

 The texture, flavor, and keeping quality are amazing. Just be sure to keep the bread in a plastic bag. Yeah baby!  Bread is back!
There you go! Make some gluten free bread! 

Get the printable recipe Here.

For those here local, remember I'll be teaching  a free class on gluten free baking Tuesday Jan. 3rd at 10 AM at our local Honeyville Farms store in Chandler. This will be  a wonderful class for those wanting some great pointers on baking and cooking with a gluten free lifestyle. 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Appetizers using Food Storage and Beyond

I'm teaching a class today on how to make some fabulous appetizers using food storage and some things you grow or get fresh. So, I thought I'd be a doll face and share the class notes with you. Doll face. Well. That just brought a vision to my head of my face...but plastic with fake freckles. Many of these recipes use my Homemade Cream Cheese, the tutorial is here on my blog, but you can always use store-purchased cream cheese as well. 

Here's what we did today.  I covered:
  • Hot Appetizer Ideas
  • Dips, Salsas, Cheese-balls
  • Food Presentation
  • Food Safety
Hot Appetizer Ideas

The sweetness of the field fresh corn coupled with the lightly salty taste of fresh shrimp or crab is almost too deliriously delicious! Serve this warm as a nibble before a meal. You'll find it to be a light refreshing touch.

Chef Tess Steamed Corn Custard 

with buttered Crab or Shrimp

For custard

For crab topping
  • 1/2 cup king crab meat OR ½ cup shrimp (fresh preferred, but canned will work)
  • 1 tablespoon Powdered Butter 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Special equipment: 4 (2-oz) ceramic or glass ramekin

Make custard:
Pulse corn in a spice blender or mill until a powder. Add cream, 1/2 cup water, egg powder and salt. Whisk well and divide among 4 ramekins. Steam custards in a steamer set 1 inch above simmering water, covered with lid, until centres are set and a thin knife inserted into center of 1 custard comes out clean, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove ramekins from the steamer with tongs and cool custards slightly.

Make crab topping while custards cool:
Coarsely chop 1/2 cup crabmeat or shrimp meat. Heat meat in a lightly oiled skillet. Add the powdered butter about 2 minutes. Stir in chives. Serve custards topped with crab or shrimp.
I'm not going to lie. It's amazing. A-freeeeakin'-Mazing!

Now. The Quiche. Quiche me you fool. You've heard all the puns before huh?

The classic addition to any appetizer section... There must be mini-quiche. So, this is fun recipe that you make in mini muffin cups. I sometimes skip the bottom crust all together and just put a mini Ritz cracker on the bottom of the pan. It works perfectly!

Mini Quiche


Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine cracker crumbs and melted butter. Divide crumbs among mini muffin tins that have been sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray. Combine onion and butter powder and divide evenly on top of cracker crumbs. Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and cheese. Pour by spoonfuls on top of onions in tins. Do not fill to top, as they will run over. Bake until set, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not over bake. May be stored in refrigerator or freezer. Warm in oven before serving.

Orange Ginger BBQ Chinese Chicken Wraps
  • 2 cups Freeze Dried Mushroom, hydrated and drained well
  • 3 cups Freeze Dried Chicken, hydrated and drained well
  • 2 tablespoons light coloured oil, such as vegetable oil or peanut oil
  • Coarse Real salt and coarse black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (or 2 tsp dry garlic)
  • 1-inch ginger root, finely chopped or grated, optional
  • 1 orange, zested (dry zest use 1T, pulverized to a powder)
  • 1 small tin, 6 to 8 ounces, sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin, Chinese barbecue sauce, available on Asian foods aisle of market
  • 1/2 large head iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce, core removed, head quartered (romaine just leave whole)
Wedges of navel orange -- platter garnish

Directions Preheat a large skillet or wok to high. Add oil to hot pan. Add chicken to the pan Add mushrooms and cook another minute or two. Add salt and pepper to season, then garlic and ginger. Cook a minute more. Grate zest into a pan, add bell pepper bits, chopped water chestnuts and scallions. Cook another minute, continuing to stir fry mixture. Add hoisin Chinese barbecue sauce and toss to coat the mixture evenly. Transfer the hot chopped barbecued chicken to serving platter and pile the quartered wedges of crisp iceberg lettuce alongside. Add wedged oranges to the platter to garnish. To eat, pile spoonfuls into lettuce leaves, wrapping lettuce around fillings and squeeze an orange wedge over.

Cold Appetizer Dips, Salsas and Cheeseballs

Italian White Bean Dip with Toasted Pita Chips

  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup loose packed basil leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 pitas
  • 1 tsp Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasoning
Directions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl. Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour the remaining oil over the pitas. Toss and spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with chef Tess Romanic Italian Seasoning. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color. Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree

Chef Tess Sweet Corn and Avocado Salsa 
This recipe uses the bounty of the garden along with some amazing Freeze dried vegetables.
Yield: 2 to 3 cups

  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 15 oz can dice fire roasted tomato, drained
  • 1 ½ cup Freeze-dried corn, hydrated
  • 1 cup cooked black beans or White beans, well drained
  • ¼ cup freeze-dried onion 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (for a hotter salsa, leave the seeds in)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (2T dehydrated)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp Chef Tess Fajita Seasoning
1. Place the avocado in the bottom of a nonreactive mixing bowl and gently toss it with 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Spoon the tomato on top of the avocado.
2. Add the corn kernels to the mixing bowl. The salsa can be prepared to this stage up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate it, covered.
3. Just before serving, add the jalapeño and cilantro to the mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Taste
for seasoning, adding more lime juice as necessary and season with salt and pepper to taste; the salsa should be highly seasoned.

Chef Tess French Onion Dill Dip Mix

1 cup Freeze-dried diced onion
½ cup Sour cream powder
½ cup dehydrated butter
1T granulated garlic
2T dill
1T black pepper
Directions for the mix: In a dry skillet, place the freeze-dried onion. Cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes until brown but not burned. Allow to cool. Combine all ingredients. Yield 3 cups mix.

To make dip: Combine: 3T onion dip mix, 1 cup sour cream, ¾ cup mayonnaise (May use fat-free varieties). Chill at least 3 hours. May add bacon, or freeze-dried cheddar cheese, etc.
Chef Tess Sundried Tomato Dip

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (8 tomatoes)
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup yogurt (unsweetened)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
10 dashes, hot red pepper sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
2 tsp Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasoning
Directions Puree the tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, red pepper sauce, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the scallions and pulse twice. Serve at room temperature

Chef Tess Pineapple Cheese Ball
yields 2 average cheese balls

Allow cream cheese to soften to room temperature. In a large bowl combine all ingredients whipping well, about 2 minutes. Scrape cheese mixture out of bowl and form into 2 balls. Put on a plate cover with plastic or a glass dome thingy. Chill in the fridge 2-4 hours before serving. I think it's best after 24 hours.

I'm not going to lie. Ace ate an entire batch of this appetizer on his own! I always know when I have a winner! This one is a great balance of savory and sweet with a light salty tang from the goat cheese. You will find it to be a fast favorite in your family. 

Chef Tess Crostini with Goat Cheese and Garlic-Apple Chutney

For Chutney:

For Crostini:

  • 1 French-bread baguette, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices
  • olive oil
  • 12 ounces soft fresh goat cheese 
Directions: Combine all chutney ingredients in a non-reactive half gallon pot with a heavy bottom and simmer 10-15 minutes until apples are hydrated and the mixture is thick like a jam.
To make Crostini: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange baguette slices on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Spread each toast with goat cheese. Top with chutney.

Appetizer Table Presentation (you have to really be at the class to get this section)
  • Height and Depth
  • Color
  • Floral
  • Points of Interest
  • Table Coverings
Plated Appetizer Presentation (you have to be at the class to see the details here.)
  • Color
  • Sauces
  • Height
Some Words on Food Safety
  • Hot food hot. Cold food cold. Period. When you are throwing a party or serving appetizers to anyone, it is very important that food be kept at a cool temperature (below 40 degrees) if it's a cold food. Hot food should be kept at 165 degrees or warmer. Use ice beds on your table. A large bowl full of ice, covered with green leaf lettuce, kale or fruit and the dips in the ice. It will add height to your buffet and allow food to remain safe to eat. For hot food, use burners or keep on hot stoneware insulated well. Watch how long food is left out.
  • When in doubt, throw it out! If food is left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, it is best to just throw it away. You don't want to risk food born illness.
  • Social Status in the Fridge. When making food platters, always put meat platters at the bottom of the fridge, veggie and fruit platters above meat. This will keep meat from dripping any juice on the veggie or fruit trays.
There you go!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Appetizers on NBC 12 with Chef Tess

I adore Syleste Rodriguez! She's every bit as sweet in person as she is on TV. 

 Today on NBC 12 Morning show in Phoenix, AZ,  I showed some magnificent ways to add elegance and charm to your holiday buffets and dinner table by making some awesome appetizers! I hope to share some great ideas with you that will ease the stress of the season. For me, it's all about time with friends and family. 

Remember I'm teaching a free appetizer class on Tuesday, December 27th at Honeyville Farms in Chandler. This is a free class with some great ideas for New Year's Eve munchies using food storage and whole food! Look at my list of  Upcoming Classes for more details.

Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite recipes that have been given to me by those I love. Enjoy! First though, I have to share the latest Painted bread. This bread basket in silver and black is ready for the buffet table! What do you think? Dramatic enough?

The first appetizer I shared today was a plum-pepper-pecan baked brie. A few years ago a beautiful woman named Sylvia Edwards shared This Pampered Chef Recipe with me and it became a fast favorite "go-to" appetizer for holiday events. I've altered it a bit from the original recipe...but love it non-the-less. Sylvia was a much needed boost to my courage at the time. She cheered me forward to starting my business. I only sold with Pampered Chef for about a year, but it changed my self esteem and confidence to see some much needed income. Sylivia is now a missionary on the other side of the world. She made a difference in my life and I know she's changing lives for the better where she is now as well. God bless her! So...Let's talk baked brie.

You hear about baked brie often during the holidays. It's a soft cheese that is slightly nutty with just the right amount of salt. When it's baked it is a wonderfully creamy smooth texture. I couple it with a sweet plum jam and a little heat from fresh jalepeno. Don't worry. If you seed the pepper, the flavor is actually not too hot. This is a dramatic yet simple appetizer that bakes the brie and the French Bread croutons for the warm bubbly hot and sweet baked brie at the same time. It's outstanding with any flavor of jam, but I'm particularly partial to the plum or prickly pear jam if you can find it.
Plum-Pepper-Pecan Baked Brie
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped and divided1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, chopped
1/2 cup red plum jam (sugar free or regular)
1 clove fresh pressed garlic
1 4-inch round (8 ounces) Brie cheese with rind, room temperature
1 loaf (16 ounces) French baguette ( I use
Homemade Sourdough )
Melted butter (about 1/2 cup)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the jam, jalapeno, garlic and half of the pecans.

Using a bread knife, cut baguette on a bias into twenty-four 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange baguette slices around Brie; baste with butter using a pastry brush.
Oh land-o-lakes alive! Have butter. Not every day, but every once in a will not die. Cut Brie in half horizontally. Place one half of Brie, cut side up, onto center of Large Round pizza stone. Spread half of the prickly pear jam mixture evenly over bottom half of Brie using Small Spreader. Top with remaining half of Brie. Spread remaining jam mixture over Brie; sprinkle with remaining pecans.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until baguette slices are golden brown and Brie begins to soften. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Next up...the Cheese Ball...err...Pine Cone...

 My sister in law Gwen makes the most amazing cheese ball recipe. It has a touch of pineapple, onion and all the delights of a good cheese ball. This year I'm garnishing it with whole almonds and making it look like a giant pine cone! How fun is that?!
Gwen's Cheese ball (Pineapple Pine cone)
("cheese ball" here is not actually a reference to my brother in law...grin...)yields 2 average cheese balls
2 packages cream cheese (8 oz each)
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced red onion
4 oz crushed pineapple (squeezed until all the juice is out and it's almost dry)
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic
Allow cream cheese to soften to room temperature. Pot into a Kitchen Aid with paddle attachment. Combine all ingredients on speed 2 about 2 minutes. Scrape cheese mixture out of bowl and form into 2 rough balls. Put on a plate cover with plastic or a glass dome thingy...(sorry for the technical wizardry of the moment there) and chill in the fridge 2-4 hours before serving. I think it's best after 24 hours.

Holy Hot Dip!

 Hot Dip is a wonderful alternative to the cold dips often served with veggies. Ace almost died of happiness last night when I shared this dip with him. He scooped it onto his plate in great piles on top of corn chips...and then licked the whole plate after he was done. It was embarrassing...for the plate. My friend Lisa Villont Shared this recipe with me. Her husband JP made it for a party we attended and I've never loved a hot dip more than this one! It's amazing! Be prepared to serve it with a Thick crackers or croutons as well. It's a hearty dip...hearty dip. Dance when you make it.
JP's Buffalo Chicken Hot Dip
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 C Franks Red Hot sauce (original flavor)
1/2 C Ranch Dressing
2 Chicken Breasts cooked and chopped
½ cup grated Mozzarella Cheese
Onion Powder
Mix together the first 4 ingredients * I would also add garlic to that top list, 1 clove minced, or granulated to taste*
Place mixture in baking dish or pie plate, Bake at 350 for 20 mins.  Top with Grated Mozzarella, sprinkle little with onion powder and place under broiler until cheese is toasty and delicious looking.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped parsley over top (fresh would be SO nice!) Garnish with Celery leaves.  Serve with Celery, Chips, Bread, Spoons, whatever.  I personally love it with hunks of celery.
 I love putting large veggie sticks in glasses next to the dip instead of a party tray. They are also easier to refill on a buffet and easier to find space for in a jammed fridge when hosting large parties. 
 Olive Wreathes are a beautiful addition to your buffet or table at Christmas. It's almost not a party without olives and cheese! Here's a great way to display the olives. Simply make a fresh herb wreath by laying fresh rosemary, oregano and marjoram in a circle around the outside of a round dinner plate in a thick bed. Artistically arrange your olives on the bed of herbs and garnish with pickled red peppers and fresh mozzarella if desired. A drizzle of infused olive oil or balsamic vinegar will add even more depth and make this an outstanding presentation. You'll want the Olive wreath every year!

Get the printable version of today's appetizer recipe ideas Here.
Enjoy the beautiful weekend. I'm so looking forward to some quiet time with the family. Merry Christmas my dear friends. You make my life more beautiful every single day. 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess