Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Changes Coming

Chow Bella Cooks is on the move!  The new website/blog and newsletter are underway and will be operational by the end of the year.  It's a complete overhaul and is being designed by a real pro!  No cookie cutter templates for me! 

Starting in January cooks of all sorts will be able to join the Chow Bella Cooks Club, buy merchandise, and enter a recipe of the month contest to win a Chow Bella Cooks apron!  Lots of good things are coming soon.

Chow Bella Cooks test kitchen has been very busy testing out great holiday treats for a quick, easy and nutritious bounty!  Delicious pumpkin gratin, low in fat, but you would never believe it, is one of the keepers from the test kitchen, along with layered apple pie, tarts and my perfected Milk Chocolate and Chunky dark chocolate chip chewy cookies.  Guaranteed to be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. 

Stay tuned for great things! Chow!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemade Pasta or Store Bought?

Growing up, Dad would make "homemades," as we called them, and what a treat it was!  This usually happened around the holidays or other special occasions, because the perception was that this was a tedious and arduous task.  It certainly was special.  Grandma always made everything from scratch, and I wondered why she could do this but my mom and dad wouldn't or couldn't. 

As an adult, I started making my own pasta, and having a demanding full time job and other responsibilities, I understood why Mom or Dad wouldn't just whip up pasta on Wednesday nights (our traditional pasta night).  So, I started crafting my pasta recipes and techniques to come up with an easy way to crank out pasta for a weekly treat for my family. 

Success!  Over the years, technology has not only helped the business world, but there are great advancements in baking and cooking "technologies," too.  My own test kitchen research found that using a food processor or Kitchen Aid did not dilute the taste of the pasta.  Grueling kneading wasn't the case any longer, and this saved a lot of time and mess.  I also found that if I made smaller batches, I could crank out pasta in an hour and by the time the boiling water was ready, so was the pasta.  I found all I need to do is put all of the ingredients (all four of them) in the processor and turn it on.  The skill comes in knowing how much ice cold water to add to the mixture and to know when the dough is perfect.  It should be smooth and shiny. 

Okay, so you say, "but you have to roll, cut, dry...etc., and this takes time!"  In my kitchen, I have several pasta makers, but I find the easiest and fastest pasta maker is me!  I roll out the dough and cut it by hand, as I was taught in Italy.  If I'm feeling creative, I pull out one of my pasta rollers, and I make all sorts of pastas and freeze them.  There is no need to dry the pasta at all.  You can insert the pasta into freezer bags or plop it right into the boiling water.

What did Cooks Illustrated say about homemade vs store bought?  In their test kitchens, homemade pasta won hands down. 

Homemade pasta is easier than you think and much tastier, too.  Chow Bella Cooks can teach you the simple techniques to treat your family every week.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mini Pizzas

On today's test kitchen menu is pizza.  Mini pizzas, to be exact.  Making mini pizzas is a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen.  The homemade dough is simple and can be made in the evening or over the weekend and frozen until you're ready to use it.  In fact, the dough is better if you wait to use it. 

You can whip these babies up in 30 minutes, and each family member can create their own personalized mini pizza.  The ingredients are simple:  Bread flour (white whole wheat flour...shhh...don't tell my husband!), yeast, water, olive oil, and a pinch of sugar.  Let Chow Bella Cooks show you the technique of making the perfect dough, and I even share my "secret ingredients!" 

This recipe was inspired by my Aunt Fran, a master Italian cook, and the master pizza maker, Peter Reinhart.  The sauce is simple and can be made within the 30 minutes or ahead of time. Find out my secret to quick, delicious tomato sauce, too!  It's a fun, nutritious meal the whole family will enjoy!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Official Website Coming Soon!

Yes, Chow Bella Cooks is incorporated.  The official name is Chow Bella Cooks, llc.  Catchy, huh?  My friend, Susan, designed and created my logo, and I really do love it!  She's amazing, and if you would like her contact information for any work, please let me know.  She's also a great person!

So, now that Chow Bella Cooks is official what's next?  For starters, my website is well underway.  My outline and most of the content is done, and all I need is a web designer that works for entrepreneurial money.  In other words, I'm on a budget. 

My lesson plans are done, for the most part, and all I have to do is get them in a booklet or binder form.  Among the courses are:

Good Food and Good Nutrition
Bread Baking
Pizza Workshop
Pasta Workshop
Simple and Delicious Italian Sauces
Cooking With Fall Foods
Busy Moms and Dads Workshop

Chow Bella Cooks has a professionally designed kitchen, or we can come to you!  If you have room for a cutting board, you have room to cook.  My mother used to say, "If you can read you can cook."  But, that's not necessarily true.  One thing I've learned from classes, over the years, is that you need to see, feel, touch and taste the food!  This is especially true when making bread, pasta and pizza. 

Chow Bella Cooks is all starting to come together, and I couldn't be more excited.  I look forward to having you cook with me.  Chow!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Start Of Something Good

Today is the first day of Chow Bella Cooks, LLC.  It's official!