Sunday, 26 December 2010

EGGS: Their value to baking!

EGGS can come from many different female birds/reptiles/fish. They are filled with protein and choline, thus classifing eggs as a "meat" in the Food Pyramid.
The most common egg is the chicken egg, which you use in baking. Read more to find out the importance of egg in the baking world!

-Shell :
Soft, fragile, and smooth! The color of the shell (be it white or brown) depends on the chicken. Make sure your egg shells are free from cracks or tears.
-Yolk: The yellow center. It should be round, firm, and bright orange-yellow color. The more rich the yolk color is, the better diet the chicken had!
-White: (also called Albumen) It's mainly focus is to protect the egg yolk while in the shell. It has very little protein, and many culinary uses.

Eggs have all essential amino acids for humans. They bring protein to vegeterian diets, along with Vitamin A, E, AND D. An egg is one of the few natural ingredients that contain Vitamin D. When consumed, eggs are very easy for your body to digest.
There is some debate about the medium-high cholesterol value in an egg due to the yolk. Medical professionals just want you to monitor your egg-intake closely.

BAKING VALUE:Eggs are the structure behind the baked good. Eggs are filled with protein, and protein "builds walls." They also add flavor, richness, and color to any baked good. Egg wash some cranberry-orange scones and they come out golden brown! Brioche depends on eggs to give it a nice glossy shine.
Egg yolks, along with eggs, can be used as a emulsifier and thickener. Think: hollandaise sauce, chocolate mousse, and lemon curd. All the protein makes your mixture thick and structured.
Egg whites are used to lighten food. Think: chocolate mousse (or any type of mousse), angel food cake, and lemon merigune. Just make sure your bowl and tools are clean when whipping egg whites. Any types of yolk or "dirt" with cause the egg whites not to whip properly.

Egg white coagulate between 144-149 degrees F. Egg yolks coagulate between 149-158 degrees F. When eggs get over cooked, they get dry, a bit green (due to the iron and sulfur), and firm. Thus, when baking any type of custard, make sure you do not over cook the mixture or it will look like scrambled eggs.

Overall, eggs give a nutrional value to our bodies and richness to foods. Cooking eggs is an art and takes time and practice to perfect. When cooking/baking with eggs, make sure your equipment is clean and spotless!

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Be Sweet, Act Sweet.

What is sweeter than pie? Acting sweet! Carolann is a young, creative, and exciting hair stylist in downtown Redmond. Carolann Joy Salon is holding a coat drive for the Friend of Youth, from Dec. 16-Jan.22nd 2011. Can you imagine going without a coat in this rain and snow? Please donate and Carolann Joy Salon will give you 5% off their services.

Check out their website for more info:

For more info about Carolann Joy Salon, find and "Like" on Facebook.!/CarolannJoySalon

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Happy Holidays to all! With the rush of shopping, planning special events, and baking lots of cookies and goodies, even I wait until the last minute to gift shop. I know everyone has a foodie friend in their life because everyone LOVES and ENJOYS good food! The gift of food and food-related items are warming, welcoming, and useful.
Read more to learn about a food-related gift giving guide!

FOR THE AMATEUR FOODIE: Beginner; Just learning tricks and tips around the kitchen; Has a thirst for food knowledge!

-Joy of Cooking cookbook; Any "learn how to" cook books.
-Nice matching untensils, like thongs, slotted spoons, and spatulas.
-Set of cooking pots and pans
-A good chefs knife and cutting board
-Oven mits

FOR THE MEDIUM-FOODIE: Better than a beginner; Can follow a recipe, but likes to add zest to it; Knows the basic kitchen tips and techniques.
-Cookbook from their favorite restaurant.
-New apron
-More specific gadgets (like microplane, zester, cheese knife, etc)
-Nice serving dishes for entertaining

FOR THE PRO FOODIE: Top Chef wannabe; creates new and exciting recipes; knife skills are solid; lives for food!
-Autograph copy of their favorite chef's cookbook
-Gift card for their knives to be sharpened
-Cooking classes at a local cooking school
-Attachments to their kitchen aid mixer or any other kitchen appliance

All and all, people love getting food-related gift items. It is a sweet way to say "Happy Holidays!" And who does not like getting homemade cookies? Baking something sweet is a great way to show love during the holiday season. Happy baking!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Why it is important to "know" your oven!

The oven is a key tool when it come to successful baking. The oven came make, or break, your great baked goods. So, why it is important to "know your oven" and adjust when needed? Read more to find out why!

First off, describe your oven: Is it 20 years old? Or 2 years new? Are you stuck in a small studio apartment with a beat up and abused oven? Or in a six-figure condo with brand new stainless steel appliances? Older oven tend to be "weaker" and not was "hot" as current or new ovens. I tend to set older ovens 20-40 degrees F MORE than what a recipe may call for. When I am working with new and shiny ovens, I set the temperature 20-40 degrees LESS than what a recipe calls for.

Conduction versus convection ovens: Convection ovens (also called "turbo ovens") has a rotating fan in it, so the hot air moves freely, thus making the food cook more evenly and at a lower temp. Convection ovens also may include proofing abilities for bread making. Many bakers love convection ovens because the heat is more even versus a conduction oven. They tend to be easier to clean, too!
Conduction ovens (also called "conventional ovens") are most popular in domestic homes. The heat depends on the radiation of the walls and tends to be uneven. That is why it is important to "rotate" food in conduction ovens. Many newer conduction ovens come with self-cleaning, which is plus versus older models.

What are you cooking in that oven?! Do not overcrowd your oven with many food dishes! One or two items in your oven is enough (unless you're in a professional kitchen and have many racks in your oven)! Too many items in your oven will cause not enough even heat to cook your items properly.
When cooking large items (like Thanksgiving Turkey, pot roast, Prime rib, etc): Think slow and low. A large piece of meat will need a long time in the oven without burning it. 300-325 degrees F is hot enough.
When cooking small items (like chocolate chip cookies, scones, small veggies, etc): think high and fast. Items that not require a long cooking time can be baked at a higher temp, like 350-375 degrees F.
Of course, adjust your ovens accordingly!

This will take time and practice. KNOW YOUR OVEN! Is it naturally too hot...or too cold? Slow to heat up? Take notes and write them in your recipe. Your oven will be different than your neighbor's oven. Once you know your oven, you know baking!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


In the past couple years, "gluten-free" baking and cooking has arised popularity. But why? What is gluten and why is it harmful? Is it healthy? How do I adjust baking and cooking recipes to gluten free? Keep on reading to find out more about gluten and gluten-free baking.

What is gluten? What is Celiac disease?
Celiac disease is "an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. It can rear its troublesome head at any point from infancy to old age. Currently, celiac disease symptoms are believed to be inherited. " In other words: your body cannot digest gluten in a normal fashion. Thus, Gluten "is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture." Gluten is present in many flours and gives baked items their "structure." High gluten items tend to be breads, bagels, and pizza dough.

Is gluten harmful? What foods are gluten-free? Is going gluten-free healthier?
Gluten is only harmful when you are gluten-intolerant and in large doeses. Many people BECOME gluten-intolerant because they consume too much "bad gluten" foods, like pizza, white breads, and processed foods. Keep your gluten intake at a low-moderate.Going gluten-free can be very difficult, yet it can work if you carefully read food labels. Popular items that contain gluten are: All white/wheat flours (except if the label reads "gluten-free"), bagels/breads/crackers/snack items, pizza dough, majority of baked goods, semolina, cous cous, most cereals, breadcrumbs, processed/frozen items, barely, beer, rye, etc. The list can go on forever. Be sure to double check food labels and ask questions. Also, oats are naturally gluten-free, but they are processed in a plant that makes gluten flours, thus you have to buy gluten-free oats at a special store.
So, what items are gluten free? Many healthy, happy, and tasty choices. People may believe that going gluten-free will be difficult or leave them with little food choice. First off, most raw veggies and fruits are gluten-free. So is the majority of animal protein (if cooked WITHOUT gluten). Unsalted butter, eggs, milk, cheese, and plain yogurt are also gluten free.
Popular gluten free grains are: Buckwheat, quinoa, rice, brown rice, and polenta. When baking, instead of white/wheat flour, you can use: Potato flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, arrowroot, rice flour, brown rice flour, cornstarch, or taro flour.
Gluten-free can lead to a healthier lifestyle because gluten-free carbs are very easy for your body to digest and process. You will feel less bloated, nausated, and full. That does not mean all gluten items are harmful, some gluten-items are just as healthy and tasty.

Baking and cooking gluten-free can be very difficult if you are not used to it. Start slow and easy. Check out gluten-free blogs, websites, and books. Look at recipes that you like. Baking gluten free can be more challenging because you're dealing with gluten-free flours that do not work like gluten flours. I had to adjust many recipes while working with gluten free flours, such as tapioca flour, xanathan gum, and rice flour. To my gluten-free baked goods, I like to add natural flavor like mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, spices like cinnamon, and nuts for added texture.
Happy gluten free baking and cooking to all!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

CINNAMON: My favorite Spice!

Cinnamon adds sweetness to snickerdoodles, zest to eggnog, and compliments chocolate and banana heavenly! Cinnamon "is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum which can be used in both sweet and savoury foods. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia, and its origin was mysterious in Europe until the sixteenth century." Widely used in cooking and baking, cinnamon is one of my favorite spices to use and one of the oldest spices known. Here is a brief look into cinnamon:

COOKING/BAKING: What cinnamon is usually used for:
-Adding depth to apple pie and other fruit pies.
-Complimenting banana for banana fosters.
-Giving cinnamon rolls their flavor.
-Mixed with sugar, giving people something to dust on toast, churros, and other fried items.
-Middle eastern cooking, example: lamb tagine, curries,and garam masala.
-Add flavor to popular festive drinks: eggnog, cocoa, mulled wine, and spiced cider.
-When used in cooking, it inhibits bacteria growth, making it a natural preservative.
-Making your kitchen smell wonderful!


-Can lower LDL cholesterol and blood sugar.
-Anti-clotting effect of blood.
-Help treat diarreha, nausea, and vomiting.
-Boost brain function.
-To get "cinnamon" health benefits, dust some cinnamon on toast, add it to tea, mix it in to your oatmeal, or make cinnamon bread!

Cinnamon comes in two forms: Round sticks (about 3 inches long) called "bark" or powder form. The sticks are great when "infusing" taste to liquids, compotes, or alcohol. The powder form is most popular when cooking and baking.
Even though there are many varieties of cinnamon, two most popular are Ceylon cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon, or "cassia." Ceylon is more rare and has a subtle, refine taste to it versus cassia. Some people say Ceylon is the only "true" cinnamon, yet when it is in its powder form, it is hard to tell a difference between Ceylon and Cassia.
But, in bark form, Ceylon bark, when looking at the ends, you should multiple layers of thin bark. Cassia bark with have a "one-piece" thick bar layer.

Cinnamon has many culinary and health benefits for your life. Add it to cookies, curries, and Sangria! Remember to purchase only true cinnamon and enjoy the sweetness that comes with it.
Happy baking!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

FOOD FATS: The breakdown!

FAT. Fat is a nutrient and is needed for the body to properly function and live. In baking and cooking, we use many fats for different reason. Read more to find out popular food fat facts and when to use what fat when.....


Butter: An all-dairy, natural, delicious fat. Made by churning fresh cream or milk. It is primary from a cow, but there are also sheep, goat, and buffalo butter. Butter is THE prime choice for baking because of its flavor and melt in your mouth feel.
Margarine: A butter substitute, aka "fake fat." Sometimes called "oleo." It is mainly composed of different oils. It is naturally black (yes, black!) then dyed yellow to "look" like butter. Magarine is good when baking/cooking vegan items...only. I like butter always.
is pig fat. Used like butter, it is very high in saturated (bad) fat. Many bakers trust lard when making pie crust. I like an all butter crust.

FACT: Fat that is liquid at room temp (like many oils) are mono- or poly-unsaturated fats. (The good kind!)

Canola oil: From the rapeseed, it is a nice, light-tasting oil used in cooking and baking. A very all-purpose cooking oil that should be in your pantry! Canola oil is also used to cosmetic items, candles, and bio fuel. Veg oil has a similar taste to canola oil.
Olive Oil: From the olive, olive oil is used throughout the world in cooking. "Virgin" oil means it was not treated with chemicals and produced by physical means. "Extra virgin" comes from virgin oil, has a distinct taste, and has less than .8% acidity. "Cold press" means the oil was not heated, usually over 80 degrees F, when producing the oil. "First cold press" means the olive was crushed exactly one time and at the same temperature. Olive oil is prized for its taste and health benefits. I use it constantly.

There are many types of fat in the culinary world, and used for different reason. Fat brings flavor to the food and makes it taste delicious! Good fats are needed for your body to function properly. Consume good fats in a limited matter.

Reminder: Holiday Catering Sale!

I love the holidays because of good food, cookies, and being together with close family and friends. My foodie friend, Nell, and I have teamed up to offer you a holiday promotion: 20% off catered events, from Nov. 1st - Dec. 31st 2010. Think: work holiday parties, business events, girls/boys night, or family time. If you have any questions or would like an estimate, please email one of us.

Holiday Sale!
Have a holiday event you would like to have catered? Nell’s Cooking is offering 20% off all catered events between November 1st, 2010 and December 31st, 2010. Email Nell at to reserve your event date!Additional Promotions:
Want to include homemade desserts and/or sweets? Sweetness Catering is also offering a 20% discount between November 1st, 2010 and December 31st, 2010. Email Kimm:


Cheers all! How many of you enjoyed the snow fall right before Turkey day? I love the holidays because it is filled with great love, family, friends, food, and lots and lots of baking!
Getting together with large groups of people can either be stress-induced or stress-free. Whether you're planning a holiday work party, the annual family's Christmas feast, or a cookie bake off with your fellow friends...follow these easy breezy tips on throwing a great party!

TIP ONE: Plan it out! Write it out! Schedule!-First, compose a large e-mail and ask everyone if a certain day works well for the holiday bash. You may find out certain days/weekends will not work for all. Go with the majority. Tell people to "save the date" until the formal invite arrives.
-On your calender, write out what you want to accomplish before the party. Is the menu planned out? How about the gifts? Extra table and chairs on hand? Who is bringing the eggnog? Write a list of who is in charge of what.
TIP TWO: Be ahead of the game!-Two days before the large bash, set your schedule pretty clear. Doing "little" things before the party can help! For example, setting the table, putting out extra chairs, cleaning/tidding up, wine glasses out, etc.
-Ask for a couple close pals to come early and help out! Don't be afraid, people love to help one another during the holiday rush.
TIP THREE: Don't do it all! -Have everyone bring food so you don't have to do ALL the cooking!
-You set one drink (like a fun and festive drink) and have others bring wine, beer, and soda.
-Unless there is an activity already set, have people bring their favorite game to play.
-Decide early if young children are allowed to come. If so, have a designated room for them and have them bring their own toys/games/movies.

The holidays ARE suppose to be a fun, festive, and lovely time! Enjoy seeing new and old friends, family, and loved ones. Take time to enjoy good company with good food. Happy holidays and happy baking to all!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Perfect Pie Crust: 3 easy tips!

What MAKES a pie, a true PIE? The crust. Buttery, flakey, pastry goodness. To some, it is more important than the filling itself. Simple and basic ingredients, a pie crust is something every true chef/pastry chef/baker/cook wannabe should perfect.
To get some basic pie facts straight:
A pie: Contains a bottom crust, filling, and top crust or streusel topping
A cobbler: filling and pastry topping
A crisp: filling and streusel topping

3 Easy-Breezy tips to a successful pie crust:
1) Use cold ingredients and equipment! Here is a fact: all types of fat (butter, shortening, oil, etc) are called "shortening" in the pastry world because fat "shortens" gluten strands. (Gluten is the "structure" beind the sweet item.) Also, fat is easier to work with when it is cold/chilled. Make sure the bowl you are using with is chill (you can put it in the freezer for 5 minutes) and not warm.
2)Use good ingredients! I love and swear by an all-butter crust. Others like shortening, lard, or oil. Yes, shortening is the best fat for flakiness, but butter has the BEST flavor and it is all-natural. I have tried 50% butter and 50% shortening, but it does not have the same texture or flavor as an all-butter crust. Master an all-butter crust then experiment with other types of crust. Remember, practice makes perfect....or me sooo tired!
3) Chill it out! When mixing the pie crust, do not overmix because it will cause excess gluten development and become tough and chewy. There are times when we want a lot of gluten, think any type of dough we mix for a long period of time: pizza dough, bagels, french bread, etc. Then, think of items we mix for a short period of time (low gluten development): cookies, cake, pie crust, most pastry items, etc. Just mix until combine, do not be afraid to use your hands! I do not like using a food processor because it does not let me control how evenly the fat is rubbed in. After mixing, wrapped the pie crust and chill for at least 2 hours, or over night.

The order of a pie crust:
-Measure ingredients correctly. Shift dry ingredients.
-Cut the chill butter into 1-inch cubes.
-"Rub" the chilled butter into the dry ingredients. Think about "rubbing" the fat inbetween the flour to make "pea-size" fat shapes. This action makes the crust nice and flakey. Too much "rubbing" will cause more of a "shortbread" crust versus a flaky crust. "Rubbing" not enough will cause a crust that is not flaky. Make sure the fat ends up pea-sized!
-Add the cold liquid. Mix to combine. I like to use my hands and a dough scraper (a rectangle-shaped plastic kitchen gadget; pretty cheap at any kitchen store).
-Wrapped in plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Remember, a bad pie crust will be underbaked, soggy, and bland. A good pie crust will be flaky, buttery, and compliment the pie filling. Practice is key when making a pie crust! Ask around and see what other people's tricks are. Happy Baking!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Holiday Food Sale!

I love the holidays because of good food, cookies, and being together with close family and friends. My foodie friend, Nell, and I have teamed up to offer you a holiday promotion: 20% off catered events, from Nov. 1st - Dec. 31st 2010. Think: work holiday parties, business events, girls/boys night, or family time. If you have any questions or would like an estimate, please email one of us.

Holiday Sale! Have a holiday event you would like to have catered? Nell’s Cooking is offering 20% off all catered events between November 1st, 2010 and December 31st, 2010. Email Nell at to reserve your event date!
Additional Promotions:
Want to include homemade desserts and/or sweets? Sweetness Catering is also offering a 20% discount between November 1st, 2010 and December 31st, 2010. Email Kimm:

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Vanilla Extract: The Facts!

Vanilla Extract: it is the second most expensive spice, the most expensive spice is saffron. Widely used in baking, it is an important and necessary ingredient. I like to think "vanilla is to baking", as "salt is to cooking": it adds depth, flavor, and sweetness. Different vanilla beans will produce a slightly different tasting vanilla bean. Please, avoid imitation vanilla at all cost, it is fake and unreal. True, real vanilla adds a declicate and full flavor to all baked items.
Why is PURE vanilla extract so expensive? Real vanilla extracts is so expensive becuase of how it is grown and how rare its growing conditions are. It starts with a rare orchid, called the celadon colored orchid (native to central America), which needs to be pollinated by Melipona bees to grow vanilla pods (beans). Once the orchid flower opens up, it must be pollinated by bees or the flower will fall off. Recently, farmers have discovered "hand pollination" to grow vanilla commerically. After pollination, the flowers grow long, green bods/beans, then they are picked the fermentation process begins. The beans are dried out during the day, then wrapped up in towels to "sweat" during the night. This process can range from 2-6 months, depending on the pod. The pods, during this process, start to have a "white crystal frost" on the outside, which is called vanillin. Vanillin is what gives the beans/pods their flavor.
The 3 main types of vanilla beans: 1) Madagascar or Burbon-Madagascar Beans (which are the most common and does not contain any Burbon, despite its name. The name came from the French, who planted their first vine on Isle de Burbon), 2) Mexican Beans (has a rich, darker, smoother taste; Some say it gives the best vanilla taste), and 3) Tahitian (not as rich as the previous two, but has a deep, complex flavor. Also, many vanilla-scented perfumes/lotions are scented with tahitian vanilla).
What is the deal with imitation vanilla extract? Be sure to buy "PURE' vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla extract is made from glycoside, found in certain sapwood of certain confiers or from coal extracts. Items labeled "vanilla flavoring" is a combination of pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla extract.
Vanilla is sold in these forms: beans/pods, extract, powder, and sugar. Vanilla powder are the beans grinded until very fine. Vanilla sugar is when sugar has been "marinating" in vanilla beans. It adds more depth to your regular, plain white sugar.
Vanilla is a flavor that has been tried and true in the pastry world. Think: vanilla cream brulee, French vanilla ice-cream, vanilla cheesecake, and adding vanilla extract to chocolate chip cookies. True vanilla taste is pure, simple, and delicate. Always use pure vanilla extract when baking to bring out the best flavor. Happy Baking!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

All About Flour

Flour is a important and dominate ingredient in the pastry kitchen. By grinding up seeds, cereal grains, roots, or nuts, a powder is formed, thus flour is born. Flour is made up of complex carbohydrates and starches, giving its products structure and form. Flour is classified by which variety of wheat it is milled, the location, and growing conditions. There are strong flours, which have a higher protein content, and weak flours, which have a lower protein content.
A brief overview on popular American flours:
-Bleached versus Unbleached white flour: When flour has been treated with chemicals, it will be labeled "bleached." Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached flour. Some bakers like bleached flour to make their pastries "extra white." I, on the other hand, do not like using bleached flour in any of my products. All purpose flour is a combination of cake and pastry flours.
-Bread Flour: has a higher protein content (13-14%) and is used primary in bread production. Bread flour will have a trace amount of malted barely flour, which helps yeast do its job in the bread making role!
-Cake Flour: Used when making cakes and fine pastries that require little gluten activity. Cake flour has a protein content around 8% and naturally is a pure white color.
-Pastry Flour: Another low portein flour (about 9%) yet a bit "stronger" than cake flour. Mainly used in cookies, quick breads, and some cakes.
-High Gluten Flour: This flour has a high protein content, 14%, and is used for pizza crusts and bagels.
-Whole wheat Flour: Made by the entire wheat kernel (where are the nutrients are located; white flour only uses about 75% of the wheat kernel) and is a "heavier" than white flour. Used for all baked items in the pastry kitchen and for healthier baked goods.

There are many other flours in the pastry world, esp. for gluten-free baking. Just like buying a good pot roast, buying quality flour is essential because it is the structure behind the baked good. Know about your flour! Happy Baking!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ogranic Foods: A brief overview

Organic foods, esp. produce, are becoming a staple in our local grocery stores. Why? Are organic foods better than non-organic foods? Healthier? Tastier? Here is a brief overview on what is an organic food and why it is better for you and the enviroment.
"Food that is labeled "organic" has been grown or raised without chemical fertilizers, pest killers (pesticides), weed killers, or drugs." Only natural pest killers, natural compost, and zero radiation are used when growing organic produce. The words "natural" and "free-range" are NOT regulated by the FDA, but the word "organic is." Double check your labels!
Organic produce can be costly because the farms are smaller than non-organic farms. Also, farmers feed their cattle organic feed and smaller, organic farms do not get money from the government while big farms do.
Organic foods are better for your body to digest. No odd toxins, pesticides, or germs for your body consume. Non organic produce are grown with chemical fertilizers, weeds are controlled with hericides, and insecticides are used to manage pests and insects. Not only are organic foods better for your body, but they are better for your enviroment and community. More money stays locally and goes straight to the farm, less transportation is needed to get the produce to your grocery store, and fresh food is located right at your finger tips!
Do you have to buy everything organic? Think, to buy, anything that you eat "the skin on." Such as: apples, bell peppers, leaf greens, carrots, berries (all types), peaches, graps, and celery. Organic produce are esp. great for pregnant women, growing children, and people with weak immune systems or food allergies.
Remember, organic foods are grown locally, in smaller batches, and help your community and body! Would you rather spend your money on good, organic produce or expensive doctor visits and prescriptions? Go Green.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Cake versus Pie Event (August 9th)

On Monday August, pie and cake bakers gather at Jessie Olsen's "Cake Spy" shop in Capital Hill. Jessie's shop, "Cake spy," is filled with "cupcake" artwork, greeting cards, and fun kitchen tools. I recommend going in on a rainy afternoon! ( This super cute store was filled with professional and home bakers ready to share their delights. This event was to see if people liked cake or pie better. I was happily on Team Pie and baked my Mixed Berry Delightful Pie with my famous streusel topping.
The judges ranged from pie bakers, cake lovers, and Jessie herself (she did host the event)! In between tasting, pie and cake poems were read and people gossiped about their secrets to their pie crust and cake frosting. The atmosphere was sweet, fun, and magical.
When the winners were called, I did not hear my name. I did not feel bad because I did get many compliments on my pie and my pie server/carrier. Team Pie did come out as top dog and I feel proud to be a part of the winning team. What did win? A peach-blackberry pie (for Team Pie) and homemade ding-dongs (for Team Cake). All the entries, though, were tasty, creative, and made with love.
Lessons learned? People want a good, homemade pie and cake. Nothing fancy or over the top. A good, buttery, flakey crust, a delicious filling, and a nice crumb topping. This shows that basics and simple cooking/baking techniques are the fundamentals to a great baking/cooking career.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Foodies love Foodies: Nell's Cooking

Being in the food industry, you meet other great people who have the same love and care for food. I met Donnell "Nell" Baker through mutual friends. Not only is she very smart and intelligent, she works full-time at Microsoft, she is a reliable caterer who is going to make a great name for herself.
Check her home page out and her Facebook for more information, pictures, and reviews:!/pages/Nells-Cooking/115016935178190?ref=mf

I have had the pleasure of working with Nell, and not only does she make delicious food, but she is easy-going, open, and friendly to work with. Have a event ahead in your schedule that needs amazing food? Just talk to Nell Baker!
Happy Baking!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

My Favorite Places to Eat

I love trying new places to eat and seeing what is out there in the food world around Seattle. One of my favorite Food Network show's is "The Best Thing I ever ate," which has chefs talk about their most memorable food experience. Many times, people will ask me where I like to grab a bite to eat, pick up a pastry, or get a cup of joe. Here are my Top 4 food establishments around Seattle:
1 - Favorite Coffee House: Victor's Coffee in Redmond ( This celtic-design coffee house is a historic landmark in downtown Redmond (right next to Bill the Butcher). Better than Starbucks coffee, Victors carries bold, smooth, and amazing tasting coffee and coffee drinks. In a sweet mood? Try the Irish Nudge!
2 - Favorite Bakery: Boulangerie Nantaise in Belltown
( I am not just mention this bakery because I used to work/intern here! The crossiants are hand-made with 100% real butter, the bread is baked fresh daily with organic ingredients, and the lunch time specials are simple, French-influenced and delightful! Yes, it may cost a bit more than Safeway's bakery department, but the taste will win you over. I am secretly in love with the almond corssiants.
3 - Favorite High End Restaurant: The Herbfarm in Woodinville
( This restuarant is on almost every foodie's top ten list. If you can afford it, please experience it. The meal, about 9 courses long with wine at every course, was very memorable and the service was unbeatable. I still dream about the perfect carrot souffle I ate.
4 - Favorite Cheap Eat: Than Brothers Pho in Redmond
( I love pho, it's a big bowl of warm beefy broth, noodles, and meat. It warms me up when I am feeling low and lonely. Not only do you get speedy service, you also get a nice little cream puff with your pho! And under $10? Can't beat that!

Please try and enjoy new food, drinks, and pastries around your hometown. Some you will like, some you will dislike, yet, soon you will get to know the food establishments around your area and become a regular foodie! Happy baking!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

How to Bake: 3 Tips!

I get asked "How do you bake?" fairly often. Like all respected crafts, it takes patience, time, and practice. When you first started to read, did you start with Dan Brown novels? No, you started with the basics: short stories and chapter books. Little, baby steps is the key.
I will recommend to bake what you like, similar to cooking. If you love cookies, start baking cookies. If you hate brownies, do not attempt to make brownies. Here are 3 easy tips to becoming a successful baker:
1 - RESEARCH: Watch the Food Network, read pastry magazines (yes, there are magazines dedicated to pasrty arts), ask people for their favorite recipes, and look up popular food blogs! A friend asked me to show her how to bake gluten-free baked goods. I was happy to show her how to one sunny Saturday morning. People love to share their baking skills. The more you know, the more you will gain!
2 - FAIL: Yes, please make mistakes! That is the only way we learn. So what if your chocolate chip cookies burn, cupcakes taste bland, or the french loaf comes out hard as a rock. When I first started baking gluten-free baked goods, many items came out bland and flavorless, yet I kept on baking and experimenting. If you fell down while walking, wouldn't you get right back up?
3 - START BAKING: You can read how to ride a bike but you'll never know how to unless you actually get on the bike and start riding, the same is true with baking. Start small: bake one item every week. It could be cookies for your neighbor, a cherry pie for a friend's BBQ, or brownies for your niece's bake sale. Do not be afraid to bake items from scratch and NOT from a box! Learning is half the battle.
Please feel free to ask me any baking problems you are having! Happy Baking,

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Salt - The most important ingredient

What is salt: a mineral that mainly made up sodium chloride. The human blood is .9% salt and it is needed for life and bodily functions. It is essential in cooking AND baking to enhance flavor.

-Table Salt: Fine-grain refined salt with additives. Note: most table salt is kiln-dried sodium chloride with anti-cracking agents added. Trace minerals (calcium, magnesium, and potassium) are removed. This "refining" process is unnatural and hard on the body to digest.
-Kosher: Additive-free coarse grain salt. Widely used in cooking, esp. preserving foods.
-Iodized: Table salt with iodine. Widely used in baking because of the fine-grain.
-Sea Salt: The result of evaporated of sea water -fine and large crystals. This salt is best for your body to digest because it is unrefined and still contains trace minerals. Start cooking with sea salt.
-Rock Salt: "Grayish" in color because it is not as refined as other salts, thus retains more minerals and harmless impurities. Rock salt is used to serve oysters and combined with ice to ice-cream.

We use salt in the culinary world for mainly uses. It is used to preserve flavor and even "cook" food. Mainly food delights come from the benefit of salt: brined Turkey, corned beef, gravlax, and duck confit. We also salt our water when cooking potatoes and pasta to flavor the bland food. Cooking hard-boiled eggs in salty water makes 'em easier to peel.
Salt is used in the pastry world for many reasons. First it slightly enhances flavor to all baked goods, please don't leave that 1 teaspoon of salt out. Leaving salt out of baked goods will result in a slightly bland, overly sweet product and "light in color" since salt also aides in browning. It strengths gluten strands when it conjunction with a gluten flour.

Salt is essential for our bodily functions to...FUNCTION! The FDA recommends approx. 2,500/mg a day. Americans, with our very "processed" junk-food diets, consume about 3,500/mg a day. Let's change that! Here are some health benefits of consuming UNREFINED salt, think sea salt:
-Vital for kidneys to clear excess acidity.
-Preserving the serotonin, melatonin, and tryptamine levels in the brain - essential antidepressants.
-Regulates blood pressure, in conjunction with water consumption.
-Swishing warm salt water will help a toothache and tooth decay.
-Contribute to hypertension.

Face it: Unrefined salt has many benefits for your body and the culinary world. Start cooking with sea salt and less with table-refined salt. The flavor will change dramatically and you will see a difference in your body.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

"How to you stay so slim while working with all that food?"

People ask me this question many, many, many times. Yes, I do work with real butter, sugar, and dairy while baking my sweet items. I also make "healthy/vegan/gluten-free" baked goods, using agave nectar, whole wheat/grain flour, nuts/seeds, and dried fruit. Here are three tips I do to stay slim while baking sweet items:
ONE: "Tasting versus eating" : There is a difference between "tasting" and "eating" your food. I TASTE my raspberry buttercream and chocolate mocha cupcakes to make sure it is perfect. I EAT fresh veggies, fruits, and lean protein. I stress to people to "eat REAL" food, not anything processed, marketed, or fake (butter is better than margarine).
TWO: "Be active" : I am very active person: First off, I stand/walk/reach up high all day long in a warm kitchen. I love practicing Birkam yoga at Redmond Birkam Yoga Studio (check it out: ), practicing my golf swing at Willows, riding my bike on Burke Gilman trail, snowboarding at Stevens Pass, and just enjoying the Pacific Northwest.
THREE: "Drink water like there is no tomorrow" : The human body is 55-75% water. Your body needs water to function properly on a daily basis. Working in a hot kitchen and practicing hot yoga, I drink over a gallon of water daily. I know my body needs it. I also consume green tea, smoothies, fresh fruit/veg juices, and broth-based soups.
Remember all: to treat yourself right, you only have one body and one life. I would much rather have one of my homemade chocolate chip cookies than a processed, package cookie from a supermarket any day.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

First Blog: Wedding Cake!

Saturday June 26th:
Since I Facebook, Twitter, and Foursqaure, I decided... "Why not blog?" I want to blog to get my name out in the Pacific Northwest, meet new people, and hopefully, bake more delicious baked goods for sweet people.
I am finishing up making a 4-tiered wedding cake for one of my best friend's wedding tomorrow. It is chocolate cake, raspberry filling, and white butter cream on the outside. The cake with be garnished with wedding her gorgeous flowers. I recreated her top tier, so they can save it, freeze it, and eat it in one year for their anniversary! One of my career goals is to make excellent tasting wedding cakes. I have tasted a variety of wedding cakes, which taste like a cardboard box combined with road kill. Some bakeries/cake shops will use cheap ingredients and "frosting from a box" to make their cakes, which will result in a horrible tasting wedding cake. Good ingredients = good tasting food!