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.