Thursday, 29 December 2011

My DESSERT predictions for 2012

What a year 2011 was for The SC Team! Not only did I bake cupcakes and sweet stuff for: Microsoft FTEs, DList staffers, happily engaged AND married couples, at&t Hackathon-ers, and of course, my friends and family!
I met so many wonderful people and made connections at: Google Places, Girl Power Hour events, thinkspace networking events, Bellevue/Redmond Chambers events, and of course, the use of social media and blogs. Thank you readers!!!

Special kudos: To my very talented graphic designer, Jessica! She personally reached out to me and wanted to be a part of the SC Team. Without, I would not have my original logo or the ambition to reach out to other businesses, like how you did.
TO: Joanne and my dad for being the "business brains" S.C.O.R.E mentors for offering wonderful and savvy advice.
Also, to my supportive friends and family (Thanks mom and dad for being my taste testers!). And realizing the personal ambition, talent, and brains I never "had" until I started SC.

Not only do I bake sweet stuff, I love seeing what is out there in the pastry/dessert industry. Enjoying seeing what bakeries and catering companies offers lets me "in" on what consumers are demanding. Last year brought much change to the everyday cook and baker: The expansion of the farmers market is growing, not only in major cities, but in major/minor suburbs. The words "gluten-free" and "Celiac disease" is common in our everyday vocab. And, cupcakes are taking over a traditional wedding cake.

Here are my top 3 dessert predictions for 2012:

1) More ethnic desserts will be featured in major restaurants:

Especially in Seattle, ethnic cuisine is HUGE. There is a pho shop, sushi place, Italian joint, and Korean BBQ on almost every corner. Many American-based restaurants are already infusing ethnic-flavors in their menu because it is popular AND delicious! What is next: adding ethnic-inflused flavors to major desserts. Green tea poached pear? Indian-spiced nuts on top of burbon-vanilla ice-cream? Red bean rice pudding with sesame seed tuiles? YES, PLEASE.

2) Not only mini cupcakes, MINI COOKIES/BROWNIES/DESSERTS:
Why mini? People do not feel as guilty eating something small versus eating something big...no matter what it is, sweet or savory. Plus, ordering small amounts of small items saves money over buying large amounts of large items. With everyone's busy schedule, most people are in-and-out of events in less than one hour and have time to only grab a "bite or two," not a whole meal.

3) Beer-infused dishes/desserts:
Seattle has a large wine community thanks to our lovely wine country. Most foodies are also wine peeps, who are also coffee and beer peeps. Don't forget about Seattle's well-know local breweries and the impact they have in our food industry. Red wine buttercream? Yes, I have made it before and it turned out FANTASTIC. Beer-braised beef? Chocolate-stout cake? Beer-battered fish? Look for it this year.

Overall, trends come and go. Foodies come and go and come in all types. But what I have noticed from working in the food industry, people want one of two things:
1) Something fresh and different from the major.
2) Something original/familiar, but BETTER than before.

Happy cooking and baking in 2012.
-SC

Friday, 16 December 2011

TOP 3 GIFTS for FOODIES!

Holiday cheer is in the air! You are probably busy baking cookies, cooking holiday meals, attending swanky parties, and seeing Santa.
There is a foodie in your family or life: someone who enjoys a new restaurant, food blogs, cooks the Thanksgiving turkey, and is an avid Food Network watcher.
Take my top 3 tip ideas to buy something fantastic for your foodie friend. The best part: They are all budget-friendly.

1) Local Author/Restaurant Cookbook.
-Many local, well-known chefs are putting out cookbooks. OR, the restaurant the chef is famous for has a cookbook on the shelves. Pick one up, most are under $30!
-Also, look for autograph copies of cookbooks. Many chefs will pre-sign their cookbook before it hits the stores.
-My faves? Lisa Dupar, Tom Douglas, and Keren Brown (blogger)all have excellent, budget-friendly books.

2) Gift Card to your local coffee (or tea!) shop.
-NOT the mass-chain coffee shop found in every block. I am talking about a true, local cafe/coffee/tea shop.
-Who gives super popular coffee store gift cards? Everyone and their cousin! Giving a someone a trip to a new and fresh coffee shop will show you care about food as much as they do. Also, since it is Seattle, it is fairly easy to find a cozy and cute shop.
-My faves? Fonte Coffee (Seattle), Victor's (Redmond), Miro Tea (Ballard), and T'Latte (Bellevue).

3) Knife Sharpening.
-I bet your foodie has a great knife (or two). You know that steel? That actually only MAINTAINS a the sharpness. It does not truly sharpen the knife.
-To sharpen a knife, I recommend going to a cutley shop and having it professioanlly sharpen. Those little hand held "knife sharpeners" don't keep it sharp and could harm your blade.
-My faves? Epicurean Edge (Kirkland).

Even if you have someone who is not a big foodie, ANYONE will enjoy a new cookbook, a fun kitchen gadget, or a bright apron.

Food-related gifts are a great gift to give because you know the person will always use your present on a regular basis.

Happy Baking!
-SC

Monday, 5 December 2011

The FACTS on non-stick cookware!

I love baking. And I love cooking. I love helping people and informing people about cookware. At my position with Meyer Cookware, I inform people about the differences, pros/cons, and care of their cookware they are about to buy.
I have dedicated blog posts about cookware before, but this is post is for NON-STICK COOKWARE.

First off, cookware comes in three main materials:
1) Stainless Steel
2) Aluminium (with non-stick coating over it)
3) Cast Iron

Second, here are the steps a pot goes through to become a non-stick pan:
1) Aluminium Sheet (thick or thin sheet).
2) Molded into desired pot/pan shape.
3) The ENTIRE pan/pot is hard anodized (an electro-chemical process).
4) Non-stick coating over the hard anodized pan.
*Some (poor) cookware companies will only put non-stick coating on the inside. Leaving the exposed hard anodized aluminium on the outside.
*Some (good) cookware companies will put non-stick on the inside AND outside to protect the hard anodized aluminium.
*Some (decent) cookware companies will put non-stick on the inside and a colored enamel on the outside.

5) Handle is fitted and placed on pot/pan.

Thus, all non-stick cookware IS aluminium. WHY? Aluminium is good heat conductor, abundent, and easy to manufactuer. Remember, "hard anodized" is short for "hard anodized aluminium." You want the cookware package to say "hard anodized non-stick," NOT: lightly anodized, infused anodized, or just non-stick.

Answers to popular questions about non-stick cookware:

Q: So, is all aluminium the same?
A: Yes. There is no "better" or "worse." What you want is a THICK gauge of aluminium so it won't worp on the bottom. The heavier the pan, THE BETTER. Do you want a somewhat "light weight" pan? Look for one with heat safe silcone-handles, versus stainless steel handles.

Q: What is hard anodizing? And why is it important?
Hard anodizing is an electro-chemical PROCESS a pan goes through to BECOME STRONGER. A straight, pure aluminium pan is reactive with food and known to be toxic. Thus, hard anodizing is a STANDARD for all non-stick pan. Plus non-stick coating "sticks" to a hard anodized pan BETTER than a pan that was not hard anodized.

In geekie terms, : "Hard-anodization is an electro-chemical process that hardens aluminum. (Hard-Anodized aluminum is 30% harder than stainless steel.) During hard-anodization, aluminum is submerged in an acid bath, then subjected to electrical charges. The result is a chemical reaction wherein the surface of the aluminum combines with oxygen to become aluminum oxide. This reaction is also known as oxidation, a process which occurs spontaneously in nature. Hard-anodization is actually controlled, accelerated oxidation."

Q: So, do I always want to buy hard anodized non-stick cookware?
A: YES! You always, ALWAYS, want to buy a hard anodized pan. How do you if you did? Well, the package will always advertise it because hard anodizing is costly. Hard anodizing does a physical apperance: a light, grey, soft-textured surface. But non-stick coating will be over your anodized pan...so, how do you REALLY KNOW? Well, some cookware companies only put non-stick on the inside of the pan, not the outside, so you can look on the outside of the pan. Other companies will just put a colored-enamel coating on the outside of the pan, so you are unable to see the hard anodizing.

Q: When I am buying a hard anodized pan, I want non-stick on the outside...then what on the outside?
A: Buy a hard anodized pan with non-stick on the INSIDE and OUTSIDE. Even a straight hard anodized pan, with zero non-stick coating, chips, scratches, stains, reacts with food, and is VERY difficult to clean. It will be difficult to maintain a "nice" looking pot. Colored-enamel (on the outside only) on the outside on the pan also gives protecttion.

Q: How does the non-stick coating making a difference?
A: First off, EVERY COOKWARE COMPANY either makes their own non-stick coating OR they have another company that makes it. This is what makes every non-stick pan different from one another. This seperates the GOOD from the BAD. How do you know what cookware line makes their non-stick? Some (good) cookware companies will advertise who makes their non-stick coating. Others (poor) will not. Thus, you will have to personally call the company to find out who makes it. Then, do research to find out if the company who makes the non-stick coating has a decent reputation. Poor cookware companies will use an outdated and/or patent non-stick.
Also, the cookware company can apply 1-3 "layers" of the non-stick coating to the pan. The more layers = the better! How do you know? Once again, you would have to personally call the cookware company. (Most have a customer support line.)

Q: My non-stick pan constantly chips and flakes. Thus, my food is sticking! Help!
A: You pan was either: 1) NOT hard anodized 2)A poor non-stick coating was applied to you pan AND/OR 3) You did not maintain/clean your pan correctly.
Non-stick coating goes on a hard anodized pan better than a pan that was not hard anodized or hard anodized properly. If it was not hard anodized, then the non-stick coating has a very good chance of chipping.
If a company used a cheap non-stick patent and only put one layer of it on the pan, it is very likely to scratch and die away.

Q: Then, how do you properly take care/maintain/clean a non-stick pan?
A: First, hand-wash your non-stick pan ALWAYS. For a non-stick pan to be dishwasher safe, the entire pan must be protect by non-stick and a metal on the bottom (like stainless steel).
Second, constant high heat kills all non-stick pans, good or bad. Use medium-high heat as your highest setting. A well-constructed pan won't need the burner to be blasted on high. You will probably only need medium heat. Poorly made pans conduct heat slowly, thus you are always blasting the heat on your cooking range.
Third, aresol sprays like PAM-brand. Why? The propellent itself is so strong, it leaves a caramel-color GUNK on top of your non-stick coating. Now, you are cooking on that gunk instead of that pan. There is no need for aresol sprays. Instead, use a "mist-o" spray or just use measuring spoons. A good non-stick pan will require very little, or zero, REAL oil/butter.

Q: I heard non-stick coatings causes cancer and can make you ill! Really?
A: Nope. There has been NO PROVEN case with cancer, or any other diease, and non-stick coatings. The synthetic chemical: Perflourooctanoaic acid (PFOA) are present, in VERY TRACE amounts in the non-stick coating. There are such a little amount that the FDA banned a petition that required ALL non-stick coatings to have a warming label. FYI, PFOA are also "found" (in trace amounts) in pizza delivery boxes and microwave popcorn bags. So, what is the best way to avoid the very little PFOA in non-stick cookware: Properly maintain, clean, and take care of your cookware! With all cookware, do not let it "die" on high heat, on the cooking range.

Q: SO, overall what do I need to look for in a good non-stick pan?
-Only buy hard anodized non-stick pans.
-A pan with some "weight" to it!
-A non-stick coating company with a decent reputation.
-A pan that is covered 100% with non-stick coating in the inside.
-A pan that is covered with either non-stick coating or enamel on the outside.
-The bottom on the pan can be left exposed, that is OK and safe. OR, some companies will put a disk of stainless steel on the bottom for better heat conduction.
-Heat safe silicone or stainless steel handles.
-Tempered glass or stainless steel lids.
-A cookware company with a great reputation.

I always advise people to do personal research when buying good pots and pans. Read consumer reports. Ask your friends and family. Look to see what is online. See what fits YOUR cooking lifestyle.

Yes, there are some "pricey" cookware out there. Is it really worth it? Well, if you do cook gourmet meals on a daily basis. I believe there are decently priced, well-made and constructed cookware for ANYONE. There are some cookware lines designed for restaurant cooking...and restaurant cooking is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from everyday, domestic cooking. Just like professional driving is different from driving your car on a daily basis.

Any more questions? Please ask. Wondering what brands I like? (You know I am going to support Meyer Cookware Company!) For a great value, I like: Anolon Nouvelle Cooper, Anolon Advanced, Circulon Symmetry, and Circulon Espree. All have the specifc features of a well-made non-stick pan.

Happy Baking!
-SC

Monday, 28 November 2011

How to properly FREEZE your baked goods!

The holidays create a BUSY schedule for all of us. From cocktail mixers, gift shopping, white elephant parties, to hosting events, it is NO WONDER people do not have a ton of extra time to bake something special for the holidays.
The answer: Freeze your baked goods or dough. Is it ok? YES. Many restaurants and professional food services freeze, not only baked goods, but meats, proteins, and other food items.

How do you properly prepare something to freeze?
-Place whatever you are freezing in a parchment lined pan. Double plastic wrap the pan, so no air will be exposed to your product.
EXAMPLE: Freezing Chocolate chip cookie dough.
-Make your cookie dough.
-In a brownie-size pan, line it with parchment paper.
-Scoop your cookie dough into the parchment lined pan.
-Double wrap your pan.
-Place in freezer.
-Use this method for freezing cookies also.


In the terms of sweet stuff, FREEZE:
-Cookie dough: (From basic chocolate chip to icebox cookies, many doughs can be frozen!)
-Baked cookies: You can also freeze baked cookies in large plastic bags! Make sure your cookies are COOLED before freezing.
-Cakes/Cupcakes: Like with cookies, make sure they are COOLED before freezing.
-Breads (all types): Always plastic wrap your bread loaf!

Then, how to do your properly thaw?
-With all ALREADY BAKED items, just unwrap the pan and let it sit on your kitchen counter. Room temperature will "thaw" your frozen baked items.
-With raw cookie dough: You can baked frozen cookie dough, but it will take a longer baking time versus raw cookie dough.
Want raw cookie dough, but have frozen dough? You can leave it at room temperature until it is thawed (this will take a couple hours) or pull the pan from the freezer and put in the fridge overnight.

How long will a frozen baked good last?
-2 weeks max, then the baked item will start losing quality and flavor. It will become "freezer" burnt.
-In the fridge: 4 days, then it will lose quality.
TIP: Be weary if your have aromatic food items (like onion, garlic, celery, spicy foods, etc) in your fridge and/or freezer. Their intense flavor may "infuse" your baked good product. Thus, it is always a good idea to plastic wrap your pan very well! If you do have aromatic foods in your fridge/freezer AND baked goods, place your baked goods in a air-tight container AND plastic wrap for extra protection.

Will a frozen items be as wonderful as a freshly baked item?
Nope. Nothing can COMPARE to an item that is FRESHLY baked from the oven that day. BUT you can still make, bake, freeze, and properly thaw a delicious baked good.
Just make sure there is no freezer burn on it!

Still don't have time for baking? Check out local bakeries and markets for homemade treats and delights. Don't be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, or co-worker.

Happy Baking! (and freezing!)
-SC

Thursday, 24 November 2011

What to do with your leftovers! My TOP 3 TIPS!

I love Thanksgiving! WHY: it is a holiday dedicated to food, family, caring, and feeling blessed. With all the new and traditional dishes being served, it is a PROMISE that you will have leftovers.

Read my top 3 tips on what to do with your Turkey Day extras:

1) Cranberry Sauce:
This is my favorite leftover. Why? You can add cranberry to so many different baked goods to get a nice holiday flavor.
*Add it to a pastry cream for a cranberry cream filling for a chocolate cake.
*Add it to a plain muffin mix for cranberry muffins.
*Add some more sugar and water to it, to make a basic jam for pancakes and waffles.

2) Rolls:

No matter what type of roll you had with your Turkey day dinner, there is a great use for them.
*Chop them up for homemade crutons.
*Make bread pudding.
*Make mini turkey sandwiches.
*If it was a plain, soft roll, make small french toasts!

3) Turkey:
Turkey is very universal and has many uses for leftover dishes. Of course, you could always just eat it straight!
*Chop it up with some leftover veggies for a turkey salad.
*Make turkey sandwiches and wraps.
*Make turkey soup.
*Make a turkey casserole with all of the Thanksgiving leftovers.

The best part about having leftovers is enjoying a great meal days after the holiday. Not only is Thanksgiving about delicious food, it is about being with people who care and respect you. I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Cooking!
-SC

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Perfect Pumpkin Pie!

Thanksgiving is (eek!) next week! Having a complete meal with a juicy Turkey, moist dressing, and fluffy garlic mashed potatoes will make your memorials last with your loved ones. What is the BEST way to end a delicious Thanksgiving meal: classic pumpkin pie. And guess what: it is super easy to make even if you do not bake on a regular basis!

Kimm's Pumpkin Pie: Yields one 8-inch pie...for one....or two. (Depends on how hungry you are!)

DIRECTIONS:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Have one 8-inch unbaked pie shell ready. (You can buy it store-made or make your own.) Make sure it is in your chilled!

-In a small mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together:
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon all-spice

-In a medium size bowl, whisk together 2 eggs.
-Add 15oz (1 can) unsweetened pumpkin puree.
-Add 12 fl. oz (1 can) evaporated milk.
-Add the sugar and spice mix.
-Stir together with spatula until the mixture is uniform.

-Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 15 minutes.
-After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 minutes more.
-Cool for 2 hours, at room temp, before serving.
-Served with whipped cream. Enjoy!

REMEMBER: You don't always have to serve a classic made pumpkin pie. I make an Apple-Pumpkin Pie that my family loves and enjoys. If you are hosting a large party, you could have everyone bring a different cookie and have a cookie exchange. Or, bake pumpkin cake with a ginger cream cheese frosting. Maybe an assortment of brownies and blondies will hit your hunger cravings!

What ever you are baking and cooking next Thursday, be sure to enjoy the food, wine, and company.

Happy Cooking!
-SC

Sunday, 23 October 2011

I love sweet stuff! Not only do I love baking goodies, I love giving it to other people as gifts. What is the hardest part when it comes to giving sweet gift: DELIVERING the treats. It could be 300 mini cupcakes for a wedding, a 4 tiered wedding cake, or bunches of cookies for a baby shower, transporting sweet stuff can get tricky. I have learned A TON from former gigs, work, and other pastry peeps across the world (thank you twitter and bloggers!).

Here are my top 3 tricks when it comes to delievering goodies for your next event!

1) KEEP YOUR CAR CLEAN AND COOL.


-Empty all extra "sutff/junk" in your car. Clean out any trash. If you have car emergency bag, place it the passenger seat, away from the trunk. (I always put the sweet stuff in my trunk, it has a nice, flat bottom.)
-Especially in the summer and heat, keep your car cool. Blast the A/C 15 minutes before leaving for your destination. Heat will kill buttercream and soft frostings.
-Make sure you have a full tank of gas, too.


2) BUY CABINET LINERS.

-What are they: They are soft, textured, liners that people use to line their cabniets and shelves with. I put them underneath my cake pans and goodie boxes to keep them from "slipping" and slidding around.
-The liners are often sold by the roll, making it very easy to cut accordingly to the box/cake pan size.
-Save them! If they get dirty, just wash 'em.

3) WITH CAKES, put them in a cake pan to transport.


-If I am transporting a round cake, I put it in a square cake pan and a cabinet liner underneath the pan. Thus, the pan keeps it from "bumping" around. If I am transporting a square cake, I put it in a round cake pan.
-The cake pans are extra duty versus putting them in a cardboard box.

Also, make sure you know where you are going! I always leave 15-25 minutes early so I can drive slow, find an easy parking spot, and call the host, in case I get lost. Many "get-away" places will have gravel and "rocky" roads, be careful! Drive extra cautious. If needed, park on the street and walk up. Yes, it will be more work, but well-worth it for the cake.

Happy Baking!
-SC

Monday, 10 October 2011

Favorite Fall Flavors!

Fall is here! Thus, rainy days, windy storms, and umbrellas are upon us once again. It is ok, I am a natural Seattle-gal and love cozying up in a coffee shop with a good book and sweet treat.
Not only is autumn here, so are fall flavors. My three favorite are: pumpkin, coffee, and cinnamon. I love using warm spices in cakes, cookies, and cookies. It makes your house smell like love and care.

My favorite fall recipe: Pumpkin Biscotti

Directions:
-Set oven to 350 degrees F.
-Have one parchment paper-lined cookie pan ready

-Sift together, in a large bowl:
2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

-In a large bowl, using a spatula, mix together:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

-Now, add the dry mix to the wet mixture. If it is "too moist," add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. You want it to look like "sugar cookie" dough.
-Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into long cyclinders (like paper towel's cyclinders). Place on the cookie tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes. They will look like logs.
-Let cool for 15 minutes. Cut with a serrated (bread) knife into 1 inch slices, on a bias, on a cutting board. Place cut side up on the cookie tray. Bake again for 10 minutes or until crispy.
-Let cool again and enjoy! For an extra treat I like dipping half of the biscotti in dark chocolate. Oh la la!

Get your fall baking on! The holidays are right around the corner.

Happy Baking!
-SC

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Baking and Social Media: My two loves!

I love LOVE social media. Why? It helps me connect, not only with family and friends, but with people with similar interests and likes AROUND THE WORLD. My blog has been viewed by people in different countries, languages, and lifestyles. I feel blessed to have such global SWEET readers!

What is social media? "Media for social interaction, as a superset beyond social communication." Basically, when you use the internet to connect with people. For example, facebook.com and twitter.com are the most commonly used social media. Every social media site is a bit different and every user has his/her own purpose for using social media.

Why use social media? You could use it to stay in touch with close friends and family who you do not see often or maybe to meet a new friend with common interest. I use it for that reason AND to keep people posted at my business and let them know what direction SC is heading towards.

I love using twitter for SC. Why? I can search who is talking about what topics I am interested in...like cupcakes, brownies, and cookies! I trade advice, secrets, and tips from other bakers, chefs, and foodies around the WORLD. I attend tweet-ups (a gathering of people using twitter) to see them "IRL" (In Real Life) and chat about other local events going on.

Will getting a twitter account, facebook page, or Google+ profile make you a booming, overnight success? Nah, probably not. Will it help you connect with people in your area and around the world? Yes. The more SWEET people you meet, the better life is! If you use it for that purpose. Go on. Chat and see what new friends you will make.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The PURPOSE of a "bain-marie!"

"Bain Marie" means water bath, also nicknamed double boiler. What is it? You can buy a double boiler pan. It is two pans stacked on top on one another. The bottom of the pan is filled with water and the top pan is filled with the food to be "cooked" by the heat and steam.

You can also improvise a bain marie. How? Simmer a pan of water and place a stainless steel bowl over the pan. Fill the bowl with the food that is about to be cooked. Which is better: to buy a tradition bain marie or improvise? Improvise. Yes, I have a traditional bain marie stainless steel clad construction pot that my grandmother gave me. But I almost always improvise. Why? Most people have a stainless steel bowl and pan in their kitchen. Don't waste more money on ANOTHER pan you have to put in your kitchen.

How to make your own person bain marie:
1) In a medium size sauce pan (about 3-4 quarts), fill half way with water.
2) Put it on medium-high heat. Let boil. Turn heat down to medium, thus the water is at a simmer.
3)Put your ingredients in a stainless steel (NOT plastic or glass! Stainless steel can take high heat VERY WELL!). Place the bowl over the pot of simmer water. Using your kitchen utensils, stir until cooked/thickened. (You may choose to wear an oven mit during this process, the steam is very hot!)
4) Remove bowl, be careful of the steam. Turn off the stove top.


Why a bain marie? It "cooks" food gently and softly. It is meant for food that, when exposed to direct heat, will scorch or burn.
A bain marie is keeps food nice and hot! Think: those fancy chauffer dishes for buffet dinners.

Most popular foods that need to be cooked in a bain marie:
-Melting chocolate
-Lemon Curd
-Custards, like creme brulee
-Hollindaise sauce, for eggs benedict
-Warm milk, like for baby's forumla
-Charcuterie items, like pate and terrines

Most people do not use a bain marie ENOUGH to buy a tradition bain marie. Just improvise and get cooking! Remember, the steam that is released is very hot and dangerous. I like wearing an oven mit when I am cooking food over a bain marie.

Happy Cooking!
-SC

Monday, 19 September 2011

BREAKING BREAD.

Breaking bread. What is it? How do you do it? The term "breaking bread" popped up during a friend's birthday celebration. She explained you need to break bread with people you care, like, and love. Breaking bread means sharing food, time, and yourself with that other person you are currently with.

Thus, "breaking bread" inspired me to write my first non-food blog post. Yes, I do love blogging about food, recipes, new sweets, bakeware, and restaurants. But it is important to know the importance of food brings to the table.

Food IS celebration! Turkey for Thanksgiving; Prime rib and cookies for Christimas; Cake for birthdays; BBQ for the 4th of July. Whenever a special event or party is happening, food is always involved. It brings people together and puts a smile on your face.

My friend dared me to turn off the cell phone during dinner and pay full attention to the meal and event. Why? What is more important that the PRESENT time and who you are with. The other person you are with cut out time in their life to be with you! That is the biggest compliment because we all have busy and crazy lives. Enjoy the time. Ignore your texts, calls, tweets, fb updates, Google+, and blog lists.

Next time you are out, enjoying a great meal with great people, turn off your cellular devices and take in the good company and food. Life is meant to be enjoyed, experimented, and LIVED.

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
James Beard (1903-1985)


Happy Baking!
-SC

Monday, 12 September 2011

All about MERINGUE!


What is light AND fluffy and adds a touch of sweetness to many sweet baked goods: Meringue! What is it? It is whipped egg whites with some white sugar and/or a binding agent such as cornstarch or cream of tarter. You can find meringue in many dessert preperations, such as on top of lemon meringue pie, the base for pavlova, and being torched for baked alaska.



The science behind the light whipped egg whites: When you are whipping egg whites, you are "breaking" some of the hydrogen bonds in the protein. Thus, a "sitff" consistency. Since both sugar and egg whites are classified as hygroscopic, meringue becomes soggy if it is refigerated or in a high-humid enviroment.

There are three basic types of meringue:
1) French: The most common! Basically it is egg whites with white sugar. Note: ALWAYS use real white sugar, never a sugar substitute.
2) Italian: Boiled sugar syrup (water and white sugar cooked together until syrup-like) plus egg whites. This results in a soft meringue, often a base for buttercream. When making Italian meringue, slowly pour the warm syrup in whipping egg whites. This part may be "tricky" to master and you may get "splatters" of hot syrup on your arms...be careful!
3) Swiss: Egg whites and sugar whipped over a "bain-marie" (aka: water bath).
-So, how do you what type of meringue to use for what recipe? Follow the recipe. Each meringue type will result in slightly different visual results. French meringue is the most common for household cooks/bakers.

TIPS FOR A SUCCESS MERINGUE:
-Avoid using platic bowls/utensils. I like using a stainless steel bowl and whisk.
-Make sure your equipment is CLEAN! Any random particals can result in a "un-whipped" meringue. Basically, if the egg whites gets cross-contaminated, the whites will never fully "whip" and become a soggy mess.
-Add a touch (1 tsp) of cream of tarter to your egg whites will help stablizie the meringue. This helps in the summer time (warm heat!) or if the meringue is going to be chilled (like for lemon meringue pie).
-Room temp egg whites beat better than cold egg whites. You can do this two ways: 1) Bring the egg whites out to room temp 1 hr prior. Or 2) Whip the egg whites over a bain-marie until warm.
-Use fresh egg whites!
-Using a kitchen standing mixer is OK! Just make sure it is nice and clean!
-When you are whipping the egg whites, first whip the egg whites until frothy, then slowly add the white sugar until glossy. I like to add the sugar, 1/8 cup at a time.

Types of "peaks:"
When you whip the egg whites, you whip them to the specific "peak" size.
1)Soft: Barely holds a peak. Slighly glossy. The mixture still seems "wet."
2) Medium: Holds a "normal peak." The mixture will hold, but "not for long."
3) Stiff: Holds peak very well. The mixture seems stable and very glossy.

Meringue is delicious! Not only is it light calorie, making it a great option for healthy eaters, it is easy to master once you have knowledge about meringue technqiues. What to do with yolks? You can make chocolate mousse, ceasar dressing, lemon curd, thicken your hollandaise sauce, etc. The list goes on!

Happy Baking!
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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

To subsitute or not to subsitute...

Baking, versus cooking, is more of a science and chemistry-related. You are working with different types of heat, acids, and leaveners. When working with a new recipe, it is easy to be confused with "what is what" and what can you subsitute for different ingredient.


When you have a flavoring ingredient, such as zest, chocolate, or an extract, subsituting it for another flavor ingredient will just change the flavor profile. This is perfect for changing up a basic shortbread cookie into an almond-white chocolate-apricot shortbread cookie! Turning a chocolate mousse recipe into a cinnamon-spiced chocolate mousse. Perhaps even a simple buttermilk biscuit recipe into a cheddar jalapeno biscuits!


The tricky part is when you are dealing with anything that will change the composition of the structure of the baked good. For example: baking powder, baking soda, yeasts, cocoa powder, and any other acids (vinegar, buttermilk, lemon juice, etc.).
The best advice? Don't subsitute one for another! But if you have to...
-2 parts cream of tarter plus 1 part baking soda = baking powder
-Triple the amount of baking powder to baking soda. (Example: 1 tsp baking soda = 3 tsp baking powder)
-1 "cake" of fresh yeast = 1 tablespoon dry yeast = 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
-Stick with your acid that your working it!


Yes, you may realize that you do not have a particular ingredient to start your baking adventure, but having a stocked pantry helps, along with practice and knowledge. I love "The Food Lover's Companion" book because it is a dictionary of all foodie/cooking/baking terms. Another tip: write and date any notes you have with the baked good on the recipe itself!

Happy Baking!
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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

CHOCOLATE TASTING AT QUEEN ANNE'S CHOCOLOPOLIS WITH Google Places!

I love meeting new people and love hearing what types of foods they like around Seattle. That is why I am a frequent attendee of Google Places events. What is Google Places? First off, down load the app. (It looks like a red ball with a black dot in the middle.) Second, rate and review your FAVORITE restaurants, bars, bakeries, and attractions. Third, attend Google Places events! They are held at local restaurants, bars, and foodie places. Not only are there (usually free!) samples, but great local and up-to-date information about food and business.



When I saw Google Places were hosting an event at Chocolopolis, I emailed my RSVP to Charles Koh, the host and community manager. Chocolopolis is located in Queen Anne and carries more than 200 chocolate bars from all over the world! Being a chocolate lover, I felt like I stepped into heaven once I set foot in the store.



Not only did we sample some amazing chocolate, we recieved a brief lecture on chocolate and chocolate making. Compared to mass produce chocolate, Chocolopolis' chocolate will sure to blow your mind and wow your taste buds.



I bought a 100% cacoa bar. Basically, an unsweetened, very bitter chocolate. What did I think? Yes, it was bitter, yet smooth and refined. It smelled like chocolate and warm tones. It tasted even better with a Malbec!



Now, go check out Chocoloplis for GREAT artisian chocolate. (http://www.chocolopolis.com/index.php) Go check out Google Places (twitter: @GoogleSeattle) and rate and review: http://www.google.com/places/.



Happy Baking!

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Saturday, 20 August 2011

TOP 3 WEDDING-FOOD TRENDS!

It's August, the sun is shining, and love is in the air! Wedding season is in full bloom. Not only do I have personal experience being in 5 gorgeous weddings, I talked to brides and grooms on a constant basis about wedding cakes, for Sweetness, and cookware, for Meyer Cookware at macys home store in Bellevue Sqaure. I feel like my work-life is always surrounded by young, love birds looking for a great and stylish wedding cake and decent, long-lasting cookware.



It is 2010, and weddings are now a "business" versus a casual party, 20 years ago. And what is the best part of a wedding? The (free!) food and (free!) drinks. It is a happy celebration party and having great food really puts "the cherry on top."



From talking to people and seeing weddings blossom, I noticed food trends within the business. There are three main trends are spreading and becoming more popular.



1) CUPCAKES: Yes, I am being bias! But, cupcakes are a wonderful way to give each guest their "own" little treat instead of a slice of a wedding cake nobody is going to eat. Having mini cupcakes and a cake at your wedding is a HIT!



2) EDIBLE GUEST FLAVOR: My beautiful cousin, Kristina, just got married and as wedding favors, she and her family made mini wedding cakes "cookies." They added such a personal touch to the event and everyone truly enjoyed their hard work.



3) ETHNIC FOODS: Dried out chicken breast? Soggy veggies? Over-dressed salad? The typical American fare is no longer being served at weddings. More brides and grooms are choosing THEIR favorite global cuisine, such as thai, sushi, or Indian. Since the Pacific Northwest is such a melting pot for cultures, it is becoming more and more trendy to see ethnic cuisines being served at weddings.



The wedding business can only grow UP from today's standards. I love seeing new food, colors, and little special favors at every wedding I see, hear or attend. Let me know which new wedding trend is your favorite!



Happy Baking!

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Saturday, 13 August 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: Alison Clancy compares the Seattle food scene to her native Boston!



My newest addition to my blog: I am having guest bloggers contribute a food-related blog post! I love meeting new people at networking events, parties, and even yoga class. I can't wait for you to read more about food from a special blogger every month.



My first guest blogger is Alison Clancy. I met Alison, through a mutual friend, and we hit it off from the start! We both love fun nights out, social media, good food, and good drinks. She is an online marketing manager for Liquid Planner (http://www.liquidplanner.com/), native to Boston, new to Seattle, and overall, a very SWEET person! She also blogs for Girl Power Hour, a fun, fashion-forward, and exciting female-only networking event business. (Check her out: http://girlpowerhour.com/author/Alison-Clancy/) Alison writes her favorite food places in Seattle AND Boston.





When Kimm first asked me to write a guest post for her, my first reaction was something along the lines of, “Aw, crap.” You see, I don’t like to cook. I’ll do it if I have to, but usually only for myself and maybe for anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in my kitchen. And I certainly try to avoid baking at all costs (I leave that kind of thing to people who are actually talented, like Miss Kimm herself). But eating? Eating I can do. I am a professional eater. I even do it every day. Also, I’m also very good at drinking, just in case you wanted to know.



Having been born and raised in Boston, the Seattle food scene has been kind to me since I moved here six months ago. A lot of people ask me how the two cities are different, a subject I could talk about for days, but the real question is: how do the food scenes compare? There’s a few things I could say. Like, how there aren’t any teriyaki places in Beantown. Seattle has the best Thai and Vietnamese places, but Boston is the obvious winner when it comes to lobster rolls and chowdah.



But hey, I’m not here to start a food war, which is why I’ve decided to name my favorite foodie related places in both Seattle AND Boston. So whether you’re a born and bread New Englander or for you, there’s no place like the Emerald City, I hope you can find a new place to try for dinner and drinks tonight:



Best Sushi

- Seattle: Ototo Sushi (Queen Anne) or Nijo Sushi Bar and Grill (Downtown)

- Boston: Symphony Sushi (Northeastern University) or Fugakyu (Brookline)



Favorite Bartenders

- Seattle: The Zoo (Eastlake)

- Boston: Flann O’Briens (Mission Hill)



Best Burger

- Seattle: Red Mill Burgers (Phinney Ridge)

- Boston: Back Bay Social Club (Back Bay)



Favorite Tequila Bar

- Seattle: Bandolero (Wallingford) or Matador (Ballard)

- Boston: Lolita’s (Back Bay)



Favorite Place In Town

- Seattle: Toulouse (Queen Anne)

- Boston: The Beehive (South End) or Grafton Street (Harvard Square)



Disagree with my choices? Let me know what you think should win for the Best in the West (and the East)!


Thanks for the post Alison!

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Monday, 8 August 2011

TO SPRAY, OR NOT TO SPRAY...

In today's food world, everyone is concerned about eating great tasting food AND staying lean and healthy. More and more healthier options are appearing in restaurants, bars, and grocery stores. People are taking time and cooking their own food and making sure they know EXACTLY what is going into their bodies.



One healthy tip I always recommend to healthy cooks and foodies: USE NON-STICK pans! (Versus stainless steel pans; with stainless steel pans, you will need to use more cooking fat than a non-stick pan.) Why? You have to use very little or zero fat when cooking. Of course, if you do to choose to fat, use a real fat like extra virgin olive oil or pure butter. But, people are concerned with food stick to their cookware and using aresol sprays, like PAM brand, in their cooking. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, every use aresol sprays in your cookware! Why? The aresol KILLS non-stick pan and your non-stick surface will fade away and start to chip and scratch. Thus, your gorgeous, new non-stick pan is useless. Remember, if you want your food NOT to stick to your cook/bakeware, just use some real oil/butter or buy non-stick cookware. Another option is to purchase an oil mister (found in cooking stores) and fill it with your favorite oil instead!



What are those aresol sprays made out of anyway? Answer: "Cooking spray is a spray form of an oil as a lubricant, lecithin as an emulsifier, and a propellant such as food-grade alcohol, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide or propane." And, you want to put that into your body and food? Most good quality non-stick cook/bakeware will NOT require any type of greasing. If you do, I like to use a paper towel, rubbed with real butter, and "grease" the baking pan with it.



Remember, eat, cook, and bake with real food!

Happy Baking!

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Keren Brown's Book Launch Party: a very sweet success!

Even though the sun was not shining brightly last night, local foodies, tweeples, bloggers, and facebook friends gathered to cheer on Keren Brown's book launch party. Her first book, "Food Lovers Guide to Seattle" is dedicated to local restuarants, pubs, bars, bakeries, and hottest eats. Plus, it includes recipes from Seattle's top chefs.

Who is Keren Brown? She first made her mark as "frantic foodie" with her fun and exciting blog, gathered friends on twitter (@franticfoodie and @foodloversea), and started Food Blogger events in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Foodportunity, a networking event business to help people network within the food industry. Keren also writes for the Seattle PI and Mynorthwest.com. Whew! What a busy mother and wife!

The party was held in Shilshole Bay Beach Club in Ballard. The event was filled with local restaurants, vendors, and bakeries sharing treats for Keren's event. I loved fonte's coffee bar, Google's fun red pens, and blackboard bistro's pork sliders. Plus theo chocolate's newest chocolate bar flavors were out for sample! What a fun food filled event. I even ran into some foodies I first met at cakespy's "cake versus pie" event!

Being a big food lover and appreciater, I can't wait to try MORE new places found in Keren's book. Buy and use it a resource to try new fun, tasty food!

Happy Baking
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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Secrets to TASTY baked goods!

People always ask me: what are tips to make sure my cookie/pie/cake/other baked good TASTE amazing? I love helping people and sharing tips and tricks that I always use. Read more to find out my top 5 favorite ingredients to add to baked goods.

Remember, good, quality baked goods with come from good ingredients! Do not be afraid to add new ingredients when baking or cooking.

MY TOP 5 FAVORITE INGREDIENTS TO ADD TO BAKED GOODS:

1) REAL Vanilla bean: Yes, true vanilla beans are pricey but worth it. Vanilla is a mild, suttle flavor that adds a true, and pure flavor. If you cannot afford real vanilla beans, buy real vanilla extract versus imitation vanilla.

2) ZEST from lemon/lime/orange: I love using a microplane (hand-held fancy "shredder" or "zester") when zesting citrus fruits. The zest (the outside part of the citrus fruit) has a TON flavor and adds a bold taste. I love zesting lemons and oranges for my mixed berry delightful pie and adding some zested limes to a chicken marinade.

3) NUT: Toasting nuts and adding them as a garnish on my cupcakes add flavor, textures, and crunch! Putting some walnuts in my chocolate fudge brownies gives it a salty-sweet flavors. ALL Nuts add GOOD fat and flavor to your next baked good. My favorite are almonds and walnuts.

4) REAL BUTTER: No, not margarine or "I can't believe it's not butter!" REAL, all-fat butter adds creaminess and "melt-in-your-mouth" qualities to your next pastry. Trust me, there is a difference between a cookie made with real butter and one made with magarine. The cost difference is little and it is better for your body to consume realy fat versus a fake fat.

5) CHOCOLATE: Yes, I am bias, but I love adding rich, dark chocolate to almost ANYTHING I bake. It could be added to my Chocolate cloud cupcakes, turtle brownies, almond shortbread, or peanut butter bars! Dark chocolate (look for "70% caoco" or higher) adds a rich, almost bitter taste to your baked treats.

Step out of the box and add more flavor to your next sweet treats. Please let me know what you're baking and cooking!

Happy baking,
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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My interview series continues with Khalid Kaskou!

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH!Do you want a fun, exciting, and thriving community? Want your town to be a place you are proud of? Do you desire a great place to show off to friends and family? HELP out your community by spending your money at local businesses. Local businesses help make your community REAL, warm, and rich.
I will be interviewing local business owners to help out the community and keep you updated on what is up and coming.

I recently met Khalid Kaskou on twitter! (Yes, twitter!) Khalid is planning on opening “Le Rendez-Vous” Bakery this fall in Redmond. I always love try new bakeries. Check out my interview below:

1) Tell me about your bakery. What items does it sell?
“Le Rendez-Vous” will be serving French pastries, breads, croissants and sandwiches. The aim is to offer a friendly and European style place in Redmond. Our commitment is to provide a unique meeting place for your friendly or professional needs. You will find in our menu, daily fresh organic breads and pastries, also, fruits tarts, sandwiches, Croque monsieur, quiches, soups with a delightful organic coffee and juices…everything you need for your healthy breakfast and lunch...and brunch!



2) What made you want to start a bakery, here in Redmond?

Actually, While I was learning more and more about the Eastside, I got more and more confident in the fact that Redmond deserves something different that another Starbucks or Tully’s. People in Redmond are coming from different areas all around the country…and the world. They are definitely open minded and willing to try and taste different type of food. I really want to give them an opportunity to have a piece of France close by them!

3) What advice would you give to someone who wants to open their own bakery.
My father was a baker, I learnt everything from him, especially how difficult a baker/manager’s life is. If you want to start your own bakery be aware of that! I am not the guy who woke up one morning telling to himself:”hey! Let’s do some cooking for living!!”
It’s always exiting to be your own boss and doing something you love to , but still, it’s a lot of pressure and responsibilities! If you feel ready for that, then just find the best location you can, good partners are also a great addition to your business. But the most important thing to me, is to make sure that you know precisely what kind of experience you want give to your customers. Then you will be able to figure out your menu, surroundings and any other details which are going to make your place special!


4) What is your favorite baked sweet treat?
That’s a tricky question !! I’ll say “chocolate ├ęclair”! I know, it’s not the healthiest one but we all have to deal with our weakness point, right?


5) When does it open???
Not fast enough to me J. Actually, the target is next October. Everyone will be able to follow us on Twitter: @RendezVousBake and Facebook: www.facebook.com/BakeryLeRendezVous in our journey to day one! Hope to see you soon @Bella Bottega (close by Yummy Pho) !

Thanks Khalid! Best of luck to you!
Happy Baking!
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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Local well-known author to host her book launch!

Seattle-based foodie author Keren Brown is hosting a party for her new book, "Food Lover's Guide to Seattle." The party will benefit Farestart, which helps disadvantage men, women, and families achieve life skills in the food industry.

Who is Keren Brown? She is a well-known Seattle writer (for the PI and mynorthwest.com), "Frantic foodie" blogger, founder of Seattle Blogger events, mother, and owner of "Keren Brown Media," which educates and connects people within the Pacific's northwest's food world! Overall, she is an inspiration in my career and a very successful person and woman.

The book launch will be held on Monday July 25th at Shilshole Bay Beach Club. (6413 Seaview Avenue Northwest) Copies of the book will be ready for purchase for $14.95. Inside the book will be great reviews of restaurants, recipes, top Seattle food events, and much, much more!

Tickets are $5 and buy them through: Brown Paper tickets (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/182227).

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!
Happy Baking!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Stainless Steel versus Non-stick Cookware!

A new adventure is happening my food career: I am now working for Meyer Cookware at macys homestore in Bellevue Square. I am a sales specialist, helping and informing people about Meyer cookware and picking out the PERFECT set of cookware for their needs.(http://meyer.com/)Meyer cookware is a very large cookware company that started in 1971. On average, one in three pots used, in the USA, is some form of Meyer cookware brand.

At Bellevye macys, they carry Anolon and Circulon lines. Anolon (http://www.anolon.com/cs/Satellite/Page/anolon/1177513656235/Page/HomePage.htm) is a higher end, domestic cookware line that is great for the Top Chef wannabe, loves entertaining, and needs a decent set of pots and pans that will last a lifetime. Circulon (http://www.circulon.com/cs/Satellite/Page/circulon/1162475169783/Page/HomePage.htm) is another great cookware line designed for a domestic family, busy bee, or college student. Buy cookware is like buying a car: it all "looks" the same on the outside. It is all the small, important details that makes the difference. Want to learn more? I work at Bellevue Square Mall, macys homestore on Saturday and Sunday 12pm-4pm. I love to help and inform!

Dealing with the public and their kitchen needs and concerns, I am greatly informed about what people want and not want in their cookware.
WANT:
-Long lasting pots and pan.
-Easy clean up.
-Non-stick will not "die" and metal will not get in contact with their food.
-Easy grip handles.
-Oven safe
-A great deal!
DO NOT WANT:
-Cheap pots and pans that will die after 3 uses.
-Spending a fortune on a "decent" set and having it "fall apart."
-Really heavy pans.
-Dishwasher safe.
-Scrubbing each pot by hand because food got "stuck" to the bottom of the pan.


There are two main choices for cookware: Stainless steel or non-stick (over aluminium). Why those two? Steel and aluminium are both abundant and good conducters of heat. Cast iron and copper are also great choices for cookware. Cast iron is an excellent heat conducter, yet requires more maintance and can be very pricey. Copper delievers heat well, yet by itself, the pot will tarnish and look very unappealing.


Stainless steel: The low down!
-It is GREAT for high-heat cooking methods, like searing. Stainless steel can "take" high heat better than any non-stick pan.
-It looks gorgeous in any kitchen setting, yet all the cooking "scratches" will make the pans look unappealing.
-You have to use to more fat when cooking in stainless steel versus non-stick pans.
-Clean up can be difficult if you did not use enough fat. You can soak your pan in warm soap water and scrub with a soft scrubby. Still stuck food? Sprinkle your pan with baking soda and add warm water. Let it set for 15 minutes and try scrubbing again.

Non-Stick Pans: The low down!
-Only use non-stick cookware for medium-heat cooking methods, like sauting veggies. Over time, high heat will always damage ANY non-stick pan.
-Aersol sprays (like PAM) will DAMAGE your non-stick pan. Very little fat/oil is needed when using a non-stick pan! If you're watching your oil intake, use a "oil mister" filled with oil.
-Do not put your non-stick pan in the dishwasher! There is only one line of non-stick pan that is allowed in the dishwasher: Circulon Infinite. Other than that, always wash ANY large pot/pan, no matter what type it is!
-Non-stick pans make for EASY clean up!

Non-stick: What is hard anodized? The low down:
Q: What does "hard anodized mean?"
A: Anodizing "is an electrolytic passivation process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts." It is a process to make aluminum stronger. It is a protectice and surface treatment to make metals, like aluminum, more durable. "Hard" anodizing is means "hard coat."
"Hardcoat is produced during an electrochemical process that creates a layer of aluminum oxide on exposed surfaces of the base aluminum." Thus, hard anodized pans are about 30% stronger and durable than "just anodized" pans. Also, no metal/aluminum will come in contact with your food.

Q: What do I look for when buying hard anodized non-stick pans?
A: First off, look for "hard anodized" or "aluminum anodized" pans. Avoids words like just "anodized", "lightly anodized", or "infused anodized."
The heavier than pan: the better! You don't want a cheap pan that skimps on the metal. It will wrap in a couple uses. Make sure the handle is tightly secured on the pan. Most good pots have either stainless steel or silicone-heat safe handles. Avoid plastic handles. If a lid is included, double check that it is "tight fitting." I love stainless steel lids, but if you like glass lids, make sure it is "tempered", thus heat safe. Cheap glass lids will have a "small hole" on top because it was not tempered or tempered properly. So, high heat may crack, break, or damaged the cheap glass lid.

Q: I want a decent set of pots and pans, but cannot afford to spend a fortune.
A: First off, do your own personal research. Ask friends and familys for references. Read consumer reports and reviews. Find out what set works best for YOUR cooking lifestyle! Are you an avid cook? Love to bake? Or just needs a set of pan that will last a couple months?
Shop around for sales and deals. Browse through catalogs, newspapers, and online deals to view a price range. Be expected to spend, at least, $100, on a decent and durable set of pots and pans.
If you cannot afford a set, buy two or three pans that can be use for multiple uses. I like 1 large (10 inch) saute pan, 1 medium 3qt sauce pan, and a large 6qt sauce pan.

My advice: At home, I have my set of non-stick, hard anodized cookware that I use on a regular basis for daily cooking needs. Then, I have 2 try-ply stainless steel pans that I use for high-heat cooking methods, like searing a piece of fish. Anolon cookware is metal utensil safe, so I did not have to run out and buy a new set of "high heat" gadgets. But to avoid ANY scratches in your pan, use nylon or wood-heat safe cooking utensils.

Any more questions? Just ask! Happy cooking!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

COOKIE CHARACTERISTICS!

I love, LOVE cookies! And, who doesn't? A classic chocolate chip cookie with a tall glass of milk, or perhaps a spiced gingerbread man in the snowy winter, or even an almond shortbread on a sunny afternoon. Whatever your favorite type of cookie is, you want to know how to make it PERFECT and your way. I love soft, tender, nutty shortbread. My fathers loves large, extra chewy cookies. My mother only goes after anything super crispy and dark! What your preference on your type of cookie does not matter. What matters is how to make it correctly. Read more to find out what ingredients make a cookie have its characteristics.

CRISP COOKIES: (example: tuile and shortbread cookies)
-Low moisture/liquids (like eggs)
-High sugar and fat
-Longer baking time
-Small size


SOFT COOKIES: (opposite of a "crisp" cookie; example: chocolate chip cookie)
-High liquid
-Low sugar and fat
-Contains a hygroscopic sugar ("absorb moisture" type of sugar), such as honey, molasses, and corn syrup.
-Low bake time
-Large size


CHEWINESS: (example: oatmeal raisin cookies)
-High sugar and liquid
-Low fat
-High egg content
-Strong gluten (flour/dry goods) development


SPREAD/LARGE SIZE:
-High sugar content
-High baking soda content
-Creaming the fat and sugar for a long period of time
-High liquid content
-Strong gluten flours (like bread flour)



MY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE:
Below is my favorite, all time chocolate chip cookie recipe with details at every step. They come out soft and delightful!

-Pre heat oven to 325 degrees F. Have 2 parchment-line sheet trays ready to go! (no grease or pan spray is needed!)

1) In a Kitchen Aid mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream 2 sticks of soft, unsalted butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of white sugar.
-Cream until light and fluffy, approx. 10 mins.
-Stop the machine and scrap down 3 times during the creaming process.
-Make sure to "pack" the brown sugar when measuring it.


2)In a microwave safe container (like a mug), whisk together 2 large eggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Microwave for 10 seconds, just until the "chill" is gone. With the mixer still going on medium speed, SLOWLY add the eggs/vanilla mix.
-Stop the machine half way adding the eggs and scrape again. Why? You're making an uniform batter!
-If the mixture looks like it "broke" or "too wet," you added the liquids too fast or the liquids where too cold. Add a bit of the flour to it.


3) Sift all the dry ingredient together in a large bowl: 2 1/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Stop the machine. Add the dry ingredient and 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies (and some chopped walnuts if you're like me). Mix on SLOW until just combined.
-Mixing too fast and long will cause a strong gluten-development in the cookie dough, which will cause the cookie to be chewy...if that is what you want.
-Scrape again! Esp. at the bottom where flour chunks tend to hide.
-I love using an ice-cream scoop to evenly portion out my cookie dough. About 9 cookies will bake on an average/medium size sheet pan.
-Bake for 8 mins, and rotate the pan half way for EVEN cooking! The cookies will be done when the edges are slightly brown and the middle is "almost" done, yet still soft.
-Cool the cookies directly on the pan. Eat, share, and SMILE!


Happy baking!
Re-Read these past blog posts for more info on cookies:
"Baking powder vs Baking soda"
"To sift or not to sift"
"The creaming method"
"Know your oven"

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Recap on last Sunday's Second Annual Cupcake Camp!

On a sunny Sunday, many cupcake bakers, lovers, and adorers gathered at the Canal, in Ballard, to celebrate CUPCAKES! Yes, the magnificent little treats filled the room with sweet smells and delights. What could top off a gorgeous day better than sharing some sweetness with the community?!

Last year's cupcake camp I attended I supported Spitfire Restaurant, where I currently work. I brought my "kimm-chi" cupcakes, made with real kimchi, and it received honorable mention for the most unique cupcake.

This year, I went as Sweetness Catering and had my own personal table set up! I know simplicity sells, so I brought my chocolate cloud (all chocolate) and white cloud (all vanilla) cupcakes. There were a TON of unique and creative cupcake flavors brought my major cupcake business, small bakeries, and personal caterers, like myself. I felt so honored to be among such sweet, successful, and amazing businesses.

Not only did I get to present my cupcakes, all 350 mini's, I got my word out to the public, met lovers of anything sweet, and saw familiar faces from last year! Kudos to Carrie Middlemiss, owner of Bella Cupcake Couture (http://www.bellacupcakecouture.com/) who organized and hosted the ENTIRE event. She is one truly sweet and kind soul.

I can't wait for more foodie events in the Seattle-area and next year's cupcake camp. I am already brainstorming more creative flavors to share with the public.
Happy baking!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

How to prep your baking pans!

What is a crucial step in baking? Making sure your baking pans are properly prepared for your baked good to be baked! Not only is "know your oven" is helpful, know your baked pans is necessary for a wonderful baked good delight!

GLASS VERSUS METAL:
Most old-school pans are glass or metal. Yes, I do have a couple metal pans. But I do love glass because it has more baking purposes and it is easier to clean up.
The key is knowing WHAT YOU ARE baking when choosing metal or glass pans. Glass pans are great for retaining heat and browning, the item will stay warm after it is out of the oven! I like to reduce the oven temp by 10-15 degrees F, when using glass, since it hold heat in very well. When cooking anything acidic, also choose glass pans. Metal pan will discolor the acidic food.
When do you use metal? BROILING! Never use glass when broiling. Choose a safe high-heat, metal broiling pan.
Most people find glass pans are easier to use, clean, and last longer than metal pans.

I do love my metal cake pans. Why? With metal, you can have nice, sharp, clean, straight lines! Perfect for a square or rectangle shaped cake. Metal pans also makes it easy for storing and will not break if it dropped!

PAN SPRAY OR PARCHMENT?

Many recipes will say "grease" your baking pan or "line it with parchment paper." I suggest when baking cake, brownies, or bar cookies, to line the pan with parchment paper AND spray the pan with food-safe-spray like PAM. Cut the parchment paper so it will line the pan perfect. The parchment paper will help the bottom not burn and the spray will help for easy-removing of the baked good and clean-up.
DO NOT spray or parchment paper-line angel food cake or any cake with an addition of egg whites (called "chiffon cakes"). Angel food cake needs to "grow" and the spray will hold it down!

What about recipes, esp. for brownies, that say to line it with foil and have "flaps" over the side for easy removal?
This is also a great idea! If you choose to do this, make sure the foil is perfectly lined and also do grease the bottom.


What about recipes that say butter and flour the pans?

I do not like doing this because it gives a "flour-y" taste to the edges of the baked good. You will get white marks on your item.

What about cookies?
Just parchment lined cookie pan. No need to grease due to the fat content already in the cookie.

OTHER HINTS:
-Cupcake pans: Lined with cupcake wrappers! Cupcakes have MATURED! Cheap wrappers will feel/look "soggy" after being baked. Please avoid foil wrappers, they will not properly "stick" to the cupcake itself. There are many high quality cupcake wrappers on the market.
-Casseroles: Spray the glass pan! Glass pans are easier to uniformly cut versus metal pans.
-Flexi-Pans: No need to spray or line these pans due to the uniform quality of the pan material. Yet, these tend to be very flexible and might "change" the shape of your baked good when baking. Very easy to clean and store!
-Silpat: Silpats are French non-stick baking mats. Many professional use them for candy and sugar work. They tend to be expensive, so only by Silpats if you are going to use it on a regular basis. If not, just stick with the parchment paper.

Remember to collect baking pans that you use on a REGULAR basis! You can have all glass pans, or all metals...or a flexi-pans! Choose what fits your baking lifestyle.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

ANSWERS TO MY TOP 5 MOST ASKED QUESTIONS!

Not only do I love baking and cooking, I love helping out people with their problems and recipes. I truly believe in karma and helping one another to succeed! Remember, my motto is "Be, think, and eat sweet!"

Below I am answering the top 5 most asked questions I get from friends, family, and foodies. If you have any personal food questions, please ask! I love to help and shed some light on your problem. You can email me (kimm1231@live.com), post your questions on my facebook fan page (Like 'Sweetness Catering'), or tweet me your question (@sweetnesscater).

1) I love watching the chocolate and sugar showpiece competition on the Food Network! I want to learn how to do that! Can you show me?
Answer: Remember, baking and cooking are skills and when you are building any type of skill you need to set your foundations FIRST. For example, when you're learning how to read, you learn the ABC'S, sentence structure, and nouns/verbs/adjectives. Then, you move onto reading an actual book. In baking and cooking, take small steps first. Learn basic knife skills, cooking knowledge, and mixing methods. Start by cooking/baking food YOU LIKE TO EAT! Do some research: read food blogs, watch the Food Network, ask your friends for their favorite recipe, and browse through magazines for recipes.

2) Why do some restaurants buy pre-package food and sell them?
Answer: Many chain restaurants order food pre-made for consistent quality, thus you will always get the same great meal every time. Many restaurants may have "their own special sauce" they have specially made just for their business only.
Also, for cost control. If someone messes up trimming a beef tenderloin, it can cost the restaurants extra money they don't have. Food places will buy pre-cuts of meats so it saves time on fabricating the entire protein.

3) How do I cut onions without crying?
Answer: Well, onions will always make you cry. It is their composition. When you cut an onion, you break the cells, releasing the contents. There are ways to AVOID a major tear-fest. First, use a sharp knife! Open a window and turn on the hood vent. Cut the knife as quickly as possible without cutting yourself.

4) I just bought a steel for my knife. Will that keep my knife sharp forever?
Answer: The steel is to MAINTAIN the sharpness in your knife, it will not actually sharpen the knife. The only way to sharpen your knife is to have your knife professionally sharpened. I don't like those small hand-held sharpeners, they don't do the job correctly and end up just ruining your knife. Think of the steel as "washing your hair" daily. Then, getting a hair cut is "getting your knife sharpened." The steel will only maintain the quality of your knife, not sharpen it.
How to use a steel? Here is a good description:
http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/culinarytools/ht/honing.htm


5) How to create new flavors for your baked good and food?
Answer: EVERYONE and EVERYTHING inspires me! Really. My two brothers love cinnamon rolls, so I am creating a cinnamon-roll cake with cream cheese frosting. One of my yoga teachers is gluten-free, so I create new gluten-free baked goods for her to taste test. I often offer cupcake taste-test to see what people like and dislike about my classic and new flavors. I saw a latte stand with a sign that read "New French Kiss Latte" and that sign inspired me to create a French Kiss Cupcake. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to open your eyes.

I will post more answers to commonly asked questions in the future. Remember, I love helping people with their food and baking problems and questions. Just ask!
Happy Baking!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

How to tell if a baked good is DONE!

I always get asked this question: How do you know when something is "done?" From a cinnamon scone to chocolate lava cake to a classic chocolate chip cookie, it will take practice to know when a baked good is finished baking and ready to be consume. Read more to find out my helpful tips:


THINK THE 3 MAIN FACTORS:

1) TIME: The average small baked good (think: cookies, scones, biscuits, etc) take only 10-20 minutes in the oven. Smaller items = less baking times versus large items. Like how a turkey breast takes quicker to cook versus a whole turkey, a cookie takes less time in the oven versus a large pan of brownies.
2) TEMP: The average temperature of the oven should be 325-350 degrees F. Remember my "know your oven!" blog? Well, make sure you truly KNOW your oven. The newer the oven, the hotter will be, thus a 325 degrees oven will be around 350 degrees F. The older the oven is, the cooler it will be, thus a 325 degree oven will be around 300 degrees F.
3) TOUCH: Touch your baked good AFTER it is baked. It should feel soft to the touch. Touching your baked good DURING baking can lead to a mishaped baked good, esp. with cakes.

What do you baked your goodies on?
Use a flat sheet pan (also called "jelly roll" pans or "cookie" pans) lined with parchment paper. The parchment paper helps the baked good from sticking to the pan and makes for an easy clean up! When you bake a goodie directly on the sheet pan, with bottom will brown too fast. The parchment paper acts like a barrier between the bottom of the baked good and sheet pan.
When baking cakes and brownies, I like to cut the parchment paper to fit the pan and spray with non-stick spray (like PAM).
TIP: When baking a cake "lightened" with egg whites (like angel food cake or "chiffon" type cakes) DO NOT spray your pan! If you spray it, the cake will not "grow" into its proper shape.


Do I cool the baked goods on the sheet pan itself or a wire cooling rack?

See when you leave the baked goods on the sheet pan to cool, they will SLIGHTLY continue to cook (like how a turkey "keeps on cooking" once you take it from the oven). I like to under bake my goodies, by one minute, and leave it to cool on the sheet pan. Why? People like a softer cookie versus a harder cookie. Plus, putting the cookie on a wire rack takes up much needed space in the kitchen! And it is another thing to clean up.


My recipe says to insert a toothpick to test the doneness with my cakes, why?

Yes, please do this! It is difficult to "see" if a cake is done, esp. with large cakes. Carefully, insert the toothpick in the middle (because it is the "thickest" part) of the cake and remove. Comes out clean? It is done! Comes out with batter on it? Not finished! If you do not have any toothpicks, you can use a small knife.


How do you truly know once something is done?

PRACTICE! Yes, you will over bake and under bake items. Practice and knowledge is key. Make sure you read and understand your recipe and what you're baking. Ask questions. Read baking books. Check baking blogs.


Baking should be fun and exciting! Yes, you may get discourage when something does not turn out perfect, but that is part of the learn process. Baking knowledge = baking success!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

AGAVE NECTAR: My favorite sweetener!

I LOVE sweets. It is obvious. Chocolate chip cookies to angel food cake to strawberry gelato...I crave it. In fact, sugar is the only food we are naturally crave. Daily, I need a little "sweetness" in my life.

The basic sweeteners I use:
-White refined sugar: Sucrose, from cane or beet. It is used to add any type of sweet flavoring to an item.
-Brown sugar: Sucrose plus molasses. Light brown sugar will contain less molasses than dark brown sugar. It adds more of a "deeper" sweetness than white sugar.

My favorite sweetener: agave nectar!

What is agave nectar?
It is a LIQUID sweetener from Mexico, made from several spieces of agave. It is primary made up of glucose and fructose. It is vegan, thus used in many vegan baked goods! (FYI: During the refining process, some sucrose is processed with animal bone char. It is not actually in the sugar, but used process. Some may consider white sugar non-vegan.) Agave nectar comes in light, amber, dark, and raw varities. I like the amber and dark agaves because they have a deeper and more complex flavor.

Can I subsitute it for white or brown sugar in recipes?
Agave is about 1.5x sweeter than refined sugar. You can use slightly less agave for sugars always. (For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, you can use 3/4 cup agave.) Remember, since agave has a different composition than white sugar, the final product may be slightly different than normal. You can always sub agave for honey is recipes.

I heard gave has a "low G.I. index number." What does that mean?
The "G.I Index" is the "Low Gylcemic" Index. The "low G.I." diet is slowly spreading its way to the USA because it focuses on healthy foods, gluten-free carbs, and lots of fresh produce. The "G.I. index" was created in the 90's by two Canadian scientist. Thus, you will see many G.I. recipes in the metric system.
When a food is "bad" or unhealthy, it will have a high number. When a food is healthy, it will have a low number.
Low GI Foods: 55 and under
Medium GI Foods: 56-69
High GI Foods: 70 and above.
Agave nectar has a GI number, between 10-19 (depending on the brand)
White sugar has a GI number of 30-40.

Why is it healthier?
Agave is better than white sugar because it won't give you the sugar "rush" refined sugar does since it is natural and low GI. If you are trying to add better foods to your diet, cut out white sugar and add agave in replace.

What are other ways I can use agave?
Straight out of the bottle! Use it instead of maple syrup over pancakes and waffles. Sweetened your iced or hot tea with it, too. Or my favorite: drizzle some over a piece of whole wheat toast and sprinkle with cinnamon! Yum!

Why not try agave? It is becoming more and more popular and common. Find it at your natural health store (like Whole foods) or in the organic food section of your local grocery store!
Happy Baking!

Friday, 4 March 2011

WHOLE FOODS: Why you should support their bakery department!

Whole Foods is a local, natural, organic, healthy food grocery store. Founded in Austin, Texas, the company strives to provide a better quality food and house hold products selection. I love their chocolate selection, bulk food department, and of course, their bakery!

I recently met with Mary Bot, the bakery department head of Redmond Whole Foods. What a wonderful and truly sweet person! She informed me about their bakery and what items they make. Did you know they make special and custom made wedding cakes? It is not your average grocery store wedding cakes. They add special custom details to every wedding cake and also do delievery. All the breakfast pastries are super popular since it is located right by their espresso stand, which offers rice milk! I love it!

From what I experience, Whole Foods bakery department has their act together! A great display case filled with mini pastries, cupcakes, yummy decorative cakes, pastries, and wedding cakes. Samples of angel food cake and cream pie were out for people to try and test.

Also, Redmond Whole Foods offers cooking and nutritional classes to the public. (A small fee might be required.) I can't wait to attend one and see what their teaching to the Redmond community.

Support business that are give benefit to the community and have employees that enjoy what they do!

http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/redmond/
facebook: Redmond Whole Foods
twitter: @RedmondWFM

Monday, 28 February 2011

BAKING SODA versus BAKING POWDER

There are two main chemical leaveners in the baking world: baking powder and baking soda. Quick breads are "quick" because they are leavened with a chemical leavener versus a yeast-leavener (yeast takes longer to leavened). What is a leavnener exactly? Any ingredient that are used to increase volume, slightly lighten the texture, and cause carbon dioxide gas bubbles, which cause the batter/dough to GROW!

I will talk about the two main chemical leaveners: baking powder and baking soda. Think you intermix 'em? Maybe so. Once you know the details and "science" behind the two, your baking will become a success!

BAKING SODA: aka bicarbonate of soda; It is a alkali, thus it is used in conjunction with an acid ingredient. Such as: buttermilk, yogurt, molasses, citrus juices, and sour cream. Baking soda neutralizes acidity and causes a nice "tender crumb" in a baked good. Baking soda also reacts instantly when mixed with a liquid and/or acid, thus all baked goods that use baking soda, need to be baked immediately.

BAKING POWDER: is baking soda, an acid (like cream of tarter), and a moisture-absorber (like cornstarch). Why cornstarch? It keeps the soda and acid dry and makes sure they "do not react together" when properly stored. There are actually 3 types of baking powders in the baking world:
-Double acting baking powder: The most popular and common! Double acting baking powder begans to "act" when exposed to liquid and heat ( like from an oven). Thus, batter made with baking powder do not have to be baked immediately.
-Single acting and phosphate baking powder: Very uncommon in American baking due to the popularity and ease of double-acting baking powder. Both of these start "acting" when exposed to a liquid ingredient.
Out of baking powder? Try mixing 1/4 tsp baking soda and 5/8 tsp cream of tarter together.

So, when creating a recipe, how do you know if the recipe needs baking soda or baking powder?
Baking soda needs an acid to "balance" it or it may give off a chemical taste.
Baking powder, since it contains an acid and base, is often paired with netural ingredients like milk, cream, etc.

What if a recipe calls for both, baking soda and baking powder?
When you use both, the baking powder mainly does "the work." The baking soda is there to netuarlize the acid, give a nice moist crumb, and do a little leavening.

What happens if you add too much baking powder or baking soda to your batter?
Too much will cause a bitter and metallic taste. The baked good products will "rise" very fast, then "fall" in the middle, causing an irregular shape. Too little chemical leavener? You product will be a "shallow" and small shape and have a coarse texture.

Can you subsitute one for the other?
Since baking powder already contains baking soda, you can use baking powder when a recipe calls for baking soda. But DO NOT use baking soda when it calls for baking powder.

Here is a little "tip" on how to remind yourself the difference:
Baking soda: Needs only one item (liquid) to activate.
Baking powder: Needs two items (liquid +heat) to activate.
Baking soda recipes: Use baking soda OR powder (you may need to add 1/4 tea more baking powder when using it instead of baking soda.)
Baking powder recipes: Use ONLY baking powder

Make sure you properly store your chemical leaveners in a dry, cool, and dark place like your pantry. Double check the expire date to makes sure you are using quality baking powder or soda. Tip: if it is over one year, toss it and buy a fresh leavener!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series with local business owners continues with Carly, owner of carly.bish photography!

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series with local business owners!

Do you want a fun, exciting, and thriving community? Want your town to be a place you are proud of? Do you desire a great place to show off to friends and family? HELP out your community by spending your money at local businesses. Local businesses help make your community REAL, warm, and rich.
I will be interviewing local business owners to help out the community and keep you updated on what is up and coming.

Carly is the owner/founder of carly.bish photography and does excellent photography work for your wedding or special event. She is truly passionate about her work and career and always gives 110% effort in every job she is hired to do.

1)What made you want to start your own photography business?I originally wanted to be a photojournalist, traveling the world for National Geographic or something like it. So when a friend asked me to photograph her wedding, it caught me by surprise. I had never considered shooting weddings so I was interested in trying it out. What ended up happening was more than I could have expected as I discovered I don't have the stomach for hard-hitting news stories but I'm really great at documenting life and all it's celebrations in a very artistic, photojournalistic way. So after my third wedding, I got my business license and I haven't looked back.

2)Name three skills you must have to open your own business. About 20% of running my business actually involves taking pictures, so it takes a willingness to deal with all the "other stuff" in order to succeed. If you can't handle the 80% that isn't related to what you really want to do, then you're better off pursuing it as a hobby rather than a profession. Secondly, you have to be able to work with people of all kinds. Shy people, outgoing people, withdrawn people, stubborn people... You adapt to everyone you work with and exceed their expectations every time. And last, you gotta love it. You have to love what you do if you're going to own and run your own business. If you lack passion, you can't endure, and it'll fizzle out before you even begin.

3)What has been your most memorable event you have photographed?I really can't pick one. I love shooting weddings and I feel extremely lucky because all my couples are so awesome and trust me completely. If I had to pick one event, unrelated to weddings, I'd probably say the photos I took on the day my nephew was born was pretty special. Being there the moment he arrived was amazing and breathtaking. I don't always get the opportunity to shoot moments like that, so I feel like I appreciate them a lot more than other events. Weddings will always be my favorite, though... It's always one to remember. :)


4)What do you love most about photography?I'm an artist but I'm also a documenter. Photography allows me to incorporate my two strongest characteristics and create one cohesive medium where I can perform both. I can't say that about anything else in my life--I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do for a living.

5)What can a person do if s/he is interested in photography but has little or no experience?
If you're interested in photography and have little to no experience, the first thing you need to do is simply start taking pictures. Then, work on getting plugged into some sort of group that meets regularly to discuss photography. I lead a "photography group" at my church and I have people with no experience and others with tons of experience join up. Every week, we talk about things we're interested in learning more about and we go to different locations and take photos. If there's no group near you that you can join, form your own! Start a group on Facebook and invite people you know who are interested in photography. Learn and share knowledge together. That's the best way to grow as a photographer.

For more information about Carly and her work:
facebook: find and "like" carly.bish photography
twitter: @carly.bish
web: http://carlybish.com/

Sunday, 20 February 2011

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series continues with Rebecca, founder/owner of "Wildflour" which makes gluten-free baked goods!

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series with local business owners!

Do you want a fun, exciting, and thriving community? Want your town to be a place you are proud of? Do you desire a great place to show off to friends and family? HELP out your community by spending your money at local businesses. Local businesses help make your community REAL, warm, and rich.
I will be interviewing local business owners to help out the community and keep you updated on what is up and coming.

I am a huge fan of gluten-free products! Lately, gluten-free products have been all over the market and grocery stores. From bread to cookies, to cupcakes to scones, gluten-free baked goods are become more popular.I was at the Redmond Farmer's Market and spotted "Wildflour," a gluten-free baked good company. I had a sample of their herbed foccica and LOVED the taste and texture. It was not dry or "stiff" like some other gluten-free baked items. Before Thanksgiving, I picked up a gluten-free rye loaf to make a gluten-free stuffing at the Mercer Island Farmer's Market. Want to taste a bit of some excellent gluten-free items? Check out Redmond Farmer's market starting May 7th.

1) Wildflour makes gluten-free baked goods. What made you want to create a GF baking business?
I have been gluten-intolerant for almost 20 years. I have dealt with numerous other food intolerances most of my life. When I was first diagnosed there were very few gluten-free products available. Very few people had knowledge of what "gluten-free" meant. By necessity I had to develop my own recipes, and have spent years experimenting with different gluten-free flours and combinations. Today gluten-free is practically a buzz word, yet there is still a lack of really great gf products available. After a few summers of writing a cookbook, I decided to put publishing efforts on hold, and start a baking business. With the great support of family and friends, "Wildflour" was born.

2) What are your top three best sellers at the market?
Artisan breads, (especially the Focaccia);tea loaves and muffins.

3) To someone who may not know, describe a "gluten-free" diet.
Gluten is the protein found most commonly in wheat, barley and rye. Oats are also a frequent culprit unless certified gluten-free, as well as spelt, kamut and emmer. Avoiding gluten means avoiding most breads, cereals, pastries, and pasta as well as many soups, gravies and sauces since wheat or wheat derivatives are used as a thickener in most prepared foods. Gluten can be a hidden ingredient in many foods, as it may be listed as modified food starch, malt or caramel coloring, etc. Since the FDA has mandated declaring wheat and gluten as a food allergen, reading most food labels will help a gluten-intolerant person to know if that particular food is safe. Eating out in restaurants may be more of a challenge, as the knowledge and training of the servers and chefs vary from place to place. Thankfully the knowledge of gluten-free is improving all the time, and many restuarants have added a gluten-free menu. For most people on a gluten-free diet, they have learned to bring their own food when traveling or going to potlucks, and have learned to inquire carefully about any foods others have prepared.
There are at least as many gluten-free grains as ones to avoid. Rice, potatoes, tapioca, corn, arrowroot, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, teff, chick pea are just a few of the safe grains/starches that are allowed on a gluten-free diet.
All fruits, vegetables, meat and fish (without seasonings) are safe foods. While the calories of a gluten-free baked product are very similar to a traditional wheat product, I think those on a gluten-free diet are often forced to make healthier choices to avoid accidentally consuming gluten.

4) What are three main skills a person must have to start a baking business?
Determination, passion and organization. Willingness to work long, hard hours. There is also a great deal in expense in starting a baking business, especially if done in a dedicated gluten-free environment.

5) What are your future goals for Wildflour?
To get our artisan breads and pastries distributed on a larger level. Hire employees in 2011 so we can grown the business to keep pace with demand. Eventually a retail space - people really want a place they can come to buy a variety of product. We have also had a great demand for wholesale, and are currently evaluating different paths. We will be at the Redmond Saturday market again, starting May 7th.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Pomegrante's Lisa Dupar speaks at Redmond Library!

Lisa Dupar is a popular Redmond Chef who owns Lisa Dupar Catering and the always exciting Pomegrante Bistro. This past Thursday, she spoke at the Redmond library to a "food-loving" audience. Her new cookbook, based on Pomegrante's favorite dishes, is out at local book stores and is titled "fried chicken and champagne."

Lisa Dupar first made her mark in Redmond with her restaurant "Southern Accents" about 25 years ago. Growing up she knew she had a great desire for food, cooking, and the business. A great apprenticeship followed after high school in her home state, Georgia. After a "miss" with her first restaurant, Lisa soon opened "Lisa Dupar Catering" and shut down "Southern Accents." The catering service became a success and high demand for high end clients. Shortly after, Lisa decided to open "Pomegrante Bistro." The restaurant serves pacific northwest fare with a local wine/beer selection. Connected to the bistro is a small espresso stand that serves amazing little treats (try the ginger-molasses cookie!) and coffee drinks.

Lisa was a very engaging and natural speaker. She told us crazy catering stories, the love and passion for her business, and what it takes to make it in the food industry. She also answered questions from the "fan-based" audience. Overall, she talked about her business, life, and loves! Afterwards, she happily signed her cookbooks for fans.

Lisa Dupar's Catering and Pomegrante Bistro is located in downtown Redmond, WA.
http://www.duparandcompany.com/pomegranate-bistro/menus.php

Her new cookbook is out and contains many recipes from Pomegrante!