Tuesday, August 26, 2014


First off... What is a foodie? Someone who enjoys food for more than just fuel and calorie. We crave food flavors, sensations,  and textures. We think about our next meal yesterday, analyze food reviews, and get really, really excited over new restaurant openings.

Like any other hobby or interest, we get recommendations and questions about, well, food. Some we are more tired of answering but will happily do it in the name of food.

 And the questions are...

1) "What is your favorite restaurant?"
Answer: Tough. What cuisine? What price range? Lunch, dinner or breakfast? Are we talking just food or wine and spirits? High end or low end? Cooperate or mom and pop?
My answer: I answer this questions with other questions. Then happily answer their questions.

2) "What's your favorite dish?" (AKA entree)
Answer: Hard. My favorite childhood dish? Or holiday dish? Dish for one? Dish for ten? Family style dish? High end fancy-schamcy dish? The choices and answers are endless.
My answer:  I pick my top 3 all time favorites and answer their question.

3) "What's your favorite cooking or baking book?"
Answer: There are millions of delicious cook/baking books in the world and yet to be published. I have a bounty of books that I easily accumulate over the years.
My answer: When asked this, I pick a basic cooking book, baking book, and my latest one I added to my collection.

4) "What is your favorite cuisine?"
Answer: Like most, I have more than one cuisine I enjoy. In one day, I am enjoying dim sum for breakfast, that afternoon I am indulging with a chocolate crossiant, and for dinner I'm feasting on homemade risotto. My taste buds range from super spicy to super sweet.
My answer: All Asian cuisines and French cuisine tops my list.

5) "What is your favorite dessert?"
Answer: Just like with question #2, I have multiple favorite desserts. Which one I enjoy most depends on the day and meal before hand.
My answer: Anything chocolate or made with seasonal fruit. My favorite sweet snack are French macarons.

What I love about being a foodie is being asked questions about food, local restaurants, and bakeries. Being a person-to-ask is a food blessing and I can't wait to spread more knowledge through Seattle and Eastside.
Let me know what your answers to these popular questions in the comment section below.

Happy Cooking,

Friday, May 16, 2014

LATEST SWEETNESS INTERVIEW: With Chef instructor and cookbook author, Lucy Vaserfirer

Greetings fellow readers! My latest foodie interview is with the talented Lucy Vaserfirer, cookbook author (x3!), chef instructor, and overall food-lovin' gal (my type of person). We met during our baking and patissier education at Western Culinary Institute (Portland, OR). From chef instructing, to food writing, and recipe development, Lucy brings a wealth of knowledge to the food world.

Lucy, cookbook author and chef.

My interview:

1) What inspired your culinary and pastry career?

I grew up in a very food-centric family and everything we did seemed to revolve around food and cooking, so it was a natural obsession for me from the very beginning. Then when I was in college, I came across a new book called Becoming a Chef and read it cover to cover in a single day. It showed me that culinary arts could be a career. My fate was sealed—I set my sights on culinary school and never looked back.    


2) Explain your most memorable dining experience at a restaurant.

My most memorable dining experience was actually at a bakery, not a restaurant. Seven years ago my husband and I visited Pierre Hermé on a trip to Paris. At that moment I found myself inside my wildest fantasy. It was like being in a jewelry shop, only instead of diamonds, the display cases were full of cakes and tarts and macarons! We ordered a Kouign-Amann, a Tarte Citron, a Carrément Chocolat, an Émotion Ispahan, and a chocolate macaron. It was love at first bite. The Kouign-Amann was light as a feather, with croissant-like layers of slightly salty pastry and a shatteringly thin caramel crust. The chocolate macaron melted in the mouth. The lemon tart was so puckery it tingled. The chocolate dessert was rich and intense and deeply satisfying, even for a chocolate lover who can’t be satisfied. And the Émotion Ispahan was simply the most delicious thing that has ever crossed my lips. A layer of litchi gelée, a layer of raspberry gelée so vibrant it almost seemed effervescent, and a layer of slightly sweetened rose-scented cream, all topped with a wafer of pink macaron and a single red rose petal, made for a perfect flavor combination. It was divine. All I can say is believe all the hype you hear about Pierre Hermé—he is indeed a pastry deity.


3) What tips would you give to a basic cook or baker just learning his/her skills?

Cook and bake as often as possible and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Try to focus on learning fundamental techniques rather than just specific recipes. Take any opportunity to watch other skilled cooks and bakers work. And taste everything.


4) Describe your cookbook "Marinades." What made you write a cookbook?

My desire to document my family’s recipes is what led me to writing cookbooks. We immigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan when I was just a little girl, and of course we brought our food traditions with us. When I was a teenager I endeavored to record all of the Uzbek and Russian recipes I grew up with so that I would know how to make them myself when I moved away to college. As my collection of these recipes grew, so did my desire to get it published. The market wasn’t ready for a cookbook of recipes from Uzbekistan, but I could never shake that dream to write a cookbook…

Some years later, I was working as an instructor at a school for home cooks. I came up with the idea of doing a class on searing since it’s the one technique that really separates the home cooks from the chefs. The class proved to be extremely popular, and students clamored for recommendations for further reading. Surprisingly there was no book on the all-important subject of searing, so I decided to seize the opportunity and write one myself. Seared to Perfection came out in 2010.

My first cookbook
Lucy's first book, Seared to Perfection.

The sidebar about compound butters in Seared to Perfection provided the inspiration for my second book Flavored Butters.

My second cookbook
Lucy's second book, Flavored Butters.

With Marinades, my newest cookbook, I’m out to prove that marinades are the secret to getting amazing dinners on the table every day. It contains 200 different marinade recipes and each one is accompanied by an additional recipe showcasing a way to use the marinade to make a complete meal, for a total of 400 recipes. The wide variety of marinade ideas will take you through every shelf of your pantry, up and down every aisle at the market, and then all the way around the world. I have to say my favorite recipe in the whole book is my family’s Shashlik Marinade from Uzbekistan.

My latest cookbook
Lucy's third book, Marinades.

By the way, I'm still looking for a publisher on the Uzbek cookbook in case anyone's interested…


5) What is your food guilty pleasure?

Anything fried!

I looovvveeee Lucy's blog Hungry Cravings! Be sure to check it out for food inspiration. Her latest book, Marinades: The Quick Way to turn everyday food into exceptional fare  is available at anywhere cookbooks are sold or just click the link to order.
I am very lucky to have read Marinades and it is sure of the most well-written and straightforward cookbooks on the market. From what ingredients do to the variety of recipes, it is a great addition to any professionals or domestic cook's library. I can't wait to try the blood orange-rosemary,  IPA-Jalapeno, and peach-poblano marinade this summer!

Lucy's other cookbooks included Seared to Perfection: The Simple Art of Sealing in Flavor  and Flavored Butters: How to make them, shape them, and use them as spreads, toppings, and sauces are also just as delicious and well-written!

Happy Baking,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

PRODUCT REVIEW: The New York Baking Company's Silicone Baking Cups!

What is the  best thing about having a blog? Getting to test out new and fun baking supplies! I have dozens and dozens upon kitchen gadgets, tools, knives, and cake pans. I am always on the hunt to add more to my collection.

I was kindly asked by The New York Baking Company to test out their silicone baking cups.  First of all, they come in a tidy plastic package, which easily holds a dozen of their brightly colored holders.  (Don’t worry green thumbs, the material is BPA-free silicone!)

One of my favorite flavors is chocolate, thus I baked a very moist chocolate cupcake in the fun and festive holders. Ta-da, super easy to use! When the cupcakes cooled,  it was quite easy to “pop” them out OR freeze them for a future sweet snack.
Being silicone-dishwasher safe, they are simple clean by hand or machine. Air dry before putting them back in the container.
I know my niece and nephews will love the bright colors and the ease of baking delicious cupcakes (or muffins) in them. Priced at an affordable $9.95,I cannot wait to purchase more and test out more delicious recipes in them.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What happens with a professional baker goes VEGAN!

Going vegan is, well, hard. Going vegan-detox-Engine 2 diet is even harder (What is Engine 2 diet: Planet-based, vegan diet with no added oils or refined sugars). Going vegan-detox-Engine 2 diet is even harder when you work in a BAKERY!

Recently I was given “the opportunity” to attempt 28 solid days  going Vegan-detox/Engine 2 diet. Why not? Why not learn about a new lifestyle, learned more delicious recipes, and see how my body feels. Plus, it was less than one solid month...I can do it.

The days off of work were easy-peasy. Quinoa with dried fruit and almond milk for breakfast; Sweet potato veggie patties for lunch; Kale salad with nuts for dinner. LOTS of fresh fruit, veggies, and cashews to snack on whenever I felt hungry…which was ALL THE TIME.  The diet was  difficult while working. The aroma of freshly baked chocolate cake lingered in the air, while samples of buttery croissants taunted my taste buds, and don’t forget about cream cheese icing, which I can happily lick off any spoon.

This posed a challenge: How to satisfy my sweet tooth without any refined sugars, only natural sugars like brown rice syrup, dried dates, and fresh produce.  Gathering my foodie thoughts and flipping through my pile of cooking and baking books, I made a mad dash and bought a new food processor. My mind raced with new and fresh ideas I have never thought of before: “If I puree it, it will have the body of solid food.” Thus, variations of banana ice-cream was created (Chop up bananas, freeze overnight, and  puree until smooth. Eat happily); “Power bites” were invited using dried dates, walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, and brown rice syrup; A fellow co-worker made “Vegan cheesecake” by soaking nuts overnight and pureeing them with almond milk, coconut oil, and fruit.


Below are my ramblings: My feelings, thoughts, and ramblings through each week and a tip how to survive IF you dare to challenge and take a 28 day Vegan diet-lifestyle.

WEEK ONE: The hardest 7 days! I felt tired, sleepy, hungry, quiet, and not myself.  I was burning too many calories and not consuming enough.  All I wanted to do was nap and eat delicious, fattening, and overly sweet FOODS. TIP: Having snacks on hand is key. Meal planning is key. I set aside an afternoon every week to prep condiments, sauces, veggies, and “Power bites.” My overly large tan purse was always filled with a “ little pick me up” when needed in emergency.

WEEK TWO: It is getting easier…. Meal planning helped. Snacks helped. Grocery shopping and dining out SUCKED.  I rarely dined out because the most I could get was a plain salad with no dressing or protein or cocktail. TIP:  When in doubt about food or if you are in a pinch with time, go natural and unprocessed. Produce is handy, raw nuts are quick, quinioa takes less than 30 minutes to cook….

WEEK THREE: I see the light! Almost finished and how do I feel? Better, lighter, my energy level is at one level instead of bouncing all over, and I feel like I am glowing from the inside out.  Right now, the power of food and how you consume it, truly amazes me than before.  TIP:  Ask around for recipes from fellow foodies, friends, family, and co-workers. I got so many delicious and healthy vegan recipes that I will continue using, even after the diet ends.

WEEK FOUR: The afterparty. On the first day of “back to normal” eating, what did I have? Pork sandwich….extra spicy with a couple (natural) energy drinks. Plus, a couple of adult beverages after a crazy busy work day. Did I feel different than before? You bet.  Sluggish. Tired. My stomach huuuurrrttt.  My taste buds changed. Salty food tastes even saltier and sweets taste over the top. TIP: I love eating healthy, but also love to indulge. Keep it a balance, folks. Being a big time foodie, I truly cannot see my life without enjoying oysters on the half shell, fresh almond croissants, bulgogi, chicken liver pate, or a rich Malbec. Moderation, natural, real, and unprocessed is key.


Being healthy and happy is neccessary to living a fresh and natural lifestyle. The more natural and unprocessed I eat, the better I feel, the better I smile, the better glow I have.

Are you up for a 28 day Vegan – detox challenge? Try it, You will amaze yourself!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Seattle/Bellevue Community: Fun, family-friend, and foodie Event this Saturday 14th at Bellevue Whole Foods Market!

'Tis the season. The chilly weather is here! Lights are up! Peppermint mochas are everywhere! What is a very sweet way to start the holiday season: decorate your very own gingerbread house! Whole Foods Bellevue Bakery Team is hosting a gingerbread decorating event this Saturday 14th.
Perfect event for families, little ones, and die hard foodies.

The Details…

TIME AND DATE: Sat. Dec. 14th at Bellevue Whole Foods Market (888 116th AVE NE Bellevue WA), 10:00 AM – 1:00PM. Feel free to arrive at any time to start decorating!

WHERE: Front and center of Bellevue Whole Foods Market. There will be tables set up when you arrive on Dec. 14. Still can’t find the event day of? Ask a helpful Whole Foods Team Member who can assist you in the right direction. (Free parking in our spacious lot right off of 405, by the hospital. Minutes from downtown Bellevue.)

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST: $19.99 gets you one gingerbread house to decorate, all the frosting and candy décor, your entire parties admission (no matter how people you bring), and fun drinks and snacks to munch on. Plus, Bakery Team Members will assist you on decorating your house!

HOW DO I RSVP? Easy! You can 1) Pre-pay  inside Bellevue Whole Foods Market at the Bakery Counter  (Recommended! This event is popular) or  2) Call Bellevue Whole Foods Market  (425-462-1400), connect to the Bakery Team, reserve a spot, and pay on December 14th when you arrive.

WHAT HAPPENS ON December 14th: Come on inside with your party, decorate your beautiful gingerbread house (everything will be ready for you), eat snacks, check out the sales happening at Whole Foods, and take your house home with you! Don’t worry, we will deal with the clean- up and mess.

MORE QUESTIONS? Call Bellevue Whole Foods and ask to be connected to the Bakery Team. We will happily answer any questions or concerns you have.
See you Saturday!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Seattle Happy Hour with dishcrawl: This Wednesday (9/18) at Capitol Cider!

What is best part about having a food blog? Meeting fellow foodies and going to tasty events around my beautiful home city, Seattle. Dishcrawl is a nation-wide company that host fun, foodie events around big cities, like Seattle. I, luckily, met Julia and Melissa, two local dishcrawl ambassadors through social media and I am pairing up with them to help promote their fabulous events.

The next dishcrawl event? It is happening this Wednesday the 18th, from 6:00-8:00pm, at Capitol Cider (http://www.seattleciderbar.com/) in Capitol Hill. Tickets are only $5 and you get to try and assortment of their new menu as well as be eligible for killer drink specials.

Buy tickets here --> http://www.dishcrawl.com/capitolcider/


Come meet new foodie friends and hang out with me and the local dishcrawl team for a relaxing evening at Seattle's newest cider shop, Capitol Cider.


See you Wednesday,

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A letter to the young, aspiring baker/pastry chef.


First off, in life you should do you what love, and love what you do. If it is baking bread, teaching third graders, creating websites, or fixing computers that you love doing then do it. We spend numerous hours and time AT WORK...... unsure what to do? Great, I love it when people say this. Why? Because you get to TRY NEW THINGS IN LIFE. Try a new hobby, sport, or activity. Met new people, go out to a new restaurant/bar/coffee shop, and find out about new industries, companies, and positions in your community.

Now, you have settled it: you want to cook/bake for a living. Good news: WE NEED FOOD TO LIVE, thus there will ALWAYS be positions/jobs for you. Bad news: The food industry can, well, be crazy and hectic. Most restaurants/cafes/bakeries are open 24/7 and require hard work and long hours.

My advice?  My top 5 tips…..

- First off, find a company/business that you truly like and care for. Note: most food small businesses are so small, they cannot offer health benefits, paid time off, or 401(k) plans, keep this in mind when searching for jobs. Note: some cooperate food businesses, can get very cooperate and less artistry is required for the job.

- Second, find a position that you like doing and can expand. Doing anything over and over again can get monotonous and boring. Can you learn new skills? Move up? Possibly learn something besides cooking and baking delicious food? On a better note, ask your brand new co-workers if they like working there. They will be honest.

-Third, get used to wearing a chef uniform: chef pants, non-slip clogs, hat, and chef jackets.  Oh yes, and working on weekends and major holidays. (Boo.)

-Fourth, to all the young women: From a girl’s girl point of view, working in professional kitchens is a very masculine industry, but I never let that change me. I am who I am, and still enjoy the color pink, 4 inch high heels, and lip gloss after working nearly 8 years in the industry. Your hands and nails will become very dry, you will have oily skin, and your feet will ache after work.  This just means you have to take extra special care of yourself , don’t let the job GET YOU. You are better than that.

-Finally, find an outside hobby outside of cooking/baking. Why? This will keep you sane, I promise.

 Don’t limit yourself to just restaurants for food jobs. There are numerous outlets for us: cafes, bakeries, gourmet grocery stores, cooperate dining, catering,  wineries, coffee shops, etc.  Find what fits YOU, not the person sitting next to you.

I find it very rare that a person cooks/bakes their ENTIRE career. Most of us move on: management, admin, sales, etc. We are still dedicated to food, but our lives, dreams, and goals change. We desire softer schedules and lifestyles. Keep this in mind while you are young: don’t be afraid to learn a new skill set beyond culinary and pastry.

Don’t let anyone get to you because that is their problem, not yours. Keep your chin up, positive attitude, and everything will come in place.