Saturday, November 24, 2012

3 tips to make holiday baking...a breeze!

Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is officially finished. We can put away the extra candy and finally polish off all the delicious leftovers from the Turkey Day feast. What is next on everyone's baking and cooking agenda: the holidays!

Besides a cheerful spirit, be sure to bring something sweet and homemade to any party, event, or social gathering you attend. Why? It is so much SWEETER to bring a homemade delight versus store bought. Are you afraid of trying something new? Don't be! Follow my very easy tips to make your holiday baking easy and simple.

Tip #1: Stick to what you are good at!
This rule also follows to most things in life: do what you can do exceptionally! Love scones? Bake a dozen perfect. Can you whip up the perfect sour cream coffee cake? Then do it! Have you always been the go-to for homemade brownies? Bake some and share!
Please avoid attempting anything brand, BRAND new. Save a new recipe for a rainy afternoon when you have extra free time.

Tip #2: Don't be afraid to use your freezer!
Freezing extra cookie dough or pie crust is a sneaky way to save you time. All baked goods, raw or baked, freeze great if they are stored properly. Make sure you use an air-tight container that seals shut.
-For example, when freezing raw cookie dough: You can bake frozen cookie dough just like raw cookie dough, just be sure to calculate for extra baking time.
-Are you short on time for the party? Don't be afraid to freeze baked goods like brownie and bar cookies. Be sure to let them defrost, outside their container, at room temp for about 2 hrs.
-I love making pie and tart crust ahead of time. I roll out the dough and shaping it into its proper pie/tart shell, then freeze it. Freezing crusts also helps shrinkage of the pie crust!

Tip #3: Plan it out!
Make a schedule of your baking prep. This helps you carve out time to properly bake you sweet treat and double check your ingredients list.
Make sure you answer these questions after you plan out your baking treat:
-Will I have enough time to make, bake, and cool my baked good?
-Do I have all of my ingredients on hand? Extra, in case I mess up?
-What will I bake (or bring) if I mess up? Do I have enough time to bake something different, if I do?
-Do I have the properly baking equipment for my baked good (pans, mixer, bowls, etc).

Remember, the holiday season is meant to bring more cheer and sweetness to your community! Plan your baking spree ahead, and it will sure be a success.

Happy Baking,
Kimm

Monday, November 19, 2012

S.U.M: A fun, secret, and DELICIOUS food event!

Last Saturday evening in Seattle's SODO District, it was rainy. Grey. Miserable. But, outside a large abandoned warehouse, there were colored paper signs that said "SUM -->." Inside, long lines of  hungry foodies eagerly wait for a sample of one of Seattle's new, upcoming, and popular restuarants and catering businesses.

Exactly what is S.U.M? It is Seattle's Underground Market, a pop-up foodie event that happens monthly, all over the greater Seattle- area and Eastside. Did you know Underground Markets happen all over the USA? Yup, S.U.M. was inspired by San Franciso's Underground Market.
Eveytime the location changes, making it a true way to explore the city I live in! How do you know where the location is? Sign up to become a member and you will receive email updates before an event happens.

With a small entry fee ($10), and bites costing $1-$3/per plate, it is easy to sample a large variety of cuisine under $20.00. Chefs, restauranteers, and bakers unite to show off their best of the best for the community. From a small dessert catering business, to a popular asian restaurant, and a fresh squeezed juice bar, there are many offerings to delight your palate.

Sign up to become a member, FOR FREE:
http://www.seattleundergroundmarket.com/Home_Page.html

"Like" their page on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/SeattleUndergroundMarket?ref=ts&fref=ts

What did I try and LOVE? The POP-shrimp were golden delicious-ness of popcorn and deep fried shrimp. The seared ahi tuna was one of the most popular offerings! Chiptole braised pork and corn pudding offered comfort food to the crowd in the stormy weather. Plus, the Mexician Coffee kept my hands warm!

I can't wait for another S.U.M!

Happy Cooking,
Kimm

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What makes a pot and pan handle STAY COOL!

Not only should cookware preform well and deliever delicious meals, it should accent your kitchen and easy to handle and maintain! One of the most popular questions I get from customers and friends about pots and pans is: "How do I know if the handle stays cool when cooking?" This is key: you do NOT want to injury your hand because your cookware handle was not properly constructed.

For truly "stay cool" handles, I recommend two material types:

1) Silicone handles (usually combined with stainless steel)

OR

2) Cast stainless steel

Why?

-Silicone is naturally heat-safe to 400 degrees F. For a cookware handle, silicone should be "wrapped" around a stainless steel bar for longevity. Look for a thick, strong, and sturdy handle!




-Stainless steel is appealing because it attractive and it last forever, yet it still conducts heat....poorly. That is why GOOD stainless steel handles should be "hollowed" out in the middle to avoid any sort of heat conduction. Look for the words "cast stainless steel handles." Also, with stainless steel handles, if there is a "triangle-shaped" part on the exterior of the pan, that connects with the long handle, it is a GOOD THING! Just like hollowing the handle, that shape breaks down the heat conduction (from the pan to the handle) for a guaranteed stay-cool handle.







Please avoid:
-Pure, solid metal handles with a rubber or silicone grip over it. This means the handle was not hollowed out and to make it a "less expensive" stay-cool handle, the company just put a cover on it.
-Plastic handles or plastic-blended handles.
-Pure rubber handles.

Key questions to ask about handles when you are purchasing:

If it is a stainless steel handle:
1) Is the center of the handle hollowed out? (Correct answer: Yes!)
2) Is the stainless steel casted? (Correct answer: Yes!)
3) Are these guaranteed to stay cool while cooking on the stove top? (Correct answer: Yes!)

If it is a silicone handle:
1) Is this pure silicone over a stainless steel bar? (Correct answer: Yes!)
2) Is the silicone area, 100% silicone or is it blended with other products like plastic? (Correct answer: Yes!)
3) Are these guaranteed to stay cool while cooking on the stove top? (Correct answer: Yes!)

No matter if you choose a gorgeous stainless steel handle or comfy silicone handle for your cookware, it should stay cool while cooking up your favorite meal. Also, double check with the retail store's return policy, just in case there was a defect.

Happy Cooking,
Kimm