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All You Can Eat

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Topic: Desserts and Sweets

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November 29, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Doctor’s orders: Make a pie! Or an apple-pear galette

Thanksgiving’s passed. Sick of pie yet? I’ve got the cure: Dr. Barbara Schwartz, who gave up a career birthing babies (she’s caught 3,000 newborns!), turned to pie-making and in October took first place and “Best of Show” in Seattle’s annual Cake vs. Pie competition.

If you’ve ordered a slice of pie at Madrona’s St. Clouds restaurant, you’ve tasted her wares. And if you’ve taken her “Easy as Pie” class (as I have at PCC Cooks), you’ve learned the adage has great merit. Today she shares her prescription for a perfect pie crust:

Q: You gave up a longstanding career as an OB/GYN, learned to bake pies by watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks, and later talked your neighborhood restaurateur into selling them. So, any similarities between taking a bun from the oven and a pie from the oven?

Barbara Schwartz, toting a just-baked galette with an all-butter pie crust. [Seattle Times/Dean Rutz]

A: The joy that people experience when they make a pie for the first time is not dissimilar from handing somebody a newborn, but face it, the labor they go through is far less arduous. Also: it’s important to let the newborn and the pie rest after they come out of the oven.

Q: What’s the single biggest mistake most pie-makers make?

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April 11, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Crepes for breakfast? What would your mom do?

I had to laugh when the May/June edition of “Cook’s Illustrated” arrived in the mail Friday. Leafing through the pages I found a major spread with the usual how-to (and how not to) entitled “Foolproof Crepes.” I laughed because all last week my kid had been driving me nuts, nudging, “Can we have crepes for breakfast?” To which I replied: “No! I don’t have time. You may be off from school but I have to work!”

Besides, I told him, the batter has to rest for an hour before I can make them. “I’ll be out the door in a half hour. Do the math!” Indeed, the crepe recipe I’ve been using for the past 25 years insists you must rest the batter. Which I did on Thursday morning while he lay sleeping and I was enjoying a moment’s peace and a day off from work.

In case you were wondering: I got those Nutella to-go packets at DeLaurenti.

Turns out that rest (the crepe’s, not the kid’s) isn’t necessary according to “Cook’s Illustrated” whose recipe-tester acknowledged the controversy, noting that the practice of resting the batter is reported to make a more tender — and thinner — crepe.

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April 7, 2011 at 6:30 AM

Mighty-O, Top Pot, People’s Cake: Food Network challengers

When it comes to Food Network challenges, Seattle takes the cake. Seattle pastry chef Kaysie Lackey — owner of The People’s Cake — won FN’s “Extreme Cake Challenge” (twice!) last year and has two $10,000 checks to show for it. Perhaps you saw her last Sunday on the premier episode of “Last Cake Standing,” a new six-week series pitting Kaysie against seven contenders from across the nation. Spoiler alert for those looking forward to re-runs . . .

Kaysie Lackey: Extreme-ly talented creator of cakes and owner of The People’s Cake.

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March 2, 2011 at 3:57 PM

It’s Girl Scout Cookie time: my favorite, and yours?

So far this year it’s been ixnay on the Girl Scout Cookies, for me at least. I’m always a sucker for the girls in green (must be that sash I once wore), and in particular for the green boxes we call “freezer cookies” in my house (you likely call them Thin Mints, found year round in my freezer — hence the nickname).

Somehow, this year, I haven’t been the recipient of a single sales pitch and have managed to miss out on the front-of-the-supermarket action that inevitably results in a sale for this old softie. To say nothing of a freezer full of you-know-whats. I can’t even cadge ’em from my co-workers! Despite the fact that my pal Greg, who’s sitting in the Seattle Times newsroom as I write, brought in a carton full to share at the office.

Too bad it was empty by the time I showed up. And yes, his kid’s selling: to family member’s only.

You know, I didn’t even realize it was Girl Scout Cookie time until yesterday, when I was knocking back a ham, egg and cheese-stuffed biscuit at the “biscuit bar” at the new Dahlia Workshop at Westlake and Harrison and spotted this stockpile from my window seat:

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February 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Tiramisu recipe from me to you, with a nod to Saleh al Lago

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d show you some love by sharing my tiramisu recipe. Truth be told? It’s not my recipe: it’s Saleh Joudeh’s, the name behind the late, great Saleh al Lago at Green Lake. There, over the course of five years, I sliced into, oh, hundreds of tiramisu, turning a single spring-form pan of whipped deliciousness into a dozen even slices, plated and garnished with chocolate shavings for my paying guests. If you’ve ever tried Saleh’s recipe — the one I’ve tweaked and prepared so many times over the years I feel comfortable calling it my own — you’ll thank me for showing you how easy it is to construct at home.

You don’t have to use expensive mascarpone or Kahlua, but fresh eggs are a must and you should spring for some good chocolate.

Ask a dozen cooks how to make this creamy Italian dessert and you’ll get a dozen different answers. Go online and you’ll find umpteen variations. Chances are, you’ll also find a recipe on the package of two of its main ingredients: mascarpone cheese (usually hiding in plain sight near the tubs of fresh mozzarella at area supermarkets) and ladyfingers (the hard “biscuit”-style version sold in packages of 24 in the cookie or “ethnic” aisle). But I’ve always loved Saleh’s best.

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February 3, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Chocolate desserts that will make you melt

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, there’s a lot of sweet-talking going down, so I thought I’d share the love. When it comes to sweets, I tend to go for something lemony, so I asked my readers to broaden my horizons and speak to me of chocolate desserts. They were happy to report exactly what they love and why they love it. So, here’s a little gift from me to you: a list of some of my favorites, some of theirs and a couple of Valentine’s Day specialties you might want to kiss up to. Did we miss your heart’s desire? Do tell!

One reader insists that after a side-by-side tasting of chocolate cakes — involving 22 invited guests and cakes from some of Seattle’s top bakeries –“Nothing came close to Bakery Nouveau’s exceptional quality and flavor.” Their classic chocolate cake is “a perfect balance of chocolate cake and ganache — both bittersweet. Not overly sweet, just rich and buttery.” A rousing vote for the West Seattle contender.

My nod goes to the chocolate truffle cake at Simply Desserts in Fremont. Those luscious layers also hit that just-right note between sweet and not-so. I’ve been indulging for more than 20 years, and warn you: share a slice. Readers weighed in heavily for the shop’s chocolate fudge cake. No, wait, the chocolate caramel cake! — with a chocolate espresso cookie on the side.

Everybody has a favorite cake at Simply Desserts in Fremont. Here’s mine: the Chocolate truffle cake, a little slice of heaven. OK, a big one. [Seattle Times/John Lok]

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February 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Open your pie hole! Seattle shops offer sweets and savories

Trend-spotters are convinced that in 2011, pie is the new cupcake, and two new Seattle bakeshops are busy proving those prognosticators right.

At Pie, baker Jessamy Whitsitt and her partner Renee Steen have been wowing Fremonsters with the simplicity of their handheld sweet and savory pies since New Year’s Eve. That’s when they opened the doors of their take-away cafe for a few tentative hours “just to get a feel for it,” says Whittsitt. It felt great.

What began as a pie-in-the-sky idea is now their first foray onto the food scene. Whitsitt is a self-taught baker and personal trainer who grew up in Seattle; Steen a former Pixar film editor who left San Francisco to be closer to her friend and family.

Renee Steen, left, and Jessamy Whitsitt, are co-owners of Pie. [Seattle Times/John Lok]

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January 19, 2011 at 6:14 AM

Royal Bakery moves from Shoreline to Edmonds

While I’m on the subject of Korean food (you’ll pardon me, I’m on a roll), those who’ve been mourning the departure of Shoreline’s Royal Bakery — closed in October — should know it hasn’t gone far. After a decade in the Parkwood Plaza (also home to Old Village Korean Restaurant), the Hwang family has moved their store north to the Boo Han Plaza in Edmonds. Open since December, it now shares a parking lot with a host of area Asian-food favorites including Seattle Deli, Sushi Moto, Than Brothers pho shop and Boo Han Oriental Mart.

Sweet! Grace and David Hwang at their new Royal Bakery location in the Boo Han Plaza: 22618 Highway 99, in Edmonds.

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