Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fresh Flours- Bakeries January 2017

Oh goodness, I am writing about another bakery. It just so happens, I love bakeries, and when I find a new one that make tasty baked goods, it is hard to be quite about them. How could I hide a bakery that makes baked goods with a twist (especially a good bakery). Plus, this will just be a quick blurb. Nothing too long, just letting you guys all know about a great bakery. Maybe you have heard about it, maybe you haven't. Either way, I recommend you keep reading!

To set the story a little bit. I recently (on January 2nd) drove over to Phinney by Woodland Park Zoo and stopped by Fresh Flours Bakery. 

Fresh Flours is owned by two business partners, Keiji and Etsuko. Both of them love Japanese pastries and came to Seattle in 2000 to look for a place to open their business of Japanese inspired pastries. In July 2005, they were able to open up Fresh Flours. A bakery that serves Japanese baked goods, coffee, and your standard french pastry.

The location I visited was close to Greenlake. It was quaint and relaxing. Even though it was quite busy. That is what happens when it is one of the few places open on the Monday after New Year's Day 2017. Besides Phinney, Fresh Flours has several locations, including a location in SLU (for you Amazonians who are looking for a breakfast treat). 

Locations include:

6015 Phinney Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103

1624 S. McClellan Street
Seattle, WA 98144

9410 Delridge Way SW
Seattle, WA 98106


432 8th Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

From appearances, it is like any other bakery. Some pastries offered on one side, and a register and coffee on another. Not much to it! They have a very cozy atmosphere, some comfy chairs in some of the corners, along with some more crammed seating along the side(sadly, that is where I had to sit). The place was quite busy. Clearly, this is a neighborhood favorite get together spot.

Green Tea and Black Sesame Cookie; Lemon Ginger Muffin

Most of their pastries looked standard. Fresh Flours offered macarons, croissants, danishes and so forth. There wasn't too many things on that list that I would drive far for.

Yet, they did several pastries that I just adored! For multiple reasons. These pastries weren't just good from a flavor standpoint. They were well executed and unique(ish).

The picture above has three tasty treats that I consumed during my visit to Fresh Flours Bakery. It has a lemon ginger muffin, a green tea and black sesame cookie. These pastries sold me when I saw their descriptions. Maybe I am too easy...but those flavors sounded right. Lemon and ginger, green tea, and black sesame  served with an Americano. Please and thank you. In the end, I was not disappointed.

All of these were a great balance of sweet and bitter and offered a slight twist to the flavor you might expect. They didn't rely on your typical chocolate or vanilla to win over the hearts of the people who don't like change. Even their lemon (which I consider a standard flavor), added the dimension of ginger. All of these pastries piqued my interest.

The green tea cookie in particular cost $.80 and was by far my favorite. I actually came across a recipe that seems to make a similar cookie so I wanted to share the link. It looks super easy to do! Clearly, I will need to spend a weekend baking these bad boys up.

What I really enjoyed about these cookies was that fact that they weren't too sweet. If you are like me, you have had way too many green tea "things" that combat the green tea bitterness by oversweetneing their product...

Personally, I would, and do enjoy the slight bitter flavors you get from green tea. That is how I know I am drinking tea. Otherwise, it might as well be flat soda.

Similarly, the black sesame cookie was more like a biscuit, not too sweet but very flavorful. You knew you were eating a black sesame flavored cookie. They weren't trying to hide it behind other flavors.

The lemon ginger muffin was a little on the sweet side, only ever so slightly. However, this was balanced by the spice that sang from the ginger. Fresh Flours didn't try to hide the ginger flavor or its natural spice. If you don't like ginger, or spicy, this is not the pastry for you. Some of you out there are looking at this post weird right about now. What are you talking about "Spicy", since when is spicy good in dessert.

First, not cayenne spicy, more like heavy cinnamon spicy. In this case, it balanced the sweet and acidic flavors that came from the lemon. It also brought out some fun notes in my coffee. Overall, the lemon ginger muffin was very tasty. If you need a recipe, check out this link from They do a great job at creating recipes.

Blueberry Danish

I also ordered a danish. Just to see how their standard pastries tasted like. It was good, but personally...nothing special. This was your typical danish, filled with pastry cream and blueberries. Good, but not as special as Fresh Flours Japanese inspired flavors. If you plan on going to Fresh Flours, I would recommend you order their pastries that are not your run-of-the-mill pastry shop sweets. That is what makes this place special. 

Yes, they make croissants, and danishes, which taste great. However, their purpose for starting the bakery was to create Japanese inspired baked goods! Guess what? They do that really well. Otherwise, it would be like going to France and eating at the Hotel. 

Really, you are just ordering the safe options that the hotel has for tourists. Is that what you want? Food and flavors you can get at the next bakery over?

Why? Why did you travel so far(at least in my case), to get these pastries, if you were just going to get your standard croissant(unless you are trying to find the best croissant). Try something new. Try some new flavors, and flavor combinations. 

What is great is that they have several cookies that are pretty cheap $.80 isn't too much money. At the very least, you can get a safe pastry and try one of their non-standard flavors. Maybe it will be fun??

Truthfully, the only reason I happened to venture to Fresh Flours Bakery was because they were one of the few places opened that day. I was curious if their baked goods were...well...good? I was not disappointed! There have been a few bakeries I have visited and not written about...because, they just were sad. They touted unique flavors, or some culture twist. Sadly, once I got there and had a few bites of what those places had to offer, I realized I shouldn't have spent my money.

I hope you find this bakery amazing as well! It really was a special treat for me. 

Tags; Wait another Bakery?; Sweets; Good Baked Goods; Where are bakeries in Seattle?; Japanese Sweets; Green Tea; Black Sesame; Cookies; recipes

Monday, January 2, 2017

Restaurant Week Seattle

Do you like going out to restaurant week? If so, check out a new article we just posted. There are some snippets below.

To read the main article click here!

My first restaurant week meal was at Barking Frog. Me and two other culinary students at the time went to Barking Frog. Back in 2010, this was one of the few restaurants on the east site that actually offered the restaurant week special. Maybe Purple Cafe was also, but I am not 100%.

This is actually a very fond memory. I think the only other really fancy restaurant I had gone to at this time was Cafe Juanita. So going out to eat here was still a pretty big deal for me! I still hadn't been exposed to so many different flavors, vegetables, spices and techniques. So coming to the Barking Frog was a real treat!

I can't tell you much about the service. Not that it was bad, but because I only remember the food. My first course was a Celery Apply Soup with Fennel Oil. The flavors are a solid trio, pair these same flavors with pork or beef and you got a great dish.

The soup itself was warm, creamy, sweet, fresh and just enough tang. Again, to my immature palette, this was amazing! Not to say that it wouldn't still be now. The dish was well executed, but the flavors are safe and what you would expect.

Following the soup was Braised Short Ribs, Polenta, and Spinach (there was also honey...but that made no sense). Again, a solid dish. You can't go wrong with braised meat and polenta. This menu was served during the October Restaurant Week, so this dish made sense. Super hearty and delicious, a stick to your rib kind of meal. Plus, beef for restaurant week, yes please. 

Short rib especially, like oxtail, has an extra beefy flavor that I love. I believe that is why Chefs really started getting into this cut in the 90s. It was both cheap and tasty. However, it s now just as expensive as most other prime cuts. This does seem to be a typical trend in restaurant industry, or a trend of a trend. A meat, fish, or vegetable becomes popular and suddenly it becomes very expensive. No one even really heard of albino salmon until 2010. The term wasn't even really coined. In fact, most places thought they were effective. A little rebranding, and marketing and boom, suddenly, every chef wants it on their plates.

Finally, the third and final course of my first restaurant week meal was a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and strawberries(out of season by the way). Again, this really isn't a jaw dropping dish, it tastes amazing! and to a young cook, it is a pretty cool dish. Actually, even a decade later...I still have a soft spot for this dessert when it is done well! Who doesn't like chocolate?

The Truth About Restaurant Week

As I stated above. I loathed restaurant week. It meant running around, showing up early, and crazy busy services. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't lazy. Busy services were the best. You never looked at the clock waiting for five minutes to pass. Time just blows past.

However, restaurant week isn't busy. Restaurant week is a mad house. Time seems to disappear altogether during restaurant week. You barely have enough time to breath...and you can forget bathroom breaks, or anything other than pushing dish, after dish out.

Chefs and cooks need the adrenaline. We thrive in an environment where we are stressed, our mind works at its best when it stays busy. In fact, my worst days are my slow days. I was just always off my game. It always felt awkward, like I could never get into a groove. All that said, there were nights that restaurant week often pushed us past the our limits.

One place I worked (and the only place that did restaurant week) was so busy, and had so few creme brûlée ramekins, that we would have to bake custards in the middle of service. Can you imagine!

While running around like a chicken with his head cut off to deal with appetizers, and the other two desserts on the restaurant week menu. The poor soul doing pantry (which was me commonly), would be putting water baths in ovens to bake off pot de cremes, while tossing a salad, plating 5 other desserts and hoping no one orders a cheese plate.

Luckily, during my tenure I only had to work at one restaurant that did restaurant week. Most of the places I worked refused to partake. Alright, maybe refuse is a little strong. Some of the restaurants I worked at, just didn't have too. They were so busy, they never needed to get involved with restaurant week. Instead, they could just focus on doing good food.

Restaurant week for some people is an excuse to finally go to that restaurant they have always wanted to go to. You are just happy to visit a restaurant and get away with a $35 per person bill. Maybe you will never visit the restaurant again. At least you got the opportunity to go! I don't think you shouldn't go out. I am just giving my side of restaurant week. It can be fun, sort did pass the time very quickly...

Do you have any restaurants you are dying to go to? Let us know.

Tags: Restaurant week Seattle; 3 courses for 35; Dinner, Barking Frog; Chef Life; Burned nuts; Chocolate; Short Ribs; Where to go for restaurant week

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Top 18 Cookbooks For 2017; Part 1

Happy 2017! I hope you all enjoyed 2016. Whether you had an amazing year or a poor one, 2017 is a chance for change. Have you made a 2017 resolution? Has it been to cook more, or read more? Maybe you just want to learn how to cook amazing dishes in general?

If you are trying to do any of these, then I have compiled a great 2017 reading list. It is filled with cookbooks for beginners and talented chefs. All of these books are great in the way they walk through dishes and recipes and can help anybody conquer their kitchen. This list ranges from cookbooks to text books, comic books to kid 1-2-3 recipes(that was a favorite part of my childhood). All of which, make great teaching tools for cooks of all ages!

Happy reading in 2017! I hope you find a great book below, if you know of a good book that isn't listed, please feel free to let me know!

Alton Brown: Every Day Cook

If you are a home cook, looking to find techniques and recipes that fit into your daily life, Alton Brown has got you covered. This book is great because it not only goes over basic recipes, but it also covers all the tools you should have in your kitchen, basic pantry essentials, etc. From there it does a great job going over basic techniques and really good recipes that all cooks of any skill level should know.

Do you want to know how to make Pho? He goes over that! Grits! Nitrous Pancakes, goes over that as well. The recipes in the cookbook are easy to follow and fun. Not only that, but the way he goes over these recipes should make it easy for you to modify the recipe to your own liking(which I find very important).

I think the picture says it all for this book. This book makes cooking easy.

Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, 3rd Edition

When it comes down to cooking, there are a lot of very important techniques that every cook should know. You should know how to break down a chicken, dice an onion(properly), and make a solid dessert (like creme brûlée). There is one technique that can bring all of the previous together, that is sauce making. A sauce often brings all the flavors of a dish together. It moistens, acts as a conduit of flavor and brings dishes to life. Every cook should know how to make one pan sauce, a reduction, a vinaigrette and a coulis. More importantly, you (as a cook) need to be able to take these base sauces and create totally new flavors. This book works amazing when you read it in unison with the Flavor Bible. Combining both books allows you to understand food much faster, because you are learning both solid technique and flavor combinations at the same time.

From there, making your own dishes that taste good will become easier and easier. You can trying making reductions, gastriques, and vinaigrette and mixing in combinations of herbs, spices, etc.
Give it a go!

Cooking Comics!: Simple Skills, Fantastic Food

This is a fun cookbook. It is written by Chef Lauren Thompson of Cafe Juanita. Besides being an amazing chef, she also was a culinary instructor and has experience teaching novices how to wield a knife. Her new book, Cooking Comics! Simple Skills, Fantastic Food, does a great job of showcasing her time as an instructor. Novice cooks don't have to fear the kitchen, or as Seattle Met put it, "tremble".  Cooking Comics is filled with great recipes, and amazing pictures drawn by Tsukuru Anderson. The whole book is an example of what a chef cookbook should be. Not some over the top, persnickety combination of recipes that no one can replicate without $1000 dollars worth of equipment, but honest recipes. Recipes that any cook can follow, not just a line cook with 5 years of experience.

This actually isn't her first cookbook Project. She also worked to help John Sundstrom write "Lark: Against the Grain" (sadly I haven't read that...maybe my 2017 good book??). So Lauren isn't new to the experience of writing cookƒbooks and the quality of the is book shows it.

The Professional Chef

Sometimes the best way to learn, is opening up a text book. I know some people hate text books. I get it, they are not exactly exciting. However, if you are thinking of becoming a chef, then this book is great. It not only goes over classic recipes, techniques, equipment, etc. The Professional Chef also goes over menu development, food cost, how to maintain knives, etc. Really, this is a fat cookbook of knowledge. It also goes over cuts of meat, fish, vegetables, and obscure kitchen equipment.

What I find this book best for is a person who isn't looking for a specific technique like sausage making or bread baking. Instead, this book is for those who want to have a better understanding of cooking as a whole. Thus, I find this book best suited for culinary students, up-and-coming chefs, etc. However, if you already own a culinary textbook, don't bother buying this one. Most culinary textbooks do a good job of being about the same. So if you own a different version, or a culinary textbook from another company, there is no need to buy a new one.

The Children's Step-by-step Cook Book

Is anyone laughing at this recommendation? Ok, there is a real soft spot in my heart for this book in particular. If you have kids 3-10 that want to learn to cook, this book is a stunner.  My mother and I used this cookbook a lot when I was a kid. I remember making the cream puffs, and chocolate truffles a hundred times (not actually a hundred). They were just so simple and the pictures made the whole experience seem so easy (and it really is). You are not going to learn any fancy techniques here, just a few basics. Personally, this book is more about the time spent with your kids vs. what you will learn from it.

It doesn't have anything too difficult or unsafe and it offers great exposure to any young and budding chef.

Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Cooking Magazine

There are several reasons I love Cook's Illustrated. First, their recipes are tested, tried and true. You know they are going to work. Their test kitchen puts out great work and you know you can rely on what they write. More importantly, I love the style which they order their recipes. They will start with something plain and boring like deviled eggs, they will give you the basic recipe, then, the next recipe following will be a kicked up version. They don't do it with every recipe, but I love it when they do. It is quietly teaching you how to improve your cooking. You might not even notice it if you are not paying attention, but suddenly, you will think of flavor combinations that just make sense. I don't know when that gear starts moving for some people, but it is pretty cool.

The Silver Spoon New Edition

Some books are more about recipes and less about technique. Both the Silver Spoon and Better Homes and Gardens provide readers with thousands of recipes combined. You could spend nearly a decade trying to cook one of these recipes a day(from both books, about 3,200 recipes..ok more like 8.5 years).  If you are just trying to to cook as many different recipes as possible, both of these books work great. Their recipes are reliable(thank goodness) and have been tried and tested.

Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book, 16th Edition

I have mentioned several cook books that were just a huge part of my childhood. That includes the Better Homes Cook Book. My family owned the ring bound version (it is cheaper). When I first got really into cooking and upgraded from my kid cook book. For some reason, this was the next cook book I picked up. Maybe it is because I saw my parents use it, or because of its strange pattern on the front. Whatever the reason, I recall cooking a few of the recipes out of this book. Again, reliable, and tasty. You're not going to find earth shattering recipes in here. However, if you are just trying to make good food for your family, I don't think you have to! Nope, just focus on making tasty food. It is super simple and these recipes show it. No need to try to buy the Mugaritz and pull off those crazy recipes. It takes way too much time and it is a bummer when the recipes don't come out right. If you are looking for a book just to stare at(it has great pictures), sure, Mugaritz may be the right book for you. If you are looking for new recipes to make for your family in 2017, these are easy recipes that can help you out big time!

Dinner Made Simple: 35 Everyday Ingredients, 350 Easy Recipes

Let's say you are not trying to become a world-class chef. Maybe you just want to learn how to make a lot of good recipes for your friends and family. Nothing fancy, no weird meats or vegetables just easy and fast dishes. Then Dinner Made Simple is a good book for you. This is a book from my much younger years. Back when I really knew very little about food and I thought roasted carrot soup was the coolest thing in the world(it does taste amazing!). This book is great for people on the go, and people who have busy family lives. If you have several kids and just want to give them something tasty with very few ingredients, Dinner Made Simple is a great cookbook. Again, nothing fancy here. You won't learn how to be a cook, or a chef. However, you will make your family happy!

The Basics. The most important concept in any field. It's not about the fancy back-flip to header that scores a goal, it is about how you dribble. Forget about the fancy molecular gastronomy techniques until you can master the basic recipes in some of these books! You will be an amazing chef or cook in time, but it takes practice. Each new recipe, technique and new bit of knowledge will get you that much closer, but don't get discouraged when your shuffle falls, or your turkey is dry. Keep it up!

Thanks for reading part one of my 2017 book list for people who want to learn how to cook. I hope you learn how to cook amazing food this year. Good luck.

All of the links to products are Amazon Affiliate links. I would like to be candid that I do receive a percentage of the purchase price. That being said, all the products I reference I have either used or own. I want to help people looking for products anyway! I don’t want people buying things that won’t benefit them.

<< Best Seattle Restaurants in 2016                                                     Part 2: 2017 Cook Book List >>

Tags:CookBooks; 2017 Best Cook Books; New Years Resolution; Read More; Beginner Cook Books