Friday, October 15, 2010

The Birth of the Mini Cake

Here's how a new product begins:
  First, I (Lillian) recently had a terrible cupcake. I'm told there are a lot of great cupcakes shops in the world, but this was not from one of them (no, I won't tell you where I got it). The cake was dry and if it had been actually flavorless that would have been better. Instead it had a strange, what-is-that taste (turns out it was supposed to be peanut butter). Then the frosting was greasy and nauseating. Maybe that's a little redundant because frosting that makes you think of grease is inherently stomach-turning, right? Second, standing at work I often gaze over at the covers of cooking magazines and right now there is a beautiful pumpkin cake on the cover of Fine Cooking. Third, though we have plans for a lot of non-bacon products, currently we're selling sweets in a butcher shop so we're taking that combination to its tippy-top. We've been wanting to have a cake available for the Bacon Lover's Birthday, so we developed a Pumpkin Cake with Bacon Pecan Brittle and Browned Butter and Cream Cheese frosting. Fourth goes like this: But Johnny, can't we make them small and cute? I like things that are cute.
  So he did make them small and cute. And the cake turned out so insanely moist and I'm a sucker from cream cheese frosting and the middle bacon brittle layer provides the perfect crunch factor and that's how Mini Cakes are born. Available to start on the weekends and by special order for $4.95. Larger sizes coming soon.

Testing the for the perfect height of a Mini Cake

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thanks Voracious and Julien Perry

Gosh, this is such a nice post about us we can hardly stand it. We already loved Voracious, now we're even bigger fans.
Here's an etiquette question, would it be lame to send her some brownies? Too much self-promotion?

In the Test Kitchen

Bacon Joys and John's hand
Here are a few things I'm looking forward to this Fall - molasses cookies made with bacon (and maple frosting?), the finalized version of the peanut butter cup (with candied peanuts) and the almond butter cup (if almond butter wasn't so expensive I'm sure Reeses would make these), and getting all these things out to the public.
You can buy the caramels, Joys (bacon or baconless), brownies, and a couple other products at The Swinery (thanks guys) here in West Seattle. But what about the rest of the country (world!)? We have to wade through the regulations about online and mail-order sales to get this really up and going. In the meantime, you can call The Swinery (206.932.4211) or email us ( We're going to put together a "Special Orders from Sugar & Salt" section on this site (and pamphlet to take away from The Swinery). You'll be able to order in advance just about everything we've ever talked about making (as long as we can make it legally in The Swinery kitchen).

Bacon Caramels, in case you couldn't guess.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Introducing the Betty Bar

When grandma calls and requests some sweets for a bake sale, how can I refuse? They have one every four months or so where she lives and I always look forward to it. She doesn't really care what I bring over as long as it includes her favorite treat. My grandma is hooked on a bar cookie that I've named after her because she loves them so much - Betty Bars start with a thick shortbread crust, the a layer of jam and a streusel topping that has enough seeds to energize you for hours. I made this batch with blackberry jam. Lil likes one with her tea in the morning and I'd have to agree that they're the perfect morning treat. These won't survive a trip through the mail but there's a chance they'll survive the cut for the retail counter. I'll have to run them by the Taste Testers for approval first. A pan of evil brownies and crunchy coconut macaroons rounded off the bake sale box.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Evil Chocolate Brownies

As much as I love chocolate I have never been a member of the Cult of Chocolate Eaters. Out to dinner, I would order bread pudding over Death By Chocolate, or something like that, every day. But these brownies are like a gateway drug that leads straight to serious chocolate addiction. They are so dense and creamy that they deserve the word fudge in their name, but the slight crunch of the top and bottom and the little bit of cakeyness makes them still brownies. We recently ended up with 3 large ziplock bags packed full of these in our freezer and I went on a chocolate binge like I've never gone on before. It's so easy to take one or two out of the freezer after dinner, microwave for 15 seconds, pour a glass of milk, and you're done for. After a month of this I had to take them all to work. Thank goodness the recipe is 95% done. I don't think I'd last through much more recipe testing without heading down a dark (chocolate-tinted) path of self-destruction. The bad/good news - John wants to offer two different brownies and the testing for the 2nd (non-fudge) one hasn't even started.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Tale of Pork Ribs - From the Freezer Abyss

After mixing batch after batch of caramel and chocolate in our test kitchen, well....we got a little sugared out. Just a little. So we took a break from the sweets and decided to play around with dinner. I've been craving a good pulled pork sandwich ever since I went to Roy's BBQ the other day. First things first - the bun. I love good barbecue flavors soaked in a soft squishy bun. I made some tweaks to an already good bun recipe and thought it would be the perfect companion to the pork filling. These buns can really stand on their own. So buttery, so good. Sorry, I can't give you the recipe. These may be going on the menu.


I couldn't wait to eat one before the picture
I love grilling, but I didn't feel like hanging out it in the rain tending the coals. I wanted to do a little experimenting. I salt and peppered both sides of the pork spare ribs, rubbing in some ground cumin as well. I baked them for 20 minutes at 400, drained off the fat then put them in the slow cooker, with 1/2 cup lime juice and adding enough water to cover the meat. I cooked them on high for 5 hours and when they were done, the meat was tender but a little disappointing - not a whole lot of flavor. I mixed up some cilantro lime butter to mix into the meat which made the mediocre pork taste delicious. Next time I'll work on the pork recipe, and if that turns out great this sandwich will be fantastic.

Cilantro Lime Butter

4T butter
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 c lime juice
1/4 c cilantro (chopped)
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
zest of 1 lime
  • Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Add the garlic and cook until it browns. Pull off the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Combine with the pork.
  • With this sandwich I made up a very simple cabbage slaw, tossing shredded cabbage with just oil, vinegar and a little salt and pepper.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sweet Excess

I need to reduce the amount I make in the test batches. How many sweets can two people really eat, especially when there's seven products in the queue and more to follow? Luckily Lil has coworkers at Queen Anne Books that are expert treat tasters and are more than welcome to take some. Anyone else want in?

I think the Thingamajigg may have just a little too much caramel on top but otherwise it's close - and oh so good. Crunchy light peanutbuttery cookie with caramel and coated with chocolate. How can you go wrong with that?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Doing things a little out of order

I think deciding on the logo design is the hardest part of opening a business. Li and I have a sense of how we want it to look but sometimes you just have to leave things to the experts. I met with my friend, and graphic designer, Sergio last week at Roy's BBQ in Columbia City. While chowing down on our Georgia Golds we talked about the art logo. I wanted something that was simple but memorable. It had to convey a sense of quality but not high brow. After hearing my ideas, Sergio agreed to take the job. His compensation? Food. He does however have a couple of other jobs that precede Sugar & Salt's, but hopefully it'll be a quick stroke of creativity on his part.

Talking logos with Sergio made us realize something. We've already snagged the domain name, facebook, twitter, flickr and gmail addresses but we hadn't done the most important step in all - registering our name with the city! Everything will be pointless if we can't secure Sugar & Salt's name. I promptly got on the website and filled out the master business application for Washington state. We probably don't have anything to worry about but I still can't help it. My fears won't be settled until I hear back that the application has been accepted. Until then we're keeping our fingers crossed and doing more recipe development testing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Recipe Test

Home Version vs Store Version
I worked all weekend to make sure it was all good, sending the first batch mistakes with Lil to her work, and I'm pretty happy with the results. Hanna introduced Lil and I to the food writer for Grist and she really liked our idea - to make home made versions of our favorite candy minus the freaky ingredients that are in the store bought versions. The article is going to ask readers to submit recipes of their own favorite guilty pleasures and my almond joys are going to kick off the article. My last job started the idea but this project perfected it. I just sent the recipe off today with the photos. I still owe her a picture and bio. I've never written a bio before so I'm not really too sure where to start with that. Look for it soon!

In the beginning...

I finally started doing work on the business this week. I met with Diana from Sip & Ship today and we talked about me using her kitchen space. She wants to expand her cafe business and we are working out a trade; I will help her with product development and food advise while she lets me produce my food in her legal kitchen.

I think it's going to work out great. If you think about it we are a perfect match. Since most of my business will be focused on the internet, I will have easy (and fast) access to sending the product off. She also does business cards so all I'll have to do is give her my logo and she'll take care of the rest. She's also offered to waive the fee if I wanted to set up a box for business mail there at the store.

The next steps are registering the name with the city and getting a license to operate. I also have to decide on how I want to organize the business; sole proprietorship or LLC. There are benefits on either end but I just need to do a little more research and decide which one will be best. Once that is done I can figure out all the other details. So many details!