Posts from January, 2009

Maple Syrup – it’s not just for pancakes!

Yum, maple! Doesn’t it just conjure up warm and fuzzy food memories—especially about breakfast? Fuzzy-slipper-clad moms griddling up tall stacks of pancakes drizzled with warm syrup. Hot, crispy strips of maple-cured bacon or trays of thickly frosted, fresh-made maple bars at neighborhood bakeries!

Only a few places in the world have the right climate to grow sugar maples, the trees that give us this distinctive taste. In the United States, Vermont is the best known for maple syrup production, but Quebec, Canada, provides most of the world’s supply.

Other producing regions include upstate New York, Michigan, Ontario, and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The flavor of the syrup can vary from region to region and also by year or “vintage.”

Maple’s unique flavor is wonderful in all kinds of recipes, and different grades of syrup are preferred for different uses. Maple syrupis graded by color and strength of taste. In general, U.S. grades are Grade A (Light Amber or Fancy, Medium Amber and Dark Amber) and Grade B. Vermont’s syrups are a little thicker than the U.S. standard and are graded on their own system; the lightest grade is called “Vermont Fancy.” Canadian grades are #1 (Extra Light, Light, and Medium), #2 (Amber) and #3 (Dark). The very delicate, palest grades are best as a table condiment or used with foods where the syrup’s subtly can be appreciated, such as drizzled over a light plain custard. The darker syrups are more flavorful and come through well in cooking and baking. I used a Grade B syrup for the following recipe.

On the more savory side of things, maple syrup is outstanding in a marinade for pork, added to a pot of baked beans, or in salad dressings.

And of course maple is fantastic in sweets and baked goods. My recipe for this week is a dense Maple Apple Bundt Cake that has a flavorful Jack Daniel’s Glaze that just sets the whole thing off. This cake is chock-full of grated apple and chopped pecans; it makes a welcome afternoon sweet treat, a delicious dessert when served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of
maple-sweetened whipped cream—and I even like it for brunch!

So make a resolution to get beyond your pancake habit, and try this sweet syrup “in” instead of “on” something different this year.

Maple Apple Bundt Cake with Jack Daniel’s Glaze
Makes about 10 to 12 servings

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, salted
3/4 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
5 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 apple, with skin, cored and coarsely grated
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, lightly toasted

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
8 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Jack Daniels whiskey (or for a na version substitute cranberry juice)

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

In an electric mixer, combine the brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and maple flavoring, and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes or until fluffy. Then mix in the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until mixture is light and fluffy.

Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt into a medium bowl. Stir to mix evenly. Add the dry ingredients, in two parts, into the egg mixture, beating well after each addition. Then stir in the apple and nuts.

Scoop batter into prepared pan. Rap pan on counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for about 55 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a cake tester poked in the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, powdered sugar and whiskey, and stir until smooth.

With a small knife, cut around sides and center of Bundt pan to loosen the cake. Turn cake out onto rack, set rack over a baking sheet, and drizzle cake all over with the glaze. Let cake cool completely on the rack, or slice and serve while still slightly warm.

©2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy on January 29th, 2009  |  Comments Off on Maple Syrup – it’s not just for pancakes! |  Posted in breakfast, dessert, Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, KOMO Radio, Recipes

Washington’s new Gin

With the impending release of Voyager Gin in the Washington State Liquor stores, local cocktailian Robert Hess has created the “Clipper Ship” cocktail. You can find the details of this great cocktail on his website 

Check it out and ask your local liquor store to carry it!

Posted by Kathy on January 24th, 2009  |  Comments Off on Washington’s new Gin |  Posted in Cocktails, Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, Foodie News, Lifestyle

Chocolate – We love to love it!

These days, fashions and styles aren’t limited to just your clothes. Food has trends of its own and these days nothing shows that more clearly than chocolate!

From the wonderful artisan chocolate makers comes a surge of exciting, sometimes odd, but always delicious new combinations. First, there was the beloved grey-salt-topped truffles from Fran’s Chocolate.  The newest chocolate flavor pairing: the avant-garde Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar made with “applewood smoked bacon + alder wood smoked salt + deep milk chocolate.”

Local and organic are big, too. Green and Black’s organic bars are super tasty – my co-workers went nuts for the toffee milk-chocolate bar. And who doesn’t love to indulge in a Fran’s Gold Bar!

Seattle-based chocolate company Theo produces premium, organic, Fair Trade and specialty chocolate. Inspired by their 3400 Phinney Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate bar, I created the recipe for Bollywood Spiced Cocoa, which I made with Theo’s 75% chocolate bar and whole milk infused with fresh ginger, cardamom and cumin and then finished off with unsweetened coconut milk. This unique cocoa is great as an after-dinner or before-bedtime sip by the fire. It’s definitely not for everyone, but those who are adventurous with their chocolate and enjoy sweet-and-savory chocolate combinations should give it a try.

So check out the chocolate section of your favorite gourmet grocery store or, if you’re in the Seattle area, check out Chocolate Box  downtown or Chocolopolis on Queen Anne.

Bollywood Spiced Cocoa

Made with Theo’s Fair-Trade-certified Ghana Panama Ecuador 75% Cacao dark chocolate bar and uniquely spiced with Indian flavors and unsweetened coconut milk for a very distinctive, sweet-and-savory hot chocolate.

Makes 2 servings

1 cup milk
2 cardamom pods, crushed
2 1/4-inch-thick slices, peeled fresh ginger
tiny pinch ground cumin
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 bar Theo’s Ghana Panama Ecuador 75% Cacao bar, grated, or use 1 1/2 ounces other high-cacao-content chocolate

In a small heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the milk, cardamom, ginger and cumin till hot but not simmering or boiling.

Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Then remove the cardamom pods and ginger and discard.

Place the pan back on the heat and add the coconut milk and chocolate. Whisk and heat until hot—but do not overheat. Serve immediately. ©2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Cha Cha Hot Chocolate

Makes 1 serving

about 3 tablespoons Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix, depending on how chocolaty you like your cocoa (recipe follows)
3/4 cup hot milk

Place the chocolate in a serving cup and stir in the hot milk, mixing well.

Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix

Makes 2 cups, enough for 10 to 12 servings

1 1/2 cups superfine or baker’s sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

In a medium bowl, combine the sugars and vanilla extract together with a whisk. Then add the remaining ingredients and whisk thoroughly to evenly distribute the cocoa and spices.

Store at room temperature for up to 2 months in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. Shake thoroughly before using to remix the ingredients. ©2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy on January 22nd, 2009  |  Comments Off on Chocolate – We love to love it! |  Posted in Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, KOMO Radio, other, Recent Posts, Recipes

Sips & Apps mentioned by Bacon Freak

My new book, Sips & Apps, has garnered a great pre-release mention on Rocco Loosbrock’s Bacon Freak blog. Rocco, aka the “Boss Hog,” is the owner of Coastal Vineyards “Bacon is Meat Candy Bacon Club” and blogs about all things bacon. He also sells an amazing selection of gourmet bacon. Of course he was very interested to hear that my Bacon, Blue Cheese & Pecan Cocktail Cookies recipe will be in the book, which will be released this spring!

Posted by Kathy on January 19th, 2009  |  Comments Off on Sips & Apps mentioned by Bacon Freak |  Posted in Books to Cook, Cocktails, Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, Foodie News, Recent Posts

Glorious Garlic

Glorious Garlic
I always wonder, what is WRONG with those people who are always talking bad about garlic breath? In my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with “a little” garlic breath – except maybe if you are the only one in a group who hasn’t overindulged.

Garlic is the bulb of a perennial plant that is native to Asia. A member of the lily family and a cousin of the onion, this flavor-packing bulb has been used in culinary preparations dating back to Old Testament times. And as far as I know garlic is used in just about every cuisine. Garlic is stuffed into olives for Gartinis (garlic martinis), roasted till squishy and smeared on bread, sliced paper thin for stir fries and pastas… I’ve even had it slow-cooked in sugar syrup until candied and then dipped in chocolate! No matter how you cook, slice, and eat it, garlic always gives a great flavor hit.

And not only does it taste great, it is also really good for you. Claims made for it include helping to prevent heart disease and to prevent free radical formation. And some even proclaim it helps to ward off a cold by stimulating the immune system … not bad for such a stinky little friend. Why it is even reported that Egyptian slaves ate garlic for strength as they built the great pyramids!

Roasted garlic is super- scrumptious, but it often takes quite a bit of time to roast it whole-head-style. So, I’ve got a great quickie option for you — Easy Stove Top Roasted Garlic in Oil. This method takes about 10 minutes from start to finish and is done by simmering peeled garlic cloves in olive oil on the stovetop. The results are nice, squishy, light golden cloves and delicious garlic-flavored oil. (Just remember when storing any garlic in oil that it is imperative to refrigerate it.)I have whisked up a luscious Roasted Garlic Creamy Herb Salad Dressing that uses the Easy Stove Top Roasted Garlic and its flavorful oil. Just the thing to toss with a spinach, bacon and tomato salad.

Eat garlic, breathe deep and live free ….

Roasted Garlic Creamy Herb Salad Dressing
Makes 1 ¼ cups
2/3 cup (1 recipe) Easy Stove Top Roasted Garlic in Oil (recipe follows)
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup tarragon vinegar
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
In a small bowl whisk all ingredients together until well combined. Copyright 2008 by Kathy Casey.

Easy Stove Top Roasted Garlic in Oil
Use garlic and oil in your favorite recipes where you would add garlic. Also great to dip in, and to smear on your favorite rustic bread!
Makes 2/3 cup

1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil

Place the garlic and oil in a very small saucepan. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a slow simmer, then reduce heat to low so oil is just barely simmering. Continue to simmer for about 5 – 7 minutes, turning garlic pieces from time to time, or until the garlic is very soft, and very, very lightly browned. (Cooking time will vary with your stove.) Remove garlic to a plate to cool. Reserve and cool oil.

After oil and garlic are cool, chop garlic very coarsely and stir back into the oil. Cover and keep refrigerated up to 7 days. Copyright 2008 by Kathy Casey.

Posted by Kathy on January 7th, 2009  |  Comments Off on Glorious Garlic |  Posted in Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, KOMO Radio, other, salads

UnFancy Food Show

This just came in from my friend Pat Klinger – he found it on the web:

The second-annual UnFancy Food Show — a celebration of handmade, decidedly unfussy food — was held at a dive bar in Brooklyn on June 29, 2008. Visitors could sample goods from nearly 20 of the area’s best “unfancy” producers. Treats included country pâté with wild ramps; blackberry ice cream; and direct-trade, stone- ground organic chocolate.  The inspiration? New York’s Fancy Food Show, held the same day — a trade show that attracts nearly 20,000 food buyers and puts the focus on high-end products.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS:  For foodies in the know, fancy is a four-letter word. Real, authentic, unpretentious food is where it’s at.  The “local, sustainable, organic” mantra isn’t just for hardcore foodies. More and more consumers want to know where their food comes from (and want to meet the people who make that food).  Food is no longer mere sustenance. Young, hip, creative people are seeing food as an (edible) art form and a creative outlet (New York Times 3.16.08).

After attending many a “Fancy Food Show” in both NY and San Fran this sounds like a lot of fun!

Posted by Kathy on January 6th, 2009  |  Comments Off on UnFancy Food Show |  Posted in Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, Foodie News