Fruit

Delicious and Versatile Northwest Pears

We are so lucky here in the Northwest to have SO MANY delicious varieties of sumptuous pears! Bartlett, Bosc, Seckel, Concorde … each one different and oh so delicious!

My fave pear preparation? I like to cut them into thick wedges and toss with a little olive oil, balsamic, and seasoning, then roast on a sheet pan in a HOT oven until they are tender. Great tossed in a salad, served with roast chicken or in my Roasted Pear Crostini with Gorgonzola appetizer!

Pears make for some quick and easy sauces too – try sautéing iced pears till tender, puree then mix with a little wasabi for a tasty sauce for grilled fish. Or make a quick fresh relish with diced fresh pears, shallot, a touch of honey and a splash of red wine vinegar, toss it with fresh mint and you have an amazing accompaniment to lamb!

Fresh Northwest pears are also great to include in your favorite smoothie recipe for natural added sweetness and in entrees like one of my favorite easy entertaining recipes – Spiced Baked Chicken with Pears and Port – yum! –Kathy


Photo from Kathy Casey’s Sips & Apps, Chronicle Books – Angie Norwood Browne

Roasted Pear Crostini with Gorgonzola
These are extra-delicious topped with chopped toasted nuts, such as hazelnuts or walnuts. Balsamic glaze can be purchased at gourmet and well-stocked grocery stores.

Makes 24

Pears
2 firm NW red Bartlett or other red-skinned pears
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

24 pieces Herbed Crostini (recipe follows)
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled gorgonzola cheese or thinly sliced Cambozola
2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze

For garnishing
Tiny sprigs of fresh thyme

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F.

To roast the pears: Quarter the pears lengthwise, then core. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 6 slices (you should have 24 slices, total). In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and thyme. Add the pears and toss to coat.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay out the pears, not touching, on the baking sheet. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden and starting to caramelize on the edges. Pears can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving.

When ready to serve, lay out the crostini on a baking sheet and top each piece with about 1 heaping teaspoon of gorgonzola or a slice of Cambozola,then a slice of pear. Bake until just warmed, about 4 minutes.

Drizzle each piece with about 1/4 teaspoon balsamic glaze, then garnish with thyme.

Herbed Crostini
Crostini are the must-have party basic. Use as a base for assorted toppers, such as creamy cheeses, tapenade, or spreads.

Makes 32 to 40 pieces

1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 long, skinny French baguette, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
Kosher salt for sprinkling

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix the oil, dried herbs, cayenne, and garlic. Lightly brush the baguette slices with the herb oil or, in a large bowl, drizzle the bread with the oil and toss well. Lay out the bread in a single layer on baking sheets, sprinkle with salt, and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until just crispy.

Crostini can be made in advance, cooled thoroughly, and stored in airtight containers for up to 3 days. If necessary, recrisp them in a hot oven for a couple of minutes.

Recipe from Kathy Casey Sips & Apps, Chronicle Books – www.LiquidKitchen.com

Spiced Chicken with Pears and Port
This is a great entrée for a dinner party. I also love it sprinkled with blue cheese right before serving for a delicious twist.

Makes 6 servings

3 firm ripe fresh NW pears
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breast halves
2 shallots, thinly sliced
6 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
1 unpeeled lemon, sliced (about 9 slices)
1 cup port wine
1 tsp. cornstarch (optional)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnishing

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut pears in half and core. Cut each half in half and then in half again—to make large chunks. Reserve.

In a small bowl, mix the spices and salt. Lay the chicken on a baking sheet or piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and sprinkle each piece liberally on both sides with the spice mixture.

In a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Sauté half of the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the skin is deep golden brown and crispy. As the pieces are browned, place them, skin side up, in a 10-by-15-inch baking pan or small roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Pour off any excess oil, then sauté the pears, shallots, garlic, and lemon for about 1 minute. Add the port and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring just to a boil, and then add the hot mixture, with all the goodies, to the roasting pan, pouring it around, not over, the chicken to keep the browned crust intact.

Roast for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is opaque throughout and nicely browned on the outside, with an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (chicken will gain another 5 degrees on standing).

Transfer the chicken to a platter or individual plates and keep warm. Using a slotted spoon, retrieve the pears, shallots, garlic, and lemon slices from the sauce and distribute them over the chicken. Place the roasting pan on a burner on high heat and cook to reduce the sauce to about 3/4 cup. (If you like your sauce to have a bit more body, mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water until smooth and whisk into the reducing sauce. Cook till lightly thickened.) Taste the sauce for seasoning, adjust if needed, then drizzle the sauce over the chicken and goodies. Scatter with parsley leaves for garnish.

Adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table cookbook, Chronicle Books – www.KathyCasey.com

Posted by Kathy on August 20th, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in appetizers, Fruit, KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snacks

Quick Pickles and Amazing Flavors

Who doesn’t love homemade pickles? But sometimes the idea of making them seems daunting. Quick pickle recipes to the rescue – easy to make and store refrigerated! This method is perfect for home pickling beginners.

My recipe for Quick Summer Garden Pickles is fast and easy. Clean quart jars, then pack with a mixture of vegetables (think baby cukes, carrots, peppers, and cauliflower), garlic, chili pods and some fresh flowering dill too if you have it. Boil up a sweet and tart brine and quickly pour into the veggie-packed jars. Quickly screw on the lid, and cool to room temperature for about 45 minutes, then pop into the refrigerator! In just two days, you’ll have delicious pickles to bring to a picnic or enjoy at a backyard BBQ.

And pickling isn’t just for veggies. For something a little different, try one of my favorites, Blushing Pickled Peaches! Peaches, fresh ginger, and garlic are covered with a brine of red wine, white vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander seeds and crushed red pepper. They will keep for a month in the refrigerator. Perfectly d’lish to serve up with your favorite cheeses or grilled meats!

Preserves
Who’s ready for tangy Blushing Pickled Peaches?

Here’s to quick pickles! –Kathy

Blushing Pickled Peaches
Be sure to use a freestone variety of peach for this recipe such as Elberta or Hale. Great with grilled ham, steaks and poultry, and especially fantastic with thinly sliced prosciutto, crusty French bread and a glass of Northwest Pinot Gris.

Makes 1 quart

5 – 6 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered, about 2 – 2 1/4 lbs.
2 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger cut into 1/4-inch slices (2 oz wt.)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt or uniodized salt
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Ingredients

Tightly pack the peach halves, alternating with the ginger and garlic, into 2 clean 1/2-quart jars. (or you can do one 1-quart jar).

Layering

Meanwhile, in a small, non-reactive saucepan bring the remaining ingredients to a quick boil over high heat. Immediately remove from heat and ladle over the peaches, making sure to cover them and transferring all the spices to the peaches.

Brine

Brine 2Finished

Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Immediately after cooling, refrigerate peaches. Chill the pickled peaches for 2 – 3 days before using them. They’ll keep 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios® – www.KathyCasey.com

Quick Summer Garden Pickles
Makes 4 quarts

Vegetable Mixture:
7 cups (about 2 lb.) 3/4″-sliced pickling cucumbers
2 1/2 cups (3/4 lb.) 1/2″-thick-slant-cut carrots
2 medium jalapeño peppers, cut in half, or 1 large, quartered
1 1/2 cups (6 oz wt.) 1 1/2″ chunks yellow or white onion
1 1/2 cups (6 oz wt.) 1 1/2″ chunks red onion
2 cups (8 oz wt) 1″ chunks red bell peppers (substitute some hot peppers or some of your other favorite summer peppers if desired)
2 cups (3/4 lb.) 1/2″- to 3/4″-sliced yellow zucchini or yellow squash

Pickling Brine:
2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cups cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. pickling spice
3 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Place all vegetables in a large bowl and toss together to mix colors. Divide vegetables among four clean, regular mouth 1-quart canning jars, packing vegetables in tight. Set jars on a dish towel in a draft-free place in the kitchen.

Place the pickling brine ingredients in a non-aluminum sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil and then immediately ladle pickling brine into filled jars, filling to 1/2″ from the top and being sure to cover the vegetables and distribute spices evenly. Immediately cover jar with lid and tighten. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. Let pickle for at least 2 days before eating. Pickles will last refrigerated up to 1 month.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios® – www.KathyCasey.com

Posted by Kathy on August 14th, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Foodie News, Fruit, KOMO Radio, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snacks

KUOW – 94.9 FM

Seattle’s KUOW – 94.9 FM is airing segments on farmers markets. Check out this segment on the Ballard Farmers Market and my tips on how to pick fresh peaches, including my Honey Lavender Peach Fizz recipe!

And for a demo on how to make Fresh Peach Puree, check out www.LiquidKitchen.tv.

Posted by Kathy on August 11th, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Fruit, Lifestyle, Press, Recent Posts, Recipes, videos

Celebrate Summer Peaches

It’s that time of summer when juicy stone fruits come to market: nectarines, plums, apricots and my favorite, PEACHES!

But isn’t it a bummer when you get a peach and it’s not bursting with that sweet flavor you remember? Well, peach evangelist Jon Rowley has worked to fix that.

Peaches
Jon says that when you cut the peach and its super shiny
that will mean that its gonna be sweet!

Every year he collaborates with Pence Orchards in Wapato and the organic Frog Hollow Farms in Brentwood, California for Peach-O-Rama, celebrated at Met Markets.

Peach-o-rama

Each of these peaches must meet a minimum of 13 Brix (that is the measure of the % of sugar in the peach).

So what to do with all these juicy peaches? Well, eating peaches out of hand is amazingly delicious, but I also love them sliced and tossed in an arugula salad dotted with goat cheese and a sprinkle of toasted northwest hazelnuts.

And if you love sweetness, there is nothing better than a delicious homemade peach pie. And one of my favorites is with stone fruits: peaches, cherries and apricots. But you can make it with all peaches, too!

The recipe incorporates my favorite fruit pie tip: put down a thin rolled out layer of almond paste on the bottom crust before filling the pie it adds a delicious flavor and keeps the crust from getting soggy.

So here’s to the juicy peach! –Kathy

Pie Holes
Peaches combine with other Stone Fruits in this delicious pie!

Summer Stone Fruit Pie with Almond Paste & Amaretto Cream
You can use all peaches in the pie if you like or a variety of other stone fruits to mix in with the peaches.

Makes 19-inch pie

Crust
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
6 Tbsp. shortening or lard
6 Tbsp. cold butter
2 to 3 Tbsp. ice water

Filling
1/4 cup (2 ounces) marzipan (almond paste)
3 cups pitted, 1/4-inch-sliced peaches, peeled
1 cup pitted cherries, (I like to use tart cherries if you can find them, you can also use frozen ones without sugar)
2 cups pitted, 1/4-inch sliced apricots
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. flour

Egg Wash Glaze
1 egg
1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. coarse sanding sugar (or substitute granulated sugar), optional

Amaretto Cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. amaretto

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the crust: In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and nutmeg. Cut in shortening and butter until particles are pea-sized. Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing gently with a fork until dough comes together in a ball.

Dough

Divide into 2 even pieces. Do not over handle the dough. (If dough is too soft to handle, press gently into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 20 minutes before rolling.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece of dough to a bit bigger than your 9-inch pie pan. Brush excess flour off crust, and then gently roll up crust onto rolling pin. Unroll into pie pan and press/fit crust into pan. Roll crust over at edges. Roll out the remaining piece of dough to fit top of pan, but slightly bigger. Cover with plastic and move on to making the filling.

Crust

To fill the pie: Roll marzipan into a ball, then press out into a disk on a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Roll out to fit the bottom crust, place it in the freezer if it’s too soft.

Flattened

Remove the top piece of plastic wrap, then turn it into the curst using plastic wrap as a guide, fit marzipan into the bottom crust. (Remove the plastic wrap).

Covered

Place the peaches, cherries and apricots in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together sugars and flour, and then sprinkle over the fruit. Toss to coat the fruit well. Place fruit filling into lined pie pan.

Place remaining dough round on top of pie, trimming off any excess dough. Then crimp bottom and top crusts together with your fingers to seal well and make a pretty edge.

Mix together egg and milk, and lightly brush on top with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Make several slits in the top (or cut fun shapes) to allow steam to escape. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour or until crust is golden and filling is cooked through and bubbling. Cool pie on a rack.

To make Almond Cream: When ready to serve, whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Add remaining ingredients and whip until stiff. Serve dolloped on pieces of pie.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios® – www.KathyCasey.com

Posted by Kathy on August 7th, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in dessert, events, Foodie News, Fruit, KOMO Radio, Lifestyle, Recipes

Honey Varieties

Oh honey! That amazing sweet and flavorful product our wonderful bees give us!

I love bees, but I use to be afraid of them until I had a couple of hives in my urban garden and there were a LOT of bees! Honey bees go about their business and are busy, busy zooming around the everywhere. They are on a mission so make sure to not get in their flight path.

Did you know a bee will only produce about one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime? Wow!

The United States alone has 300+ varieties of honey. The variety depends on the type of blossom the bees are collecting nectar from. In the northwest, we have one of my all-time faves – blackberry honey!


My Liquid Kitchen 5130 Honey harvested from my Ballard urban garden!

If you are like me and love to whip up creative beverages and cocktails – then swap out your simple syrup for honey syrup – take 2 parts honey and 1 part hot water and mix together until they are combined. It will store for over a week in the refrigerator.

Try adding it to a summery drink like a tall Lemony Collins or a Watermelon Honey Limeade, or in a delicious salad dressing like below!

There are some great recipes on The National Honey Boards site as well as.

Cheers to a sweet summer! –Kathy

Local Greens with Blackberry Honey Vinaigrette, Toasted Hazelnuts & Chevre
Makes 4 servings

8 cups local, mixed baby greens
Blackberry Honey Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/2 cup fresh blackberries or raspberries
1/4 cup (1 ounce) chopped toasted hazelnuts
2 ounces chevre-style goat cheese, crumbled

Blackberry Honey Vinaigrette
1/4 cup fresh blackberries
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey such as wildflower or blackberry
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. canola oil or light olive oil
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate until needed. Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

To serve salad: Toss greens with dressing and divide among 4 plates. Scatter with berries, hazelnuts and goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios® – www.KathyCasey.com

Posted by Kathy on July 23rd, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Foodie News, Fruit, KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, salads

Fourth of July Cherries

Cherries just say summer to me and are perfect for this Red, White, & Blue holiday weekend. Cherry pie, cherry cocktails, cherry salad – I WANT IT ALL!

The only other challenge to cooking with cherries is pitting them. If you are pitting a lot of cherries, it’s best to get a large plunger pitter. I like the kind that clamps onto the side of a picnic table – the outdoors are the ideal place to do this messy chore.

Stem the cherries, then load up the hopper and start punching the plunger down. The only hitch is that, by the time you are finished, you are usually freckled with pink dots! So wear an old shirt—cherry stains are hard to get out, and this can sometimes be the pits!

For quick pitting projects, you can also use a wooden chopstick to poke out the pits.

This weekend try layering fresh pitted cherries with pieces of shortcake, whipped cream and some blueberries in little half pint jars for a d’lish Red, White, & Blue Cherry-Berry Shortcake! –Kathy

Red, White, Blue
Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios®.

Red, White, & Blue Cherry-Berry Shortcake
This recipe is super-cute layered in wide-mouth half pint canning jars for a country picnic theme. The recipe is best made up a couple of hours in advance and refrigerated. Top with whipped cream right before serving.

Makes 8 servings

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1/3 cup cherry or strawberry jam
8 shortcakes, torn into pieces OR 1 purchased pound cake, about 10.75 oz, cut into 1” cubes (about 5 cups)
1 pint fresh blueberries
3 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream
8 fresh cherries for garnish – or maraschino cherries

Pit the cherries, and cut them in half. Toss with the jam and let sit for 20 minutes.

Divide the cake between eight 10-oz glasses or wide mouth half-pint canning jars. Evenly distribute the cherries over the cake then scatter with the blueberries. Top each serving with whipped topping and garnish with a cherry.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios® – www.KathyCasey.com

Posted by Kathy on July 2nd, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Fruit, KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes

Strawberry Days

Strawberries really signal the beginning of summer. I can’t wait for the first big, juicy red berry of the season.

Probably the most popular way to enjoy strawberries (other than eaten from hand) is strawberry shortcake. Here’s a quick tip for my favorite take on the classic: Start with Fisher Fair Scone Mix, add in some chocolate chips, form them, and then sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake and serve with sliced fresh strawberries tossed with a touch of local honey, and a dollop of whip cream. For a truly decadent experience, add a splash of local berry liqueur to the whip cream! Yum!

On the non-dessert side, too, strawberries have multiple possibilities. In my Strawberry & Spinach Salad, I like to top them with thin slivers of sweet Walla Walla onion and glazed almonds, then dressed it all with a Lowfat Poppy Seed–Ginger Vinaigrette thickened with pureed strawberries – a light and refreshing summer salad.

If you don’t have strawberries of your own to pick, there are many choices around the Northwest for “U-Pick” strawberries. And if you have had a big day of picking but still haven’t eaten your fill while in the field, sit down and relax with a big, glistening bowl of just-picked juicy berries. -Kathy

Strawberry & Spinach Salad
Photo from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.

Strawberry & Spinach Salad with Sweet Onions and Poppy Seed–Ginger Vinaigrette
You can substitute toasted hazelnuts for the almonds. This salad is also excellent as an entrée salad, topped with grilled chicken cut into strips.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Vinaigrette
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup light olive oil or other salad oil
2 teaspoons poppy seed

Salad
3 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered, or another local berry, such as raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries
2 bunches spinach, stemmed, washed well, and spun dry (8 to 10 cups)
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet white onion, such as a Walla Walla Sweet
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

To make the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar, ginger, mustard, honey, sugar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil, emulsifying the vinaigrette. Stir in the poppy seed. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

To make the salad, toss the berries, spinach, and onion with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with almonds.

Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.

Posted by Kathy on May 11th, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Books to Cook, Fruit, KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, salads

Blending up a Signature Easter Brunch Cocktail

Looking for your signature Easter Brunch cocktail? The delicious & frothy Strawberry Silver Gin Fizz is a sure crowd pleaser and oh-so-spring looking! Delightfully pink and bright flavored, this drink is flash blended then finished with soda water for a fun and unique addition to your morning get-together. To make things easier, you can pre-batch the strawberries, sugar, gin, lemon, and egg white and keep refrigerated until ready to blend with the ice.

Happy Easter!

Strawberry_Silver_2
Photo by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®

Strawberry Silver Gin Fizz
Makes 4 – 6 servings

3/4 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup gin (or substitute vodka)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) freshly squeezed Sunkist Lemon juice
2 organic egg whites (or 2 ounces pasteurized egg whites)
1 cup ice
———————————
1/4 cup soda water, chilled
Garnish: fresh strawberries and lemon peel twists

In a large glass measuring cup combine the strawberries and the powdered sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Combine the macerated strawberries, gin, lemon juice, egg whites and ice in a high powered blender. Blend on high speed until smooth and all ice has been blended in. Add soda water to blender. Divide fizz between chilled glasses. Garnish with strawberries and lemon twists.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen® – www.LiquidKitchen.com

Posted by Kathy on April 3rd, 2015  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Cocktails, Fruit, Recent Posts, Recipes
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