Many people think of lavender as scenting soaps, spa treatments and perfumes. This flower is well-known for its calming and relaxing properties, but lavender has also enjoyed a long history in the culinary world. In fact, it is experiencing quite resurgence lately. Chefs, bakers and mixologists alike are using this member of the mint family to spruce up savory dishes, sweets, and cocktails.

Lavender is best used sparingly to let its fragrant flavour subtly shine – and not to overpower. When added to an herbaceous seasoning mix like Herbs De Provence, it gives a unique note to grilled proteins like chicken or pork.

Close-up of lavender growing in my urban garden!

A sprinkle of lavender into your favorite sugar cookie recipe adds a delicious floral note, like in my Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Cookies.

For a super-refreshing drink, whip up my Lavender-Mint Lime Cooler – drink it over ice or with a splash of gin, vodka or silver rum for summertime sipping perfection!

If you appreciate lavender as much as I do, be sure to check out the Sequim Lavender Festival. It’s a lavender-lover’s dream with tours of the local lavender fields, delicious lavender-infused foods and drinks as well as tons of sweet-scented goods and wares. It runs from July 20th to the 22nd – don’t miss this fun festival!

Here’s to lavender! -Kathy

Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Cookies
A wonderful not-too-sweet cookie with big flavor.

Makes 12 cookies

1 stick butter, softened
2 tsp fresh lavender
1 Tbsp. lemon zest, finely minced
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. local honey

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter, lavender,  lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the flour and mix until just combined. Add the honey and then mix until dough just comes together.

With lightly floured hands roll dough into a 2” round cylinder and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until well chilled.

When ready to bake preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice dough into 12 even slices with a sharp knife and place on a baking sheet pan.

Bake shortbread in middle of oven approx. 10 minutes or until bottom of cookies are pale golden. Remove from oven and remove cookies to a cooling rack.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Lavender-Mint Lime Cooler
Zesty lime syrup with fresh lavender and mint make for a refreshing drink, perfect for any patio party or sunny afternoon.

Makes 7 cups – serves 8 to 10

3 Tbsp. finely minced lime zest (with no white pith)*
8 – 10 large sprigs fresh lavender
8 large sprigs fresh mint
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed Paramount Citrus Lime juice
3 cups water (or substitute soda water if serving right away)
Garnish: lime wheels and fresh lavender sprigs

Combine the zest, lavender, mint, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a quick boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the mint to steep and the syrup to cool.

Remove and discard mint from syrup. In a large pitcher, combine the cooled syrup, lime juice, and water. Serve over ice in a tall glass garnished with lime wheels and mint. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

* Zest is the outer peel of the fruit – with no white pith attached. You can remove the zest from the fruit with a fine zesting tool that makes long, very thin, pretty strands, or you can peel off the zest with an ordinary potato peeler, being careful not to get any white pith, and then finely mince it.

Recipe developed by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen™

· Liquid Kitchen

Posted by Kathy Casey on July 12th, 2012  |  Comments Off on Lavender |  Posted in Cocktails, dessert, Foodie News, Fruit, KOMO Radio, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snacks

Easter Leftovers? No Problem!

With the Easter holiday fast approaching, it’s time to load up on all the goodies to fill up those delightful baskets: marshmallowy Peeps® (which now comes in chocolate!), brightly colored jellybeans, the classic chocolate bunny and of course, colorful and decorated hard-boiled eggs.

Aren’t they just egging you on?

Once all the goodies have been found (we hope!) and eaten, what do you do with all of the extra Easter bounty? Turn them into other d’lish goodies!

Have extra Peeps on hand? Well, they’re perfect to melt into my Jelly-Bean Rice Crispy Tweeps. I love to rip their heads and use them for “garnish!”

Peep garnished Tweeps!

For the adults, grab a few of those chocolate bunnies and stir yourself up some Bunny’Licious Chocolate Mocha Fondue using a splash of your favorite liqueur or shot of espresso. Serve with an assortment of fruits for dipping or some of those leftover Peeps.

With all those extra eggs, how about an egg salad sandwiches? I like to add a little curry twist with my Springtime Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches. Then top it off with a tasty garnish of thinly sliced radish and cucumber – oh – so springy!

Grab those extra Easter goodies and cook up some springtime fun! -Kathy

Peep & Jelly-Bean Rice Crispy Tweeps
Makes 30 treats

3 Tbsp. butter
6  packages yellow Peeps®  – 30 peeps(you can use bunnies too for pink treats)
6 cups Rice Krispies® cereal
1 cup small jellybeans

Pull 30 of the peeps heads off and set aside for garnish.

In a large sauce pan heat butter over low heat melt the butter until melted. Then add peeps and stir over low heat until melted. Then stir in rice crispies and jellybeans. Stir until cereal is well coated and jellybeans are distributed.

Place mixture in a pan sprayed 8”x8” baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and press down to compact the crispy treats. Let set for at least 15 minutes before serving. To serve cut (5×6) into 30 squares.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Bunny’licious Chocolate Mocha Fondue
Makes 4 servings

6 ounces of left-over chocolate bunnies
1/4 cup hot, strong brewed coffee
1 tablespoon liquor such as: Grand Marnier, ameretto or Frangelico  liqueur (optional)

For dipping: fresh fruit for dipping cut into chunks, such as: pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, apple wedges and oranges

Other fun things for dipping are: pound cake chunks, holiday cookies, small chocolate chip cookies, other candy such as Peeps® …..

Break up or cut bunnies in small pieces (chocolate chip size)  into a  glass or ceramic bowl and pour hot coffee over them. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. If coffee is not hot enough to melt chocolate, then microwave  for 10 seconds. Stir in liqueur if desired.

Transfer mixture to a fondue pot or pretty bowl and serve warm with long forks and lots of goodies for dipping.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Springtime Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches
Makes 4 sandwiches

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (see procedure)
2 Tbsp.very thinly sliced green onions
2 Tbsp.1/8-inch-diced red onion
2 Tbsp. 1/8-inch-diced celery
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise (regular or light)
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
Coarse ground black pepper


8 slices high-quality tender bread such as brioche, Macrina potato bread, or egg bread
butter lettuce leaves
16 very thin slices of peeled cucumber
4 red radishes, very, very thinly sliced

Chop hard-boiled eggs to nice 1/4-inch pieces, good for making the egg salad. In a bowl, mix chopped eggs with green onion, red onion, celery, and curry powder until evenly distributed. Mix in mayonnaise gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Divide and spread the egg salad evenly among 4 slices of the bread. Layer on the lettuce and cucumber and radish slices, dividing evenly, and close the sandwiches.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy Casey on March 29th, 2012  |  Comments Off on Easter Leftovers? No Problem! |  Posted in dessert, KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, salads, sides, Snacks

Cozy Up with Cocoas!

Sipping hot cocoa brings up cozy, winter memories for me: Now that’s a hot cocoa! (Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios®)my mom mixing up Hershey’s cocoa powder with warm milk and a dash of cinnamon (or vanilla) in her old copper-bottomed Reverewear pan. Ooh and my favorite part! The big fluffy marshmallow floating on top… yum!

I still love making My Mom’s “Old School” Cocoa when it’s freezing out. Kids of all ages love it when they need something to warm up with or to relax to.

Cocoa is the perfect vehicle for flavor experimenting from fragrant spices like cinnamon and cloves to the totally unexpected profiles like Indian curry and cardamom.

For the recipes, continue reading on Amazon’s Al Dente Blog.

Posted by Kathy Casey on January 27th, 2012  |  Comments Off on Cozy Up with Cocoas! |  Posted in Amazon, dessert, other, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snacks

Holiday Pairings: Purity Punch & Warm Almond-Crusted Brie with Apple Chutney

Looking for a quick and easy holiday sip and app for Purity Punch & Warm Almond Crusted Brie Crostini with Apple Chutney
your next party?

Well, a punch is the perfect solution. You can make them in advance (like my Purity Punch) and then just serve up over ice or let guests help themselves. (Make sure you have a nice punch bowl to serve it in like this one!) Serve with Warm Almond Crusted Brie Crostini with Apple Chutney (as seen to the right alongside my Purity Punch; Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios® – Liquid Kitchen) makes for a perfect pairing. Happy Holidays! – Kathy

For the recipes, continue reading on Amazon’s Al Dente Blog.

Posted by Kathy Casey on December 20th, 2011  |  Comments Off on Holiday Pairings: Purity Punch & Warm Almond-Crusted Brie with Apple Chutney |  Posted in Amazon, appetizers, Cocktails, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snacks

The Seattle Times

If you’re looking for other great tips, techniques and advice as well as recipes for a fantastic Thanksgiving Day feast, check out the annual Seattle Times’ holiday guide written by Nancy Leson. This guide along with the recipes features a lot of tips and tricks from Seattle chefs and restauranteurs (including myself!), with all sorts of appetizers, entrees, sides and even desserts! Check it out for a d’lish read and try out some of the recipes yourself; you’ll have your guests asking for more in no time!

Posted by Kathy Casey on November 16th, 2011  |  Comments Off on The Seattle Times |  Posted in Restaurants, appetizers, dessert, Foodie News, Fruit, Lifestyle, meats, poultry, Recent Posts, Recipes, seafood, sides, Snacks

Brighten Up Back-to-School Lunches

September is here, which means it’s back to school and the question is “what’s for lunch”? For your kids, that is! This school year, hold the bologna and PB & J and put a fun twist on the old favorites in their lunchbox.

To make lunchtime unique for them and easy for you, why not pick up some prepared veggie sushi rolls at the grocery store? Mix a little (not too spicy) sweet chili sauce with some soy for dipping and you have a faboo meal that your kids will love! Pack them some cute plastic chopsticks (or those disposable wooden ones from take-out that we all have in our kitchen drawer!) to make it even more fun.

Next, let’s talk sandwiches – lettuce and tomatoes can get soggy, soggy, soggy! Instead, try some crisp cucumbers, flavorful roasted peppers or even some fresh arugula for tucking in. You can turn ordinary sandwiches into wraps for a fantastic portable lunch and a great way to incorporate leftovers such as roasted chicken.

You can get creative with spreads too; pesto, hummus, almond butter, light mayo mixed with fresh herbs… even artichoke parmesan dip makes a good smear! Just be mindful of your school’s allergy regulations as you send your kids off with their lunch bags.

For a healthy snack alternative, pack up some fresh snow or snap peas – they are super-crunchy, healthy and lots of fun to munch on. If you like sending fruit along, try Cuties Kebabs with Honey Mint Yogurt Dip for a sweet treat. Juicy strawberries, tangy-sweet clemetine segments and fresh mint make a delicious combo and the honey yogurt dip is the perfect accompaniment!

So whatever you pack up for lunch this school year, make it d’lish! -Kathy

Cuties Kebabs with Honey Mint Yogurt Dip
Makes 8 kebabs

4 Cuties clementines
2 large strawberries, quartered, or 8 raspberries
8 fresh mint leaves
8 (6-inch) fun picks or skewers, such as bamboo


Honey Mint Yogurt Dip (recipe follows)

Peel Cuties then cut in half crosswise. Cut each half into 4 chunks. Thread onto a skewer in order: 2 chunks of Cuties, 1 piece of strawberry, 1 mint leaf and then finish with 2 additional chunks of Cuties. Repeat with remaining skewers. Serve with the dip of your choice.

Honey Mint Yogurt Dip

Makes 1/3 cup

1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
3/4 tsp finely minced Cuties zest

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until needed.

Recipes by Kathy Casey

Posted by Kathy Casey on September 8th, 2011  |  Comments Off on Brighten Up Back-to-School Lunches |  Posted in dessert, Fruit, KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, sides, Snacks

Lovely Lavender!

Lavender has been used in the culinary world for centuries and is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, with today’s creative chefs looking to this member of the mint family to spice up cocktails and savory dishes as well as add delicate elegance to sweeter offerings. You can dress up a summery pitcher of lemonade with lavender simple syrup – one part water, one part sugar and fresh lavender flowers brought to a boil and cooled. Pretty lavender flowers are also fantastic to freeze into ice cubes. Or how about making a super easy lavender sugar – deliciously sprinkled on fresh fruits or as an elegant gift dressed up in a jar. Just toss lavender flowers in sugar, let it dry out, then process in a CuisinArt! Don’t forget – lavender is a favorite for busy bees… plant some in a pot and help out our native pollinators!

If you love lavender as much as I do, be sure to check out The 15th Annual Sequim Lavender Festival, happening Friday, July 15th through Sunday, July 17th. Vendors will be serving up lots of lavender inspired eats such as crab cocktail with lavender spiked salsa, lavender wine, Little O’s Mini Donuts sprinkled with Lavender Sugar, lavender dessert crepes, hand-crafted funnel cakes with lavender infused honey and cream and  lavender cotton candy! There will be a street fair as well as lovely walking tours of seven different lavender farms! Sounds sweet to me!

There’s  so much you can do with this fragrant flower.  Have fun experimenting and I hope you will try out the recipes below for Lavender Lemon Soda from lavender queen Kathy Ghert and my recipe for Succulent Summer Stone Fruits with Lavender Infused Honey Syrup! –Kathy


Photo by Brian Smale, from Discover Cooking with Lavender

Lavender Lemon Soda
This recipe is from Kathy Gehrt’s book, Discover Cooking With Lavender, it’s great to make for a crowd and is excellent with a splash of vodka or gin for those that imbibe.

Makes 4-6 Servings

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp fresh lavender flowers

1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
25.3 fluid ounces sparkling mineral water
Ice cubes

Combine water, sugar and lavender in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over gentle heat. Remove pan from stove and let mixture steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain out flowers and chill the syrup until you are ready to use it.

Combine lavender syrup with lemon juice and pour 1/2 cup of this liquid into an ice-filled glass. Fill the glass with sparkling mineral water and stir. Serve immediately.

© Kathy Gehrt, Discover Cooking with Lavender, Florentia Press

Succulent Summer Stone Fruits with Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup
A great way to use up that lavender from the big plant in your yard. This syrup is easy to make and is just the thing to give fresh fruit a special touch, Make extra lavender infused honey syrup to give as pretty gifts. Seal in small bottles and tie a fresh lavender flower to each bottle.

Makes about 6 servings

Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup
1/2 cup high-quality honey, preferably local
1/2 cup water
8 fresh lavender flowers, unsprayed, and rinsed (or use 1 tablespoon dried)


About 4 cups assorted fresh, ripe stone fruits, prepared as follows before measuring:
Peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into wedge
Large apricots, pitted and cut into wedges
Plums, pitted and cut into wedges
Nectarines, pitted and cut into wedges
Dark or light sweet cherries, pitted

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh lavender flowers for garnish, optional

To make the Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup: In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the honey, water, and lavender flowers. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, being careful that the mixture does not foam up. Simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture is like thin pancake syrup. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Strain into a glass jar, cover, and reserve. The syrup will keep, covered, at room temperature for 2 weeks.

To assemble and serve: In a large bowl, toss the fruit first with the lemon juice, then with the Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup. Serve in pretty glasses or fruit dishes, garnished with fresh lavender flowers if desired.

Recipe © Kathy Casey

Posted by Kathy Casey on July 8th, 2011  |  Comments Off on Lovely Lavender! |  Posted in Books to Cook, Cocktails, dessert, Fruit, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snacks

Raspberry Macarons – a Beautiful Spring Treat

For some reason, the French Macaron has developed a bit of a reputation as a tough cookie… to make, that is. This is due to the fact that they can be a little finicky, requiring more attention to detail than a regular cookie. They need to sit out before baking (long enough to form the perfect skin), the batter should flow like lava and don’t forget the coveted ‘feet’ that have to form in the oven.  Like anything, though, practice makes perfect and once you’ve mastered them, the doors are wide open! The great thing about these divine treats is that they are infinitely customizable; you can flavor them to your heart’s content and fill them with just about anything you can think of. While there are some traditional flavors like pistachio, vanilla and chocolate, the macaron is the perfect vehicle to try new and unexpected combinations.

Personally, I love raspberries, so I can’t think of anything tastier than some super-fun Raspberry Macarons with Pink Champagne Buttercream filling! This recipe was created by my Food Studio associate Jessica Duncan – an avid baker!  These are a sweet, pretty little treats that practically beg to be set out for anything from a birthday party, a bridal shower or an afternoon tea party. Even better, surprise mom on Mother’s day with this beautiful sweet treat! The tartness of the raspberry plays wonderfully against the smooth sweetness of the buttercream. Pink sanding sugar sprinkled on top gives them a little extra bling – fabulous!

So forget what you’ve heard about troublesome macarons and give Jessica’s recipe a try – your go-to dessert list will gain a sweet addition you won’t regret!  -Kathy

Raspberry Macarons with Pink Champagne Buttercream
Food Studio culinary associate Jessica Duncan loves to bake sweet treats – her passion for macrons is almost rivaled by her love of cupcakes. She shares her recipe with us today. Thank you Jessica!

Makes about 35 macarons

4 egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup almond flour
1 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/8 cup super-fine sugar
1 Tbsp. strained raspberry puree
3-4 drops pink gel food coloring
1/8 cup pink sanding sugar (available at cookie and cake decorating stores)
Pink Champagne Buttercream (recipe follows)

Separate your egg whites and, in a covered bowl, let them come up to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse together almond flour and powdered sugar until fine powdered, then sift thoroughly. Set aside.

In an electric mixer on medium speed, mix whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and whip whites to soft peaks. Be sure not to over-mix at this point to avoid macarons being too dry.

Reduce mixer to low speed and incorporate super-fine sugar, increase to high speed and whip mix to stiff, glossy peaks, about 8 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer and sift dry ingredients in 1/3 at a time, very gently folding in with the egg whites until just incorporated. Add pureed raspberry and food coloring and fold in. Test a teaspoon of your batter on a plate – if it smoothes out immediately, your batter is ready. If there are still peaks, whisk on low for another 30-45 seconds.

Transfer batter carefully to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch, round tip. Avoid over-handling the batter as it can begin to deflate. On a sheet tray lined with parchment, pipe out 3/4″ rounds, (at least 1 inch apart) being sure to pull the tip to the side rather than leaving a small peak in the center. Tap the baking sheet firmly to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle generously with pink sanding sugar. Let sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes, or until a skin forms on the rounds.

Bake about 10 – 12 minutes or until macarons are just firm, but not browning. Baking time may vary depending on your oven, so watch them closely. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool completely – at least 30 minutes. Remove carefully and sort macarons into same-sized pairs.

Transfer buttercream frosting to a piping bag with a 1/4-inch round tip. Pipe a 1/2″ round of filling on to a macaron and sandwich together with its mate. Serve immediately or store at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to three months between sheets of parchment.

Pink Champagne Buttercream
Makes about 3 cups

2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 Tbsp. champagne or sparkling wine
8 oz butter (two sticks), room temperature
1-2 drops pink gel food coloring

Bring a medium pot (one that your bowl will set on) of water to a simmer.

Meanwhile; in a heat-safe bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), whisk the eggs by hand until light and foamy. Add the sugar, salt and champagne. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk until the mixture registers 160 F degrees on a candy thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Test the texture between your fingers – it should be smooth, not grainy.

Remove bowl from heat and place on the counter –or attach to stand mixer. With an electric mixer use the whisk/beater attachment, mix on medium speed until the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5-6 minutes.

Increase to medium-high speed and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce to medium speed and one piece at a time, incorporate butter until mixture has come together to a thick frosting consistency. Mix in food coloring to desired intensity. Use immediately. (You can refrigerate covered for up to 3 days – just bring to room temperature before using and give it a few turns with a mixer to fluff it up).
Recipe by Jessica Duncan

Posted by Kathy Casey on May 4th, 2011  |  Comments Off on Raspberry Macarons – a Beautiful Spring Treat |  Posted in dessert, Recent Posts, Snacks