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

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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

Lavender_lemonade

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)

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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)
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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

Looking For the Perfect Winter-Weather Treat? Have Some Cocoa!

The holidays might be over but winter isn’t, which means this is the perfect time to treat yourself to something unique like a cup of gourmet cocoa! There are so many ways to jazz up the classic cocoa and marshmallow combo. Hot chocolates are the perfect vehicle for not only warm fragrant spices — from cinnamon and nutmeg to cardamom, allspice and cloves — but also for pungent spices such as smoky chipotle chilies. My Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix combines chipotle chili powder, cinnamon and a touch of ground coriander and guarantees to warm you up quickly… an extra little kick of heat can’t go astray in the middle of winter!

I’d be remiss to not mention the opportunity to spice up your cocoa in a more libacious way. Frangelico and raspberry liqueur are the stars of my Grown-Up Nutty White Chocolate Raspberry Cocoa. Rich and creamy, this decadent alternative to plain cocoa makes a perfect after-dinner indulgence. Add some white chocolate whipped cream and there’s no need to serve up anything but this for dessert at your next dinner party.

Of course, I wouldn’t forget the purists out there! My go-to classic is My Mom’s “Old-School” Cocoa. This is the one that brings back my childhood memories: Mom warming milk over the stove in a pan and whisking in the Hershey’s cocoa… it doesn’t get cozier than that! This is also the perfect base to try experimenting with your own blends of cocoa and spices. Go ahead and get creative with your ingredients and your toppings. A little jar of your own signature cocoa mix is a perfect anytime gift, too.

So whether you’re a fan of the classic hot chocolate or want to jazz up your cocoa with some fun spices or liqueur, grab your favorite mug and head to the kitchen to mix up a cozy winter treat!
-Kathy

Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix
This is a fun twist on classic cocoa and the mix can be made and stored so you always have this spicy little treat on hand!
Makes 2 cups, enough for 10 to 12 servings

1 1/2 cups superfine or baker’s sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground chipotle chili powder
3/4 tsp 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 a month in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. Shake thoroughly before using to remix the ingredients.

To make 1 serving Cha Cha Hot Chocolate:
Place about 3 tablespoons Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix, or to taste, in a mug and add three-quarter cups hot milk, mixing well.

©2008 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Grown-Up Nutty White Chocolate Raspberry Cocoa
Talk about a deluxe treat; this cocoa combines rich white chocolate and raspberry liqueur for an after-dinner (or any time!) dessert!
Serves 4

3 cups milk
2/3 cup high-quality white chocolate chips or broken white chocolate bar
6 tablespoons raspberry liqueur*
6 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
Garnish: White Chocolate Cream, optional**

Additional garnishes can include shaved white chocolate, chopped toasted hazelnuts and fresh raspberries, or gourmet marshmallows*** or raspberry marshmallows instead of the whipped cream.

Fill serving cups with very hot water to warm them while you start the cocoa.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until warmed. Add the white chocolate chips and whisk until melted. Add the liqueurs and heat mixture until hot, but not over 140 degrees.

Pour the hot water out of the cups and fill with the cocoa. Top with dollops of White Chocolate Cream and garnish.

Chef’s Notes:
*Be sure to use a high-quality raspberry liqueur or imported raspberry or berry liqueur as many raspberry schnapps-style liqueurs are high in acid and will curdle the milk.
**To make White Chocolate Cream: Place 1/3 cup heavy cream in a small bowl and whisk vigorously until soft peaks are just beginning to form. Add 1 tablespoon white crème de cacao liqueur and whisk until peaked.
***Gourmet handmade marshmallows are carried in the bakery department of upscale grocers.

©2008 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

My Mom’s “Old-School” Cocoa
This is the quintessential classic hot chocolate – a warm, delicious, easy-to-make chocolate fix!
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 big marshmallows

Place milk in a small heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and sugar, then whisk into the milk to incorporate. Add vanilla and heat until hot but not overheated. Do not boil. Serve in mugs and top with marshmallows

©2008 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy Casey on January 27th, 2011  |  Comments Off on Looking For the Perfect Winter-Weather Treat? Have Some Cocoa! |  Posted in appetizers, dessert, other, Recent Posts, Snacks

Melons

With their crisp, cool and refreshing qualities, melons evoke the essence of summer pleasure. We enjoy them simply chilled and eaten as hand-to-mouth wedges, as colorful melon-ball skewers for utensil-free eating at outdoor barbecues, or injected with tequila, vodka or rum for libationary delight.

When I asked friends and coworkers for some fun melon-eating stories, there were plenty: half-cantaloupes filled with vanilla ice cream or cottage cheese for an old-fashioned lunch; family picnics where rotund green watermelons were cooled in nearby streams; and seasoning rituals, such as a Mexican friend’s lime, salt and chili powder.

Ripe, juicy and cold melons are of course delicious when eaten just naked—but they perform well when starring in recipes, too. For those of you who have never tasted pickled melon, here’s a recipe for Sweet, Sour & Spicy Melon Balls. For a nice light supper on a hot day, pair these with some thinly sliced prosciutto, a green salad dressed with a fruit-vinegar vinaigrette, and a great loaf of bread.

There’s nothing like summer’s fresh melons to cool you off. Enjoy them while you can!

Sweet, Sour & Spicy Melon Balls

Makes 3 pints

3 cups cantaloupe balls (see Chef’s Notes)
3 cups honeydew melon balls
3 large sprigs fresh basil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
3/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp kosher salt

Toss melon balls together. Fill three 1-pint, wide mouth jars with the melon balls, tucking a basil sprig into each jar.

In a non-aluminum saucepan combine all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

When mixture is cool, evenly pour over the jars of melon balls, filling to top and being sure to cover the fruit completely. Cover with lids and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating. The melon balls will keep for about 2 weeks, refrigerated.

Chef’s Notes:

  • Use ripe but firm melons.
  • To make melon balls: Cut melon in half and scoop out seeds. With a melon ball gadget, scoop out balls. (I used the large size baller.)

© 2010 Kathy Casey Food Studios – www.kathycasey.com

Posted by Kathy Casey on August 19th, 2010  |  Comments (2) |  |  Posted in Fruit, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snacks
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