DIY hands-on dinner parties are always fun, interactive and convenient when it comes to dietary restrictions and preferences. It’s also a great way to answer that age old party question, “What can I do to help?”
One of my fave kinds of food parties is a taco fiesta! You can offer a variety of meat and vegetarian options, such as slow cooked chili-pork to ginger-lime marinated chicken and cumin grilled squash. Or go coastal and grill up some shrimp or Alaska cod filets! For your veggie friends, be sure to have slow simmered garlicky black beans or cilantro studded quinoa.
Set out a variety of cheeses like queso fresco, feta, or goat cheese and lots of fresh salsas from red to green to tropical (think diced mango & pineapples, etc.). Offer up soft flour tortillas and corn tortillas for the gluten free gang.
Pickly or crunchy add ins like my Red Onion Escabeche Veggies or shaved green cabbage are a must and are great to top my Chili & Lime Slow Cooked Pork tacos.
And don’t forget to serve it all up with a cool pitcher of margaritas, chilled beers and Sparkling Limeade!
So get your fiesta on with friends and make your next get together a DIY taco party! –Kathy
Photo from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.
Chili & Lime Slow-Cooked Pork with Red Onion Escabeche and Warm Tortillas
Makes 6 hearty servings
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon coriander seed, crushed
1 tablespoon salt
1 boneless pork butt (shoulder), about 3 pounds, cut into 2 pieces
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 large carrots, julienned
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons corn or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (about 1 bunch)
1 teaspoon salt
Warm corn tortillas
Salsa or freshly made pico de gallo
Queso fresco (Mexican-style fresh cheese)
Fresh cilantro sprigs
To prepare the pork, mix the chili powder, coriander seed, and salt in a large, shallow bowl. Roll the pork in the mixture, taking up all the seasoning.
Put the pork in a slow-cooker, add the remaining ingredients, and set the cooker on high. Let cook for 8 hours—or up to 10 hours if you’re still at work!
When ready to serve, mix the escabeche ingredients well, then place in a serving dish. Shred the pork and place in a large serving bowl with some of the cooking liquid.
Serve the pork with the escabeche and accompaniments. Diners build their own “soft tacos,” then squeeze lime juice over the filling before folding.
Chef’s Note: To heat tortillas, place them, one by one, on a dry skillet over medium-high heat and turn frequently. As they are heated, slip them between the folds of a clean dish towel or cloth napkin. Wrap the towel in foil (or put into a small casserole dish and cover) to steam in their own heat and moisture. Or, microwave the tortillas very briefly and put into a napkin as above. Or, wrap several tortillas in a foil packet and steam them in a steamer until just heated through; use directly from the foil or wrap in a towel as described above.
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.
3 Tbsp. finely minced lime zest (with no white pith)
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
3 cups chilled sparkling water
Garnish: long fresh lemon and lime zest twists
Combine the zest, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a quick boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute then remove from heat and let cool.
In a large pitcher combine the cooled sugar syrup, lime juice and the sparkling water.
Serve over ice and garnish with citrus twists.
Photo and recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.
This cocktail incorporates fresh, sweet strawberries with fragrant basil and works great with either vodka or gin. This drink is versatile; it can be strained and served up in a nice martini-style glass or served on the rocks in an Old Fashioned-style glass.
Getting in the kitchen with kids is always fun; they make the best little sous chefs! I started cooking early with my mom and grandma – peeling fuzzy peaches and kneading breads (into fun shapes and characters). My all-time favorite task: adding lots of sprinkles on the cookies! Letting kids help prepare meals is also a great way to get around picky-eating habits, and get them interested in fun, healthy food too!
Are you throwing a kids’ party? A variety of interactive nibbles is terrific to serve. Try my Garden Ranch ‘n’ Veggie Deviled Eggs. These eggs are easy to whip up with ranch dressing. Kids will love to help peel and fill the eggs and sprinkle on the colorful, crunchy carrot and celery garnish.
Growing up, I always loved a classic Shirley Temple. My sweet twist on this recipe makes for a perfect treat or dessert! My Shirley Temple Cupcakes incorporates lemon-lime soda and maraschino cherries folded into no-fuss white cake! The kids will love to frost and garnish these deliciously adorable treats!
So put an apron on the kids and cook up some fun together! –Kathy
Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios®
Garden Ranch ’n’ Veggie Deviled Eggs
Whether its after-school snack time or a backyard birthday party, these tasty little eggs are easy to make with the kids. The veggie topping adds a fun crunch.
1 dozen hard-cooked eggs (recipe follows)
1/2 cup pre-made ranch dressing
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp minced red bell pepper
2 Tbsp minced celery
2 Tbsp minced carrot
2 Tbsp pre-made ranch dressing
Halve the eggs lengthwise and transfer the yolks to a mixing bowl. Set the egg white halves on a platter, cover, and refrigerate.
With a fork, mash the yolks to a smooth consistency. Add the ranch dressing and parsley, and mix until smooth. (You can also do this in a mixing bowl with a whip attachment.)
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain or large star tip, then pipe the mixture evenly into the egg white halves. Or fill the eggs with a spoon, dividing the filling evenly.
To make the topping, in a small bowl, mix the bell pepper, celery, and carrot together. Top each egg half with 1/4 teaspoon of the ranch dressing and a sprinkle of the veggie mixture.
1 dozen large chicken eggs
Place the eggs in a large nonreactive saucepan and add cold water to 1 inch above the eggs. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. Remove from the stove and run cool water over the eggs in the pan until they are cooled. When cool, carefully peel them under running water.
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s D’Lish Deviled Eggs, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios®
Shirley Temple Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
1 box (18.25 oz) super-moist white cake mix
1 1/4 cups lemon-lime soda*
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries (about 12 cherries)
1 container (12 oz) white frosting
Garnish: 36 maraschino cherries, halved
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners and set aside.
Place the cake mix, soda, oil and egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in the chopped cherries.
Fill each lined cupcake cup 3/4 full with batter. Place pans in oven on a lower rack. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Frost each cupcake and decorate each cupcake with 3 cherry halves.
Cook’s Note: This recipe uses a 10–12 oz jar of maraschino cherries.
* Such as 7-UP, Sprite or Sierra Mist.
Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®
As we’ve all heard, eating a healthy breakfast is important. It’s the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting your metabolism revved up for the day. But some of us just don’t have time to get it together in the mornings (especially without that first cup of joe!). Now, this is where smoothies come in!
Dust off your blender (I love my Vitamix!) then add in either fat-free yogurt or protein powder, some of your favorite fruits either fresh or frozen and filtered water. But don’t stop there!
Try new additions like matcha powder, flax seeds, goji berries, and even trusty peanut butter; these all are great smoothie boosters.
“Green” smoothies are ever popular these days, but don’t let the color fool you. They’re super healthy! I like to make mine with organic “green” juice, some protein powder, half a ripe banana to add natural sweetness, then blend it all up with half a peeled orange and add in more greens with handful of kale! Yes, it looks like Shrek made it – but it’s a great way to start your day and you’ll feel green goodness coursing through you!
For other smoothie-inspired recipes, check out my blogging friend Healthy Blender Recipes‘ recipe for VEGA Vegan Banana Vanilla Chai Green Protein Smoothie – wowza! -Kathy
Kathy’s Jump-Start Smoothie
Makes 1 serving
1/2 cup frozen fruits or fresh fruits
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp agave nectar (or sub honey for another all natural sweetener)
1/2 cup ice cubes
1/2 – 1 tsp flax seed (the more seeds – the more “texture”)
1 fresh kale leaf (optional)
Place ingredients in the order above and blend until smooth. Enjoy your healthy start to a great day!
Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®
Thanks to Washington’s amazingly diverse agricultural community, we are blessed with loads of farmers markets. Shopping for local products means you get the best of the best at the peak of its season!
They are also a great place to pick up produce you might not have tried before like nettles (great for flavorful soup) or freshly picked wild morel mushrooms to sauté serve alongside a sizzling steak, or make a rich sauce to top halibut!
Of course, downtown’s famous Pike Place Market is always a fun trip, but hey — new farmers markets are popping up all the time. Check out www.SeattleFarmersMarkets.org to see what’s new in the city!
Before you venture out, here are a few helpful tips:
-Wear comfortable shoes
-Have a couple of large reusable grocery bags with you (for all your great finds!)
-Bring cash (it’ll make the experience quicker and easier)
-My biggest tip is to carry a small notebook to record cooking notes and varietal info from the growers
So get out there and support local farmers markets! Don’t forget to leave a note on this blog with some of your favorite market finds. I would love to hear all about them! –Kathy
Pan-Roasted Halibut with Morel Mushroom Cream
The morel, one of the richest-tasting wild mushrooms, is a spring delight after long NW winters. Just a few morels will do you in a recipe, for their flavor is intense. Serve with sautéed fresh pea vines.
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 cup coarse chopped fresh morel mushrooms (about 3 ounces), or 1/2 ounce dried morels, soaked in the white wine and then chopped
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
4 skinless halibut fillet portions (6 to 8 ounces each)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh chives for garnishing
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the shallot, garlic, and mushrooms, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until the shallot is translucent and mushrooms are tender. Add the brandy and wine and cook to reduce for about 5 minutes. Add the cream and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and slowly simmer, stirring often, for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced to about 1 – 1 1/4 cups and lightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth but with some texture still, about 30 seconds; be careful, because the sauce is very hot. Set aside and keep warm.
To cook the fish, preheat an oven to 450°F. Season the halibut with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in a large, heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the fillets until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the fish until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillets.
To serve, place the fillets on warm plates spoon the sauce over them. Garnish with chives.
Chef’s Note: Prized halibut cheeks would be a tasty alternative when available. They range in size from 3 ounces to up to 1 pound each, depending on the size of the fish.
Recipe adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.
My 10th cookbook D’Lish Deviled Eggs has HATCHED! Deviled eggs are always a party favorite and the first to fly off the table. With 54 tried-and-tested (thanks KCFS team!) recipes, my new book takes my love for this people-pleasing appetizer from traditional to creative. From the Classic Picnic-Style to Beet’ing Heart, there is definitely an egg recipe for everyone. Yum! One of my absolute favorite recipes from D’Lish Deviled Eggs is my “California Roll” Deviled Egg”, topped with Alaska King crab – YUM! Try this one out for a sushi-twist! And for more d’lish egg recipes and tips, check out my new website www.DLishDeviledEggs.com for all things Deviled Eggs!
“California Roll” Deviled Eggs – D’lish!
(Book Cover & photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios from D’Lish Deviled Eggs)
For more D’Lish Deviled Egg tips, check out my segment on King 5’s New Day Northwest.
Behind the scenes at New Day Northwest!
Out to revolutionize the way people learn how to cook (while also learning about wine and make cocktails of course!), Culination is a cool new e-learning platform that is mobile/tablet friendly, very engaging, and will work with voice command as well. But the Culination team needs your help! If you’re interested and want to learn fun recipes from taste makers like myself, Thirsty Girl’s Leslie Sbrocco, restaurateur Ethan Stowell, PBS cooking veteran Joanne Weir, award winning chef Jason Wilson and others, then help spread the word and donate through the Indiegogo Campaign. Even $5 will help. So please join us and become a Culinator!
If you want to hear all about it in detail then check out pal Siiri Sampson’s blog for the whole scoop!
Since January, it has been non-stop traveling and great events like Speed Rack – Seattle! Speed Rack is a Sassy National Competition created by and for female bartenders, pitting them against each other in a round robin style timed challenge – check out this video teaser on YouTube.
Alongside fellow guest judges Rob Roy’s Anu Apte, Drink Boy’s Robert Hess, and Pegu Club’s Audrey Saunders, we watched, tasted and critiqued as these mistresses behind the bar worked their cocktail magic.
The finals are coming up this month in New York – so if you’re in the area on May 16th, come cheer on the finalists! Make sure to get your tickets soon.
The Northwest Speed Rack Ladies!
Shortly right after, it was time to fly out the door again – from St. Louis to Boston and then to Las Vegas for the industry annual VIBE Conference! Hosted in the always faboo Las Vegas, this annual event brings in spirits industry leaders and taste makers for a jam-packed two days full of seminars, panels, presentations…and of course tastings!
At the opening Pour It On reception, we teamed up with Monin and William Grant & Sons and crafted a crowd favorite: the Berries & Brimstone cocktail featuring Monin’s new Hickory Smoke Syrup.
Shaking up a Berries & Brimstone!
(Photos by Ernie Sapiro)
First, we mixed the smoke syrup with Everclear to make a flammable mist. We dropped a dry bay leaf into an Old Fashioned glass, spritzed it liberally with the mist, and flamed it to char the leaf. Then we shook up Milagro Reposado tequila and a few fresh blackberries with fresh lime and Monin Blackberry… then poured it over the flaming leaf. This process added a rich layer of flavor to the drink, balancing the sweet, tart and savory.
The following day, I teamed up with my Liquid Kitchen associate Dänny Ronen and bar managers/mixologists Matt Seiter from Sancturia in St. Louis and Kevin Diedrich from Jasper’s Corner Tap in San Francisco, to present a panel on one of the hottest up-and-coming trends – Tapping Potential: Cocktails On Tap!
Seminar in session
(Photos by Heather Jones and Ernie Sapiro)
Kevin and Matt did a “live demo” on tapping a cocktail, and then Liquid Kitchen’s Heather Jones proceeded to serve over 60 cocktails in just a few minutes. The whole process from the tapping demo to serving cocktails in front of the attendees was less than 7 minutes – now that’s some fast service!
Cocktails on Tap Panel with Matt, Dänny, Kevin and myself.
(Photo courtesy of Ernie Sapiro)
And to top off a great week the Fairmont Hotel’s & Resort won the VIBE Vista award for Best Spirits Program for Hotels, Cruise Lines, & Casinos for their FAME program (that Liquid Kitchen created and has managed since 2006) – exciting!!!
Congrats to the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts for winning 2013 Best Spirits Program award!
Next it was off to Driscoll’s berry farms with an amazing group of top bloggers. I absolutely love berries so I was definitely in berry-licious heaven while learning a lot about berries. We got to taste new varieties of berries right in the fields and met the young “Dr. Strawberry” who shared with us how they are constantly improving Driscoll’s berry varieties – sweeeet! Check out my blog for my tasty Billowing Strawberry Poppy Seed Layer Cake and Strawberry Shag Cocktail recipes.
The next day the group headed to the annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine. I really enjoyed meeting and hanging out with some of my favorite bloggers like the Intoxicologist, Blender Girl, Food in Jars, and Health & Wellness expert Ani Phyo during this tasty weekend full of demos, seminars and parties!
Yes, I LOVE raspberries this much!
Then it was off to Kentucky for the Beam Pinnacle of Mixology event to lead a fun Pinnacle Cocktails and Techniques Inspired from the Kitchen seminar. Heather Jones and I showed techniques for a “new school” Chi Chi: shaking up fresh Pineapple-Agave, Pinnacle Vodka, and fresh lime – then topped it with Coconut Milk Foam and a “carbonated” cherry – fun!
Preparing for my seminar
Dispensing Salted Caramel Whipped “Mochas!”
Other topics included cocktail umami like in my Garden Oasis cocktail – vodka, hand-pressed basil, celery and cucumber (celery adds a salty touch and an umami note), shaken with a lemon elixir. We garnished this with plumped basil seeds, adding a super cool texture to the cocktail.
We then finished off our presentation with a cool technique I learned from Johannes Roiner, Head of Culinary Strategy at iSi. He taught me that coffee has proteins in it and when combined with a little syrup, liquor, and ice then charged and shaken – you can have a super frothy espresso cocktail. Voila – thus the Salted Carmel Whipped Mocha!
Make sure to stay tuned for my brand new episodes of my Liquid Kitchen cocktail show with Small Screen Network! Filming of Season 4 has just wrapped up. New episodes include: Berries & Bubbles, Pineapple Mezcal Cooler, and more. In the meantime, try my Gin with Housemade Bitter Lemon and Soda for a refreshing springtime drink!
Erwin “guarding” the big bowl of Sparkling Tradewinds Punch with Bitter Truth & Cherry Ice Balls
Behind the scenes of Liquid Kitchen with the Small Screen crew!
Here are some of my new favorite reads – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Do you ever stop to think about the garnishes, liqueurs and syrups you put in your favorite cocktails? Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist, definitely has! Amy’s guide to backyard bartending isn’t your standard neighborhood cocktail recipe book. She has uncovered some seriously cool history on some common, and some not-so-common cocktail ingredients, such as corn and agave to barley and lemon verbena. Check out her funny promo vid, too!
The 50 Mile Bouquet by Debra Prinzing
Outdoor living specialist and author Debra Prinzing writes a great read on the slow flower movement in her latest book, The 50 Mile Bouquet. From organic flower farmers to the hot-topic of sustainability, Debra’s book is a great guide for those with a green thumb. I love to garden and this is definitely a must-read!
Don’t forget to join me on my blog Dishing with Kathy Casey and weekends on KOMO News Radio for all things D’lish, including recipes, tips, and fun events. And grab a copy of Sip Northwest Magazine (available at my Dish D’Lish Seattle airport locations) and check out my Shake Swizzle & Stir column!
Here’s wishing you all a wonderful spring with many tasty adventures! –Kathy
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