soups

Chill Out With Summer Cold Soups

Gazpacho is traditionally known as a cold-style soup. Originating in the southern regions of Spain and Portugal, this fresh tomato-based soup is a summer staple and a refreshing to get your vegetables!

I like to add lots of veggies into my gazpacho like cucumbers and bell peppers, then top it with some Alaska King Crab for a real splurge like my recipe I did with Sunset Tomatoes. Just think you won’t even have to turn on the stove for an elegant meal – that is definitely a plus on a hot summer’s night!

Gazpacho
Photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios®.

Tomatoes aren’t the only celebrities when it comes to “cold” soups …… there are lots of chilled summer fruit soup recipes too!

Juicy, ripe melons are the star in my Thai Chilled Melon Soup with Shrimp and Fragrant Herbs.

Creamy coconut milk, bold Thai red curry paste, and zesty ginger and lemongrass come together to make this soup d’lish. Top it off with a pouf of sweet bay shrimp and crunchy water chestnuts. Then season it up with a hit lime juice, basil and mint – it’s the meal to cool off with! Yum!

Chilled Bing Cherry Soup is a summertime classic in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe; mostly served as an opener. I’ve dug out the old recipe I used to make every summer at Fullers. Lush ruby cherries are cooked with spices and white wine then chilled, pureed and topped with a swirl of crème fraiche or sour cream. Savory, sweet and lush –mmmmm!

So beat the heat and cool off with a chilled summer soup! –Kathy

Thai Chilled Melon Soup with Shrimp and Fragrant Herbs
Makes about 4 cups (6 starter servings)

Soup
3 cups chopped ripe cantaloupe
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (we used Mae Ploy)
1 can (13 – 14 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Topping
1/4 pound bay shrimp or chopped cooked shrimp (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup tiny-diced water chestnuts (Fresh ones are great if you can find them!)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs and lime wedges

In a food processor or blender, process the cantaloupe, sugar, ginger, lemon grass and curry paste until evenly pureed. Mix in the coconut milk, salt and lime juice.

In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients together.

Ladle soup into small bowls and spoon a pouf of topping into each serving. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Pass lime wedges on the side.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®.

Chilled Bing Cherry Soup
I also like this soup topped with a few coarse chopped toasted hazelnuts for a touch of crunch.

Makes 6 – 8 servings as a starter

2 cups crisp white wine, such as Fume Blanc
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod, crushed
4 black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups pitted Bing cherries (about 3 pounds)
1 cup crème fraîche, or substitute sour cream

Garnishes:
thinned crème fraîche or sour cream for swirling on top of soup
unsprayed, edible flowers, such as violas, pansies, rose petals or nasturtiums

In a medium saucepan, combine the wine, water, sugar lemon zest, spices, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 5 cups of the cherries (reserve remainder) and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand till mixture reaches room temperature.

When cooked cherry mixture is cool, remove and discard cardamom pod and cinnamon stick. Place cherry mixture in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Then add crème Fraiche, and process until smooth.

Chill soup till very cold, at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Serve well chilled in cold bowls. Garnish each serving with the reserved, pitted cherries divided evenly among servings. Swirl the top of soup with thinned crème fraîche or sour cream drizzled from a spoon or squirted from a squeeze bottle. Garnish with edible flowers if desired.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®.

Posted by Kathy Casey on August 15th, 2013  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Fruit, KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, seafood, sides, soups

Onions

Onions. You either love’em or hate’em. As a member of the Allium family (alongside garlic and leeks), there are tons of varieties to choose from depending on your flavor preferences from local Walla Walla sweet onions to common white and yellow varieties; red onions, green onions, chives, and shallots. They’re great roasted, pickled, grilled and raw – ask any onion lover!


Walla Walla sweet onion!
(Photo from www.SweetOnions.org)

Maybe you don’t like onions because they invariably end up making you cry. Fair enough, but I have a secret for no-tears chopping – onion goggles! They look a little silly when wearing and chopping away, but they have always kept me tear-free while dicing onions for my next tasty dish!

Also, another easy tip is to chill the onions before cutting and breathe through your mouth while cutting – it kinda helps to avoid the waterworks.

Ready to chop away? Perfect! Try making my tasty 5-Onion Soup! It’s jam-packed with its namesake 5 onions or how about a batch of my Blushing Pickled Red Onions. They are as pretty as they are tasty, and make an excellent topping for burgers, sandwiches, or on an antipasto plate – yum!

So no more tears – pick up some versatile and delicious onions! –Kathy

5-Onion Soup
This recipe is very decadent. It is a lovely starter for an elegant dinner party.

Makes about 10 servings.

2 large leeks
1 medium red onion, cut into large chunks
1 medium yellow onion, cut into large chunks
1 medium white onion, cut into large chunks
4 shallots
6 cloves fresh garlic
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (or substitute olive oil)
1 cup dry sherry
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt
Thinly sliced fresh chives for garnishing

Coarsely chop the leeks, discarding the tough green parts, and rinse them well to remove sand.

In two batches, process the leeks, onions, shallots, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped but not mushy. (Do not overprocess.)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Slowly sauté the onions for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until they just turn a bit golden. Stir in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits in the pan. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, and broth. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour, or until golden in color and rich in flavor. Add the cream and simmer the soup another 30 minutes.

Mix the brandy and cornstarch and whisk into the simmering soup. Add the white pepper, then season with salt to taste. (The amount of salt needed will vary, depending on whether you used homemade stock or canned broth.) Simmer for 3 to 4 more minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with chives.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®.

Blushing Pickled Red Onions
These are great on sandwiches, served with grilled meats or alongside an antipasto platter.

Makes about 1 quart.

2 large (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb.) red onions, sliced into 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch rings
1 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pickling spices
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Place onions in a deep, heat-proof, non-aluminum container, such as a glass quart canning jar.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir to dissolve all sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and boil 30 seconds to 1 minute, then immediately pour vinegar mixture over onions.

Gently press onions down into liquid. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate at least 1 1/2 hours before serving.

Store onions tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 10 days.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®.

Posted by Kathy Casey on June 20th, 2013  |  Add Comment |  Posted in KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, other, sides, soups

A Little Spice is Always Nice!

Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves…  It’s time to spice it up! We love these spices in tasty cookies, cakes, and muffins. And there are even more dishes out there ready for that hit of warm spice pizazz!

One of my favorite and somewhat un-sung spices is the cardamom seed. This flavorfully potent spice is native to India, but its flavor and use has spread throughout the world, from Scandinavian to Middle Eastern cuisine.

Cardamom adds a sassy flavor to my Spiced Squash Bisque. The aromatic spices combine well with the flavor of sweet winter squash making this soup a great cold weather dish.

Other favorite spices that I love are allspice and cloves, so great in spiced shortbread cookies, stews – and I especially love them infused in my recipe for Spiced Red Vermouth … perfect in a Manhattan!!


My Spiced Vermouth!
For the recipe and more inspired sipping, check out Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen™.

Rubs are another great way to incorporate new and unique spices into your meal. There are so many great pre-made options available like my Fragrant Star Anise Rub. It’s an excellent way to add an exotic flair to a roasted pork or chicken.

If you like to experiment with creating your own rubs, check out the bulk spice section at your neighborhood grocer, or head on over to Pike Place Market’s World Spice shop to pick out what you want. World Spice has tons of loose spices, and you can buy just what you need, whether it’s a pinch or a squiggle. You can also find spices online from BulkFoods.com to Amazon.

One last hint: a coffee grinder is excellent for grinding your own spices. Just be sure that you keep one for solely that purpose… the star anise “scented” coffee at my house was not a big hit!

So remember, a little bit of spice can go a long ways in bringing out your dish’s flavor!  -Kathy

Spiced Squash Bisque
Organic or homegrown squash is preferable to use for this recipe because it creates a much more pronounced and sweet flavor. I like to use hubbard, Danish, or butternut squash, or a combination. Make the Crispy Seeds while the soup is cooking.

Makes 6 starter servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
4 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) peeled, seeded, and cubed winter squash (any type of sweet squash or pumpkin combination may be used; reserve 1/4 cup of seeds for Crispy Seeds)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely crushed
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (more or less depending upon whether you are using a homemade stock)
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt to taste

Crispy Seeds
1/4 cup seeds from squash
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add squash, garlic, spices, bay leaf, and salt. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, partially cover the pan, and simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender.

Meanwhile, make the Crispy Seeds: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse seeds under cold water to remove any squash flesh or strings. Drain well and measure. Place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil. In a small bowl, combine cumin, sugar, and salt and sprinkle over the seeds. Toss well and spread seeds on a nonstick baking sheet. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until crispy and toasted.

Remove bisque from heat. Remove and discard bay leaf. In a blender or food processor, carefully purée the hot soup in small batches with the sour cream. (Be careful not to make your batches too large, since the soup is very hot.) Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed, especially if using homemade broth. Pour the puréed soup back into the pan and keep warm.

Divide the soup among warmed soup bowls. Sprinkle each serving with about 2 teaspoons Crispy Seeds.

For a vegetarian version: substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Chef’s Tips:
For a fun and impressive presentation, thin out a small portion of sour cream with milk or cream until it is a “squeezable” consistency and put in a squirt bottle. Swirl the top of each serving with the sour cream.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy Casey on February 16th, 2013  |  Add Comment |  Posted in KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, Small Screen Network, sides, soups, videos

It’s Easy Being Green

Being green is so easy these days! The grocers are teeming with hearty seasonal greens from collard to mustard to Swiss chard … as well as my favorite, Tuscan Lacinato Kale, the one that’s sometimes called dinosaur kale or black kale.


(Photo from Mountain Valley Seed Company)

This winter crop is packed with vitamins and minerals. Just eating a half cup will stock you up with calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, iron and loads of fiber.

I especially like to use this kale in my recipe for Farro with Hearty Greens, Wild Mushrooms & Goat Cheese. This is a great cold-weather side dish, which works well with other greens, too.

In fact, here’s a tip if you want to make it with Swiss chard. Remove the stems and slice them separately, and slice up the greens thin. Sauté the stems in the olive oil along with the mushrooms, and then proceed with the recipe.

Incorporating greens in a robust homemade soup is another delicious and very satisfying way to enjoy them. My recipe for the classic Tuscan Ribollita Soup is easy to make and perfect for busy schedules. The name of this favorite Italian soup, which is thickened with stale bread, means “twice-boiled”—the soup is traditionally cooked, then reheated the next day. The flavorful olive oil, which is always drizzled on top right before eating, acts like a seasoning, giving the soup a special little kick.

Or how about adding a small handful of kale into your next smoothie? Its vibrant color is sure to get the kids interested!

Eat your greens daily—they’re tasty and good for you! -Kathy

Farro with Hearty Greens, Wild Mushrooms & Goat Cheese
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/2 cup whole farro grains
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced wild or domestic mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
pinch red chili flakes
1 large bunch black kale (lacinato) or other hearty green, torn
1/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon
1 1/2 to 3 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre)

To cook the farro: In a medium saucepan, combine farro and water and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer; cook the grain for about 30 minutes, or until very tender, but do not let it become mushy. Add more water if it gets low. Drain the cooked farro and set aside. (You can do this the day before; refrigerate cooked grain.)

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Sauté mushrooms until half cooked, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and chili flakes and sauté for a few seconds. Stir in kale. Add chicken broth and cooked farro, and cook, turning greens several times, until greens are wilted.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze lemon over the dish to brighten flavor. Serve dolloped with goat cheese or grated sexy local cheese.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Ribollita Soup
Makes 6 to 8 servings

3 tablespoons chopped bacon or pancetta
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red potatoes
1/8 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
2 cups, packed, torn, dark green kale
4 cups rich chicken broth
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes with juice
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans with liquid
2 cups, packed, rustic Italian bread, preferably stale, torn into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper to taste
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Heat a large soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon or pancetta and olive oil and cook until 3/4 done. Add onions and potatoes, and cook, stirring often, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the chili flakes, garlic, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring, for about 1 to 2 more minutes.

Add the thyme, kale, chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly for about 12 minutes.

Then add the beans and bean liquid and bread. Stir in, and cook for about 2 more minutes or until thickened with the bread. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Ladle into bowls and drizzle liberally with olive oil.

If making a day ahead, soup will be thicker the next day, almost stew-like, but this is the traditional way. If too thick for your liking, thin out with a little chicken stock when reheating.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy Casey on January 4th, 2013  |  Add Comment |  Posted in KOMO Radio, Lifestyle, Recipes, sides, soups

Hearty Root Vegetables

The cold weather months make us crave heartier foods… and root vegetables are definitely hearty. They are versatile in flavor, texture and application – as well as budget-friendly and a great source for complex-carbohydrates!

Rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, turnips and beets are all part of this delicious group.

Root Veggies
A great crop of root veggies!
(Photo from CookWithWhatYouHave.com)

Roasted Beets are amazing and star in my recipe with an Orange Cumin Glaze. Another option is to roast up a bunch of beets and have them ready to add into salads.

Turnips and carrots mash well together in a root vegetable side dish. And I personally love rutabagas roasted with chicken for a Sunday night supper.

The often overlooked parsnip is featured in my Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup paired up with chevre and walnut croutons. Pour yourself a glass of Washington wine and you’re all set for a cozy meal.

Fill up with some hearty root veggies! –Kathy

Roasted Beets with Orange Cumin Glaze
Makes about 6 servings.

5 large beets (about 2 lb.)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsps butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 Tbsp finely chopped orange zest
2 Tbsps chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash the beets and leave root untrimmed. Place beets on a large sheet of foil and seal like a package. Place foil packet on a baking pan and roast in preheated oven until very tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Poke beets to make sure they are tender.

As soon as beets are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and slice into ¼-inch slices.

In a small bowl mix together the orange juice, cumin, vinegar , honey and cornstarch. Stir until cornstarch is well incorporated.

Place liquid mixture in a large, non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat, whisking – while adding the  butter and salt. Bring to a boil and add the sliced beets. Cook, turning beets as necessary, until they are hot and nicely glazed. Place on a serving platter or in large, shallow bowl.

Mix together the walnuts, orange zest and parsley and sprinkle over the beets.

Chef’s Notes:
You can prepare this recipe part way in advance: Just roast, peel and slice the beets ahead of time. This can be done up to 3 days in advance. Then finish the rest of the recipe procedure per instructions.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup with Chevre & Walnut Crostini
Makes 6 servings

4 cups 1/2-inch-sliced peeled parsnips (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsps butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth (I used packaged organic broth)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Croutons
6 1/4-inch-thick slices baguette or French bread
Olive oil
3 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
3 Tbsps chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

Garnish: thinly sliced fresh chives and/or celery leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

First, toast the bread for the croutons: Lay the bread on a baking sheet, brush slices lightly with oil, and toast in the preheated oven for about 3 – 5 minutes, or until just lightly golden. Remove and let cool. (You can do this the day before and keep croutons in a tightly closed container after they cool.)

Toss parsnips and olive oil together in a bowl to coat evenly. Spread out on a baking sheet (you can reuse the one used for the bread), and roast till golden and totally tender, about 30 minutes.

Heat butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté shallots and celery until very tender, about 3 minutes; do not brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds more. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add chicken broth, cream and roasted parsnips and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium or low, to maintain a slow simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add salt and cayenne. In small batches, puree mixture in a blender. (Be careful; it’s hot!)

Return soup to pan and adjust seasoning if needed. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days before serving.

To serve the soup and finish the crostini:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spread the cheese on the croutons, then top each one with a half-tablespoon of nuts. Press in slightly and bake for about 4 minutes or until cheese is warmed.

Meanwhile, heat the soup, stirring often, over medium heat till hot, making sure it does not stick on the bottom. Serve the hot soup in warm bowls. Top with chives or celery leaf and serve a warm goat cheese crouton on the side.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy Casey on February 23rd, 2012  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Foodie News, KOMO Radio, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Recipes, salads, sides, soups

Gather ‘Round – At the Kitchen Table with Chef Greg Atkinson!

Some writers have the uncanny ability to imbue their written words with their own voice. My good friend Greg Atkinson is one such writer. His words, penned or spoken, are thoughtful – measured and weighed as carefully as if he were crafting a recipe. And as the very best writers do, Greg’s words evoke powerful sense memories. His newest book, At the Kitchen Table: The Craft of Cooking at Home, is full of deeply personal stories that invite the reader to relate and connect with him. His essay on borscht calls to mind immediately my grandmother’s kitchen; I can smell the earthy beets and the simmering broth as if I were at her kitchen table awaiting a piping bowl.

Continue reading on Amazon’s Al Dente Blog.

Posted by Kathy Casey on October 18th, 2011  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Restaurants, Amazon, Books to Cook, Foodie News, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Recipes, meats, soups

Refreshing Summer Melons

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

In the past few years we have been seeing several exciting and sexy melon varieties at the markets. One kind I tried recently was a small lemony-yellow oval variety called a Korean melon (dua gan); it has a very fragrant smell and mild sweet flavor. And the French Charentais has to be one of the most aromatic and flavorful melons I have ever had.

Ripe, juicy and cold melons are of course delicious when eaten “as is”—but they perform well when starring in recipes, too. My new favorite way to enjoy melon is in Thai Chilled Melon Soup with Shrimp and fragrant herbs. Smooth and rich-tasting with the addition of coconut milk, slightly spicy and bold-spiked from Thai red curry paste, and flagrantly flavored with ginger and lemongrass, this cold soup is topped with a pouf of sweet bay shrimp and crunchy water chestnuts seasoned up with lime juice, basil and mint.

My other all-time favorite watermelon recipe is chef Todd English’s. He embellishes a melon salad with the distinctive flavors of fennel, feta and kalamata olives contrasted against the cool red-glistening fruit.

And then there’s always melon enjoyed ALMOST naked … except for a sprinkling of sea salt, my Dish D’Lish French Seasoning Salt or Dish D’Lish Cha Cha Chipotle Lime Seasoning … Yum!

Enjoy them while you can; there’s nothing like summer’s fresh melons to cool you off on a hot day. ©2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Thai Chilled Melon Soup with Shrimp

Makes about 4 cups (6 starter servings)

Soup

3 cups chopped ripe cantaloupe or other orange-fleshed melon

1 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp minced fresh ginger

1 Tbsp minced fresh lemongrass

1 tsp Thai red curry paste (we used Mae Ploy), or sub Asian chili paste

1 can (13 – 14 ounces) coconut milk (you can always sub light coconut milk)

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

 

Topping

1/4 pound bay shrimp or chopped cooked shrimp (about 3/4 cup)

1/4 cup tiny-diced water chestnuts (Fresh ones are great if you can find them!)

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs and lime wedges

In a food processor or blender, process the cantaloupe, sugar, ginger, lemongrass and curry paste until evenly pureed. Mix in the coconut milk, salt and lime juice.

In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients together. Ladle soup into small bowls and spoon a pouf of topping into each serving. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Pass lime wedges on the side. ©2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

 

Todd English’s Watermelon, Fennel and Black Olive Salad with Feta Cheese

Makes 8 servings

4 cups seeded watermelon chunks

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced on a Japanese mandoline (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives

1 large red onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1 bunch green onions, green part only, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

 

Put the watermelon, fennel, olives, red onion, green onion, basil leaves, and feta in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Divide among salad plates and serve immediately. Adapted from Star Palate: Celebrity Cookbook for a Cure, by Tami Agassi and Kathy Casey.

Posted by Kathy on August 13th, 2009  |  Comments (1) |  Posted in KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes, salads, soups

Winter Dinner Party

My friend JJ McKay is known for his fantastic, even legendary, dinner parties, and practices what I call easy elegant entertaining. Just in time for your holiday parties, I’m going to share JJ’s tips with you.

 

  1. Don’t go overboard with what you serve. Don’t make things that are too complicated or too unfamiliar.
  2. Do things that can be prepared mostly in advance then finished off at the last minute. It will allow you time to mingle with your guests and not spend the whole party in the kitchen.
  3. Invite a high-spirited, diverse and eclectic group of people who don’t all know each other.
  4. Have everyone introduce themselves before sitting down to dinner and say two sentences about what is new with them.
  5. Have seats assigned so couples are mixed up. This gets the ball rolling for lively conversations and gives lots of energy to the party.
  6. Give everyone at the table a “job”: opening wine; lighting candles; serving the first course; pouring water. This gets people moving about instead of making awkward small talk.

Here’s my menu for a Northwest winter dinner party, complete with blushing pears, hearty root veggies, and toasty nuts. We start with Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup with Chevre and Walnut Crostini. The soup can be made ahead and then just finished off. Then we move on to an entrée of oven-roasted Spiced Chicken with Pears and Port—full of autumn flavors—accompanied by effortless Herbed Lemon Orzo. The meal is topped off with Chocolate Espresso Martinis—shaken up, served in small martini glasses, and topped with a dollop of chocolate whipped cream—for just a little something sweet at the end. These are also great served with little butter cookies or your favorite chocolate cookie baked in mini size.

 

So, I’ve supplied the menu, now all you have to do is invite a delightful group of friends!

Enjoy!

 

Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup with Chevre & Walnut Crostini

Makes 6 servings

4 cups 1/2-inch-sliced peeled parsnips (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots

1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cups chicken broth (I used packaged organic broth)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Croutons

6 1/4-inch-thick slices baguette or French bread

Olive oil

3 ounces chevre (goat cheese)

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

Garnish: thinly sliced fresh chives and/or celery leaves

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

 

First, toast the bread for the croutons: Lay the bread on a baking sheet, brush slices lightly with oil, and toast in the preheated oven for about 3 – 5 minutes, or until just lightly golden. Remove and let cool. (You can do this the day before and keep croutons in a tightly closed container after they cool.)

 

Toss parsnips and olive oil together in a bowl to coat evenly. Spread out on a baking sheet (you can reuse the one used for the bread), and roast till golden and totally tender, about 30 minutes.

 

Heat butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté shallots and celery until very tender, about 3 minutes; do not brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds more. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add chicken broth, cream and roasted parsnips and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium or low, to maintain a slow simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add salt and cayenne. In small batches, puree mixture in a blender. (Be careful; it’s hot!)

 

Return soup to pan and adjust seasoning if needed. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days before serving.

 

To serve the soup and finish the crostini: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spread the cheese on the croutons, then top each one with a half-tablespoon of nuts. Press in slightly and bake for about 4 minutes or until cheese is warmed.

 

Meanwhile, heat the soup, stirring often, over medium heat till hot, making sure it does not stick on the bottom. Serve the hot soup in warm bowls. Top with chives or celery leaf and serve a warm goat cheese crouton on the side.

 

© Kathy Casey Food Studios® 2008

 

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 pears

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breast halves

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

6 cloves fresh garlic, sliced

1 unpeeled lemon, sliced (about 9 slices)

1 cup port wine

1 teaspoon 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

© Kathy Casey Food Studios® 2008

 

Herbed Lemon Orzo

Makes 6 servings

12 ounces dry orzo pasta (2 cups)

2 tablespoons butter, salted

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon very finely minced shallots

1/2 cup very coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely minced lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

fresh-ground black pepper

1/3 cup finely grated mizithra cheese, or substitute parmesan

 

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and cook for approximately 6 – 7 minutes, stirring often, until just al dente or per package instructions. Immediately drain well, then place orzo in a heat-proof bowl. Stir in butter, olive oil, shallots and herbs to coat well. Then stir in lemon juice, zest, seasonings and cheese. Serve immediately.

 

© Kathy Casey Food Studios® 2008

 

Chocolate Espresso Martinis

Makes 6 servings

Cocktail Pre-mix

1/2 cup Starbucks coffee liqueur

1/2 cup Amarula Cream or Baileys Irish Cream liqueur

3 tablespoons high-quality chocolate sauce, such as Fran’s or Scharffen Berger

1/2 cup vanilla vodka

Chocolate Cream

1/3 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons chocolate sauce

Garnish: coffee beans, chocolate-covered espresso beans or chocolate shavings

 

In a small container, combine the cocktail pre-mix ingredients. Then transfer to a pretty bottle with a pour spout. The pre-mix can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept refrigerated.

 

To make the cream: In a small bowl, combine the whipping cream and chocolate sauce and whip until very, very softly peaked.

 

For each cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then measure in 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of the pre-mix. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds, then strain into a small martin glass. Top each cocktail with a dollop of the whipped cream and garnish with coffee beans and/or chocolate.

 

© Kathy Casey Food Studios® 2008

Posted by Kathy on December 18th, 2008  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Cocktails, KOMO Radio, poultry, sides, soups
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