Archive for June, 2009

Cherries

Cherry Mojito - KCNWT

Photo credited to E. Jane Armstrong, from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books

 

This week we welcome the first of this summer’s local cherries at the farmer’s markets and grocery stores. We have a cherry tree behind the Food Studios here in Ballard and all of a sudden it was crammed with deliciously ripe cherries! With the wonderful weather the Northwest has been having they seemed to have just ripened overnight!  At the produce stand you’ll generally see all the dark sweet cherries labeled as Bing cherries, which many consider the benchmark favorite, although other varieties, such as Chelan, Lambert, or Van may be mixed in. And then of course there are the light, sweet, Queen Annes and big, blushing Rainiers.

I have been known to just eat a big bowl of cherries for dinner. Once in awhile you just need to gorge yourself, and why not on something juicy, delicious and healthy! Cherries are low fat, sodium free and a great source of fiber and vitamin C. One cup of cherries has only 90 calories–that’s about 5 calories each.

The one drawback to cooking with cherries is getting the seeds out, and this can sometimes be the pits! The best way to accomplish this task if you are pitting a lot of cherries is to get a large volume pitter. I like the one they have at Sur la Table. It clamps easily onto the side of a picnic table–outdoors is the ideal place to do this messy chore. You stem the cherries, then load up the hopper and start punching the plunger down like mad. The only hitch is that by the time you are finished you are usually freckled with pink dots! So wear an old shirt–cherry stains are hard to get out.
Frozen cherries make fun ice cubes for cold summer drinks. Just wash, dry and freeze the whole fruit. Or you can pit them, place each one in an ice cube tray compartment, then fill with water (or lemonade!) and freeze. Or the drink itself can feature the rosy globes. Try my Cherry Mojitos for a Crowd, it’s unbelievably good!

Cherries also show up in the main course—I love a fresh cherry salsa on grilled salmon – or, for an easy entree, try my Almond Chicken with Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa. You quickly sauté the chicken, then let the oven finish cooking it while you toss a big green salad. Deglaze the pan with a little wine, and you’re all done.

Have a cherrilicious summer!

Almond Chicken with Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sliced almonds
1/4 cup dry white wine
Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa (recipe follows)
Cilantro sprigs for garnishing

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt, coriander, and cayenne. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Set aside.

In a large, ovenproof nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken lightly on each side for about 1 minute. Lay the chicken in the pan, sprinkle with the almonds, and place the pan in the oven. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear, about 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. Transfer the chicken and almonds to a warm platter and keep warm. (Reserve the pan for next step.)

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the wine, and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up all the browned bits in the pan. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and whisk until slightly reduced and thickened.

Spoon the sauce over the chicken and top with the cherry salsa. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups pitted sliced Bing cherries (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup minced Walla Walla Sweet onion or other sweet white onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons very finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)

In a small bowl, gently mix all the ingredients. The salsa is best if made right before serving but can be made up to 2 hours in advance.
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2006 by Kathy Casey.

 

Cherry Mojitos for a Crowd

Makes about 10 servings

1 bunch fresh mint (about 1 1/2 cups sprigs)
3 cups Bacardi Limón rum
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh lime juice
1/4 cup clear cherry liqueur, such as Maraska maraschino
3 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Loads of ice for serving
Two 10-ounce bottles soda water

Garnishes
Fresh mint sprigs
Fresh cherries on the stem

In a large nonreactive container, such as a glass pitcher, combine the mint, rum, sugar, lime juice, liqueur, and pitted cherries. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

For each serving, fill a large rocks glass or tumbler with ice and measure in 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of the rum mixture (I like to use a ladle to do this), being sure to get some of the cherries into each glass. Top with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of soda. Stir, then garnish with a mint sprig and a cherry.

Chef’s Note: You can make the cherry-rum mixture up to 3 days in advance and keep it refrigerated—the flavors will just get better and better.
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2006 by Kathy Casey.

1 comment June 25th, 2009

“Big Night For Abruzzo” Fundraising Event June 24th @ Northwest Area Restaurants

Wednesday, June 24th 2009: Northwest area restaurants will rally to raise funds for the victims of the L’Aquila earthquake.  This tragic earthquake hit 6.3 on the Richter scale and devastated the central Italian region of Abruzzo on April 6th 2009 @ 3:25AM, taking close to 300 lives, hospitalizing over 25,000 and displacing more than 60,000.  The L’Aquila earthquake is the deadliest earthquake to occur in Italy since 1984.

Show your support by stopping by one of the restaurants below, as a portion of their proceeds from this night will be donated to benefit the victims of this terrible tragedy.

 Participating Seattle Area Restaurants Include: Barolo, Bella Italia, Bella Napoli, Branzino, Cafe Lago, Caffe Fiore, Caffe Umbria, Caffe Vita, Calabria Ristorante, Cantinetta, Ciao Vito, Europa Bistro, Firenze, Gaspare, Hunt Club @ The Sorrento Hotel, Il Bistro, Il Terrazzo “Carmine”, La Rustica, La Spiga, La Vita é Bella, Mamma Melina, Marcello, Mio Posto, Mondello, Paradiso, Piccolino, Pizzeria Guido, Pizzutos, Procopio, Pulcinella, Restaurant Zoe, Ristorante Luciano, Salumi, Salvatore, Sorrentino, Tavoláta, The Mark, The Pink Door, Trinacria, Troiani, Tulio, Tutta, Bella, Via Tribunali, Vince’s

Add comment June 22nd, 2009

Margaritas

Everyone loves a great margarita – it’s been very popular in the U.S. since the early 1950s, and there are a lot of opinions on what makes a great margarita! With tequila as its base, this refreshing libation has many variations. Here are some of the key factors to making an impressive margarita:

A basic margarita is typically made with the following components: tequila, lime, simple syrup or sweetener, triple sec or orange liqueur. Let’s review our options……

Tequila: made from the fermented and distilled sap of the of the agave plant, has a couple different categories:

Silver or Blanco – unaged and ideal for a fresh lime Margarita or margaritas made with fresh fruits.
Reposado – aged 2 to 11 months in oak or wooden casks; smoother than silver or blanco tequilas 
Añejo –  aged more than 1 year; wonderfully smooth  – best for sippin’ on their own to appreciate the flavor and craftsmanship – but use it in a margarita if you like – or do a float over a simple margarita to add some elegance

Margarita musts:
Use good tequila.
Use fresh lime juice.
Cointreau is my favorite orange liquor to use in a margarita – but Triple Sec is handy if you’re on a budget.
You can make your own simple syrup (see recipe & method below) or agave nectar is a tasty alternative.

Serving preferences:
Margaritas can be shaken with ice & served up, on the rocks or blended. I like them tall and on the rocks.
Some like salt, some do not. I like a half rim of salt – my preference being kosher salt. And of course, there are the “add ins” – a splash of fresh OJ, a touch of cranberry juice, pomegranate, fresh berries … the possibilities are endless. I like a spring of fresh sage shaken in my ‘ritas for a savory note!

Sunset Sage Margarita
Boasting a savory and dry fragrance and flavor, sage especially complements tequila.

Makes 1 drink

1 fresh sage leaf
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau, Triple Sec, or Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Fresh sage leaf for garnishing

Crush the sage leaf and drop into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, then measure in the remaining liquid ingredients. Cap and shake vigorously until very cold.

Serve on the rocks and add a fresh sage leaf for garnish.

Simple Syrup

Makes 8 cups

4 cups sugar
4 cups water

Combine the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Bottle and store at room temperature until needed. Keeps indefinitely.

Chef’s Note: Simple syrup is also available at bar supply stores.

Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2006 by Kathy Casey.

Add comment June 18th, 2009

Summer Grilling

To listen to the KOMO Dishing segment online, click here!

Everyone loves a good BBQ. And we know that men flock to stoke the coals and flip the fare — definitely a guy thing! Whether it’s hotdogs, hamburgers, salmon, chicken or veggies, on warm summer nights everything tastes better cooked on the grill.

So for you’re favorite Dad there is a new book, Dad’s Awesome Grilling Book, by Bob Sloan — just in time for Father’s Day. And I have included a recipe below for Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter.

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Let’s face it, in the summertime, the last thing you want to worry about is spending a lot of time inside cooking dinner. Firing up the grill is a great way to get outdoors and get everyone fed in a matter of minutes!

A great meal from the grill can be as simple as having a great marinade or a great rub. Choose your protein, an array or whatever your pleasure, be it meat, fowl or vegetable, and marinate or season up your entrée choice. Throw on some asparagus spears, corn on the cob or zucchini and you have a quick and easy meal.

Sometimes I like to start with slices of rustic bread, grilled till toasty and then rubbed with a garlic clove. Top with chopped ripe tomatoes drizzled with EVOO and some sea salt – sprinkle with a little chopped basil,  oregano , a sprinkle of fresh grated parm.

Moving on to the main dish I’ve got a recipe for Balsamic, Honey & Thyme Marinade which is good on just about anything. And if you want to grill up your dinner even faster, my Dish D’Lish French Seasoning Salt is great on a fat steak. Or try my Cha Cha Chipotle Lime Seasoning on chicken breasts –- grilled up and then topped with some fresh tomato pico and some grilled corn. Voila! instant dinner!

If cooking with a marinade or rub that contains sugar, be sure to grill on medium-low heat to prevent burning; honey or sugar can scorch on high heat.

Then finish off your quick summer meal with a big bowl of fresh local berries … maybe with a little ice cream, too. Or if the grill is still hot – try out my recipe for Grilled Banana Sundae with Caramel. Simplicity never tasted so good!

Happy Grilling!

Kathy’s Balsamic Honey & Thyme Marinade

Makes 2/3 cup

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp minced fresh thyme
3/4 tsp coarse-cracked black pepper
pinch of red chili flakes if you like a little heat

Mix marinade ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag. Add food, and marinate, refrigerated, for 30 minutes or longer.

This amount is enough to marinate 8 chicken breast halves, salmon fillets, or jumbo portobello mushrooms, or 2 to 3 pounds pork tenderloin. Grill food on medium-low heat to prevent the sweet marinade from burning.

Copyright © 2009, Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Roasted Corn with Chipotle Butter
From Dad’s Awesome Grilling Book, by Bob Sloan – Chronicle Books

Makes 6 ears

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 ears corn, husked

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the butter, chipotles, garlic, salt and pepper until just combined. Transfer the mixture to a 12-inch piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to roll the butter mixture into a log roughly the size of the original stick of butter. Place the butter in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Grill the corn over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, turning frequently as the bottoms begin to turn a golden brown.Serve immediately, with the chipotle butter on the side.

Grilled Banana Sundaes with Caramel Sauce
Makes 4 servings

4 bamboo chopsticks or 10-inch bamboo skewers
2 large ripe but firm bananas
vegetable oil, as needed
1 pint tropical-flavor ice cream (I served both Häagen- Dazs pineapple coconut and mango ice creams)
high-quality caramel sauce – as needed or sub chocolate sauce
sweetened whipped cream (optional)
sundae goodies and garnishes: chopped fresh pineapple, sliced kumquats if in season, Trader Joe’s Dark Roasted Pistachio Toffee, edible flowers or toasted coconut

Soak chopsticks or skewers in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Peel bananas and cut each crosswise into 2 pieces. Carefully thread each piece lengthwise onto a skewer. Lightly brush bananas with vegetable oil on each side.

On a preheated, medium-high to high grill, cook bananas for about 12 minutes total, turning with a spatula every 4 minutes or so, to get caramelized grill marks on them. Bananas should be nice and soft when cooked.

Serve atop scoops of ice cream in large bowls. Let guests finish topping their sundaes with sauces, whipped cream, fruit, toffee and garnishes.

©2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Add comment June 11th, 2009

My Fav Chef Gadgets!

Check out this fun article from Fortune Magazine where I am interviewed about my favorite gadgets in the kitchen! It is such an honor to be mentioned among such great group of chefs. Click here for the article.

Add comment June 5th, 2009

Fresh, Juicy Strawberries – summer is here!

5-21 KCFS Cookbook Hi Res Finals 047

With summer just a few sunny days away, it’s time to start incorporating summer fruits and nature’s bounty from the farmers markets into our seasonal dishes and drinks.

One of the first signs of summer is sweet, juicy strawberries appearing at the market! They can make anything taste sweet and refreshing, not to mention they can add some great color to any bland dish or drink! Pile them high on shortcake or dip on chocolate for dessert, throw them in a salad with balsamic for dinner or put them to your cocktail to spruse it up a bit!

I have included two of my favorite recipes for summer. First up is the Strawberry Shag Cocktail from my new book Sips & Apps. The Strawberry Shag teams lightly-sugared fresh strawberries with a tasty partner – fresh basil! Shaken with vodka and fresh lemon juice this refreshing cooler is perfect to start any patio party!

Next up is Strawberry & Spinach Salad with Sweet Onions and Poppy Seed–Ginger Vinaigrette which is one of my favorite salad dressing recipes. If you are tight on time you can make the dressing up to 1 week in advance! Serve this d’lish salad as a starter or top it with sliced grilled chicken breast, paired with some hearty, rustic bread for a main meal.

I hope you enjoy my “first of summer” strawberry recipes and be sure to always remember to “Cook up Some Fun” in the kitchen!

Strawberry Shag
Fresh basil lends a fun flavor note to the classic combination of strawberries and lemonade. Soda water introduces a lively sparkle.

Makes 1 drink

1 to 2 large sprigs fresh basil
1/4 cup Sugared Strawberries with juice (recipe follows)
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 ounces chilled soda water

For garnishing: fresh strawberry, small basil leaf

In a cocktail shaker, press the basil and strawberries together with a muddler to release the basil’s flavor. Fill the shaker with ice. Measure in the vodka and lemon juice. Cap and shake vigorously. Pour into a large glass, top with soda water, and stir. Garnish with a strawberry and basil leaf.

 

Sugared Strawberries
Makes enough for about 6 drinks

1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix the ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes before using.

Recipe from Sips & Apps, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2009 by Kathy Casey

 

Strawberry & Spinach Salad
with Sweet Onions and Poppy Seed–Ginger Vinaigrette

Makes 6 to 8 servings

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

Salad
3 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
2 bunches spinach, stemmed, washed well, and spun dry
    (or 8 to 10 cups of baby spinach leaves)
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet white onion, such as a Walla Walla Sweet or Vidalia
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

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

To make the salad, toss the berries, spinach, and onion with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with almonds.
Recipe adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2006 by Kathy Casey.

1 comment June 4th, 2009

Minty Mojitos

Check out my latest Amazon “al Dente” blog for great mojito ideas! Clikc here for the link.

Add comment June 1st, 2009


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