Posts from June, 2010

The Quintessential Symbol of Summer… Fresh Tomatoes

When a tomato is plucked perfectly ripe from the vine, you can stand in the yard and eat it just like a peach—with juice dribbling down your chin!

I’ve always been crazy for tomatoes. In grade school, there was a kid in my class whose mom grew plum tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes. (This was cutting-edge then!) He would bring little baggies of roma wedges and yellow tear-drops to school. Well you know those tomatoes just used to call to us from his lunch sack, so a couple of us girls swiped them once or twice and had ourselves a feast. These tomatoes were perfect just lightly sprinkled with salt. Of course we left something in return, peanut butter cookies or a florescent pink snow ball. We were definitely early gourmands.

Tomatoes are totally versatile; they have a thousand uses, both raw and cooked. Chop them for relishes and salsas; cook them into sauces and soups. You can smoke them, roast them, stew them and jam them. And of course you just can’t have enough salads in the summer!

They pair beautifully with citrus, olives and olive oil, balsamic and wine vinegars, countless cheeses … there are too many “tomato buddies” to list. Ginger, cumin and coriander are just a few of their spicy friends. And they play well with numerous herbs, especially basil, dill, thyme, rosemary, cilantro and parsley.

If you have even a slightly green thumb, Sweet 100s and Sungolds are super-easy to grow in flower beds or in pots on the deck. My friend Joani calls them yard candy! If you’re not a gardener, pick up nice, ripe, locally grown beauties at a farmers market, or look for Sunset brand fresh tomatoes in your grocer’s produce department. Full disclosure: Sunset Produce is a client of mine, and they do grow amazing tomatoes year round!

I’ve developed some delicious recipes with these wonderful tomatoes and I especially love their heirloom varieties. My recipe for Heirloom Tomatoes with Goat Cheese & Arugula is quick, easy and delicious!

Whether eaten alone or served with a grilled steak, this is one of my favorite late-summer salads combining the season’s bounty. This would be the perfect starter course for an impromptu patio dinner.

Another fave is Sunny Day Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad. I like to add in some torn cilantro leaves and up the hot sauce then  spoon it over grilled fish or chicken as a light summer meal.

And if you’ve got the grill fired up for dinner – start off with my recipe for:

Grilled Bread with Bruschetta Tomatoes

Makes 12 slices

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (about 2 to 3 medium tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 loaf of rustic artisan bread or baguette
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat.

In a medium bowl, toss together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, tomatoes, basil, onion, garlic, and salt, and set aside.

If using a large, “fat” loaf, cut with a serrated knife into six 1/2-inch slices, then slice each piece in half crosswise, making 12 pieces. If using a baguette-style loaf, cut twelve 1/2-inch slices from the loaf. (Serve any remaining bread with dinner.) Brush both sides of bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and grill on each side until lightly marked or toasted.

Place on a platter and immediately top with reserved tomato mixture. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper.

And one last word to the wise: Never …Never refrigerate tomatoes when not yet ripe! That dreadful practice zaps every bit of flavor out of them. Tomatoes are actually a fruit and, if picked a little early, they will ripen at room temp or upon your windowsill.

Here’s to a tasty tomato season! – Kathy Casey

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

Posted by Kathy Casey on June 28th, 2010  |  Comments Off |  Posted in Recent Posts

Sunset Produce Takes Top 6 Awards at Hottest Tomato Competition!

I am proud to be working with sunset produce and am so excited about their hottest tomato awards! Here’s a little about the awards:

As a part of the annual Tomato Capital of Canada Event presented by REACH International in Leamington, Ontario, Mastronardi took top honors with its SUNSET® tomatoes for the following categories:

  • Best Cocktail TomatoCampari®
  • Best Roma TomatoSUNSET® Romana
  • Best Bite Size TomatoSplendido™
  • Best Specialty Tomato – Zima™
  • Best Overall Tomato – Zima™
  • The People’s Choice Award – Zima™
  • “We are extremely proud that our gourmet tomatoes captured all the top awards. Our company was built on flavor & quality and these awards help further promote that,” stated Paul Mastronardi, President. “It is great to see that our new Zima™ grape tomato won Best Specialty, Best Overall Tomato, and most importantly, the People’s Choice Award. This seriously sweet orange grape tomato packs an incredible punch when it comes to tomato flavor, so I am especially pleased to see it win these key awards,” said Mastronardi.

    The Campari®, Romana, Splendido™, and Zima™ tomatoes are just a few of the more than 100 different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers that Mastronardi grows and markets under its nationally recognized SUNSET® brand of produce.

    And Check some of my  Recipes on their site – there are lots of fun summer cooking ideas!

    Congratulations to my friends at Sunset Produce!

    Posted by Kathy Casey on June 25th, 2010  |  Comments Off |  Posted in Foodie News, Recent Posts

    Bee Happy for Summer

    This past week Keren Brown aka The Frantic Foodie organized a fabulous food blogger event here at my Food Studios. It was a super d’lish event!

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    Keren, Yashar, and I having a great time!

    There were luscious libations served along tasty appetizers and cheeses! I shook up a Tuscan Rosemary Lemon Drop made with Purity Vodka topped with a Honey Lemon Foam, followed by my southern vacation inspired Charleston 75, and then an always fun Tropical Tiki Time Sangria made with Columbia Winery’s Pinot Gris. And of course there were lots of apps to go with all those sips from Sips & Apps including my D’lish Peppadew Peppers and Lamb Sliders on Homemade Rosemary Buns.

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    My Tuscan Rosemary Lemon Drop with Honey Lemon Foam!

    Corky Luster of Ballard Bee Honey came by and gave a “bee tour” of our hive that we have in our back urban garden. He even brought a couple of the special protective bee hats for some of the bloggers to wear and get an up-close look of the bees and honeycombs!

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    Risk taking foodies getting close to my hive!

    Lorna Yee talked about her new book, The Newlywed Kitchen, which shares a story about my husband, John and I. She even dished out two great desserts straight from her book, Candybar Cupcakes and Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies – yum!

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    Lorna and I talking about our books

    One of the attendees, Paula Thomas took some fabulous photos and wrote a fantastic blog post, which you can find here.

    Thank you to Keren Brown, Corky Luster, and to all the Seattle food bloggers that came out for this event! It was definitely a d’lish time!

    Posted by Kathy Casey on June 23rd, 2010  |  Comments (3) |  |  Posted in Books to Cook, Cocktails, Foodie News, Recent Posts

    Windermere Commercial

    Check out my fun Windermere commercial! Windermere had asked me to do one of their couch commercials and I was thrilled that they asked. They even donated $5000 to Feeding America just for my appearance!

    Posted by Kathy Casey on June 17th, 2010  |  Comments Off |  Posted in Lifestyle, Recent Posts

    A very Southern Vacation.. and I needed one!

    Most recently I took a vacation with hubby and friends to Charleston, South Carolina – great food , friends and lots of fun.  Vacation pal Cynthia Nims sums it all up here on her blog Mon Appétit. And of course I made a locally inspired cocktail: The Charleston 75 – read about it and get the recipe  at Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.

    Posted by Kathy Casey on June 16th, 2010  |  Comments Off |  Posted in Cocktails, Foodie News, Lifestyle

    Cook up a Great Chicken Recipe to win Big!!

    Ok – all you great cooks and chefs need to know that this is the last call for entries for the first-ever Foster Farms West Coast Chicken Cooking Contest. The Grand prize is $10,000!!!! plus a one-year supply of fresh Foster Farms chicken. Home, amateur and professional chefs residing in California, Oregon and Washington are encouraged to submit their prized, original chicken non-grilling recipes for consideration. Recipes must feature fresh Foster Farms chicken and should be inspired by local ingredients as a testament to Foster Farms’ commitment to locally-grown, natural foods. The deadline to enter is June 30, 2010 at 11:59:59

    Foster Farms will host three regional recipe-judging semifinals in California, Oregon and Washington in late summer and early fall 2010, culminating with The Final Cook-off. The Washington regional will be held at Kathy Casey Food Studios and judged by local food media and yours truly!

    Fifteen semifinalists will receive $100 and their recipes will be judged in the regional competitions. Six regional winners – two from each state – will receive $1,000. The six regional winners will head to The Final Cook-off in the Napa Valley to compete for the grand prize of $10,000 and a one-year supply of fresh Foster Farms chicken. So start cooking up some great ideas!!

    For complete contest rules and to submit your recipe, please visit Foster Farms.

    Posted by Kathy Casey on June 9th, 2010  |  Comments Off |  Posted in Foodie News, Recent Posts

    A Spirited Lunch with Tom Bulliet

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    A Bulleit Bourbon silver julep cup

    Few things are better than a long lunch on a weekday afternoon.  If you’re exceptionally lucky, you might be sipping from a mint Julep expertly prepared, served in an ice cold silver julep cup, piled high with crushed ice, slightly sweet, with just enough bourbon to put a smile on your face and richness to your laugh.  You’d be even luckier if you spent this extended power lunch in the presence of the man responsible for the bourbon.  A gracious southern gentleman who’s family began making bourbon in his home state of Kentucky in the 1800’s.  That is just how we spent a sunny Wednesday afternoon in May, with Tom Bulliet, owner and voice of Bulliet Bourbon.

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    Bulleit Bourbon founder, Tom Bulleit!

    As smooth as his family’s recipe for frontier whiskey, Tom regaled us with stories of the whiskey trade, the new found interest in small craft bourbons and ‘not taking a bigger piece of pie, but making the pie bigger,’ a business model that makes him as humble as he is humorous. (Yes he’s friendly with all the neighboring bourbon houses and they get along “smoothly”!)

    From the classic medicine bottle design by northwest ‘s own glitterati designer Steve Sandstrom in Oregon , to the smooth liquor just under the cap, to the philosophy that tradition of great bourbon doesn’t stop at the bottle but continues on with each bartender behind the bar, Mr. Bulliet embodies the modern philosophy of spirits and spirit culture.

    The rebirth of Bulliet bourbon follows closely the rebirth of American Cocktail-ing as he resurrected his families recipe in the mid 1980’s, when spirit culture could be said to be at its lowest point.  By the 1990’s Bulliet joined Seagram’s and was given the resources to handpick ingredients to truly honor his family’s longstanding dedication to tradition.  About this time a stirring of bartenders were turning back the clock and rediscovering a history nearly lost in pre-mixes, modern technology, and watered down expectations.  As these barmen ignited a revolution in cocktails, Bulliet was there to regale the rebirth.

    As for lunch, the south Lake Union Daniel’s Broiler spoiled us with a fabulous lunch paired with a sampling of cocktails made of course with Bulliet and some of Daniel’s house made bitters, which we tasted as well and are quite delightful. Beside the mint julep we sampled a wonderfully balanced Manhattan, dryer in flavor as Bulleit contains the highest percentage of rye in the bourbon family. My favorite cocktail of the day was what Mr. Bulliet referred to as the B.L.T – Bulliet, Lemon, and Tonic. Since Bourbon is not often paired with tonic it was a pleasant departure from bourbon and soda and a richer flavor than your usual Gin.

    It is a rare delight to soak up the afternoon sipping cocktails, but even more so in the company of such a charming, intelligent and dedicated figure. If you’ve never tried Bulleit, indulge yourself.  The next sunny day you find yourself wet at the whistle, pour a nip over ice top it with tonic and a squeeze of lemon and watch the leaves dance in the afternoon sun.  You deserve it.

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    Cheers with a Bulleit-made Manhattan!

    Posted by Kathy Casey on June 3rd, 2010  |  Comments Off |  Posted in Restaurants, Foodie News, Recent Posts
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