Ahh, coffee! That first cup o’ joe usually sets the tone for the rest of the day. And certainly the Pacific Northwest is known as the mecca for coffee drinkers and connoisseurs alike. Some think of us as coffee snobs…maybe some of us are!
After all, we do love our coffee, as much as we cherish our wines. Many independent coffee shops and cafes (frequented by the true coffee geeks) often hold coffee “cuppings” – picture a wine tasting, but for coffee!
I love the scent of fresh roasted coffee beans!
(Photo courtesy of Fontee Coffee)
While dark chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven, it pairs well with other flavors and other applications too. Add ground espresso to spice rubs for a flavor pop – excellent on steak or Alaskan salmon. Brewed coffee is great in baked beans, hearty stews and in d’lish in my Red Eye BBQ Sauce – try slathering over grilled chicken or ribs…yum!
On the sweeter side of things, try adding a little ground espresso to chocolate cupcake batter for a mocha-licious treat. For a zippy twist on zucchini cake, work in a little strong brewed coffee for a Northwest take on this perennial favorite.
So put a little pick-me-up into your next dish. -Kathy
Red Eye Barbecue Sauce
Makes 2 1/4 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup 1/4-inch-chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brewed coffee
5 tablespoons Worcestershire
3 tablespoons molasses
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sprinkle the black pepper and other dry spices on top. Stir and sauté until the onions are glossy, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté about 1 more minute.
When the onions are translucent, whisk in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. If not using the sauce right away, cool and store, refrigerated, for up to 10 days.
Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®
Seattle has always been on the cutting edge of culinary and drink trends – and we sure love to celebrate it! There’s almost always a festival or event going on. Take for example the Seattle Food and Wine Experience, which will be this Sunday(February 24th) at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall from 12pm – 5pm – it’s definitely one of my faves!
Held annually, this year’s event is going to be as exciting as ever. Its jam packed with tons of chefs, demos, expert speakers, and lots of wine to taste (featuring cellars from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and more!). Don’t forget to make room for all the available gourmet bites as well as Pacific Northwest distilled spirits, coffees, and brews, too. Yum!
Tons of exhibitors will be selling their wares, so keep your eyes out for any gifts you may need to buy, or even take something home for yourself! Make sure to buy your tickets soon.
So raise a glass and toast to the Seattle Food and Wine event! -Kathy
The beginning of 2013 marked the start of Vinum Importing’s monthly cocktail competitions and for March, the theme is anise. Native to the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, anise-flavored spirits have already made appearances in plenty of cocktails, but Vinum’s competition challenges bartenders to put anise in the spotlight. If you’re a fan of anise then this is the event for you!
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! She has uncovered some seriously cool history on some common, and some not-so-common cocktail ingredients
I heard Amy speak this last summer at Tales of the Cocktail – it was one of my favorite seminars of all times. Not only was the content interesting but Amy is a fun and engaging speaker. If you love booze and you love geeky stuff – you will love her book!
From oak trees to lemon verbena, Amy gives a detailed and intriguing account of the various herbal ingredients we use in cocktails and liqueurs. With over 50 recipes, chemistry of over 150 plants, and growing tips for gardeners, this is the perfect gift for those with a green thumb and love to imbibe.
Amy is an award winning author of 6 books detailing the delights and dangers of Mother Nature. Living in sunny California, her backyard is one big herbal experiment, and the bookstore she and her husband own is a veritable maze of fascinating finds.
The Drunken Botanist: “The plants that create the world’s great drinks”, by Amy Stewart is coming this March. Available for pre-order now at drunkenbotanist.com and on Amazon. Make sure you check out her funny promotion video!
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!!
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
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.
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.
Yogurt is one of my definite go-to, easy snacks. It’s healthy; individually packaged; and come in a wide variety of flavors! From Boston Cream Pie to Passion Fruit, to Orange Creamsicle to Boysenberry.
And these days, people just can get enough of Greek Yogurt! It’s creamy and smooth and the low-fat varieties taste so luscious!
Greek yogurt is packed with muscle-building and appetite suppressing proteins, and fat-free versions are low in calories and sugar, making this treat a total win-win in my books. For added flavor, top it with freshly chopped fruits, crunchy granola, a drizzle of honey, or… shaved dark chocolate! The options are endless!
This dairy darling has many d’lish applications. I love mixing it into mashed potatoes or adding a dollop on top of my morning oatmeal drizzled with maple syrup. For healthy app, dip rice crackers or baked chips into plain Greek yogurt topped with salsa and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro – delicioso!
Greek yogurt is the perfect addition to any morning routine. It’s great when blended into my Fiber Packed Breakfast Smoothie! Blended with a whole-peeled orange, a spoonful of local honey, ice and a few flax seeds–you’ll have the energy you need to start your day right.
Yogurt has definitely lost its “plain vanilla” reputation and I’m glad! –Kathy
Fiber Packed Breakfast Smoothie
The great thing about smoothies are that you can customize to your personal taste. Add a tablespoon of protein powder, or toss in some fresh or frozen berries.
Using a whole orange adds not only great taste, but extra fiber too. And if you want to jack up the fiber even more add a few torn leaves of fresh kale.
And if you really love smoothies- be sure to get yourself a fantastic blender. I love my Vitamix it makes smoothies in a flash!
Makes 2 servings
1 large orange
1 ripe banana, cut in chunks
1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free yogurt
1 – 2 Tbsp local honey, agave nectar (or sub a packet of no-cal sweetener)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon flax seed (the more seeds – the more “texture”)
1 cup ice
Cut the peel off the oranges, trim away any white pith, cut the fruit into chunks, removing any seeds.
Place the orange, banana, yogurt, honey, flax seeds and ice in a blender cup and blend on high speed until smooth. Divide between two glasses and serve immediately .
Speed Rack comes to Seattle! So mark your calendars for Sunday, February 10th from 3:00pm – 7:00pm at Century Ballroom and make sure to buy your tickets soon!
Founded by Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, this national cocktail competition/fundraiser features top regional female bartenders in a head-to-head round robin style timed and judged challenge. Winner of the upcoming Seattle event will then get the opportunity to compete in the finals and where the winner will be crowned Miss Speed Rack USA! All the proceeds raised will go to breast cancer research, prevention and education.