This Seattle class boasts celebrity chefs and culinary experts
Here’s a must on your Seattle to-do list: a cooking class at Dish It Up!—a cooking school-cum-kitchen store in the Magnolia Village neighborhood. “Classes here are much like a chef’s table,” says owner Andrea Reith. Local foodie celebrities take the helm most weeknights to teach subjects ranging from Heavenly Truffles to a Holiday Dinner Party. This season, author A.J. Rathbun’s Holiday Cheer class pairs libations and party fare, serving them up with a twist.
A.J., shown above, is a mixology and entertaining expert. His book Good Spirits won a 2008 International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook award, and he has authored the just-released Luscious Liqueurs and Party Snacks. A site editor for the kitchen and home divisions of Amazon.com, A.J. has a résumé that includes rock band roadie, poet, and, naturally, bartender.
Photography: Michael Skott
As students gather around the 16-foot counter in the comfortable Dish It Up! presentation kitchen, A.J. delivers instruction with a wit as dry as a martini. “One of my main focuses is to make students realize they can throw a great party and still have fun as the host or hostess. Just one or two signature drinks keeps the bar manageable. And like cocktails, party foods should have the right balance of flavors. With these five snacks, you’ve the makings of a classic cocktail party.”
Students first learn how to make the Bubbly Poinsettia, a champagne cocktail with gin, grenadine, lemon, and maraschino accents. The pale red-tinged sparkler pairs with Gorgeous Gougères, airy cheese puffs featured in Party Snacks. The duo receives enthusiastic approval from the class, and things are off to a rollicking good start.
From there, A.J. teaches four additional holiday-perfect pairings of drinks and nibbles, including a tropics-inspired non-alcoholic sipper and The Snow Angel, a creamy combination of chocolate vodka, crème de cacao, orange liqueur, and Irish liqueur.
Dish It Up! is located at 2425 33rd Avenue W., Suite B, Seattle, Washington. Contact the school at 206/281-7800 for class schedules. Classes start at $70 per person.
First pairing: Bubbly Poinsettia and Gorgeous Gougères
- 2-1/4 cups gin
- 1 cup grenadine syrup
- 3/4 cup maraschino liqueur
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Ice cubes
- Chilled Champagne or sparkling wine
- Lemon slices (optional)
In pitcher stir together gin, grenadine, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice. For each cocktail, fill cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 1/3 cup gin mixture. Shake well. Strain the mixture into champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne. Garnish with lemon slice or wedge. Enough for 12 cocktails.
From Party Snacks, A.J. Rathbun. These airy puffs can be made in advance and reheated in a 300°F oven for a couple of minutes.
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets; set aside. Lightly beat eggs just until white and yolks have mixed. Put water, butter, and salt in medium saucepan; bring to boiling, stirring occasionally so butter melts. Add flour. Beat vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from pan's sides. Turn heat down; continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes until dough is partially dry.
Remove from heat. Cool for 5 minutes. Add beaten eggs slowly, stirring continually. Stir in cheeses and pepper; combine well. Put dough in large pastry bag or large zipper-top plastic bag. (If using latter, cut off one corner.) Pipe dough into 1-1/2-inch rounds prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until slightly crispy on the outside and slightly doughy on the inside, and golden in color. Serve warm. Makes about 4 dozen.
Sources: Many of the props in our photographs came from Material Possessions, 704 N. Wabash, Chicago, IL 60611; 312/280-4885, www.materialpossessions.com .
Second pairing: Saint Nick’s Rosy Cheeks and Blue Cheese Cherry Crostini
Saint Nick's Rosy Cheeks
- 1 750-milliliter bottle rosé wine
- 2-1/4 cups citrus vodka
- 1 cup Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
- 1 teaspoon orange bitters
- Ice cubes
- Maraschino cherries, for garnish
In pitcher combine rosé wine, vodka, syrup, and bitters. For each serving, fill cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) rosé mixture. Cover and shake well. Add 1 or 2 cherries to cocktail or cordial glass. Strain the mixture over cherry. Kiss Santa's cheek. Makes 18 cocktails.
Simple Syrup: Combine 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar and 1-1/4 cups water in large saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring mixture to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; boil gently, uncovered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let syrup completely cool in pan. Store in clean glass jar in refrigerator up to 1 month. Makes about 2-1/4 cups.
Blue Cheese Cherry Crostini
- 1-1/2 cups cashews
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 pound blue cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 12- to 16-ounce loaf baguette-style French bread
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Preheat broiler. Add cashews and cherries to food processor. Cover; process on high 3 to 5 seconds. Add cashew-cherry mixture to bowl. Crumble blue cheese into bowl; add pepper. Using wooden spoon, mix until well combined. Slice baguette into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices on baking sheet; broil, 4 to 5 inches from heat, 1 to 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned (watch closely). Top each toast with large dollop of blue cheese mixture. Broil about 1 minute more to heat cheese mixture. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes about 36 crostini, 18 servings.
Third pairing: The Tropical Getaway and Caribbean Stuffed Mushrooms
The Tropical Getaway
- Ice cubes
- 1/2 ounce grenadine syrup
- 2 ounces pineapple juice (1/4 cup)
- 1 ounce orange juice (2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice (1 tablespoon)
- Chilled ginger ale
- Thin pineapple wedge
Fill tall cocktail glass halfway with ice cubes. Add grenadine to glass. Combine pineapple, orange, and lime juice; slowly add to glass. Fill glass almost to the top with ginger ale. Garnish with pineapple wedge. Makes 1 cocktail.
Caribbean Stuffed Mushrooms
- 24 1-1/2 to 2-inch fresh button mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh pineapple sage or sage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Jamaican jerk seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
- Small red onion slivers
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. Carefully remove stems from mushrooms. Finely chop enough of the stems to get 1/2 cup; discard remaining stems. Arrange mushrooms caps on prepared baking dish, stemmed side up. In small skillet heat butter over medium heat. Add mushroom stems and finely chopped red onion. Cook and stir until softened.
In small bowl combine cooked mushroom mixture, bread crumbs, cheese, sage, half of the olive oil, jerk seasoning, and cayenne. Stir to combine. Spoon equal amounts of mushroom mixture into mushroom caps. Drizzle remaining olive oil and pineapple juice over mushrooms in pan. Cover; bake 20 minutes or until heated through and golden. Garnish with red onion slivers. Makes 24 mushrooms
Fourth pairing: The Right Bet and Broccoli Parmesan Puffs
The Right Bet
The homemade Blackberry Liqueur recipe is from Luscious Liqueurs, by A.J. Rathbun. Use fresh blackberries for a more scrumptious result. Make the liqueur about 1 month in advance of serving.
- 1 ounce Blackberry Liqueur (recipe below)
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce Chambord
- Lemon twist
Shake Blackberry Liqueur, vodka, and Chambord with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a lemon twist. Makes 1 drink.
Blackberry Liqueur: Gently wash 3 cups fresh blackberries; dry on towels. Place blackberries in glass container with tight-fitting lid. Wash, dry, and remove peel from 1 lemon. Scrape any white pith from peel. (Set lemon aside for another use.) Add lemon peel to blackberries. Using wooden spoon, gently mash blackberries and peel. Add one 750-milliliter bottle vodka; stir and seal jar. Place in cool, dry spot away from sunlight. Let sit for 2 weeks, swirling occasionally. Add 1-3/4 cups Simple Syrup (recipe below); stir again and reseal. Let sit 2 more weeks. Strain liqueur through double layer of 100% cotton cheesecloth into pitcher. Strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into large bottle or small bottles or jars. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes about 3-1/4 pints.
Simple Syrup: Combine 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar and 1-1/4 cups water in large saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring mixture to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Store in clean glass jar in refrigerator up to 1 month. Makes 1-3/4 cups.
Broccoli Parmesan Puffs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium leeks, chopped (2/3 cup)
- 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into rough pea-size cubes (1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup chopped prosciutto or cooked ham
- 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed (1 sheet)
- 4 to 5 dried tomatoes (oil-pack), drained and cut into strips
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Add leeks; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add broccoli; stir well, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove leek-broccoli mixture from heat; transfer to food processor. Add salt and pepper. Cover; pulse 3 to 5 times until chopped but not mushy. Pour mixture into bowl; add cheese and ham. Stir to combine.
Unfold puff pastry sheet. Cut into 9 squares; cut each square into two triangles. Using pastry brush, lightly oil baking sheet with oil. Arrange triangles on baking sheet. Lightly brush each triangle with remaining oil. Bake 9 minutes. Remove the puff pastry triangles from the oven. Using spoon, carefully cut through the top few layers of pastry to create a hole. Spoon filling into hole and on top of each pastry triangle. Top each with strips of dried tomato. Return to oven; bake 3 to 5 minutes more or until golden. Serve hot. Makes 18 hors d’oeurves.
Fifth pairing: The Snow Angel and Chocolate Orange Strawberries
The Snow Angel
- Coarse red and/or white decorating sugar
- Ice cubes
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) chocolate vodka
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) white creme de cacao
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) Coole Swan or other Irish cream liqueur
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) orange liqueur
- Small chocolate curls
Place red and/or white sugar in a shallow dish. Wet rims of two martini glasses with damp paper towel. Dip in sugar to coat rims; set aside. Fill cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add vodka, creme de cacao, Coole Swan, and orange liqueur. Cover; shake well. Strain vodka mixture into prepared martini glasses. Top with chocolate curls. Makes 2 cocktails.
Chocolate Orange Strawberries
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries
- 2 medium oranges
- 3 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup whipping cream
Rinse and dry strawberries; set aside. Finely shred peel from oranges; set aside. (Reserve oranges for another use.) Place chocolate in top of double boiler. Place over lightly simmering water (make sure water does not touch bottom of double boiler top). Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Add orange peel to melted chocolate. Chocolate mixture will firm up quickly. Gradually stir in enough whipping cream to make chocolate spreading or dipping consistency; adding more as needed. Dip each strawberry into chocolate mixture, or spread chocolate mixture over strawberries with small spatula. Place chocolate-covered strawberries on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Chill 1 hour or freeze 20 minutes before serving. Carefully peel strawberries off paper to serve. Makes 36 to 40 berries.