Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas & My Love of Fall

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas. When I want churros and there are none, I reach for these chips and I am satisfied | ibakeheshoots.com

I’m in love with Fall. I love its crunchy leaves underfoot and crisp evening breezes. I love its earthy autumn colors and promise of new beginnings. It makes me feel all warm and gooey inside, which is weird because I love the cool weather it brings. Sorry Summer. I know you’re the popular kid but I’m just not feeling you.

Fall has stolen my heart…and stomach with pie…glorious sweet potato pie. But there’s no pie. It’s not time yet. I still have about a month to go and I’m not good at waiting.

So, while I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for Fall, I’ve soothed myself with these fried cinnamon sugar tortilla chips in the shape of Fall leaves. And when I write ‘soothed’ I mean power-snacked two handfuls but pretended it was only one. How could I not? Did you read the title? They’re fried cinnamon sugar tortilla chips!

And just in case you were wondering…fried tortillas + cinnamon sugar = double-win, y’all.

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas. When I want churros and there are none, I reach for these chips and I am satisfied | ibakeheshoots.com

At the dman’s request I prepared some daisy-like shapes, as well. They were harder to cut out and didn’t mesh with my ‘love of Fall’ vibe, but I did it anyway. Of course, they photographed beautifully.

Ugh, I hate it when the dman is right.

But maybe I was wrong. I’m not-too shabby at the waiting game. In fact, I should be given a ‘waiting’ award-all fans should. We just waited one year for the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad!

Now, then…I’ve got a big bowl of  fried chips and eight hours of Breaking Bad in my queue. Sounds like a perfect way to wait for the arrival of Fall.

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas Photo Notes

by David

I wish all photo shoots were this easy.  I captured both of these images with less than 10 shots and called it a day.

Gameplan

I’ve been getting sloppy, so this shoot was about good technique and good lighting.  A picture made with lousy technique may look decent on the web, but it looks like junk on a print…… and guess what? Real photographers print.

Technique

I locked the camera on the tripod and left it there.  I also turned on the mirror delay mode and used a remote shutter release.  When the composition looked off, I didn’t take the camera off the tripod and hope for a miracle.  Instead, I recomposed the items on the table until I got it right. This is pretty simple stuff, but even in a studio with strobes, sharp images require good technique.

Lighting

I tried something different and now have my new favorite lighting setup.  For the main light, I bounced a strobe off the back wall of the studio.  This lighting is stupid simple and simulates a large window.  For the fill, I got on the David Hobby bandwagon and put a large 60″ soft-silver umbrella on-axis.  This created a very even fill across the scene and cut down on the contrast.  For the shot with the bowl, I also added a small white bounce card on the right side of the chips.  This setup may be a 99 cent store solution, but it creates beautiful results.  Here is a picture from behind the scenes:

fried cinnamon sugar tortillas lighting setup

 

Tech Notes

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 48mm
Shutter: 125
Aperture: f/10

 

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from Cheeky Kitchen

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 package of large tortillas (I used a package of 8)
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ T cinnamon
  • 2 c. vegetable oil for frying
  • Medium-sized cookie cutter
Instructions
  1. Cut as many shapes as the tortilla’s will allow.
  2. Mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Heat oil in pan set to medium heat.
  4. Once the oil is hot, fry the tortillas on both sides until the edges are browned. Be careful! They cook fast!
  5. Cool fried chips on a wire rack.
  6. Gently toss the fried chips in the sugar-mixture.
  7. Serve immediately.

 

Salted Sour Cream Ganache & Why Mockingbirds are Great

Salted Dark Chocolate Frosted Cupcake Wide

Mockingbirds are assholes…incredibly talented, naturally gifted, vocally impressive assholes. Yeah, that’s kinda harsh, but it’s totally true. There once was a time when I slept freely: window open, fan blowing, enjoying a peaceful sleep. But all that changed when a flock of mockingbirds came and settled in the tree across the street.

Hold on. Deep breath. Let me start over.

Mockingbirds are great… great at imitating other birds, car alarms, wind chimes, you name it. Great at keeping me up at all hours of the night with their captivating, yet endless serenades. Great at inciting me into a (standing-barefoot-in-the-middle-of-the-street-with-a-hand-full-of-rocks) rage. True story. I’m not a violent person, mind you, but this is no joke. Don’t. Mess. With. My. Slumber.

Ugh, something had to change.

So…after altering my sleep schedule, purchasing a case of earplugs and buying stock in Ambien, I’m a new person. Mockingbirds are awesome now. I totally appreciate them. They’re my new best friends…really.

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes Vertical

Now that I’ve been converted to a lover of all-things mockingbird, I’d like to celebrate with cupcakes…jumbo sized cupcakes with salted sour cream ganache. Whew, that’s a mouthful!

I like this recipe because the frosting is easy to make. Frosting is the reason why I don’t make cakes more often. All that whipping, making sure the frosting is the right consistency and then a crumb coat? Are you serious?

Salted Cupcake For this batch of cupcakes frosting is out and salted sour cream ganache is in. This ganache has two ingredients: dark chocolate and sour cream. It makes for a slightly tart dark chocolate topping which is nicely complimented by a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel. I suppose you could add a third, powdered sugar, so there would be a bit more sweetness to it. Either way it’s perfectly enjoyable. Kinda like the singsong brilliance of the mockingbird…as long as I’m not trying to sleep, that is.

Salted Sour Cream Ganache Photo Notes

by David

I was dead tired during this shoot. In addition to running a commercial studio, I do A LOT of outside retouching. It pays the bills, but fixing the work of awful photographers can be exhausting.

One of the things I love about food photography is the fact that most of the work is done in-camera. If a shooter lights a cookie from the wrong direction, no amount of Photoshop is going to save the day. To correctly light any type of still life, the photographer has to know the nature of the object. Does it have texture? Is it translucent? Is it reflective etc….? These are all factors a photographer has to take into account before snapping a single shot. If you figure out the object, carefully style it, and light accordingly, the work in Post is going to be minimal.

Lighting

So how did I light these objects? I did it all in Photoshop (just kidding). The lighting setup is pretty simple with one large light panel very close to the subjects. This created a nice soft wrap-around light with a fast fall-off. The fill is provided by a white bounce card.

lighting-diagram-cupcakes

 

Tech Notes

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-90mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Shutter: 125
Aperture:  f/13

 

Salted Sour Cream Ganache Recipe

Sour Cream Ganache recipe slightly adapted from Umami Girl
Sour Cream Cupcakes recipe slightly adapted from Anne Burrell

Sour Cream Ganache
Author: Carolyn Cope
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces dark chocolate(I used Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Heat chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts.
  3. Make sure to stir chocolate after each 30 second burst.
  4. Once the chocolate is completely melted mix in a little bit of the sour cream to temper the chocolate.
  5. Add the rest of the sour cream and stir to combine.
  6. Do not refrigerate before using.
  7. Store in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network

Sour Cream Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Makes 6 jumbo cupcakes
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • Special equipment: jumbo cupcake pan
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Reserve.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix vanilla, milk, sour cream and add slowly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually mix in the flour.
  5. Spray muffin tin Baking Pam or line with paper cups. Fill the muffin cups about ⅔ of the way, dividing the batter evenly.
  6. Put in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check about halfway through and rotate the muffin tin.
  7. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cake.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack, frost and sprinkle with salt, if using.

 

 

Easy Vegan Cookies & the Dman’s Meltdown

Vegan Chocolate Cookies with a hint of espresso. Eat them with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy!

This photo shoot did not go well-not on the first day or the second. And when photo shoots don't go well the d-man has a meltdown. You know, the "I don't need this shit!" kind of meltdown. It's not fun to be around, but I stick it out. Why, do you ask? Three words...Post. Meltdown. Magic. Let me explain. When something goes wrong the d-man gets mad-angry, temporarily succumbs to defeat and you think he's given up. But if you give him a minute, he refocuses, kicks it into high gear and puts-it-on-ya...photography-style. See Exhibit A below. ...but enough about the d-man's temperament. Vegan Chocolate Cookies with a hint of espresso. Eat them with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy! Let's talk cookies. Vegan. Quick. Yummy. These bad boys are crazy-easy and you'll be finished inside of thirty minutes. What? You read me. The main flavor of this cookie is espresso combined with a dash of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. What's surprising is not one flavor dominates. I loved this cookie with its crunchy edge, non-dairy buttery-ness and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Fresh, out of the oven these cookies were amazing. With its espresso base the cookie is perfect for dunking in hot black coffee. Guess what Dave did the next morning? Easy Vegan Cookies? Meet my Go-To List.

Easy Vegan Cookies Photo Notes

by David Game Plan This was going to be easy.  I've shot a million cookies so I had this shoot in the bag.  Since I went high key on the white acrylic for the Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, I would go low key and moody for the Easy Vegan Cookies.  Simple. The Reality I've never seen moody cookies and now I know why.  Cookies are happy and fun and going dark defeats the inherent nature of the subject.  I put the cookies on gray slate with a dark background and started shooting.  From a technical standpoint, I had my lighting mojo going but brown cookies against a gray surface is like wearing brown shoes with a black suit.  It just doesn't work.  Here's the shot: Rejected Vegan Chocolate Chip   Since the shot wasn't working, Mondo and I called it a day and went to the opening of an art show.  Considering I was shooting the same thing the next day, I left everything setup in the studio.  I never do this and always break everything down, but what could go wrong? The Next Day On the way down to the studio, I started thinking about Victor Schrager and the Martha Stewart Cookie book.  I loved this book and always wanted to shoot a job like this.  I had my inspiration. I reset the studio, metered the lights down to perfection and was ready to rock.  One problem: ------>I forgot to turn off my camera the night before and the battery was dead! I didn't have a backup and I didn't have the charger with me. Damn!  Mondo says I had a meltdown, but I was just a guy working through some things.  I got in my car, drove through 45 minutes of LA traffic, recharged the battery for a couple of hours and drove back to the studio. The New Setup This was going to be super clean and super Martha Stewart.  Mondo did her styling magic and staged the cookies.  Here is the lighting setup: vegan chip lighting setup This lighting setup is so simple, it's stupid.  The main light is a V-Flat (two 5x8 foamcore panels taped together) closed to a narrow strip with some bounce light going into it.  The white background is just a light bounced into the back of the studio and the fill light is from a piece of white cardboard.  For the stack shot, I used a piece of silver foil instead of the white board so I would have more texture and specularity on the side cookie. The Takeaway When things go wrong, I should chill because most of time everything works out.  After all, life's pretty good when you get to eat a big plate of cookies at the end of the day.

Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from TLC
Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe makes 22-24 cookies, depending on size.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookie
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached flour, 240g
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips(I used Guittard Semisweet)
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground coffee. Reserve a teaspoon of the dry ingredients and set aside. Coat the chips with the teaspoon of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a mixer add sugar and oil and mix for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and then add the water. Again, mix well. Add the dry ingredients. Fully combine but don't overwork the dough.
  4. Stir the chocolate chips into the dough.
  5. Use a tablespoon to scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets (I used a size 40 scoop). Put them in the oven. Bake for 6 minutes and then rotate the sheet 180 degrees. Bake another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. They will continue to cook a bit after being removed so they won't appear fully cooked yet.

 

 

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips & the Truth About Me

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

The truth about me is…I’m a hot mess.

It’s true…and I’m well aware. Check out my stats:

  • my gas tank is perpetually on E
  • I lose my keys on the daily
  • quite frequently I say  “We have to go back, I left the _____.”
  • my car looks like he hasn’t been washed since the ’90s
  • …and I don’t even know where my phone is, right now!

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

I could go on but I’ll spare you. The d-man says it’s part of my charm but most of the time, it’s just annoying. Needless to say, my hot-messiness and I are at odds. It’s a constant battle, but I claimed victory the day I made these chocolate covered potato chips. These chips say  “I’ve got this!” And they were right.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

Chocolate and potato chips was all I needed. Two ingredients and I had temporarily slayed the Hot Mess Beast. Head held high, I took these little beauties to a dinner party and watched my friends’ eyes alight with anticipation. They were  incredibly impressed but had no idea that for some reason, my credit cards were in the trunk of my car.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips: an easy sweet and salty snack by ibakeheshoots.com.

I have to give it up for the d-man. I mean…the chips looked good when the chocolate cooled, but they looked nothing like this. This photography is some next-level *ish*.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Photo Notes

by David

“You still got that white acrylic thing?”

“Yeah.”

…and so it began.

Mondo called it, and I shot it.  I did a few test shots in the baking pan, set up the white acrylic, and got conceptual with it.

From a lighting standpoint, these things were a challenge. On a single chip, I had to light a textured and reflective surface. I wasn’t worried about the texture, but the reflective surface of the chocolate could be a problem.  It would look completely flat unless I gave it shape with a bright highlight and a deep shadow.

To create this highlight and shadow, I pulled out my secret weapon: the Hacob light panel. This DIY light panel looks like junk, but it produces beautiful light with very soft transfer edges. Made by my former instructor Hacob, it’s a simple wooden picture frame filled with 400 Leelux.

Set shot:

Choc Potato Chip Setup

Ideally, this should have been shot on an infinity light table, but I did it with a piece of white acrylic propped up by a C-Stand. I placed a piece of white construction paper under the acrylic.

The lights:

1) The light in the back is adjusted one stop over my shooting aperature to create a pure white background.  The modifier is a 60″ Photek Softlighter.  It’s difficult to tell by the set shot, but the Softlighter is pointed upward to avoid refraction on the front lens element.

2) On the left, I have a simple white board to fill in the shadow area.

3) Lastly, on the right, I’m using the Hacob light panel to create a specular light on the side of the potato chips.

The funny thing is that after setting up the light panel to create beautiful highlights and shadows on the chocolate, I realized the back light was already doing the job. I changed gears and ended up using the light panel as an edge light.

Finally, to provide a better idea of how reflective surfaces work (like chocolate), here is a technical breakdown from the first shot of this post (back light turned off):

Choc Potato Chip panelChoc Potato Chip surfaceTech Notes:

Lighting: White Lightning X1600 monolight bounced through Leelux400 and Photek Softlighter 60″ for back-light
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Tripod: Manfrotto with trigger grip
Aperture: f/14 – f/18
Shutter: 1/160
Focal Length: 50mm

 

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (any chocolate will do. I used 60% cacao Ghirardelli)
  • 1 (9.5 oz) bag ridge-cut potato chips
Instructions
  1. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt for 30sec at a time. Mine took about 90sec.
  2. Stir chocolate until smooth and begin dipping the chips, about ½ way.
  3. Shake off any excess chocolate and place chips onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. Allow chocolate covered chips to dry completely before serving(about 2 hrs or you can refrigerate to speed up the process)
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week

 

 

Easy Apple Cake & My Not-So-New Tart Pan

Easy Apple Cake

Tarts are cool. Much cooler than cake or pie, for that matter. Tarts are just so laid back-like they have no worries. Unlike me; I worry about everything.

Ages ago I bought a tart pan…and when I write ages I mean sometime in 2011. Whilst pondering the very cool and laid back things I wanted to bake in said pan, I came across this recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. It is simple and unfussy, which is definition of laid back. Is it not?

Easy Apple Cake

This recipe is great if you want to make something quick and impressive for dessert or a lazy Sunday morning. I used whatever apples I had on hand which is invariably, Fuji. Fuji is my favorite apple, unless Honey Crisp is in season. Then I’m like…Fuji who?

This batter makes quite a bit of dough, too much for my 9 x 1.5 pan. I suggest halving the recipe or baking it in two pans. Otherwise, your finished product will be quite dense and won’t cook all the way through.

My favorite part of the cake was the crust-all shiny and golden. Would you consider me weird for slicing the crust off the top and leaving the rest behind? Yes? Then I guess I’m weird…and I’m ok with that.

P.S. Apple Cake accessories may include: floral jammies, french press and a king-sized comforter.

Check out the d-man’s lighting technique below.

Apple Cake Photo Notes

This shoot was a bit of a bust.  It started off fine, but plumbers + food photography = disaster.  Let me explain.

I work out of a really cool photo studio in a beautiful apartment complex built in the 1920’s.  I love the space, but last year, the adjoining art studio was taken over by a plumbing company.  Unfortunately, we share a common bathroom and I’ve learned photographers and plumbers don’t mix.  I have a “live and let live” attitude, but these guys can be a headache.

The latest drama came in the middle of the apple cake shoot.  A plumber knocked on my door and said  “We need to run a cable through your studio for the new security cameras we’re putting up in the hallway.” This wasn’t good.  I told them to call the landlord and went about my business.  After a few minutes, the owner came over and told me he really needed to run a cable through my studio and I told him he really needed to call the landlord.  That never happened and they bypassed my studio and did the job anyway.  I don’t know why a plumbing company needs “Mission Impossible” style security in a common hallway, but I now have the most secure shared bathroom America.  I also have a blown apple cake photo shoot, but those are the breaks.

Here is a lighting diagram for the abbreviated shoot.  The setup is the same as the cinnamon rolls recipe.

Dave

Apple Cake Lighting Diagram

Tech Notes:

Lighting: White Lightning X1600 monolight bounced through Calumet light panel
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Tripod: Manfrotto with trigger grip
Aperture: f/11
Shutter: 1/160
Focal Length: 50mm