Sometimes you need that extra somethin’ in your baking. Usually, I reach for Bourbon (god bless you, Kentucky), but lately I’ve been reaching for Amaretto. You may remember this lovely almond-infused liqueur from this california almond fudge pie or this incredible amaretto almond bunt cake.
It’s All Things Thursday and I’ve been thinking on things.
Last week, I read about something called in vitro meat. Meat that vegans could consume without guilt. Actual meat made in a lab from cow stem cells. What? Meat that’s grown in a petrie dish? Is it just me or is that kinda creepy?
The father-daughter team over at Herriott Grace make the most beautiful wooden pieces-spoons, bowls, and rolling pins, amongst other things. Personally, I’d like to purchase every spoon they’ve ever made. It’s functional art people. Get into it.
The new Fall TV season is here. I should be super-excited, but here’s what I’ve been wondering…when does season 2 of Hannibal begin?
Does anybody know their way around some Beer Mancakes? Yeah, me neither. Just the title alone has me intrigued. Perhaps, this weekend, I’ll try to whip up a batch from scratch.
I can’t seem to get this song outta my head. If you press play, undoubtedly, you’ll have the same problem. Proceed with caution…What Does the Fox Say?
I think there was more but it’s time for a hot tea and some Nutella-dotted peanut butter cookies. Until we meet again, my friends.
Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.
Frank Lloyd Wright
(photo credit: David Mayerhofer)
It’s Thursday. You probably know that already, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Welcome to All things Thursday!
I thought I’d take this day and share with you all the things I think about when I drive to school…or when I tune out the boring people I encounter sometimes.
While facebooking the other day I spotted this ad. It’s called PooPourri. Yeah, this is not a joke. You spray it the toilet bowl before you do your…um, business. Supposedly, it traps the funk in the bowl and instead, disperses a pleasing aroma. So, if you’re thinking about dropping a deuce at work, you might wanna cop some of this stuff first.
This Butternut Squash & Chorizo Shells over at Wit & Vinegar looks pretty freaking tasty. Now, if only I can figure out a way to low carb it. When I do, I’ll stuff the whole dish in my face.
I don’t know anything about smokers or brisket, but I’d like to sink my teeth into the Civilized Caveman’s huge slab of meat. Cue the penis jokes.
Replace the pasta with veggies and make Simply Gluten Free’s Gluten Free Eggplant Lasagna. Did you see how much cheese is in that recipe? And it’s low carb? Sign me up!
Did you know that cut-food photography is a thing? Well, Beth Galton made it a thing. Please check out her phenomenal portfolio. She’s truly inspiring.
Those of you who shop there know what’s up. Stop by The Huffington Post and read Kelly MacLean’s article Surviving Wholefoods…then thank her for the laughs.
P.S. Do you like my Bella Looma Scarf? Isn’t it the most perfect shade of blue-green. Yeah, I think so too.
Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
Harriet Van Horne
(photo credit: David Mayerhofer)
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.
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
I wish all photo shoots were this easy. I captured both of these images with less than 10 shots and called it a day.
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.
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.
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:
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Focal Length: 48mm
Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas Recipe
Recipe slightly adapted from Cheeky Kitchen
- 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
- Cut as many shapes as the tortilla’s will allow.
- Mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Heat oil in pan set to medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, fry the tortillas on both sides until the edges are browned. Be careful! They cook fast!
- Cool fried chips on a wire rack.
- Gently toss the fried chips in the sugar-mixture.
- Serve immediately.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-90mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Salted Sour Cream Ganache Recipe
- 10 ounces dark chocolate(I used Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao)
- 1 cup sour cream
- Pinch of salt
- Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.
- Heat chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts.
- Make sure to stir chocolate after each 30 second burst.
- Once the chocolate is completely melted mix in a little bit of the sour cream to temper the chocolate.
- Add the rest of the sour cream and stir to combine.
- Do not refrigerate before using.
- Store in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Reserve.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spray muffin tin Baking Pam or line with paper cups. Fill the muffin cups about ⅔ of the way, dividing the batter evenly.
- Put in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check about halfway through and rotate the muffin tin.
- The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cake.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack, frost and sprinkle with salt, if using.
We drink beer around here.
Can you tell?
Got an “A”: drink a beer.
Lost my wallet: need a beer.
Chips is on: grab a beer.
Tuesday morning: breakfast beer.
Are you feeling me? We really don’t need a reason in this house. Beer time=anytime.
There’s nothing like the first pull of an ice cold beer-for real. Yesterday, after waking early and having a very productive morning I realized I lost my wallet. Yeah, that really happened. Why? C’mon, you know why. I’m a hot mess. After searching in the hot-ass sun for an hour there was really only one thing left to do…
cry on the floor in a fetal position get some beer. The dman came to my rescue and picked up a sixer of Hangar 24 Orange Wheat Ale. I love this beer. Golden. Tangy. Refreshing.
The following morn I had one beer left. What should I do…drink or bake?
I decided to bake beer bread then immediately regretted my decision. That was my last beer! What was I thinking? An hour later with a fresh cold one in hand, a calm came over me and I had changed my attitude. This bread takes less than five minutes to put together and then the oven takes care of the rest. That’s my kind of recipe as sometimes I can be slazy* in the kitchen.
I’d say this beer bread was a wee bit on the sweet side. Dried thyme and oregano were added to the batter but the herbs got lost in the mix. I’m thinking…next go ’round I’ll throw in a handful of raisins and 1 tsp of cinnamon for a sweet treat. Or perhaps, I’ll cut the sugar by 1 Tsp and add some fresh herbs with grated cheese. Either way, I have a bread recipe that requires no yeast, kneading or proofing and that makes me smile.
Now, if you’ll excuse me…Chips is on in five.
*slazy (adj.): simultaneously smart and lazy. Originated by Karen of The Art of Doing Stuff.
Beer Bread Photo Notes
I wanted this one to be warm and low key. Most food photography is super bright, but beer bread is a comfort food that called for something a little different.
To achieve this look, I used a simple light panel and a white bounce card. The panel is made of 400 Leelux that has a warm tint. Most of the time I correct for this tint with a custom white balance, but I shot everything on “Daylight” and left the images warm.
When lighting anything, you have to consider the nature of the object. Bread screams “texture,” so I placed the panel 45 degrees behind the subject and let light scrape across the surface. This gave the bread dimension and created contrast. To fill in the shadows, I placed a white board opposite the light.
The fill was minimal and left deep shadows to accentuate the texture.
After styling the bread to perfection, Mondo put the bottle caps together for the last shot. For this one, I wanted crisp, long shadows to give the bottle caps dimension. I hit them with a 20 degree gridded spot light from behind that created directional light with limited wrap. This gave the image a lot of punch and I filled in the dark side of the caps with a white fill card …. simple and effective.
This was a smooth session and we actually finished early. After the shoot, we went out and celebrated with our good friend Nadia Elahi who just got a full-time professorship at Los Angeles City College. Congratulations Nadia, tenure is just around the corner.
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-90mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Beer Bread Recipe
Recipe slightly adapted from Ezra Pound Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (Note: Feel free to reduce to ¼ cup.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-x-5-x-3-inch loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and any herbs and/or cheese, if using.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer into the dry ingredients until just mixed.
- Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter. Slide a baking sheet onto a lower rack to catch any butter that might overflow from the loaf pan (there is no need for this when you use ¼ cup of butter).
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown. Brush loaf with melted butter. Serve immediately (or wait until later. I had mine for breakfast the next morning).