Twisted Cinnamon Brioche Rolls


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Brioche Rolls
Trust your instinct. That is definitely the moral of this recipe/story. I had a hunkering for soft and buttery brioche rolls and with an afternoon completely to myself I figured why not dive i and put my pastry chef apron back on? Except, instead of digging my true and tried brioche recipe from my days at the restaurant, I went on pinterest, instagram, google, and just about every where else and finally chose a recipe. Method seemed right, measurements seemed off, but I have been surprised more than once shaking my head at a recipe only to be happily surprised by the end result. So why not, maybe they knew something I did not.
Brioche Rolls
While I manage to make the rolls turn out ok, there were a few chosen words and ninja moves to get there. But while the finished product was not uniform, they looked fine and tasted awesome. I inhaled one a few minutes after they came out of the oven, so really...what's the more important? My belly is happy. The family is happy. And of course now I want to do them over again using my restaurant days recipe. The one in that flour dusted binder I keep close by. That same binder filled with killer savory recipes from my mom and comforting sweet ones from my grandmother. I like to revisit it from time to time. Except I keep the family free of a sugar spun kitchen and chocolate towers. Oh well, the holidays are near. Maybe I'll spun or pull some sugar for the heck of muscle memory. Probably not...
Brioche Rolls
While I could lead you to the recipe that worked so-so, I am giving you the brioche recipe I have tried before and rely on when I need to make small batches (instead of brioche for 100 as I have it in my binder!) It is from Bouchon Bakery and never fails. You can make loaves, rolls or get twisted like I did this time.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! I am smoking a turkey and making French-American sides for a little Friensdgiving Wednesday and Thursday will be at my sister in law with the more traditional turkey and accoutrements. While not my holidays, I have happily adopted the tradition...

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Taiwanese Beef Soup
Been a frantic few weeks here since we moved and while it's been a half excuse not to sit down and blog, it has not been an excuse to stop me from eating well while getting the new studio space ready to roll.

 First shoot in the new space started with the lovely and awesome Gina Homolka from Skinnytaste for her second cookbook. Had to pinch myself when I was first approached by her agent to do the photography for this NY Times best seller author but had to pinch myself even harder when I was able to create my own dream team to work on it with me. Prop stylist Kim Phillips and food stylist Tami Hardeman, along with Tami's assistant Abby, joined me on this dream of a week. We have a bit more to shoot in March and April and I can't wait!

What's that got to do with eating well amidst busy days? Gina's recipes were all delicious for one, so we did eat very well on our shoot. I have a ton of leftovers from that week in my freezer for two. And third, I've been on a high soup making kick with all the leftover produce in the fridge. And when I was pretty through with those, I turned to a recipe I've been wanting to make for a long time. Taiwanese Beef Soup. The thoughts of soy sauce, chilies, star anise, ginger and beef simmering on the stove for hours was perfect the cold I was starting to develop.

 After perusing several recipes online, I turned to a friend on Facebook who directed me to one my favorite authors, Andrea Nguyen and her recipe, itself adapted from another one. I followed his advice and used beef shanks with bone marrow and oxtails. I had to adjust the spiciness for my mother in law a little and added in some sliced red chilies separately into our bowls. Everybody was happy and everybody had seconds!

Announcing A Winter Styling & Photography Retreat in Charleston, SC December 8th - 12th


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Super excited about the focus of this workshop I am putting together with Chef John Ondo. We are teaming up for a winter styling and photography retreat in Charleston SC, in a beautiful beach home located on the Isle of Palms December 8th -12th. The 3 day workshop will be geared toward food, prop styling and photography in low light situations such as winter, rainy and cloudy days. 

Helene will focus on her photo and styling processes, from basics natural light manipulations to more advanced ones. Cooking sessions with Chef Ondo will punctuate the mornings and afternoons where he will share his love of Mediterranean cuisine and creativity cooking with locally sourced ingredients.

Together, Helene and John will guide you to create an edible narrative with your photos, and share current food styling and propping trends, etc... Nothing is off limits with questions, from how to pick ingredients and how to cook them, how to manage your cooking/photo time efficiently, knowing about photography for blogging or professional work, cooking for photography, photo as a hobby or how to get started in the business. 

All this right by the ocean.

The workshop will start by a casual meet & greet at the beach home, followed by dinner prepared by Chef Ondo. Three days of photography and cooking follow. Attendees will have a morning free to wander about Charleston with a private tour guide, get some personal work done or just chill.
Workshop Charleston
The workshop includes: 
3 days of photography, composition, food styling and cooking sessions 
4 nights accommodations on the beach at Aerie House 
One on one photo sessions with Helene
Cooking demos with Chef Ondo
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners Refreshments and snacks 
Most rooms are shared - there is opportunity for single rooms on a first sign up basis

To register, please go HERE.

Workshop is limited to 8 people. 
Fee is $1850 (does not include travel fares to and from workshop) 
There will be no refunds for this workshop – please know you can attend before registering. Full payment due at time of registration, no deposit required.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Hot Smoked Salmon & Cherries.


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Brussel Sprouts Salad
Thank you everyone on your kind words on my last post. You are the best virtual peeps a girl can have. I always know I can come to this space and share without holding back. What you see is what you get... We are not settled in yet, living out of boxes still. Mainly because we are trying to cram three lives into a house and while my mother in law has been nothing but gracious about making this space our own, we are taking small steps towards big transitions.

We came with what we needed, putting the rest in storage, two dogs and a bunch of photography equipment for the new studio. I am so grateful that the office/studio is adjacent to the house so we can  help her out and work at the same time.

I am just giddy at the new space I will have to get back to freelancing. My original studio as a freelancer had amazing light but was a bit small. This new space is currently getting new floors, a fresh coat of paint and the dark room is being turned into a prop room. First big book shoot since getting back to being my own boss is happening in less than a month and I can't wait to have the space done and ready!

Brussel Sprouts Salad
I have been teaching workshops ever since we left Birmingham and I am finally enjoying a few days of reprieve. That means admin emails and phone calls, trying to figure out where things are and getting reacquainted with my town and its creative pulse. Things I have learned in the three days I have officially moved back in: while my mother in law doesn't cook anymore, her knives are crazy sharp. When she says "I'll do it" that means "I have a system and only I can do it right." Oh and "more wine please!" Now that's me speaking. And you know what? It all works out in the end...

I am in charge of cooking and I love that she is open to everything. Spices, ingredients, cuisines. It's all different for her and she loves good food so we are a good pair. I love being able to share with someone all the bounties surrounding us and having open minded palates, even in her 90s is wonderful. I made this Brussels Sprouts Salad with Hot Smoked Salmon And Cherries last month before I left but I am excited to try it out again with her. While cherries may not be in season anymore, you can easily substitute red grapes or pomegranate seeds for them this Fall.

I am sure we will have more adventures in cooking in the weeks to come but so far so good...Even evenings of cheese plates and nibbles are fine by me! The photo below is one of my new favorite shots that I did with my bestie Tami at the Mixed Conference we taught at this past weekend.

We are all embracing this move and what it means to us. Living, sharing, giving back, holding on, creating new and exciting work.

Cheese & Nibbles

Pork Belly Tacos With Cilantro Avocado Cream & An Announcement!


Friday, August 28, 2015

Pork Belly Tacos With Cilantro Avocado Cream
Three years ago, exactly to the date, I was letting you in on a pretty big move in my life. Both in my immediate geography and career. When I was asked by the creative director of Time Inc Books in Birmingham, Al to come work for them as Senior Photographer three years ago, the timing was perfect. I was ready for a little more time in one place with the possibility to work with dedicated and talented food and prop stylists everyday.

I put my whole heart into it, I learned so much more than I could ever think of. Meant some wonderful people in the world of publishing. Editors, graphic designers, recipe developers and test kitchen professionals who have fed my soul and belly with beautiful pages and great food.

I am so happy that I answered yes to the offer three years ago but now, it is time. We are moving back to Charleston, SC. I resigned from my position and I am going back to being a freelance photographer!


Pork Belly Tacos With Cilantro Avocado Cream
After my father in law passed away, we made a promise to my mother in law to be present to take care of her. Be present. Be in the present. That has always been the pushing force for us. Charleston, back home, is where we need to be. After two years not being able to find work, my husband got his position back at the College and is a happy fish again. I am excited about the world unfolding before me and already have my head going wild with ideas about collaborations, work, projects. Life is always on the other side of fear.

 I am looking forward to more time for workshops, travels, work, work and more work. Because I love what I do and hope to be doing this for a long long time. Thank you all for wishing us well on our new adventures three years ago. Hope you will be excited as I am to follow my new adventures along. 

Once again, bear with me as I pack boxes and more boxes and settle into our new life (and new studio space!). In the meantime, it's Friday. That means tacos and drinks in this house! Pork Belly Tacos With Cilantro Avocado Cream to be precise.
Pork Belly Tacos With Cilantro Avocado Cream

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