Rhubarb Tart With Cashew Frangipane

April 21, 2016

Rhubarb Pie
Workshop update: there are 3 spots available in the workshop I am teaching May 16-20th in Charleston. Right on the beach, with lots of hands on demos, practice times, all around great food and meals! All details HERE.

I know better than to stock the fridge before a photoshoot but I could not resist the Spring produce in front of me at the market. I loaded up. Greens, radishes, okra, lettuces, herbs, rhubarb, eggs, milk, etc... I got worried on my way home that my food stylist would have a fit with that much valuable real estate taken up for her own groceries. On the other hand I know that if one eats as many vegetables as we do, the volume/space occupied in the fridge seems to be gone in a matter of a couple of days anyway.

I almost panicked when I thought the rhubarb was lost in the deep dark spaces of the refrigerator, somehow fighting its way between the baby radishes and cherry tomatoes. As soon as rhubarb appears at the store I stock up, load up and cook up. It's probably one of my favorite things. It reminds me so much of home. My mom used to cook big pots of rhubarb compote or make rhubarb jam galore. I like to poach just until slightly soft but not mushy and add it to yogurt for a snack, make candied rhubarb or lots of rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails all through Spring and Summer. 

And then there is always a rhubarb tart or galette. This time I used some leftover puff pastry I had from a previous tart, made a cashew frangipane and layered some quick poached rhubarb batons (pieces) on top. Not too sweet and super buttery. The perfect little piece for an afternoon snack.
Rhubarb Pie


Brown Butter Lemon Yogurt Cake

April 1, 2016

Brown Butter Lemon Yogurt Cake
You have no idea how excited I am to have our farmers' market start again next weekend! It's my weekly stop for all things locally harvested as well as eggs, raw milk, fish and meats. Unfortunately, I'll be missing the first weekend which makes me a little sad but I'll be with a fantastic group of ladies shooting the last increment of Skinnytaste's second cookbook. It's been a joyful, wild and busy ride (another cookbook fell right in the middle and one other starts 5 days after we wrap up) but you can bet I will be showing up as much as possible until December that the market ends.

I haven't had much time to cook and photograph for this blog lately but one thing I did take time to bake and shoot was this Brown Butter Lemon Yogurt Cake because I knew with the two sweet toothed people in the house that I would not have much time to do so before it was all gone...! Except I think I ate most of it! Call it editing deadlines, planning nerves. I'm just putting it on a case of "Spring is here! Give me lemons! Give me cake!".
Brown Butter Lemon Yogurt Cake
This cake is a slight departure from my usual olive oil cake. I cook butter on the stove until its wonderful nutty aroma filled the kitchen and used Bulgarian yogurt instead of regular yogurt. It adds an even tangier flavor and enhances the lemon kick in the cake. This recipe makes one large loaf or two smaller loaves if you want to make the goodness last. We obviously can't resist that long...

Happy Spring!


Fennel & Celery Salad and Roasted Vegetable Salad With Blood Orange Vinaigrette

March 19, 2016

Fennel Celery Salad
Thank you to all who have inquired about the latest workshop I posted. It is the last before Fall for Chef Ondo and myself as Charleston gets unbearebly hot after May. We are excited to have you join us and spent one on one quality time with you and sharing everything we can! And yes, there are still spots available! May is so gorgeous this time of year and hopefully the water will be warm enough for a couple of dips in the ocean (although there is a pool at the beach house!) It feels like every where I turn these days, where it to be Instagram, Pinterest or blogs, everyone has Spring fever. And rightly so. Except for us here in SC,

It feels like we had two weeks of winter in between Spring and Spring. Fall? I have no idea what that is around here! We've had a mere couple of weeks of winter it seems and now it already feels like summer. My socks have been relegating to the bottom of the drawer and the box of summer clothes is about to cramp up our bedroom space soon. 

I feel torn about it - I like the milder temperatures that our winter brings. I like the ability to layer, put on a hat, wrap myself in a warm blanket or a comfy scarf. I like the long simmered stews that screams winter comfort to me. On the other hand, I can't wait for Spring and Summer produce, long dinners al fresco with our friends, juicy peaches and nectarines, and colorful fresh salads.
Roasted Veg Salad
I am about to embark on a short trip to Kentucky to wrap up a cookbook shoot and while I try to stick to good eating habits while on the road, between the crazy schedule and the fatigue elements, I am never sure of what the days will be like food wise. It seems like wine always find a way to make it to dinner though... Joke aside, I have been filling up on lots of veggies and greens over the last couple of weeks in between editorial and cookbook shoots. I am happy to share with you two of my go-to salads. Easy to prep, shock full of flavors and they can easily accommodate the addition of a protein if you feel like it.

I often make the Fennel and Celery Salad as a quick lunch with a soft or hard boiled egg to go along but it would be great with a side of chicken or fish. The more robust Roasted Root Veggie Salad is loaded with beets, turnips, carrots, farro and chopped carrot green (tops). It's a favorite alone but the cumin blood orange vinaigrette makes it a flavorful side for grilled fish or pork chops. Pomegranate seeds are now available pretty much all year long thanks to nifty little packaged cups while the blood oranges in the vinaigrette can easily be subbed for part lemon, part oranges (half and half) making it easy to have year long.


Food Styling, Photography & Cooking Workshop In Charleston SC, May 16th-20th 2016

March 10, 2016

Workshop May 2
Super happy to announce that I will be teaming up with Chef John Ondo for a food styling, photography & cooking workshop in Charleston SC, in a beautiful beach home located on the Isle of Palms, May 16th-20th 2016. The 3 day workshop will be geared toward food, prop styling, photography, cooking demos and lots of hands on practice.

I will focus on my photo, composition 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, we 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, 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 get some personal work done or just chill. A trip to the docks to get fresh fish and a visit to a favorite antique store are also on the itinerary. 

The workshop includes:
3 days of photography, composition, food styling and cooking sessions
4 nights accommodations 
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.

Salmon Tacos With Avocado Cilantro Cream

February 17, 2016

Salmon Tacos With Avocado Cilantro Cream
Lunches are most often not that elaborate at the house during the week and they most often turn into brunch during the weekends. I am more of a nosher from morning til dinner if left to my own devices but Mama Ruth isn't. Though not complicated or demanding, she can't graze all day long. It's mostly soups and big salad with a little protein. A big plate of crudites and some hummus while editing pictures or responding to emails. Always good but nothing that requires multi pans preparation.

However, once in a while, I get a wild hair and make us something special. Especially if she saw something in a magazine and found it "inte-resting". She pauses on the word like so when she clearly thinks "unusual" or "weird". It makes me smile everytime. It's like the challenge is on for me to make her discover new things.

Salmon Tacos With Avocado Cilantro Cream
I got to say most of said interesting dishes were received with lots of "hmmm this is good". Thai green curry, Char Sui, ramen noodle soups, bouillabaisse, ratatouille, etc... Tacos are still on the undecided camp, mostly because they are not as easy to eat. Food falls, liquids end up all over your hands. They're messy. So while we roll them up, she eats them open faced. Still with a smile of satisfaction.

These Salmon Tacos with Avocado Cream were very warmly received albeit for the "it's messy, isn't it?" comment. At least not a crumb was left and they are now on rotation at the house so I must be doing something good!


Pear & Nutella Tart

January 28, 2016

Pear Nutella Tart
I sympathized with everyone going through the blizzard and snowstorm that hit the East coast by making a few baked goods and giants pots of soup. Sure our temperatures dropped a little but nothing like people up North felt it. No snow here. I lived vicariously through friends posting on social media and the news reports. Winter here is touch and go. It was 70F yesterday. I think I wore a coat 4 times so far. I am not complaining. I know that being freezing cold and shoveling mountains of snow feels old really fast.

Nostalgia kicked in though. During the winter months back home, we would drive up to the mountains near Italy where my family has a chalet and spend two good solid weeks skiing to our hearts' content. I miss those days. I love and miss the silence right after a fresh snow fall. The pure air of the mountains and the cozy feel of a warm cup of soup by the fire.

Pear Nutella Tart
It also made me crave Nutella. Our favorite snack after a long day on the slopes. And tart. A good tart with Nutella would be perfect to indulge in my nostalgic moment. If you know me or have read this blog for a while, you know that I have a hard time with chocolate and fruit pairing. I simply do not like chocolate and fruit in anything. Especially berries and fruit. Give me nuts, caramel and chocolate any day and I am a happy girl. But a chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and I will pass. Except when it comes to pears and chocolate. Somewhat I am better than good with that association!

I had leftover puff pastry dough that I had used for Galette des Rois during Epiphany so I decided to use it for this Pear & Nutella tarte. I knew it wouldn't puff as much being re-used but that was just fine this way. The filling is a basic custard with a good amount of Nutella in it. Choose pears that are on the ripe side rather than firm and just harvested.

Pear Nutella Tart


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