Mexican Feast To Be Shared With Friends

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Mexican Fiesta Table
I rarely think about doing holiday posts, well maybe except for Christmas or New Year and it wasn't until last week that I was editing these pictures that I realized I was going to post close or on Cinco de Mayo. However, holiday aside, this is a feast with friends I would do over in a heartbeat!
 
Pork Tacos
Nathan and I got together for another Sunday Play Day in the kitchen and behind the camera. Our idea was to cook and shoot a big feast, a meal that we would both serve to friends or cook with them. I can't recall how we got to the Mexican theme however but sure is pretty fitting now! 

Mojo marinated pork skewers in soft corn taco shells, salsa verde, pico de gallo, grilled baby onions, spicy pickled veggies, elote, rice and beans, grilled nopales were on the menu!
 
Elote
What I love about this meal is that each part comes together rather quickly even with its multicomponent aspect. Some elements can be bough ahead of time instead of trying to make them yourselves. For example, the soft tacos that we ended up grilling, as well as the chicharrones, were purchased at a local Mexican market, along with the tortilla chips and spicy pickled vegetables.
 
Watermelon Margarita
We got caught up in the festive mood of our shoot and added a Watermelon Margarita cocktail at the last minute. It was actually really nice to have an afternoon of nibbling and sipping cocktails while shooting and creating images with the light, colors and composition that we wanted. I think all of our play days so far have included a cocktail and we don't plan on changing that!! 

Cinco de Mayo or not, this Mexican orientated spread will make an an appearance many times over on my table this summer. Round up the meal with the flourless chocolate cake I posted recently and you are sure to make people belly happy!!

Flourless Chocolate Cake With A Twist.

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Monday, April 20, 2015


Flourless Chocolate Cake
There are times you just want chocolate. Easter Sunday for example. I know it's already bee a couple of weeks since then but I still think about chocolate. And cake.

You say Easter and it generates something of a Pavlov response in me. Easter meant roasted leg of lamb, green beans with lots of garlic, new potatoes and chocolate in my family. It also seemed to be my grandmother's favorite holiday, after Christmas. To this day, I still can remember the decorative chick and chickadees she would put in the middle of the table. The menu very rarely changed one year to the next and everyone would flock my grandparents' house for a long, well wined dinner.
    
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Finding myself away from my family, near and far, this time last weekend left me with the urgency to gather some friends around and do something that would nourish my soul. Day to day routine can be heavy at times, often actually. I like certain routines but lately my husband is on a on and off calendar. His family is going through some pretty serious health issues at the moment and he spends one week with us here in Birmingham and one week back in Charleston. I didn't care much for being alone with one pup on Easter weekend...
 
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Don't get me wrong, I can always find a movie to go see, a new restaurant to try, a recipe I've been meaning to develop or try from a new book or blog. But what could be more fun than doing it with friends? A couple of weekends ago, I gathered a couple of friends and we played in the kitchen pretty much all day. We picked a Mexican themed fiesta with lots and lots of dishes to be shared with friends, alongside a cold beer and a few good stories. Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner after all...

Oh did we cook! Stay tuned for more recipes and photos in the coming weeks!
 
Flourless Chocolate Cake
There are so many fun recipes and shots from that day that I really don't know where to start but I think a little chocolate can do everyone some good. In doubt, always start with dessert... This cake is completely flourless and a snap to make. It is from Martha Stewart and was my go-to recipe in my pastry chef days because it didn't require too many ingredients, thus very easy to remember. Served with salted butter caramel sauce.

Because chocolate and caramel go together like blue skies and sunshine. I added a bit of cinnamon and black pepper (yes) to add some kick to it and end our Mexican night on a lovely note.
 
Flourless Chocolate Cake Smash Up
We made two cakes, two different recipes, and one wouldn't unmold well so we decided to just dig in. A dollop of creme fraiche (or many), a few spoons and plenty of laughs and we were in business!

Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp Noodle Bowl

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Bun Tom Heo Nuong
There are days when all I want to do for dinner is throw together a big bowl of something, plop down in front of a good movie and slowly enjoy the rest of the day. I tend to do that most often when my husband is out of town or playing music late. It can be a big salad of farro and roasted veggie with a little salmon on top, fried rice with an egg on top, or a simple kale caesar salad with a tartine.

I often go for Middle Eastern or Asian seasonings and inspiration. Sometimes not. There are no rule, just a little balance of veggies, starch and protein. And always extra veggies and sauce or spices. On the day that food stylist Nathan Carrabba got together and make that sunchoke soup and tartine I posted recently, we also made and shot this incredibly satisfying Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp Noodle Bowl (Bun Tom Heo Nuong). He is my partner in crime in anything Asian and pickled. We both love all the flavors of Vietnamese and Thai cooking in particular. 

After a long and fun day shooting, nothing made me happier than diving in this lovely bowl bursting with fresh and comforting flavors. 

Kumquat Buttermilk Panna Cotta

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Kumquat Panna Cotta
If we've hung out together before, you then know that there is not a dessert I do not like. Crunchy, melty, elaborate, simple, fruity, chocolate,...I like desserts. However, I have noticed as I grow older that I have more of a savory tooth than a sweet one while I still love to bake and make ice creams or confections for friends and gift giving. A simple fruit satisfies my sweet tooth. Oh wait. I did do a number on that chocolate bar in the test kitchen at work today. Never mind...!

Still, give me a good piece of cheese and that is my dessert. I do however have a particular affinity for panna cotta. It's creamy, soft, can be flavored or plain, topped or layered. There are so many possibilities on a simple panna cotta recipes as there are recipes for chocolate chip cookies. Variations are as endless as your creativity and desire to play.
 
Kumquat Panna Cotta
I found myself with an abundance of kumquats and not enough days to eat them before they'd go bad. I like to snack on them raw as I edit pictures or catch up on emails after work but I had simply too many on my hands at this point! With my husband out of town, I didn't really feel like baking or doing something complicated with them. A panna cotta seemed like a simple and super satisfying dessert. 

Infusing the cream and buttermilk for the panna cotta with pureed kumquats gave a whisper of citrus to the cream while fresh slices of the fruit on top providing that little pucker I was looking for. Perfectly light and creamy. And decadent...
 
Kumquat Panna Cotta


A Two Day Food Styling & Photography April 25th-26th 2015!

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Sunday, March 22, 2015


WkshopBHMLogo2
A lot of you have sent emails or sent comments about my workshop schedule this year. I am working on a couple of ideas but there are a few family events planned out this year as well as a few family things that need most of my free time and attention.

But, I am excited to announce that I am teaming up with my bestie, food stylist Tami Hardeman to bring you 2 day food styling and photography workshop in Birmingham, Alabama where I reside. I love this town and its art community. So many great restaurants, talented photographers, exhibitions and so on. We will be spending two days creating, playing, working, sharing.

We both work in this field as our everyday life but the need to come together and teach and create independently from clients fuels us with lots of energy and passion that we want to pass on to you.

The class is targeted to all levels and we will be there to take your photography and styling to the next level. Gently and efficiently, we will give you the tools to let you express your creativity with your styling and photography.

We will guide you on several photo assignments where we'll share all our tips and techniques. Whether you have a blog, write for a local or national magazine, work with brands and need to supply food photography, want to establish a career in the world of food styling and/or food photography, etc... this workshop is for you.

We'll share the tools and philosophy we use in our daily workflow: defining a mood and feel, working with mood boards and sketches, sourcing ingredients and styling, choosing the best props to showcase the food, composition through lighting, best camera angles and tools for the task at hand, editing and post processing.,etc...

Here are the details:
When: April 25th &26th
Where: Studio 410 in Birmingham, Alabama
Number of attendees: 8
Fee: Early bird of $850 until March 30th then $875 til day of the workshop
- Meet and Greet on Friday April 24th from 7pm til 9pm,
- 2 days full of instructions with Tami and Helene
- dinner Saturday night (location TBA)
- lunch, snacks and refreshments for both days (travel costs, transportation and lodging not included)

Please go HERE to register. See you soon!

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