A Little Weekend News Bulletin...

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sandwiches

Let's start with some administrative fun stuff: the winner of Carrie's cookbook is Susie from Return To Sunday Supper a brand new blogger on the food blogging scene. Congratulations! Email me your snail mail address at mytartelette {at} gmail {dot} com and I will drop the book in the mail.

And now on to more fun things brewing....

Tart & Ice Cream

Until recently I was not sure what authors meant by "writing is a solitary process". As I am nearing the end of writing the manuscript for Foodography, I completely get it. I am never alone when I write. Bailey is snoring by my side on the couch and Tippy is somewhere sleeping in a corner dreaming he's chasing after a squirrel. The day is often punctuated by from my mother who wants to make sure I am taking all my vitamins and my husband who often sends me notes of support. So yes, I am not lonely. But it's just me and my thoughts.

Dinner

The best place to write is really in the photo studio, filled with gorgeous and abundant natural light, my equipment, familiar props and linens, inspiration boards and favorite quotes. So far I have not experienced any writer's block. I am way too excited and grateful to be given the chance to share information and tips with you. I have kept all the email questions you sent on natural light, artificial light, composition, workflow and started answering your most frequent problems that way.

Pots Pie

This book is really for you and as I am writing a couple of chapters on styling and composition, I thought they would be the perfect ones to have you participate some. Have you ever struggled with styling sandwiches? Beef pot pies maybe? How about handling ice cream for a beauty shot? Is it plating table sets that causes grief?

I am all ears! There's plenty of time and pages left in those chapters for me to include one of your most dreaded things to style and shoot. Yes! Go ahead and tell me what type of food you would like me to tackle! I will tabulate all the answers and pick one at random to cook, style and shoot. The person's whose suggestion is picked will receive a free copy of Foodography as soon as it is released in May!

Don't be shy...!

Sorbet

Finally I want to live you with this book teaser video that my dear friend Taylor from Taylor Takes A Taste, shot last week when he came to visit. He came to help me take shots of us taking shots, light set ups, etc..before driving us both to the Food Blog South conference that took place in Birmingham last weekend (you can read his recap here). He took his visit as an opportunity to practice even more his already excellent video skills. Thanks Taylor!



Have a great weekend!

Homemade Gravlax & Prawn Crackers Appetizer

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Smoked Salmon on Prawn Crackers

Sometimes I get this crazy notions that I have a lot of time on my hand to do whatever. I know. Crazy right?! I mean, as the years go by I realize that "it will only take five minutes" will never be an accurate statement. It takes Bailey a mere 30 seconds to hide my shoe and I end up spending the next hour looking for it (what do you mean you have more than one pair of shoes?!!). However I relish recipes that allow me to marinate, brine or cure. Recipes that let time do its thing. Not in five minutes and surely not in thirty seconds.

There is virtue in meals quickly put together. My better half is eating a lot of leftovers with a poached egg on top as I work my way through several book projects at once. That really takes ten minutes and it's just fine most nights. There are however days when I want to take more time with food. So I make ravioli and enjoy rolling dough to relieve stress and I release a few expletives in the process. I let my pan of ratatouille go on for hours until perfectly caramelized. I relish in the long simmering process of onion soup.

Smoked Salmon on Prawn Crackers

And then entered gravlax...The last time I had made gravlax was over 10 years ago. On a whim. After watching The Galloping Gourmet on T.V. I remember it distinctly because France had not been exposed to many cooking shows before and something about the concept was brilliant. The experience was so easy that I really can't figure out why I waited this long to make it again.

It is so simple and you can literally put the cure together in less than 10 minutes and two days later have the most delicious gravlax. Bill loves it on his bagels in the morning and could not stop asking me "ready yet?" "are you sure it's not ready yet?" I kept repeating like a stubborn mule "Thirty six hours dear. Be patient". Patience is key. The gravlax is buttery, sweet and salty and fragrant of dill and juniper berries all at the same time.

Light & Healthy

Some of us belonging to the Martha Stewart Circle were gifted with quite many pounds of fresh Norwegian Salmon as part of a campaign they were running. I love salmon but living on the waters of South Carolina, it is not a fish I buy often since it does not fish in the waters around here and I try to support local fishermen as much as possible. If I get salmon, I get Pacific wild salmon but I was intrigued by the claims of sustainability and ethically ocean-farmed raised salmon.

I got in touch with my favorite source on everything seafood, Becky from Chef Reinvented whose first cookbook, aptly entitled Good Fish is coming out in the Spring. What came out of our exchange, and without knowing lots of specifics about this company, is that not all ocean farmed salmon is equal and that some Norwegian farms are better than other farms, do not use antibiotics and monitor the growth and feeding of the salmon carefully. We both agree that even though it could be raised in better conditions than other farms in the world, it still does not compared to wild caught salmon. We also determined that it would be a waste of darn good fish not to cook with the one I had received!

Smoked Salmon on Prawn Crackers

I started with making Thai Coconut Salmon Soup actually and posted a preview on Flickr a couple of weeks ago but did not get around to post yet. The second one was this appetizer made with homemade gravlax and I could not help but make a quiche. No fear, everything will be up on the site at some point! Nothing could be easier than this appetizer. Well once the gravlax is done of course... I pan fried some dried prawn crackers (also named chips depending on the brand) and topped each with a slice of radish, some gravlax, a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkled everything with chopped chives and pomegranate seeds. The combination of sea, sweet and salty was pure joy on the tastebuds.

Oh dear... we ate the entire thing that evening with some bubbly and shared it all with good friends.

Homemade Gravlax And Prawn Crackers Appetizer:

Serves 12

For the gravlax, adapted from The Minimalist.

Time: 10 minutes, plus 24 to 36 hours' refrigeration

1 cup salt
2 cups sugar
1 bunch dill, stems and all, chopped
2 tablespoons cracked juniper berries
1 2- to 3-pound fillet of salmon, pin bones removed.

Mix together the salt, sugar, dill and juniper berries. Place the salmon, skin side down, on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the flesh side of the salmon with the salt mixture, making sure to coat it completely. (There will be lots of salt mix; just pile it on.)
Wrap the fish well. If the temperature is below 70 degrees, and it is not too inconvenient, let it rest outside the refrigerator for about 6 hours, then refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours more. Otherwise, refrigerate immediately for about 36 hours.
Unwrap the salmon, and rinse off the cure. Dry, then slice on the bias (see illustration). Serve plain or with lemon wedges, creme fraiche, sour cream or a light vinaigrette.

For the rest of the ingredients:
freshly fried prawn crackers/chips or already made ones - just make sure they are fresh! (available at most Asian grocery store)
12 thin slices of radish
1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream mixed in with some salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Make the gravlax according to the recipe directions. Fry the prawn chips according to package instructions or use already fried ones (available at Asian grocery stores) Layer slices of radishes, slices of salmon, top with dollops of sour cream, some chives and pomegranate seeds.

Use as little or as much as you want...just be prepared. The combination is seriously addicting!!

Pecan Coconut Cherry Granola and A Deliciously Organic Giveaway

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Pecan Cherry Granola

*** Per the instructions in this post, the giveaway ended on Sunday night, 01/23/2011.***
It's not often that I cook from a cookbook from beginning to end. It's not often that I do it twice. Three times. And it's not often that a cookbook becomes like the postcard of a very dear friend. Something you read over and over for fun, to learn, because it touched you somehow. That's how I feel about Carrie's book, Deliciously Organic. That's how I feel about Carrie.

A year ago, I had no idea who Carrie Vitt was. I had no idea I would be privileged to bring her recipes, her family and her words to photographs. I had no idea, just a faint and distant skip in my heart, that we would become friends. When work allows you to connect beyond the image, to understand someone's journey and decisions, you can't be anything but grateful.

Granola

I know, I know. I am biased. Of course I am! Not only was I given a tremendous "first" cookbook to shoot, her first to write, but all the hard work and the hours spent dissecting recipes and looking over hundreds of images really paid off. Huge thanks to IFP, her publisher, for putting the highest quality demands on both of us. And to the amazing crew of people working on it.

We ate well for the two weeks I worked on her book. We ate very well. Carrie came during the shoot and her recipes took on an even greater dimension. We talked about her reasons for going organic and non processed. We discussed and commented. We established a dialogue and an area of mutual quiet respect. Through food. As it should be.

Tomato Chive Quiche

If you are looking for organic, unprocessed, wholesome ingredients, Carrie's recipes are simply put just pure gourmandise whether you are making Sour Cream and Lemon Pancakes with Blueberry Puree, Grandma's Crawfish Etouffee, Roasted Red Onion and Pear Salad, or the Pecan Coconut And Cherry Granola and the Tomato Basil Quiche in the pictures here. (click on continue for recipes at the bottom to get the granola recipe.)

If you are puzzled with the what/why/where of going organic, Carrie's story and subsequent journey and discoveries will provide some pointers and ways to explore. Carrie's tone is never preachy or condescending. It can't be. You realize that when you meet her in real life, trust me. So you listen or read. And you learn. And you share.

Of course I want her to do well! I loved photographing this book! I can't wait to start on her second! I loved the work but first and foremost it's not everyday that you first cookbook shoot turns out to be one you handle from ingredient shopping to post processing all by yourself and still leave you elated and rubbing your belly for more good food.

Tomato Chive Quiche

Every dish in this book was photographed, then eaten. That chicken on the back cover? Man...it came out hot from the oven, we set it down on my table, photos were taken and we ate it but a big salad simply dressed of lemon juice and olive oil. I have dreams about that chicken. Yep, I planned every work day around a set menu: one breakfast, one entree, two sides, one dessert. Oh yes...

Again. We ate well. Very well.

And we still do. And now you can too! In honor of Carrie's book release, I have one copy to giveaway to a lucky reader among you! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and a winner will be picked at random on Sunday night 01/23/2011, midnight eastern time. One entry per person, no anonymous please. I will ship anywhere in the world.

Carrie....I am so flipping proud of you! Virtual flowers and Champagne to celebrate!

Wishing...



Notes: I know...where's the quiche recipe, right? In the book....we can't give you all that's inside the book but I urge you to try it as you as you can. That recipe alone will make for better Sunday mornings...trust me!

Pecan, Coconut and Cherry Granola, printed with permission of Carrie Vitt.

Makes about 8 cups
1 cup (185gr) whole cane sugar or sucanat
¾ cup (180ml) organic maple syrup
4 cups (440gr) rolled oats
1 ½ cups (130gr) coconut, unsweetened
1 ½ cups (150gr) dehydrated whole pecans, or pecan halves
1 cup (160gr) dried cherries, lightly chopped

Preheat your oven to 350ยบ and adjust the top rack to the middle of the oven.
Whisk sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until almost smooth. Pour the oats, coconut, pecans into a large bowl and then pour the syrup over them. Stir gently until the syrup coats everything. Spread mixture onto a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for twenty minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Break into pieces and add the dried cherries. Add dried fruit after you break up the granola into loose bits and large pieces. Sore in an airtight container.

French Onion Soup

59

Friday, January 14, 2011

Onion Soup

Days go by lately and they pretty much look the same. Write write write. Camera camera camera. Write write write. It's pretty intense. It's very insane and I would not change it for the world. Writing this book is the toughest thing I have ever done. Finding my authoring voice as well as my "manual-guideline" writing voice, as well as analyzing hundreds of my own pictures to make sure they are the best in the category they will be used for. I wondered the other day is 5pm was a decent time to finally brush my hair...

I am learning tons. About the world of editing and publishing, myself, others. About having someone busting your chop and being always one step ahead. I thought I did not sleep much, I think my editor got me beat. I often wonder if I am slow or it's just the subject matter that makes me slow down and double triple check how I put it down on paper. I have never pondered words and dissected pictures as much as I have been doing the past couple of months. And there is so much still left to do and so little time to do it in.

Onion Soup

I do believe I'd feel different if I did not have to work my regular job at the same time. Yep. The bills still have to be paid, regardless of how long my behind is glued to the office chair or my eyes to the computer. This is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done in my career but it's looking to be a dance of two or three of anything at least until July. And for some insane reasons, it's not stressing me out one bit. It's gotta be because I am doing a job that makes me smile every morning I get up.

I equated it to kitchen work the other day to Bill as we were looking over the schedules. Last time I felt such a high and peace of mind all jumbled together was when I was working in a restaurant kitchen.

Winter Salad

Talking about restaurant kitchens...I am starting the photography for Virginia Willis's cookbook this weekend and I am looking forward to working with a dedicated crew of women, from cook to food stylist to yours truly behind the camera. We have a packed schedule the coming 3 days so you won't see me pop around here much. Once the shoot is over for the day it's back to writing and editing my own material. Lots of recipes to be covered for her and we have for mission to find the cover! Ah...no pressure!!

I am ready! With the intensity of the last few weeks, it would be easy to forget proper nourishment. Except I am not one to forget to eat. When time is of the essence, soups and salads are my true staples. It's usually the same lentil or split pea soup but since my buddy Chris posted his French Onion Soup, I have been obsessed to make a big batch of it. Paired with my favorite salad of the moment and I am set. Perfect bite of comfort and TLC during quiet and studious days.

I am hoping to get plenty of "behind the scenes" shots for you guys. So stay tuned!

Onion Soup & Winter Salad


French Onion Soup: Click here for the recipe.
I'd never trust just anyone to make good onion soup like my mother used to make but his...wow! Make the time to put a batch on the stove. You won't regret it. Use gluten free bread and you are good to go!

For the salad, lately it's been rotating around these ingredients:
- greens, granny Smith apples, feta, pomegranate seeds, vinaigrette.

Perfect lunch...

Pear & Almond Frangipane Tartelettes

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Pear & Almond Frangipane Tarts

It's been a week of catching up here since New Year. Catching up on family, catching up on friends, emails, snail mail, thank you notes, love notes. The holidays have been so busy and wonderful that every bit of everyday is truly dedicated to organizing. At the end of the day, feeling both mentally spent and elated, we welcome a little break and a treat.

It does not have to be anything fancy or sweet. Sometimes it's just a slice of bread and some honey, a couple of cookies, a piece of bread and a cracker, etc... Sometimes, it's a treat I made specifically for a tea break. Sometimes, like the other day, it was pulling ends and pieces together to make something utterly scrumptious: Pear and Almond Frangipane Tartelettes.

Pears

On New Year's day I made all the traditional Southern foods since my in-laws were coming over such as ham, black eyed peas, collard greens, biscuits, etc..I also added one of my family's traditions by making a galette des rois with gluten free puff pastry. I know I was a few days early, but that's how it goes in my family because of everyone's travel and work schedule during the holidays. At least, we make time to gather, eat a piece of galette and have a glass of Champagne to toast the new year.

This NY Day, I made more frangipane than I actually used in the galette so I parked it the fridge. I did consider eating it with a spoon as it was if you must know. There is something about frangipane that is just creamy enough and rich enough to make me forget reason...

Eggs

It took a couple of extra days and I had all the elements necessary to make proper (read dignified) use of the frangipane. Some very ripe pears, some pastry dough saved over from making quiche and these little tartelettes were born. We barely waited until they were cool enough to share one during a little mandatory work break.

I am just very sad we are both starring at the last one right now! Have a great weekend!

Pear & Almond Frangipane Tarts


Pear and Almond Frangipane Tartelettes:

Makes six to eight 3.5-inch tartelettes or one 9-inch tart

For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch (or tapioca flour)
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold water or milk

For the frangipane:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/3 cup (115gr) honey
1 cup (100 gr) ground almonds (blanched, slivered, whole, your call)
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cardamom

3 medium pears, cored, halved and thinly sliced (I left the skin on but feel free to peel them before hand)

Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and mix briefly. Add some water or milk, one tablespoon at a time if the dough feels too dry. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan or eight 3.5-inch tart rings. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 10 minutes until almost partially baked. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 5 days before using. Let cool while you prepare the filling.

Prepare the frangipane:
Place the butter, honey, ground almonds, and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream and cardamom but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking.

Assemble and bake:
Divide the frangipane among each tart rings, add a few slices of pears right on top (no need to push them through) and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

We like ours with creme fraiche and a bit of vanilla sugar.

Making Time For Tea & Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

I hope everyone is having a great start to the New Year and feels refreshed and ready to enjoy 2011 to the fullest. B. and I don't really make resolutions as we know what works and what does not, what needs to go and what needs to be and always keep those in mind. Not just because it is the New Year. It's refreshing to think of beginnings though. Possibilities.

This past Sunday, we pulled out the big calendar and jotted down our respective commitments so far. We got to July and looked at each other with a big smile and circled August three times and wrote with capitals "vacances a deux". There's been a lot of traveling but it's been too long since we traveled just the two of us and we absolutely love it. We'd love to go to Ireland and Scotland where he is from. It's not a definite yet but we'll work hard to make it happen. Got to dream big right? Right!

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

The second thing I wrote down in my internal calendar was to make an effort to put myself on pause for tea time. I've mentioned this family tradition before where would gather at the dinner table around 4 or 5 o'clock and have a cup of tea and a couple of cookies or a slice of pie. It was a good way to talk about anything. It was the perfect way to breathe and make plans, laugh and banter.

The cooler days in Winter are perfect just to curl up on the sofa, and take a little time to just be. No disturbance or interference. I am all about a sweet little nosh with my tea and I love making our favorite family treat back home, a simple lemon and olive oil yogurt cake. Everyone, boy or girl, in the family has been taught this cake as soon as they were able to handle a mixing spoon. So easy, so good, so comforting.

cupcake

This time I changed it up a bit and turned the cake into cupcakes with cream cheese frosting left over from making carrot cake macarons. I also used desiccated coconut as part of the gluten free flour mix I used for no the reason that although he likes the flavor of coconut, B. can't stand the shreds. I bumped the citrus for good measure and the cupcakes were a hit.

Perfect with a hot cup of tea on a sunny Winter afternoon...

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes


Lemon Coconut Cupcakes:

Makes 14

For the cupcakes:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup olive oil (don't skimp on the quality)
1 cup plain yogurt (low or full fat)
zest and juice of a lemon
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
shaved coconut to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F and line cupcake tins with cupcake liners, slightly brush the inside olive oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, yogurt, lemon juice and zest and whisk again so that everything is well mixed. Add the rice flour, millet flour, coconut, baking powder and salt and mix until the batter is smooth. (You can do this in a stand mixer if desired)
Divide among the muffin tins, filling no more than 2/3 of the way up. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out free of crumbs.
Let cool completely before frosting. Once frosted, add a few pieces of shaved coconut if desired.

Cream cheese frosting:
From this post.

New Address!

15

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A New Year and an updated url! Tartelette's url is now www.tarteletteblog.com

You can update your records manually if you wish or wait for everything to get synchronized but it might take up to 48hrs.

Happy New Year again!

Happy New Year! Bonne Annee!

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