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Helene Dujardin
Senior Editor

Helene Dujardin

DBO Home Tastemakers' Table

Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie

Like most photographers, I "met" Dana Brandwein and Daniel Oates through the prop stylists I’ve worked with along the years. As a lover of beautiful props myself, I instantly found myself drawn to their line of ceramics, DBO Home.

Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie

The funny thing is that on a photoshoot, we use plates and dishes for the photos, carefully clean them and put them away. We rarely eat from them. For some rare, one of a kind pieces, that makes sense. But not so for DBO Home’s ceramics. I realized over the last few years working with them on sets that these were not only unique, handmade pieces but also functional and gorgeous on any tablescape. In any occasion. 

So when Dana emailed and asked if I were interested in doing a photoshoot with some of their pieces for their Tastemakers' Table feature on their site, it was basically a no brainer!


Table Dbo

I already had in mind the pieces and color palette I would love to work with. I picked dinner plates, platter and cheese board from their Burl series and mixed them with the delicate look of their Kashmir collection. A perfect balance of strong masculine dark grey with creamy accents of light blush and soft grey flowers. The color palette alone makes me happy. Seeing the pieces work together is completely thrilling.


Creamy Parsnip Soup

I asked my friend and prop stylist Angela Hall to create a table around those pieces and left it completely to her to pick what she thought would make an inviting Friendsgiving table of sort. What she came up with made me giddy the first time she showed me. When we put it all together in my backyard, it simply looked amazing. Decked out, yet inviting. Much like DBO Home ceramics. You may feel like they are too pretty to eat from but trust me, they are strong and feel so good and practical in your hands. 

We gathered our favorite peeps around a holiday orientated menu and had a fantastic time enjoying the work that Dana and Daniel put into each of their pieces. Because they are handmade, each is a bit unique, slightly different from the rest. Shapes are irregular, details are strong. Much like everyday life. And I won’t be waiting for another big dinner to use them again! 

You can see the pieces as sets and more photos from the table on the DBO Home site. They would make great additions to any table, any time of the year!


Creamy Parsnip Soup

If you are interested in what we cooked and enjoyed that evening here is the menu with links to the recipes. 

Appetizer: Cranberry Pomegranate Baked Brie from my friend Liren at Kitchen Confidante 

First Course: Creamy Parsnip Soup With Pear and Walnuts from Marcus Samuelsson (minus the sun chokes)

Main Course: Porchetta Spiced Turkey, Gaby’s insane wild mushroom stuffing and a salad with roasted acorn squash, blue cheese and pecans with a coriander seed vinaigrette that I made up in my head.

Dessert: Cardamom Poached Pears with Mascarpone cream (similar to this)

Porchetta Spiced Turkey

Food Styling & Photo Workshop in Tuscany, Italy!! September 27th – October 1st.

Bichi Borghesi-11-5

I am so excited to share with you this upcoming workshop I have been working on! Tuscany baby….!!!!!!!!

I am teaming up with Giulia Scarpaleggia, the force behind the Italian blog Jul’s Kitchen for a workshop in Tuscany, Italy at the gorgeous Tenuta Bichi Borghesi in Scorgiano, September 27th – October 1st.

The registration page is HERE 🙂

Bichi Borghesi-3-1

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 & styling processes, from basics natural light manipulations to more advanced ones. Each day will be filled with lots of practice, demos and guidance.

We will also have the chance to explore the best of the area with dinner in Sienna, visit of a cheese farm, wine tasting and a trip to the local market. Giulia will also host the group at her studio kitchen for a fun cooking class using fresh local ingredients. 

Together, they 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 in gorgeous Tuscany….

Bichi Borghesi-9-1

The group will stay at the beautiful Tenuta Bichi Borghesi estate, located 1 hour outside of Florence in three charming cottages around the property, September 27th – October 1st 2016.
The cottages have a mix of single or double occupancy rooms which are available upon request on a first come, first serve basis. Perfect options whether you are a light sleeper or you want to come with a friend and share a room to catch up!

Bichi Borghesi-5-3


September 27th:
Arrival day 

Welcome Meet & Greet and dinner at Tenuta Bichi Borghese

September 28th:

Morning: Hands on food styling, composition and photography demo. I will discuss my approach to a photo shoot and how to create a specific mood and feel to tell a story. I will cover selecting ingredients, props, composition, as well as choosing the best lens and angle for a specific recipe/item. Understanding and manipulating light and shadows.

Individual practice to follow, with my guidance.

Afternoon: Hands on food styling and photography demo.

Another demo led with me and getting more specific with defining and creating a style and a mood for either editorial, brand or blogging work. Basic art guidelines will be covered and put into practice.
Individual practice to follow, with my guidance.

Late afternoon tasting of local produce (olive oil, wine, charcuterie)

Dinner in Sienna

September 29th:

Morning: Shooting on location – food photojournalism

Visit of a cheese farm nearby – we’ll get the chance to learn about the cheeses made in the are as well as see cheese made that day. I will cover the basis of shooting on location such as what camera gear to pack, how to handle light in unknown situations, etc…

Afternoon: Hands on styling and photo session.
I will cover food and prop styling 101 for editorial and blog work. I will also talk about the business side of food photography for those who are eager to make that leap from hobby to full time food photography.

Students will work on creating a vignette of their choice (picnic, mini location set up, tabletop, studio work,…) with my guidance.

Pizza dinner at Jul’s kitchen studio nearby.

September 30th:

Market visit in Colle val d’Elsa, shopping for fresh and local ingredients followed by a cooking class at Juls' Kitchen.

Afternoon: Critique and review: students will present a few of their favorite shots and will have one on one guidance/comments within the camaraderie of the group so that everyone can benefit from tips and techniques shared.

Farewell dinner at the Villa

October 1st:
Travel day.

To register, head over —> HERE

Workshop includes:

3 days of hands on practice photo workshop

4 nights in a cottage at Tenuta Bichi Borghese

All meals, snacks and refreshments

Transportation to workshop activities (cheese farm, Juls’ Kitchen, Market, etc…)

Airport shuttle pick up (specific time tbd) from Florence and/or Pisa airport.

Workshop is limited to 8 people.

Fee is $1875 (does not include airfare to Italy)

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.
Schedule subject to change (mainly due to possible weather changes!)

All photos courtesy of Giulia Scarpaleggia.

Brown Butter Lemon Yogurt Cake

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!


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

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.

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

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!

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Pear & Nutella Tart

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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Watercress, Pancetta & Goat Cheese Spaghetti

Watercress & Prosciutto Spaghetti

If you are reading the blog on your computer, you might notice that it has a brand new look. Nothing drastic but I wanted this page to reflect more of how I currently saw things in my head. Once again, I got in touch with Ana at Blog Milk to install a new theme for me and she did a wonderful job tweaking it to my specs. I love Blog Milk! Not going to lie. Affordable templates, small installation fee if you don’t want to bother with it and great communication. Ana…thank you for keeping on creating!

Creating. It’s always something I keep in mind even for the most mundane everyday tasks. Like cooking dinner. I am fortunate enough to have a husband who enjoys everything I cook, whatever cuisine, whatever season. My mother in law is a traditional southern cook but she has surprised me more than once in the last month by having seconds of lunch salads and soups I wasn’t sure she’d go for. 

Watercress & Prosciutto Spaghetti

But heck…sometimes I am not that inspired comes dinner time. You would think that with the number of recipes I shoot for a living that would never have a problem picking one to make for dinner, wouldn’t you? Well, it’s like having "chefs disease"…you graze but rarely cook a meal for yourself. I see so many meals throughout the week that my brain kind of shuts down from time to time, a bit overwhelmed by the choices. 

That’s when the tried and true dishes and their multitude of variations come into play and make me look like I have awesome creating superpowers. I am all about superpowers. Mine is to usually make food disappear off my plate 🙂 What’s yours? 

One of those dishes is a simple pasta from Cooking Light with plenty of pancetta, lots of garlic, goat cheese and a big handful of watercress. It is actually a blank canvas to let your inspiration run wild. Pancetta is sometimes replaced with proscuitto, garlic gives way to shallots, burrata or feta sometimes eclipse the goat cheese and watercress disappears in favor of sorrel or arugula. I might thrown in some leftover smoked salmon, some fresh shrimp with a bit of chilies. Leftover roasted chicken has also been known to make an appearance from time to time. Spaghetti might give way to orecchiette or fettuccine.

Watercress & Prosciutto Spaghetti

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Happy New Year! 2016 Starts With An Olive Oil and Walnut Cake!

Olive Oil & Walnut Cake

Happy New Year! I hope that 2016 is truly filled with all your wildest dreams coming true! While we learn from our experiences, I am not one do dwell on the past much. What is done is done and tomorrow is not guaranteed, so the present is where it’s at. Pretty much. Last year tested me and also enabled me to stretch my wings. There were moments of 2015 I wanted to throat punch with a vengeance and others I wanted to relive in all their deliciousness. It’s what makes a year I guess!

Every year I follow Susannah Conway’s "Find Your Word" online course. I admit, I severely crush on the girl… beauty, intelligence and soul. She’s the whole package. Her Instagram #decemberreflections photo challenge was a complete stretch for me but I am glad I did! I am not one to stay still long enough to retrospect or reflect so this month long challenge was definitely an exploration in sharing thoughts through the lens. Five day into it, I knew my word for 2016. Explore.

Explore the obvious like new places, new projects, new recipes, but also explore my own hesitations, new techniques like calligraphy and video. Explore the senses and the unexpected. I am true Taurus after all and I am looking forward to where it takes me. It’s ok for your word to change. Last year I started with Nourish and mid-way through it, that word evolved into "Let Go". Both fit at the time. But there are so 2015 now…! Time to Explore!

And I need some sustenance for all that exploring that is about to happen. Olive Oil & Walnut Cake seems like a good place to start…

One last thing… There is ONE spot left in the workshop I posted the other day!


Olive Oil & Walnut Cake

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