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Chilled Riz Au Lait With Citrus Honey Poached Peaches

Chilled Rice Pudding with Citrus & Honey Poached Peaches

Thank you to everyone who has inquired about the workshop in Charleston. Yes, it is sold out but we do have a waitlist if you are interested. You can send me an email at helenedujardinphoto[at]gmail[dot com]. It’s been a busy May with family here and a busy June but I am ready for summer cooking and summer playing!

The heat is on for sure! We’ve been grilling a lot and making big salads chock full of all the vegetables we can get at the market. The oven is currently not an option I want to have. Gets the house too hot, takes forever to cool off and with longer days and more light, we just want to sit on the patio and enjoy the refreshing evenings as much as possible.

I have not done much baking, and usually it’s been on early weekend mornings before it got too warm. Desserts have been lots and lots of fresh fruits and the occasional cookies and ice cream. Not tremendously exciting (well, except for the couple of new ice cream flavors I have been trying to nail), but when summer rolls around, there are always three desserts I tend to put on rotations at the house. Panna Cotta, clafoutis and riz au lait (rice pudding).

 

Baking With Peaches & Lemon Verbana

Riz au lait is my comfort food. My grandmother used to make it all the time whenever we needed a little TLC. For me it screams "I love you", "Let me comfort you", "make yourself a bowl and come unload what troubles you" or just "hey, things are wonderful, let’s celebrate!" It’s all that. A gentle hug, a reminder to slow down. The scent of vanilla infused milk just wafting through the house. Something that requires you to pause and stir. Inhale and exhale. To me it is the essence of cooking and sharing. As soon as I make Riz Au Lait, I want to give a bowl to someone. 

Granted, it’s usually a dessert I make more often in the fall and winter months but chilled rice pudding adds a nice bite and cold creamy smooth feel. I cook the rice with milk and a bit of vanilla, just to the point of the milk being completely absorbed. I let the rice continue soaking in all that lovely goodness until it is cool. It’s soft and unctuous without being liquid.  The creaminess will reveal itself in the bite, not the look. Once cooled, I top it off with fruit poached in a citrus and honey syrup. Right now, peaches are ripe and gorgeous, but it could well be rhubarb or strawberries, a mix of different berries, etc…

My extra bit of love comes from a couple of lemon verbena stems I add to the syrup. Vanilla, citrus, honey, lemon verbena. My favorites, all surrounding a comforting bowl of rice pudding. Maybe not like Grandma used to make but she would approve nonetheless. I’m pretty sure of that…

 

Chilled Rice Pudding with Citrus & Honey Poached Peaches

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Announcing a 4 day Food & Lifestyle Photography Workshop In Charleston South Carolina, September 21st- 25th 2015

Workshop Myrtle Beach

EDITED: This workshop is SOLD OUT.

I am really excited to announce that I am teaming up again with my dear friend John Ondo, Chef at Lana in Charleston, South Carolina for a 4 day workshop in Charleston, South Carolina, September 21st – 25th 2015, combining food and lifestyle photography, composition and styling with cooking sessions with John.

I have known John for many years and have photographed him and his crew many times. His food, cooking, restaurant are like home to us. He’s incredibly talented, down to earth and a great teacher. We had such a great time teaching our last two workshops together that we decided to do another one. 

We wanted to bring a retreat/workshop that was not only full of information but relaxing at the same time and we are always thinking the beach is about as relaxing as one can get!

 

Workshop Myrtle Beach

During our retreat, I will share with you my photo and styling processes. Anything from camera basics, creating an edible narrative with your photos, styling naturally, working with different light situations, current propping trends, etc… 

Attendees will spend time with John in the kitchen learning techniques, basic skills and some fun dishes. Through both our personal guidance, you will develop your own creative process for styling, shooting and editing your photographic stories. 

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, cooking for photography, photo as a hobby or how to get started in the business. 

All this right by the ocean… 

Everyone, all levels of photography or cooking are welcome!

 

WkshopNZ

Here are the details: 

When: September 21st – 25th 2015 

Where: Charleston, South Carolina 

Fee is $1,850 and includes: 

4 nights accommodation 

3 days of practical instruction with cooking, food styling, composition, prop styling and photo sessions. 

All meals, snacks and refreshments 

Reception cocktails and appetizers on the evening of the 21st. 

There will be no refunds for this workshop – please know you attend before registering.
Full payment due at time of registration. Fee includes all meals and accommodations. No exceptions. 

The workshop is open to 8 people. 

Does not include travel fares to and from the workshop. 

To register please click here.

Jerusalem Artichokes Pasta & A Kumquat Bourbon Sour

Jerusalem Artichokes Pasta


It’s been a fun filled three weeks over here. We flew to New York to meet my parents coming in from France and toured the city with them before we all went back to Birmingham. My godmother, her brother and husband flew in shortly after for my 40th birthday. We made them discover the best of what Birmingham and Northern Alabama had to offer and we barely made a dent in all the wonderful things we wanted them to see. I think they were quite surprised (as were we when we first got here) at all there is to do and visit down here. I’m telling you, this state is a diamond in the rough, yet to be discovered. They flew back home but my parents are still with us for another two weeks.

After a short visit to our hometown of Charleston for Memorial Day and a quick stay with my in-laws we are all back here enjoying some downtime. I say hometown because even if I am an expat, Charleston had been my home for 16 years prior to moving to Birmingham and it is truly my husband’s hometown. There are roots there. Friends, stones, landmarks, a house we build ourselves, cobblestone streets we like to walk, trees we kissed under and waters we navigated.

sunchoke pasta Blog 3

Home is where we make memories. We have the luxury of being able to do so in two cities. At different paces, we different friends. We love the lush surroundings and neighborhood feel of Birmingham just as we long for the marshland and Spanish moss of the Lowcountry. We love the drive to South Carolina as much as we appreciate coming home to Birmingham. Both towns are ever changing and adapting at different paces and different ways. Friendships remain in one while some are cultivated in the other.

After some weeks traveling to and from, here and there and back again, we like nothing than the normalcy of cooking something simple that most at our dinner table will appreciate. It is still pretty easy to find some fall-ish produce around here. The Spring and Summer produce has had a late start due to the weather although I am noticing things are kicking into full gear finally at the farmers' market. Jerusalem artichokes and kumquats are still available and still spot on tasty. That’s a treat for those of us who like them a whole lot!

At the end of  a long day spent in a car sightseeing, shopping, meandering about town and state, I like to make a flavorful and easy pasta dish. Something that I can cook while enjoying a cocktail and more conversations with my guests. Enters this rendition of a pasta dish suggested by Nigel Slater in his "Tender" cookbook. Sautee the Jerusalem artichokes in oilve oil and garlic while you boil the pasta, garnish with a squeeze of lemon and parsley and serve. Voila. Easy. Serve with some extra freshly cracked pepper and freshly grated parmesan and your’re set.

Kumquat Bourbon Sour Blog

I did mention to prep this dish while sipping on a cocktail, didn’t I?! A while back, when friend and food stylist Nathan came over to play at my home studio, we made a lovely Kumquat Bourbon Sour cocktail that I have been able to replicate during some hot semi-feeling summer days. It couldn’t be any easier and any tastier. This ones comes the bar at the Hot & Hot Fish Club here in Birmingham Al. Beware. It is easy to prep and easy to drink!

For us, a home is where we able to have friends come and enjoy a good meal, share their worries and stories. A place where the traveler in miles or life can come and feel welcomed and loved. That’s what we hope we are providing for those who cross our paths.

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Mexican Feast To Be Shared With Friends

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!!

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Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp Noodle Bowl

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. 

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Kumquat Buttermilk Panna Cotta

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

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

Jerusalem Artichoke & Parsnip Soup With White Bean, Dill and Smoked Tartines.

Sunchoke Parsnip Soup2_Blog

Nothing makes me happier than being behind the camera, working with my food and prop stylist, nourishing that passion for food and photography that brought us together. Heck, we do it all week long. With the same gusto, fun, dash of sass and sprinkle of emotion and splash of pride. We know we have a task at hand and we know how to bring our collective minds together. We have one shot to make you want to make the recipe you see all shiny pretty in front of you.

I work with amazing talented people. I will never stop saying that. We bring our experience, our truths, our personalities and we let each other talk through our craft. Sure, some days we hit the proverbial wall. But we pull each other up and we talk it out, work through it and keep the intensity and quality going. I love the different teams I work with. They are the unsung heroes of a beautiful photograph. It takes a village to make a cookbook and I am proud to be living on a passionate, goofy, funny and dedicated block of that village. There I said it. I wanted to say it.

Smoked Trout Tartine Blog

That said, most of us have a little of weird streak in that we can’t wait for the weekend to come so we can get together and cook, style and shoot some more. Even after a full week. Gluttons for punishment? No. Not really. We come together to play with the food we want at that moment, no schedule or call sheet in hand, just us. I get to play with my props in my own space at our own pace. There might be a couple of tasting breaks involved, maybe a couple of cocktails. Always a pup keeping a watchful eyes on us. It’s relaxed, it’s fun and it’s good for the brain, eye and soul.

This past weekend, I got together with food stylist Nathan Carraba for a Sunday Play Day in the kitchen and my home studio. We worked on three different stories and this is part one of the series. It was a gorgeous day to turn on the grill (and we did) but also to make the best of this transitional weather has to offer. It’s a bit too early here for Spring produce and winter ingredients are starting to look and taste less than seasonal. This is the South. Transition is happening. We’re just anxiously waiting on the other side of the fence…!

We started with one of my favorite weekend lunch combos. Soup and tartines. A silky Jerusalem artichoke and parsnip soup paired with a white bean, radish and smoked trout tartine. Nathan cooked and styled, I propped and shoot. And then we sat down to a lovely lunch before moving on to part deux of our plan (which I will post later).

Recipes follow. Stay tuned for more fun!

Sunchoke Parsnip Soup_Blog

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Pear Walnut Cake, A Family Tradition

Pear Almond Cake

There are very few things that a cake won’t cure. From gray days and heavy rain to sickness and nostalgia. This winter has been brutal for a lot of folks. Here we have been spared from the general malaise of being stuck in a never ending cycle of snow days, blizzards and freezing temperatures. We did have a very minor taste of it last week with a little very slushy watery snow blanketing our street one evening. First time Tiggy the new pup experienced the snow. She had a blast, slid down a small hill a couple of time and like me, enjoyed the quietness that comes right after it falls.

 

Pear Almond Cake

In anticipation of a snow day and potential loss of electricity (didn’t happen), I went ahead and cooked a bunch of the vegetables and proteins I had in the fridge and freezers as well as the fruits laying about on the countertop. The results were a couple of stews and soups, a batch of pear financiers and this yogurt based pear cake.

 

Pear Almond Cake

This cake is my go-to, fullproof, can’t-mess-it-up-even-if-you-tried cake. We learn to make this cake almost as soon as we can stand and stir in my family. All my aunts have equipped with and taught this recipes to their sons, my grandmother passed it on to my mom who passed it on to me and my brothers. It’s a never ending cycle of goodness as we pass it on to the next generation of kids, siblings or friends.

 

Pear Almond Cake

And now I am passing on to you. It can be as understated as plain with a good cup of tea or studding with fruits, chocolate, nuts, flavored with vanilla, walnuts, lemon and anything in between. The result is a tender and crumbly cake that never ceases to comfort and make people smile.

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A Mixed Vegetables & Greens Soup And Red Lentil Tomato & Saffron Soup

Cabbage Soup With Salmon

Well, looks like the flu is making the rounds at work and I was not immune to its path. This strain has knocked me down for the greater part of last week. I am just starting to feel my head being clearer although I am still hacking away and the most simple activity leaves me completely wiped of energy. It totally zapped my appetite too leaving me with little desire or interest in food. A travesty!

Cabbage

I do know however that my body requires good, wholesome fuel in order to fight the virus. After the first couple of days spent on chicken broth, I took opportunity of a few moments when my energy was better to head out to the kitchen to fix a couple of big batches of nutritious soups. Even if I could only manage a spoonful here and there, I purposely cooked soups that would provide me with all the nutrients, proteins, natural carbs and fiber I needed.

 

Carrots

While I might have had to sit down at the kitchen counter to chop vegetables (legs and arms were getting tired fast), the promise of being able to lay back on the sofa, curled up with a pup and a hot bowl of soup was equal to none. Very slowly, one spoon after the other, I might manage this eating thing…

 

Cabbage Soup With Salmon

The first soup I made was kind of one of those you might create while cleaning out your fridge. I started picking up ingredients with flavor profiles that would work great together and added a few unexpected things to it. Spring cabbage, carrots, onion, potatoes were chopped, diced and simmered together. A whole head of mizuna went in last, adding a nice peppery touch. The whole thing got a whirl in the Blendtec until smooth. I served the soup warm, topped with some leftover cooked salmon and some pomegranate seeds. Nourishing and filling. While my husband took his with a glass of wine, I had to take an extra swing of cough syrup…but still, there was progress with the whole no appetite thing!

 

Mizuna

The second soup was from Diana Henry’s new book "A Change of Appetite". I love that book and have been cooking my way through it over the past few months. I had been eyeing her "Lentil and roasted tomato soup with saffron" for a while and happened to have most of the ingredients on hand. So with a little adaptation in execution such as replacing fresh tomatoes with a canned fire roasted tomatoes and subbing the yogurt topping for a little creme fraiche, I was in for a rich soup packing a bunch of comforting flavors.

 

Red Lentil Tomato Soup

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