19 August, 2012

Strawberry-Balsamic Ice Pops



When summer temperatures soar, I can't seem to get enough Popsicles, ice cream, and frozen fruit pops. I rarely indulge in a lot of sweets anymore, but I admit that I'm a sucker for frozen desserts. When I saw the book People's Pops, I immediately ordered it with some ice pop trays, and made my own. I've played around with making lots of ice creams in the past but these are a bit different, are incredibly simple to make, and take almost no time to throw together (but then you have to wait 5 or 6 hours to indulge, so you need to plan ahead).

I adapted this recipe from the book by adding cream and not using lemon juice; the balsamic is definitely enough "sour" to brighten the flavor of the strawberries. I've enjoyed strawberry-balsamic ice cream the last couple of years, so felt the cream would give it a great consistency. There are 64 other fantastic and unique ice pop recipes in this book, many using herbs, some have booze, and many have unconventional fruits for ice pops, such as apples, canteloupe, and figs. I will definitely be using this book well into fall, as there are seasonal varieties, depending on what's in season.

People's Pops is an ice pop shop in New York City that is going like gangbusters. With recipes like this, I can totally see why.

Ingredients.

1 lb. strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
1/4 cup cream
3 TB balsamic, or to taste (the average supermarket variety is fine in this recipe)

Instructions.

Make the simple syrup several hours ahead by combining 2/3 cup water with 2/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and liquid is transparent. Remove from heat and cool.

Put the strawberries, syrup, cream, and balsamic in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (If you like bigger fruit chunks, don't completely puree.)

Pour the strawberry mixture into your fruit pop molds; leave a half-inch of room at the top for expansion. Insert the sticks and freeze for about 5 or 6 hours, or until solid.

To unmold, run some warm water over the outside edges of the molds for a few seconds and then lightly tug at the sticks until they release. Serve immediately, or put into freezer bags and freeze for later.

Makes 10 normal-sized frozen fruit pops.

Images.





18 August, 2012

Gorgeous Gourmondo


Gourmondo Catering is a fantastic client who has hired me on multiple occasions to shoot their updated menu offerings. The ladies I work with there have a natural eye for detail and make styling a breeze. In most cases, we take a modern, minimalistic approach, but once in a great while, we let our rustic flag fly. 

This is just a small sampling of the foods I've shot over many different shoots. The foods are always incredible to look at and, and the ones I've tasted were outstanding.

If you are looking to cater an event, or would like to order boxed lunches, please look them up!










14 August, 2012

Three Days of Food Styling

On-location picnic shoot

If there is a more fabulous food photography/styling trio, I certainly don't know about it! Although I already shoot professionally, I still try to learn and add tips to my repertoire, and so when I saw this workshop come available, with three people in the industry who I adore and admire for their immense collective talents (Clare Barboza, Helene Dujardin, and Becky Selengut), I couldn't resist signing up. While I am pretty good at composition and shooting itself, I was very weak in the styling department. So, for me, I learned more about styling than with the photography part.

Before arriving, I imagined I'd learn a few new things to add to my own food photography knowledge bank. This, however, was a gross understatement. I learned immensely by three days of total immersion and the wide variety of projects we worked on (studio work, specific styling requirements, on-location shoots, full restaurant shoot, post-production work, etc.). Not only that, but the three different sets of eyes and experiences were well-rounded and expansive. I noticed that all of the attendees work, including my own, got better and better as the days went on.

One thing I learned was that you can be given an assignment and if it doesn't look and feel how you like the first few photos, then mix it up and create more of what you had in your head. Here are two examples of where I started with a simple fig and goat cheese crostini and a plate of Argentinian beef with chimichurri sauce, didn't like them, so completely changed them mid-stream. This is allowed! I love it. If you aren't "feelin' it" by the first couple shots (or even while you are styling), then by all means, do it differently.

While the first one is not bad (although a bit dark),
I was going for the look of the second.
Modern. Bright. Minimal.

I liked the idea of a single crostini on a bright surface but it didn't jump out at me.
Also, while the colors in the first matched the toast,
I decided richer colors worked better.

At the end of the third day, we were asked to pick what we thought our strongest photos/sets were from each type of assignment. These are mine and the themes I was going for, or those that were assigned to me specifically.

Park Picnic

Poppy Restaurant
Salad Setting
Grandma's Table
Small bites

Large platters of food can be hard to photograph

Telling a story of the restaurant/food

Photojournalism

Restaurant with modern decor

Platter of differing heights of items

Meat is very hard to photograph

Also, this has nothing to do with anything at all, but I love this shot I took at Poppy's bar area.

A line of bitters

After three days of shooting and processing, we sat down to the most amazing closing dinner, prepared by Becky Selengut and Marc Schermerhorn. A Thai/Viet spread to die for. Becky's wife April gave us a short lesson on wine (and why we should give riesling another try).

A lovely class. I am very honored to have been a part of it.











04 August, 2012

My Trip to the Upper Midwest


Last week, I came back from a trip to the Upper Midwest (northeastern Wisconsin, and the upper peninsula of Michigan). Before this, I'd never explored the Midwest apart from a couple of quick trips to visit a friend in Duluth (and an even quicker jaunt to Superior from there). I'd loved it there and was excited to return to the region and really explore it.

I stayed on a little chain of lakes right on the Michigan border (see photo of lake above) with Mike and his son at his family's cottage. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing new things, talking to the friendly locals, and especially trying the different foods. Interesting culinary differences: supper clubs, Friday Fish Fry, cheese curds, cheese shops, pasties, huge chocolate-chip pancakes, and butter burgers. (Sad to say that I did not try chocolate cheese or fried cheese curds.) It is a wonder I did not come home 500 pounds heavier, though. The Midwest food is not for the weak of heart!

Instead of writing a travelogue, I think I'll just let the photos tell the stories. (Click to view them larger.)

Cheese shops dot the Wisconsin landscape
Curds and smoked string cheese




Keyes Lake, Florence, WI


Barb's Cafe, Florence, WI
Jean Kay's Pasty Shop

Damian's Pasties


A butter burger from Kroll's in Green Bay, WI (yes, there is butter on that burger!)
Ski jump and and viewing deck
Annie's Trading Post

Pembine Family Restaurant
In Wisconsin, you can get your hash browns *inside* your omelette. Genius.
Friday Fish Fry is popular in Wisconsin (I had the Walleye Fish Fry)
The Tavern on Central, Florence, WI
Kids playing in the barrens

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Go, Packers!)
Steamin' Joe's cinnamon rolls were perhaps the best I've ever had!
Tried two Wisconsin beers, both from New Glarus Brewing, both good!
Gina Marie's Supper Club