WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth

Here is my interpretation of this week’s WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth. Nothing like a slab of BBQ ribs grilled on an open fire to make your stomach feel warm and fuzzy…

Flaming RibsThe Secret SauceFlaming Ribs

 

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The Perfect Lunch

I haven’t had much time to do any kind of quality photography for fun in months. My poor Nikon has been so neglected and was collecting dust —  as with my photographic skills. Finally with the tourist season winding down a little, I had some free time from managing duties to play with the camera. I thought it would be good to shoot some items from our menu to put on Big Bear’s Facebook page. The opportunity to do some foodie shots was a welcome relief for me. While I enjoy shooting all kinds of subject, Food Photography is still my most favorite. I find food photography more challenging to shoot than other subjects. There are many components that has to be just right to get the food to look appetizing: lighting, composition, styling, and presentation to name a few.  Luckily, I have a great chef at my service — not only can she cooks well but she has a good sense of presentation in putting the dish together, which is very important in food photography. And of course, the best part about food photography is that I get to eat the subject; in this case my perfect lunch.  🙂

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Nothing like chewy, gooey, chocolate chips cookies right out of the oven. Shannon, the chef makes these from scratch daily. Being a professional baker myself, I have to admit her chocolate chips cookies are the best I ever had — yes, even better than my recipe. 😀

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Here is the grilled eggplant sandwich with freshly made potato chips. This is probably the best veggie sandwich I ever had. Shannon makes her own secret sauce that elevates your taste buds to a level of sophistication that makes you want more. And the warm potato chips is unlike anything you will find in the stores.

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While I felt a little rusty with my photographic skills, it was a fun and tasty shoot.  As they say, practice makes perfect…  stay tune for more yummy dishes from Big Bear’s menu.

Cook, Shoot, and Eat

I’ve been following Karen’s blog: Back Road Journal for some time now and what a world traveling blog it is. She has taken me on some amazing European trips, entertained me with her wonderful photos, stories and sense of humor; she also introduced me to many cuisines from around the world. Not only does Karen have a great passion for food, she is also a wonderful cook. I always look forward to see what recipes she would come up with. A few days ago, Karen posted a delicious looking recipe of Spaghetti alle Vongole; meaning in Italian, Spaghetti with Clams. I love how it sounds so exotic in Italian. Even though Karen had posted many yummy looking recipes before, for some reason this particular recipe stuck in my mind. While I was at the grocery store yesterday and saw a tank full of fresh manila clams — the idea for my 250th post came to mind. I decided to recreate Karen’s recipe and do a photo shoot to tell the story of making her dish.

The recipe is very easy. It would take less than 20 minutes to make the dish. However, it took me over two hours to make and shoot it. I had to stop and style each shot just right before shooting. Good thing my subjects were very compliant. Oftentimes in food photography, the dish becomes inedible by the time the shoot is over; but in this case, I was able to eat it. I had time it so that I knew when I was done shooting, the dish would make a great lunch. And it tasted absolutely delightful.

I love manila clams. Not only are they tasty, they provided me with wonderful memories of my children. When my boys were young, we used to dig for the clams at the local beaches. Oh… the joyful smiles and squeals of my children’s happiness were priceless.

One thing I discovered while cooking the clams — the sauce is actually really good as it is. The clams were really tasty coated with it —  much better than typical restaurants — of serving it plain with a side dish of melted butter to dip in. Boring… So… if you are looking for a new and flavorful way to eat clams, cook it with the sauce and just skip the pasta.

When buying wine for cooking, don’t just buy the cheapest. Buy the wine you would want to drink and that way you can have it with your meal. But since I don’t drink wine and mainly just using it for cooking and props, I do buy the cheapest.

The dish was a success!  And of course, it passed the stringent inspection of my personal foodie consultant.

Click here for the recipe: Spaghetti alle Vongole

Thanks Karen for the recipe. And no, I didn’t use cheese. 😉

The French Experiment

I woke up with a craving for french toast this morning. So I thought I would post my breakfast, although it was more like brunch by the time I was done making and shooting them. The result was tasty, though I will need to experiment with the wild blueberry sauce again. The flavor was good but I think it needs to be a little sweeter and maybe add some lemon zest or perhaps some cream sherry to give it extra something…

Since the recipe is still in the development stage, I will not post the recipe today but hope you enjoy the pictures.

I really enjoy food photography. It’s challenging and yet very calming at the same time. One of the great things I’ve learned from food photography is that, it forces you to learn about using good lighting and correct aperture settings. Unlike some subjects, you can’t get good food photos without knowing these technical details.

When The Weather Is Bad

Well… at least yesterday’s snow didn’t stick around. I guess I can tolerate the rain and wind better than snow. Anyway, since it’s too wet and cold outside; I decided to use the opportunity to work on my food portfolio. Then I realized with the nasty weather; I’ve been lazy about going to the grocery store. And all I have to work with were a couple of very ripped bananas. I decided to make Banana & Walnut Pancakes. A couple of hours later, I got some pretty interesting shots that I think will work well for my portfolio. Hope you enjoy the pictures and of course the pancakes. If you like bananas, you will love this recipe — which I will post on my Foodie With Camera website.

A New Pie Experiment

Here it is… the recipe for the new pie I’ve created: CranApple Crumble Pie w/ Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce. From the photos, it looks like a lot of work but it actually took only about 1-1/2 hour of prep and cooking time. I would say the difficult part of this experiment was the photo shoot. The lighting was difficult because there were no natural light available. Though, making sure to not burn the food while taking photos or getting the camera all sticky was the most challenging. This is when being good at multi-tasking comes in handy. I hope you enjoy the post and any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you… and Make a Great Day!

Peel and slice apples into 1/4 inch thick, then cut the slices to about 1″ pieces. For even cooking time, it’s important that the thickness of the apple slices are as even as possible.

In a large bowl, combine apples slices, dried cranberries, brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper. Gently stir until well mixed. And pour the filling into a prepared pie crust. Evenly sprinkle pie with streusel crumb topping.

How to make the streusel crumb:
Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Butter (lightly melted: about 20 seconds in the microwave)
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 Cup Rum

In a mixing bowl, combine butter, flour and sugar. Add rum and toss with a wooden spoon to make crumbs. Take a hand full of the crumb mixture and squeeze gently to make larger clump. Break the clump of streusel over the pie filling. Repeat using all the streusel. Do not press the streusel into the filling.

Bake pie at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes.

Cranapple Crumble Pie with Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce
Serves 6 to 8

I used a pre-made pie crust. It’s faster and less messy. For the apples, I used Fuji Apples — it’s sweet and juicy but hard enough for baking.

How to make the pie filling:
Ingredients:

4 Cup Sliced Apples (I like using Fuji Apples for its sweetness)
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 Tablespoon Corn Starch
2 Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
2 Tablespoon Rum
1/4 Cup Butter

1. Peel and slice apples into 1/4 inch thick, then cut the slices to about 1″ pieces.

2. In a large bowl, combine apples slices, dried cranberries, brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper. Gently stir until well mixed. Set aside.

3. Melt butter and rum together in a small pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil for about 30 seconds. Pour hot butter rum mixture into the pie filling mixture and stir gently — until all apple slices are well coated.

4. Pour filling mixture into a prepared pie crust.

5. Sprinkle streusel crumb evenly over the pie.

Bake pie in a 350 degrees oven for about 30 minutes. Check to make sure the streusel crumb isn’t too brown. Cover pie with a piece of foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. By now you should see thick hot pie juice bubbles out of the crumb topping. Take out the pie and let cool before taking it out of the spring-form pan.

Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter. Add apples and saute for a few minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too hot or the butter will burn. Pour in apple cider and add sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir apple mixture and when it boils, turn the heat down to medium. Cook apple mixture for 20 minutes and add the rum.

How to make the Apple & Butter Rum sauce:
Ingredients:

2 Cup Sliced Apples (cut into 1/2″ pieces)
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Regular Sugar
1/4 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup Apple Cider Juice
1/3 Cup Rum

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter. Add apples and saute for a few minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too hot or the butter will burn. Pour in apple cider and add sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir apple mixture and when it boils, turn the heat down to medium. Cook apple mixture for 20 minutes and add the rum. Make sure to stir occasionally. Continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. The apple slices should be soft and almost translucent.

Assemble the dish:

Place a slice of pie on a plate and ladle a couple of tablespoons of the Apple & Butter Rum Sauce around the pie and top with whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

Oh, For The Love of Rum!

I’m not much into drinking liquor but I love cooking with it. Thought I would try something different and make a recipe with lots of butter and rum. I decided to create a recipe for a pie. The result: Cranapple Crumble Pie with Warm Apple & Butter Rum Sauce; a sinfully delectable pie that would make Captain Jack Sparrow a very happy pirate — singing, Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum.


One of my favorite things to do besides cooking is developing recipes. And even though I owned over 100 cookbooks, I have a habit of not wanting to follow the recipes exactly. I find recipe development exciting and fun. It’s interesting experimenting with all the different ingredients and discovers new tastes. The difficult part about recipe development for me is keeping track the exact amount of the ingredients. I am one of those cooks who eye balls the ingredients instead of measuring. Though, I would say most of my recipe experiments have produced good results. There have been times where it even exceeds my expectation. And yesterday’s experiment was one of those great moments. The butter and rum add a luscious quality to the pie. It tastes savory, yet at the same time delicate and not overly sweet. And the aroma of the spices permeates your senses, creating a sense of warmth and comfort for the home. This would be the perfect pie to make for the holiday dinner. I will have the complete recipe with photos for tomorrow’s post. 🙂

Keep Your Heart Merry with Chocolate

Nothing warms the heart and soul like a good cup of hot chocolate with a towering heap of whipped cream. 😀

Very Merry Hot Chocolate

Make 3 Cups
Ingredients:
1 Cup Powder Milk
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
3 Cups Boiling Hot Water

In a heat resistant bowl — combine powder milk and chocolate chips. Carefully, stir in hot water and whisk until powder milk and chocolate chips are completely dissolved. Pour hot chocolate in a mug and topped with whipped cream. Enjoy!