Foodie Friday

While visiting a friend yesterday, I was given a bunch of rhubarb from his garden. It has been awhile since I got to play with food, so the idea of making Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie came to mind.

First, you need 2 pounds of ripe, juicy strawberries. And 4 pounds of rhubarb stalks. Then completely remove the stringy skin off the rhubarb.

Once the rhubarb skin is removed. Slice the stalks into even thin slices. Do the same thing for the strawberries. I like thin slices because it looks better but more importantly; the filling will cook more evenly while the sugar and spices can penetrate into the rhubarb and strawberries easily.

Gently mix the strawberry & rhubarb slices with 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of corn starch, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper until it’s well coated. I use a 9″ spring form pan. Although you can use regular pie pan if you like.

For the crumble: In a bowl, mix 2 cups flour with 1 cup sugar and 1/2 pound of melted butter. Stir until mixed but still crumbly. Fill pie crust lined pan with strawberry & rhubarb mixture and evenly top with crumble until the filling is covered.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Baked for about 60 minutes or until you see the thick juice, oozing and bubbling through the golden brown crumble crust.

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The pie is really good as is. Although, a scoop of vanilla ice cream would definitely elevate the pie to a delectable sinful level — that you would be happy be devour without guilt. Bon Appétit!

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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.

The Cook and The Photographer

How quickly time flies when you’re having fun. I can’t believe it has been five months since I became a restaurant owner. And what a challenging five months… hopefully, things will continue to work out for the better. Needless to say, the cash flow continues to be a challenge and dealing with the government is a pain — you wouldn’t believe the amount of fees I have to pay every month just to keep the door open. It’s almost like dealing with the mafia. I have to pay up or else…  😦

Well… at least the cooking part is easy. I am having a great time doing what I love and seeing the joyful reactions of the customers when they eat my food, made all the challenges worth it. I finally got the restaurant website up. http://www.alohagrille.me . Here are photos of some of the dishes from the menu. I think being a food photographer definitely have a big influence on the way I cook — my food is very colorful and the presentation had to be picture perfect. Which sometimes can make things a little difficult for my servers — such as when I see a bean sprout sticking out of place… and I want to fix it before I let them take the plate out… but it’s all good. In the end it’s the satisfied smile and wonderful compliments from the customer that lets me know I am doing the right thing.

Hawaiian Style Plate Lunch

Slow Roasted Pulled Pork

Hawaiian Carrot Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

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. 😉

I Only Read Picture Books

I love collecting cookbooks. Over the years, I have accumulated over a few hundred cookbooks. Before I started food photography, I used to buy a cookbook based on the title and recipes. It didn’t matter if the book is all text or  illustrated with only drawings. I was more interested in the recipes than anything else. That is — until I got interested in shooting food. It was probably about a year ago, I realized being a foodie photographer have changed my cookbook buying habit.  Now, I would only buy and read picture books. The styles and techniques of the photos are more important to me than the recipes as my deciding factor to purchase a cookbook.  😀

One of my favorite places to buy books is Goodwill. They have a large selection of new and old books priced at a fraction of the original price. It’s interesting and great learning experience to see the evolution of the photographic techniques and styles of cookbooks through the years. I have learned a lot of my food photography technique and style by studying the pictures of the past and present. It’s exciting when I look at a picture and I can tell what the settings the photographer probably used to get the shot. For those of you who want to improve your food photography skills, the picture books are great for learning about lighting, aperture, composition and other technical aspects of photography.

As I sat at the table this morning having my coffee and donut while looking through the new stack of picture cookbooks I bought yesterday. Something clicked and slowly… I could sense my creativity turning back on. The beautiful food pictures motivated me to play with my breakfast. And for the next hour, I came up with these shots. I experimented with different white balance, aperture, and exposure time. For the light, I used the natural lighting from the windows. One good thing about rainy day — it makes perfect light source for food photography.

With food photography, there are many aspects of technical details to keep in mind; however from my experience, definitely composition and lighting are probably the two most important factors to get a good photo.

For me, I am most attracted to images that show the food up close. I want to be able to see the details but sometimes I don’t need to see the whole thing. Also I like using objects in the background. If it’s done correctly, the background colors created from the objects can help make the food look interesting and more appetizing. From all the newer books, I noticed shallow depth of field has become increasingly popular in food photography.

 

 

 

Foodie Friday

While I love figs and have eaten them in many ways: dried, roasted, poached, in fruit preserves, pies, and fig newton cookies. I’ve never eaten them fresh before and was curious how it taste. The other day when I saw fresh figs at the grocery store, I decided to buy the figs to satisfy my curiosity but also for their photogenic quality. It has been a while since my last foodie shoot, I thought they would make a great subject. Although I was disappointed that the fresh figs didn’t taste like what I had expect; they were very photographable and I enjoyed shooting them.

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

The Beauty of Garlic

The Joy of Pursuing Your Passion

I’ve been talking about pursuing my passion as a foodtographer for some time now. After some soul search and taking the necessary steps (like picking up the phone and just call people) finally last week, I was able to make it a reality. I had the pleasure to shoot some food shots for Chef Patrick, owner of Cochon Catering. Prior to becoming a professional cook, Chef Patrick worked as a nurse. He soon realized that being a nurse wasn’t what he wanted and decided to quit nursing and pursue his true passion: Cooking. Chef Patrick has been cooking professionally for more than 26 years — with experience in high-end French cuisine to rustic Italian, and nearly everything in between.  Recently, he decided to strike out on his own and started his own business of personal chef and catering.

After the shoot, we sat down to chat and eat his delicious gourmet creations. Not only does his food look beautiful… they tasted absolutely divine — sending my taste buds into overdrive. Even though we have just met — I could sense there is something special about Chef Patrick, just by the way he assembled and presented each dish — it tells me a lot about his awe-inspiring cooking ability and creativity. Most of all, it was a delight to talk with him — sharing stories of our experiences as business owners.

One of the most difficult aspects we both agreed about having your own business is self-promotion — it will make or break the success of your business. You can have all the great skills, products, or services but most business failed because of poor marketing or lack there of. This is even more prevalent for us creative minded people — guess that’s why there is the term “Starving Artist”. Perhaps, we are afraid people will judge our work in a negative way… or worse… we judge our own work contemptuously. I know I have to fight with this inner demon more often than not. While I can blame this weakness on my childhood: my parents not being supportive of my creative talents, being born a girl in a society where boys are valued more or that I was the black sheep of the family… etc. However, I know in my heart, when all is said and done — there are no excuses other than my lack of self-confidence and motivation.

Well… my meeting with Chef Patrick and photo shoot experience gave me the confidence that I do know what I’m doing and will only get better with practice and time.

Here are the photos from last week’s foodie shoot. A word of warning: Do not look on an empty stomach. 😉

Mixed Greens w/Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette, Roasted Almonds, Beets & Goat Cheese

Charred Brussel Sprouts w/Lemon and ChilisSmoked Potato Gnocchi w/Morels & Criminis Mushroom, topped with Truffeled Pecerino

Seared Scallop Stuffed w/Andoullie Sausage on Goat Cheese Polenta

Pan Roasted Halibut on Asian Slaw w/ Shrimp Dumplings

Chicken Breast Stuffed w/Carmalized Onion & Brie, Served w/Potato & Spinach Hash on Dijon Sauce

For those who lives in the greater Seattle area and would like to experience an unforgettable meal, contact Chef Patrick. He specializes in creating customized meals to meet your dining needs — such as: romantic occasions, weekly meals for busy families, specialty diets, new parents (great, unique baby shower gift!) and other events…

Chef Patrick Frank
cochoncatering@yahoo.com
206.999.8251
www.cochoncatering.com