Gravlax with a Twist

Blueberry & Coriander Gravlax with Quick Pickles

Gravlax is something I only think to make a couple of times a year, and then kick myself for not having it at least monthly. It’s incredibly simple to make — the only difficulty is leaving enough refrigerator space for a few days’ curing time — it keeps well and for much longer than you’re likely to have it around, and it’s impressive enough to serve at parties or holiday gatherings. I’m the only one in the house who’ll enjoy gravlax in its standard dill-heavy format, so when I came across a recipe for blueberry-and-coriander gravlax in my weekly Taste email, I jumped on the opportunity to share it with Gil (and with you as well, since I decided to break my blogging fast just to tell you about it).

It’s a treat in every way. I mean, just look at it. They say you eat first with your eyes, and that’s surely true here, especially if you like bold, lively color on your plate. The texture is firm and the flavor is subtly sweet with zesty pops from the coriander and lemon. I honestly can’t gush enough about it.

But wait, there’s more! Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative came over to style this up for the photo contest we’re entering (#cutthecheese2017, ya’ll!) and brought over some of her homemade pickles to pair with it. She also whipped up a quick horseradish-and-sour-cream topping, and the combo of the gravlax with the pickles and horseradish was outrageously good. Check out Darcie’s pickle recipe at her blog and our behind-the-scenes photo on my Instagram feed, showing off my new cucoloris baby.

If you’re looking for a new spin on an old classic, do give this gravlax recipe a try! You can find it here, and while you’re at it, sign up for their emails. You’ll be happy you did.

Seasonal Salads

Seasonal Salads mini e-cookbook by Darcie Hunter and Amy Roth.

Welcome to the unofficial start of summer, everyone. With Memorial Day upon us and May being National Salad Month, I can think of no better time to introduce you to my latest collaboration with Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative. We wanted to do a fun project on our own and realized that, between the two of us, we could put together a terrific cookbook. Our mini e-cookbook Seasonal Salads: Perfectly Dressed Dishes Using What’s Available Now gives you a taste of what’s to come.

With one flavorful salad featuring ingredients appropriate for each season (depending on your location, naturally), we hope this will whet your appetite and get you thinking locally and seasonally for your table. Start off your year with a Thai Papaya Salad that will make your mouth happy, then work your way through the seasons. To claim your copy, simply sign up for either of our newsletters (click the link or sign up at the bottom of this post for mine) and you’ll be directed to a download link for the pdf. Easy-peasy!

When you try the recipes, please let us know what you think! Any feedback on recipes or formatting will be welcome as we make the deep dive into the expanded version.

Have a great weekend!

Gingered Pomelo Sorbet

Pomelo Sorbet with Ginger

Do you do pomelo? The first time I had one, I had no idea about the pith situation, nor the thick skin on the segments and had a time with it. I’d heard they were delicious, saw one at a market, and picked it up for lunch thinking it’d be a nutritious option and I’d get to try something new to boot. Hah! Back in my office, I went to work peeling it with the steak knife I had in my drawer. And I kept working. And peeling, and working, and peeling. Until finally — no lie, about 10 minutes later — I got to the good stuff! I never made the mistake of tackling one outside of my own kitchen again, and have gotten more adept at it over time, but still don’t have them as often as I should.

Then a month or so ago, Darcie mentioned that she wanted to do a tutorial on prepping pomelo (which, by the way, is a terrific guide). I casually mentioned that maybe we should do a sorbet with the sections, and the next thing I knew, she’d come up with an amazing recipe. Let me tell you, it pays to be friends with a recipe developer!

Gingered Pomelo Sorbet

It was an overcast day, so we decided to use natural light to give the photos a soft feel. I really enjoyed taking a break from my strobes, which I’ve come to rely on even when going for a daylight look; it was nice to get back to my magic window and take a WYSIWYG approach to lighting. The props and backgrounds came together easily as well once we saw the prepared sorbet. The blue tile offers a nice complement to the edging-toward-coral sorbet, and the diamond pattern on the light gray bowl relates to the starburst pattern on the vintage Ovenex loaf pan. I’d say it was a success all around, and look forward to making this again now that I have the secret formula for getting to the meat of the pomelo in record time!

Be sure to visit Darcie’s site for the sorbet recipe — it’s a real winner.

Gingered Pomelo Sorbet Scoop

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to shoot some promotional photos for the new cookbook, The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour, which is out today! The author is John Schlimm, whose three vegan cookbooks I’ve been lucky enough to photograph (The Tipsy Vegan, Grilling Vegan Style and The Cheesy Vegan), so I knew I was in for a treat. His latest cookbook features bar snacks and beer cocktails that are perfect for parties and pair nicely with craft beers and seasonal brews. I have to say everything I prepared for the shoot was wonderful, but the ones pictured above were my favorites. And with permission from the publisher, I get to share the recipes with you!

I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in those mixed nuts, so be careful with them; they’re addictive!

Grilled Portobello Burgers

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dry white vermouth
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, divided
2 Anaheim chile peppers, seeded, each pepper carved into 2 wedges
2 jalapeños, finely chopped
8 portobello mushrooms (about 1 pound), black gills under the caps scraped away
4 potato bread rolls/buns or regular hamburger buns
2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 romaine lettuce leaves, halved and trimmed to fit inside the rolls
1 tomato, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced

Whisk the canola oil with the balsamic vinegar, vermouth, garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay Seasoning, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the Anaheim chile wedges, jalapeños, and mushrooms, and toss to coat thoroughly. Marinate the mixture at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Lightly oil the grates, if necessary, and heat the grill to medium. Grill the pepper wedges, skin side down, until blackened, about 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes to create crisscross grill marks. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then rub off the skins with paper towels.

Meanwhile, grill the mushrooms, covered, until tender, about 8 minutes, turning once after about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Split the buns and toast them. Stir the tarragon into the mayonnaise in a small bowl. Generously spread the mayonnaise mixture on both insides of the toasted buns.

Place two grilled mushrooms on the bottom half of each hamburger roll, and top with a lettuce leaf, and tomato and red onion slices. Close the burgers, and serve promptly.

Alehouse Agave and Chipotle Mixed Nuts

2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried chipotle powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups pecans, almonds, unsalted peanuts, and/or walnuts
3/4 cup Wheat Chex or Chex Mix
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine the agave, chipotle powder, and cinnamon in a medium-size skillet and heat the mixture over low heat until it’s warmed through. Add the nuts of your choice, and stir to coat evenly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the nuts and Wheat Chex in a single layer on the sheet. Bake until the nuts are fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once. Allow the nuts to cool slightly for 1 to 2 minutes.

Combine the brown sugar and seasoned salt in a medium-size bowl. Add the warm nuts and Chex, and toss to coat evenly. Spread out the nuts on a sheet of waxed paper, and let them dry completely. Once dry, store the nuts in an airtight container for up to a week.

Beach Party Punch

4 ounces rum
4 ounces vodka
4 ounces amaretto
4 ounces gin
24 ounces Pale Lager, Fruit Beer, or Kölsch
1 (12-ounce) can Sprite or ginger ale
8 ounces orange juice
8 ounces pineapple juice
Garnish with your choice of orange slices, pineapple chunks, and maraschino cherries (optional)

Combine all the ingredients, except the optional garnishes, in a medium-size to large punch bowl, stirring well. Garnish as desired, including freezing some orange slices, pineapple chunks, and maraschino cherries inside an ice mold.

Cuteness Overload — Dogs & Kids Edition

I spent the weekend taking lots of pictures, processing lots of pictures and eating out. It was a great change of pace, but leaves me with no recipe to share with you today as I did ZERO cooking. I did open an excellent rosé, but that probably doesn’t qualify, right? On the bright side, this post has a big cuteness factor.

A staff favorite at the West Milford Animal Shelter.
Look at that soulgaze, would you? He’s practically proposing. Available for adoption at the West Milford Animal Shelter.
A funny little guy. Available for adoption at the West Milford Animal Shelter.
PUPPY! OMG PUPPY! Available for adoption at the West Milford Animal Shelter.

As you know if you’ve spent some time here, I volunteer at the West Milford Animal Shelter each week handling the dogs that are staying with us. But I also take pictures and compose flyers to help spread the word about these wonderful animals. We did a big shoot with all of the adoptables on Saturday morning and I tried a different flyer design this time around to really showcase their sweet faces and winning personalities. Check out the slideshow at the top of this page to get to know them, and if you’re local, stop by the shelter for a meeting. You’ll be swept off your feet, I guarantee.

Later in the day, Gil and I met up with one of his old high school friends and his family for lunch at Tuptim Thai in Montclair. The noodles were excellent, I’m very happy to report! After lunch, we ambled across the street so I could take head shots of his friend for a book he’s publishing and I just couldn’t stop myself from photographing his son, too. I mean, how stinkin’ adorable is this kid? (And he has a very adventurous palate, too! I hear he even craves chutney for breakfast, making him a kindred spirit, even if he is only three years old).

I hope you had a great weekend, too. What did you get up to?

Spencer | Amy Roth Photo

Spencer | Amy Roth Photo

Pop-Tarts for All You Adults Out There

Concord Grapes | Minimally Invasive

There’s something about Concord grapes that makes my toes curl. Until a few years ago, my only experience with them was in the form of Welch’s Grape Jelly, and I’ll admit that whenever I pop a Concord grape into my mouth, memories of Welch’s spread on buttered, crustless bread (thank you, Maw-Maw) come flooding back. I tried my hand at a grape focaccia a couple of times with decent results, but I wanted to focus on something more obviously dessert-y this time and ended up with hand pies and a LOT of leftover jam.

I won’t lie — making grape jam from scratch is a big pain in the ass because you have to pop the grapes from their skins, cook the pulp, then remove the seeds, but it’s worth the trouble (and the purple-stained fingers if you forget to wear gloves). Sweet, tangy and dusky all at once, it bears little resemblance to industrialized jelly and is just the thing to set off a flaky, buttery crust. Get the jam recipe at Apt. 2B Baking Co.

Fraisage | Minimally Invasive

I read about the promise of a flaky, buttery and gluten-free pie crust at the new-to-me blog The Bojon Gourmet and couldn’t wait to get started. It uses a manageable blend of gluten-free flours, lots of butter, and the fraisage method of bringing the dough together to produce an extra-flaky crust. It’s pretty easy, too — you simply scrape your hand across a small portion of the dough on the board, then use a bench scraper to lift it into a bowl. Sure, your hands get a little messy, but when you’re making pie crust, you’re already committed to dough-covered hands, so what’s a slightly bigger mess? I didn’t try the crust without the fraisage method, so I can’t say how the two compare, but this was terrifically flaky, so there’s that. Read all about it at The Bojon Gourmet.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust | Minimally Invasive


Hand Pie Assembly | Minimally Invasive

After it chilled in the refrigerator for a while, I rolled out the dough on a well-floured board with my well-floured hands and rolling pin and got to work crafting hand pies! I made mine about 3 1/2″ x 5″ and found them a little large to eat in one sitting. I’ll go smaller next time so I won’t have to wait for Gil to get home to share. A dollop of jam, some egg wash along the edges to seal the top and bottom layers, a quick crimp with a fork, and the pies were nearly ready to bake.

Concord Grape Hand Pies | Minimally Invasive

With the extra bits of dough, I made one goofy-looking sample pie (in the upper-right corner of the photo above) and some little dough balls which became a decorative cluster of grapes on the top of each pie (if you squint and use your imagination). That step wasn’t necessary at all, but if you’re making hand pies with multiple fillings, this would be a great way to differentiate the pies. After they were all sealed and decorated, I gave them one more quick brush with the egg wash before baking at 400°F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want any extra sweetness, but if you do, you can sprinkle the tops of the pies with sugar before baking.

Baked Hand Pies | Minimally Invasive

Fresh from the oven.

Grape Hand Pie | Minimally Invasive

And that first bite…mmmm… They were tender, flaky and ever so slightly crunchy on the edges, with a hit of grape jelly that reminded me of a grown-up version of Pop Tarts in the very best way. It’s a bit of an undertaking, but we happily ate these for several days before vowing to lay off desserts for a while. It’s the natural order of things — indulge, repent, repeat.


Amy Roth Photo

I also wanted to share my new portfolio/shop site at Amy Roth Photo with you! Until now, I’ve had a couple of portfolios in different places plus a shop on Etsy, but it all got to be too fractured for my taste, so I drank the Squarespace Kool-Aid this week and set up a new site where all of the disparate elements are integrated! I couldn’t be happier with the Squarespace experience, and managed to set this up in only one day, which, if you’ve ever set up a new website, you’ll recognize as practically unheard-of.

So now the PORTFOLIO and SHOP links at the top of Minimally Invasive point to Amy Roth Photo. Check it out and let me know what you think! I still have a little tweaking to do here and there, but it’s already miles better than what I had previously.

The shop has listings of food, nature, travel and pet photo prints, which I can now offer at different sizes. There’s also a growing digital download section, currently with nature-inspired background textures to use in your digital designs, but soon will have patterns to use in crafting, design or for printing, and holiday card designs that you can print yourself.

To celebrate the launch, I’m offering 20% off all shop orders over $20 (in other words, a sale on prints) through Sunday evening! Just use the code 20OFF at checkout.