A New Look + The Winter Market

It’s done! Nearly eight years after starting this blog, I gave it a major design overhaul last week! And thank goodness; I just couldn’t look at that raggedy old thing any longer. My lack of anything resembling technical knowledge kept me from tackling it for all those years, but I figured I’d give it a stab, because how hard could it be with one of WordPress‘s highly-praised themes? But still, I couldn’t do it alone, so here’s a big thank you to Gil for setting up a test site and to our friend Jason, who helped me get this behemoth up and running yesterday.

There are a few new features here that I’d like to tell you about. First of all, there’s a top nav to help you get around and a proper home page with some fun features! I’ll likely add some functionality to it in the future, but for now, you can find recent blog posts as well as projects there. Think of the Projects page as a portfolio-lite; it has a few selected images from projects I’ve worked on (mostly cookbooks) along with descriptions and external links to each. To see more of my photography, just click on the Portfolio link in the top nav.

You can sign up to receive an email when new posts are published by using the subscribe box in the blog side navigation or in the footer. Connect with me on social media via the links above the main logo or write to me (I’d love to hear from you!) from the Contact page. There’s also an honest-to-goodness About page now; I figure it’s about time you know a little more about me, and maybe see a picture, even.

Anyway, take a look around — I hope you like what you see! (And if something isn’t working, please let me know.)

Now for some food!

I’m not sure why I gave up the Farmers’ Market Feast series when our weekly market moved to a monthly one over the winter because I never miss one, even though I don’t get to load up on local vegetables at it. So this is my inaugural Winter Market post, and also the last until November because I’ll be back to a weekly schedule in May! Hooray!

Aged Goat's Milk Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

This lovely specimen of aged goat cheese comes from our friends at Edgwick Farm. There was a bit of give around the edges which promised a creamy interior; it was all I could do to hold off from cutting into it before taking this shot.

Aged Goat Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

Just look at that gooey loveliness! The slight goatiness was offset by a drizzle of local honey from Nina’s Red Barn Farm. I’ve consumed a little over half of the cheese in the past two days, which is why I don’t buy it too often; I simply can’t resist the temptation it throws my way.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Now this little slice of heaven was my Sunday morning breakfast. In my 20s I really loved brunch or brunching; it seemed like such a civilized way to start the day and served as a good excuse to have a bloody mary at an outrageously early hour. (So naughty!) But after years of consuming lord knows how many mediocre egg dishes and entire fields of lukewarm fried potato chunks, I realized I really was in love with the idea of brunch. Now that I’m older, I find I can make a better meal than most brunchy restaurants offer, so it’s a good excuse to indulge.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Wiltbank Farm is new to our market, selling flavorful oyster and shiitake mushrooms. I wanted to feature the oysters without much interference, so I tossed the mushrooms with some olive oil, a hefty amount of thyme and red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and threw in a few whole garlic cloves for good measure. After 15 minutes on a roasting pan in a 425 degree oven, they were deliciously schlumped and caramelized, so I smashed the garlic cloves into a paste, tossed the paste with the mushrooms and the angels sang.

This was an ideal nest for a perfectly fried duck egg from Edgwick Farm. After trying them for the first time this weekend, I feel sure they’ll be on the menu for as long as I can find them. The flavor isn’t so different from a chicken egg, but they’re much more substantial, and if you’re a yolk lover like I am, you’ll love the ridiculous size of these. I felt I ate like a queen.

And here’s a little yolk porn, just cuz. Have a great week!

Yolk Porn @ Minimally Invasive

From the Market: Burgers & Whiskey Edition

with fontina and steak sauce
Grass-fed beef from Snoep Winkel Farm, Curly-leaf lettuce from Bialas Farms

C’est fini!

I took the last shot for the cookbook earlier this afternoon, and not a moment too soon. A house-shaking thunderclap just sent poor Ru scurrying to the guest bedroom and the skies are so dark that I couldn’t have gotten another good natural-light shot anyway. Ahhhh…it’s a great feeling to wrap up such a lengthy project!

The burger was my reward for squeezing in an extra shot yesterday. A couple of the ingredients were extras from the recipes I was working on (out-of-season tomatoes, something I’d never buy for myself, and fontina cheese), so I threw together a burger for lunch. Talk about luscious! I tossed a little garlic and copious black pepper into well-salted ground beef and cooked the patties to medium. Gary & Basia‘s grass-fed beef is so good, it really doesn’t need much fussing, but I was feeling a little indulgent and topped it with quite a lot of fontina and some steak sauce before digging in. I ate so much I nearly convinced myself I was having a heart attack. Hah! Scary, but so good, I’ll probably do it again because I just don’t learn.

rye, cognac, St. Germain

THIS. This amazing creature is the Carré Reprisé, a recipe I found while searching for drinks with rye and St. Germain, which fight for top honors on my list of favorite boozes. Normally, I’m not a coganc drinker and wouldn’t have it on hand, but I still had most of a bottle in the pantry from a shoot last summer (told you I don’t drink the stuff!), so I gave it a try and was well-rewarded for stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s a great drink for a cool, rainy day when you don’t have much to do; at the very least, it’s something you want to savor. Ferociously smooth with a slight bright finish from the lemon twist, I’ll certainly keep this in my arsenal. (And in keeping with my struggle to eat as locally as possible, I made it with Tuthilltown Spirits Rye, so yeah…points for that or something.)

But no rest for the wicked. Now it’s time to do a little more processing so I can ship the photos off to the author tomorrow! Hope you all had a great weekend; I’ll be back next week with more goodies from the market!

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Burgers & Whiskey Edition”

From the Market: Memorial Day Edition

Gluten-free recipe from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges
Asparagus from Orchards of Concklin

Well, hello! It’s good to be back from my extended self-imposed exile. It’s a long, tedious story that involves dealing with a vexatious situation for the past two months with no end in sight. Also? Mid-life crisis and the eternal question of what do I really want to do with the rest of my life all tied up in a nice, black bow. My heart’s telling me food photography is the way to go: I love it and already have made some money at it without self-promoting too crazily, but is it something I can really do as my almost-sole source of income? Maybe it’s time for a leap of faith.

*****************************************

Last weekend marked the start of our weekly farmers’ market in Ringwood, which also means the start of my 2012 Farmers’ Market Feast series. Above, you see my first local (delicious, amazing, worth-waiting-all-winter-for) asparagus of the season treated very simply using an idea from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges, one of my new favorite cookbooks: toss blanched asparagus with a tiny bit of butter instead of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with parmesan shavings and lemon zest. I added a little truffle salt and turned it into breakfast with the addition of a sunny side-up egg, and it really lightened my mood.

gluten-free
Spinach & radishes from Bialas Farms, strawberries from Orchards of Concklin, salad greens from Nina’s Red Barn Farm

Then I got a little creative for lunch Sunday afternoon. I was far too sweatystanky to bother cooking with any form of heat because our air conditioner is not only merely dead, it’s really most sincerely dead. The panting and lethargy going on in our house was ridiculous, and it wasn’t just the dogs this time. So I made a fresh version of a summer salad roll with spinach & salad greens, fresh mint, peppery radishes, green onions, and the sweetest strawberries you can imagine rolled up in a softened rice paper wrapper. I went with a spicy fish sauce-based dipping sauce that provided a perfect salty accent to the rolls. Sure it would’ve been a lot easier just to have a salad, but where’s the fun in that? This could be a nice treat to serve at the start of a dinner party or to bring to a cookout, provided you keep the rolls covered with a damp paper towel.

This probably doesn’t seem like much cooking for three days, but I’m doing another cookbook shoot on weekends. It’s a lot of work, but a good time doing what I love — cooking and taking pictures. I’m not sure of the release date yet, but I’ll certainly keep you posted.

And on the cookbook front, I can’t let the unofficial start of summer go by without telling you about Grilling Vegan Style by John Schlimm. I spent a bit of last summer shooting it and just got to see the fruits of my labors a few weeks ago, just in time for grilling season. So exciting. If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I’m pretty far from vegan, but these recipes were delightful. It’s a lot of fun to be able to eat your work at the end of a long day.


Grilled Corn on the Cob with Piquant Sauce (left) and Shiny Happy Poppers (right)

A great thing about John’s recipes is that little twist he adds that elevates them beyond normal everyday fare.


Two-Faced Avocado Sandwiches (left) and Mojito Mojo (right)

I also love the creative names and funny introductions he gives to each recipe.


Romaine Holiday (left) and Tattooed Watermelon Salad (right)

I’d never HEARD of grilled watermelon till I shot this book. Now it’s all I want to eat, and I never really liked watermelon at all.


Presto Pesto Lasagna

No need to turn on the oven and heat up the house when you’re making a vegan lasagna. It’s the perfect summer recipe!


S’More is Always Better!

How is it possible that I never had s’mores until I shot this book?! They might just be the perfect dessert and there really isn’t a meal that isn’t made better by a s’more finish. I speak from experience. (Vegan marshmallows and graham crackers can be a little tough to find, but many Whole Foods carry the Sweet & Sara brand, which are virtually indistinguishable from the animal-based thing. In fact, I might give the nod to the vegan grahams, so you definitely should give this a try.)

Steak & vegetables. And more vegetables.

all good things

Grass-fed & -finished beef with red chimichurri over a raw kale salad. My Paleo lunch did not suck in any way. At all. Big thanks to the folks at Walnut Grove Farm who made this gorgeous bit of sirloin possible. (They’re only at the market once a month, so I’ll be stocking up next time I see them. They’re a good source for leaf lard, too, once I get through the three cups of rendered lard still sitting in my fridge. It’ll be a while.)

The steak was so juicy and beefy, it didn’t really need the chimichurri, but I’d already made it a couple of hours before, just in case. You never know. It’s really my favorite sauce for steak, with bold flavors that somehow don’t overpower (or get overpowered by) beef, but it’s great on potatoes, eggs and probably a lot of other dishes I haven’t yet thought of, too.

vegetables

Like many chimichurris, this one uses lots of parsley. I stopped my preparations to take a picture because, really, doesn’t this look like a bouquet? You could wrap the base in florist’s tape and ribbon and sell this to a bride for an outrageous price.

vegetarian breakfast/brunch

I was beginning to feel a little left out of the annual “What am I going to DO with all of this zucchini/squash?” discussion, so I picked up a metric shit-ton at the market. I already had plans for most of it, though — Summer Squash with Baked Eggs from The Kitchn. This is one of those recipes, like that amazing ratatouille from a few years ago, that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts, helped in no small measure by a liberal dose of smoked paprika. I plan to make this a regular feature for the next few weeks, while summer produce is still around.

Continue reading “Steak & vegetables. And more vegetables.”

From the Market — Week 2

This weekend’s farmers’ market was a great example of the early bird getting the worm. We lazed around Saturday morning instead of hitting the market when it opened and by the time I got to the vegetable booth (15 minutes before closing), the only produce available was potatoes and spring garlic. Good thing I overloaded last week and have a crisper drawer that really works; I was still set for a couple of meals this weekend.

Yes indeed, what you see up there is more pizza, but in my defense, I’ve been looking for the definitive gluten-free pizza crust and now have two in my arsenal. The batch from last weekend was featured on Shooting the Kitchen, a blog well worth your time if you’re into gorgeous food photography. The crust had a rich depth and could fool just about anyone into believing it’s the real thing, but it requires a two-hour initial rise and it’s best after spending a full day in the fridge. It’s great for the weekend, but maybe not so practical on weeknights (unless you get home far earlier than I do).

This week’s crust was from Jules Gluten-Free, and took less than an hour to make, but relies on a starchier flour combination and the taste is a little one-note. Still, if you need to turn your pie around right away, it’s a great option.

The toppings were cobbled together from last week’s market haul with minimal grocery store supplementation — sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic and red pepper powder, paper-thin lemon slices (which turned sweet under the high heat of the oven), drained ricotta, grated parmesan and the remaining garlic confit that needed to be used up this weekend. I just love throwing together lunch with whatever’s on hand.

with bacon/cider vinaigrette and toasted slivered almonds

Speaking of, that’s how Sunday’s lunch came about, too. The spinach was robust, but already a week old, so I tossed it together with the juiciest strawberries you can imagine, some toasted slivered almonds and a bit of minced shallot. For the dressing, I heated some of the rendered bacon fat from the bacon jam weekend, added a little neutral oil, cider and sherry vinegars and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s a perfectly delicious and light salad that really lets the seasonal produce shine.

From the Market — The Kickoff

Grilled potatoes, radish green pesto, shaved asparagus

We went straight from winter to summer around here, and not a moment too soon. I’m stuck in an office today instead of out enjoying perfect grilling/hanging out/whatever weather, but at least it gives me time to reflect on last weekend’s fixin’s.

We’re going to have some green on this blog and lots of it now that our local farmers’ market is back for the season! It was a bittersweet opening, as some of you know — our market is now dog-free. Poor Gil looked like a lost soul just wandering around without the boys, while I did what I always do and loaded up on good stuff to carry home. We’ll probably venture out to other markets that are dog-friendly in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for a full report.

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

I felt like an appetizer to get the ball rolling, and ended up with one that would be just as good for barbecues as for a light dinner during grilling season — grilled potato rounds with radish-green pesto and shaved asparagus. It’s vegetarian, nutrient-dense and good hot or cold (though I give the nod to hot-off-the-grill because crispy grilled potatoes just can’t be beat).

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

It’s easily adapted to use what you have in the house. The radish-green pesto came about because I hate throwing anything away, and a pesto is just about the easiest way to use extra greens. If you don’t have radish greens or just don’t like them, use any kind of pesto you prefer. I had some garlic confit in the fridge, so I tossed the asparagus with garlic oil and lemon juice, but go ahead and use olive oil if that’s what you have.

Springtime pie

For lunch, I rejiggered my triple-garlic pizza, adding quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions and shaved asparagus and radish-green pesto leftovers. Really good stuff.

These quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions were inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s pickled onions.

after baking

A thin layer of mozzarella and grated parmesan and garlic confit (natch) tied the whole pizza together. We made short work of it, I’m afraid, but I still have the makings for one more pie, which should be just the thing to kick off this next weekend.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market — The Kickoff”

Triple-Garlic Pizza

Or, the whole of the pie is greater than the sum of its alliums.

gluten-free white pizza with garlic

We visited the last monthly winter market this weekend to find the very first sign of Spring — wild garlic — at Nina’s booth. She’s my go-to source for fresh eggs and local honey, but she always has some lagniappe I appreciate — last year it was callaloo and micro greens and last month, freshly smoked jalapenos. But as soon as I saw this month’s wild garlic offering, I knew it was destined for spring’s perfect pizza. You can keep your ramps; I’ll stick to locally-grown wild garlic for $1 a bunch! (Sadly, we don’t have any growing in our yard or it’d be even cheaper.)

Locally-grown — a beautiful sign of Spring

Since I’m pathologically incapable of making anything the same way twice, I subbed in a gluten-free crust and added layers of flavor with garlic oil and garlic confit. Frankly, I wouldn’t know where to draw the “too much garlic” line, but this wasn’t even close. On this pie, at least, it’s all mellow and sweet and borderline addictive.

garlic, olive oil, black peppercorns

Garlic confit, like creme fraiche and sofrito, is one of those things that’s nice to have on hand to add a little something to a dish. Whole cloves are slow-cooked in olive oil until they’re soft and sweetly caramelized, which is nice on its own, but as a bonus you get that lovely oil to use for drizzling, dipping, salad dressings, etc.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic, truffle oil

The gluten-free pizza crust is the best I’ve yet tried, but I’m still on the lookout for something less…squeaky. (Those of you who’ve had the heavily starch-based crusts know what I mean.) Something a little breadier would be really nice in this application.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic and truffle oil

Not that I’m complaining — far from it. These toppings just deserve the very best base you can give them. I’m doing it for the garlic, you see.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Triple-Garlic Pizza”

Cassoulet of Anger and Acceptance

Lots of emotion went into this dish.

Anger (This weather is pissing me right off.)

Hope (Something comfort food-y would give The Finger to this snow!)

Dejection (But said snow has made it impossible to drive to the store.)

Acceptance (Maybe I’m stuck, but there must be odds and ends around here that’ll do.)

That’s really the four-stage story behind this cassoulet — the product of snow and laziness.

Looking around the general kitchen area, I spied with my little eye:
lamb shoulder cubes
1 beef shin bone
Rancho Gordo flageolet beans
World Spice Merchants‘ Herbes de Provence (with lavender)
…and enough tomatoes, onions, garlic and beef stock to fill in the blanks

And that was it. I called it cassoulet, though I make no claims to authenticity.

——————————

Hard to believe that in just a few months we’ll go from this…

to this…

Spring can’t get here fast enough. I’ll even leave behind my precious cassoulet for it.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Cassoulet of Anger and Acceptance”

From the Market – Week Whatever

I’ve lost count of the missing weeks by now, but couldn’t let the last vestiges of summer slip by without posting about the latest seasonal finds from our market in Ringwood.

I don’t know about you, but we’ve nearly eaten our weight in corn this summer. Grilled, smoked, raw, creamed, sautéed … it’s all been delicious and now that summer’s winding down, I’m truly savoring fresh corn while it’s still around. But a couple of dishes really stood out from the crowd and I want to make sure I tell you about them, and include links so I can re-create them next year.

This weekend I adapted Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for baked buttered corn (seen above), gilding the lily with burro di parma and wisps of freshly grated locatelli before baking, then finishing with a dab of truffle butter before serving. It sounds excessive, but the extra ingredients were used in moderation for just a touch of earthiness so really, corn was still the star. This dish is a great way to use late-season corn that maybe isn’t quite the revelation it was even a few weeks ago.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

For a couple of weeks in August, I was obsessed with cooking variations of Shrimp with Sweet Curry and Coconut Creamed Corn. We had it 3 times in the span of two weeks and I could still go for more, which will probably happen next weekend, now that I think about it. The only reason for adapting the recipe at all was because I didn’t have the specific spice blends called for, but after working around that problem, I’ve discovered that there isn’t a way to mess this up. The first time around, I left the curry out of the corn mixture and coated the shrimp with it instead (using Singapore curry from World Spice Merchants). The curry blend was light and paired perfectly with the shrimp; it accentuated the shrimp’s natural sweetness and, with a dash of cayenne pepper, added a touch of heat which cut through the richness of the coconut corn.

Nina found herself up to her ears in callaloo this summer, after deciding to grow it on a whim. Since I’m a sucker for any new (to me) ingredient, I made a beeline for the strange-looking vines when they appeared at her booth and managed to work it into a couple of other iterations of the shrimp and coconut corn recipe. If you’ve never had callaloo, it’s similar to water spinach or chard, but cooks down to something that seems much less virtuous, with a thick, silky, rich mouthfeel. I used madras curry in the corn base this time and simmered the shrimp along with it, so the dish was more of a stew than it was the first go-around. (No picture of what was an otherwise delicious dish because the callaloo turned the whole mixture a thoroughly unappealing-looking shade of bile green. And because I cobbled together a few recipes without writing down any of the steps/measurements, there’s no real recipe for you. But I’ll try to re-create it this weekend and let you know how it turns out.)

continued after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market – Week Whatever”