The adventures of a food lover and photographer...

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Eating and cooking

Spring is here, the trees have blossomed and my brain has been buzzing with ideas

After a fantastic Hunanese meal at Yipin China in Angel, I was inspired to shoot an Asian food test. I opted for items that I could style myself- so basic Cantonese I'm afraid. I tried to make the food look authentic and interesting, you can see more on my flickr

I'm also enjoying having a larger kitchen to cook in. I still make a lot of mess and don't always wash up for a while, but I'm sure that I'm cooking a lot more than I used to.

One of my favourite food blogs, Joy the Baker, gave me an idea for a simple dinner to cook for my friends several weeks back. Arroz con Pollo is so warm and comforting although it does require a little decadence with saffron and wine, but hey I love my friends and they're worth it! I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with any kind of chicken and rice combo, but this Spanish approach is one of the best.

Try it and check out Joy the Baker, she is one cool chick with a load of excellent recipes.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Quick Food to Warm Your Toes

Hey all, hope you're all wrapped up warm. In a moment I'll share with you some recipes for some food I've been enjoying during the cold weather. First here's a photo I took today-

After a mad dash round the local charity shops and pretty decent pawn shop that had loads of awesome things, then an impulse buy at cafe for some cakes, followed by another impulse buy for some flowers at the Shell garage near my house....I finally began work on the test shoot. Sadly by the time I'd got myself organised I only had about an hour of usable light. I wanted to go for a fresh, spring feel with a touch of vintage. Imagine yourself in a tea room with well dressed women and the smell of freshly baked sponge cake in the air. If possible I will try and shoot the rest of the cakes this weekend. 

So now to something more appropriate for the icy weather...

I've been cooking lots of warm comfort food, big on indulgence but fairly cheap and dead easy to make. Twice in the last few weeks I've cooked a kedgeree with smoked mackerel. Its such an simple dish and you don't need many ingredients- just rice, eggs, smoked fish and a few key spices and a bit of veg. Whats more, you can mix it up a bit and change flavours here and there depending on what you fancy.

Simple Kedgeree

1 Knob of butter
1 tbs Vegetable oil

Smoked fish- I used mackerel, the value range is fine- just remove any bones and take of the skin.

1 courgette, 2 carrots, frozen peas, 1 green pepper (you don't have to use any of these but I like to have a lot of veg in my meals)
1 large onion sliced

350g Rice long grain, throughly washes in cold water
700ml of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp coriander (best to use fresh but I didn't)
3 tbs of low fat greek yogurt
2 Eggs
1 Lemon

In a large saucepan melt the butter with the oil, then add the onions and cook till soft for about 10 minutes on a low heat. Add whatever vegetables you are using towards the end of this time depending on how your like them. Add all the spices. Then stir in the rice and add the stock and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Add the torn smoked fish and allow to cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile soft boil the eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes, take them out and run under a cold tap for about a minute to stop them from over cooking. Its personal taste, but I like my eggs with the yolk still a little gooey inside. Peel and cut into quaters.
Gently stir in the yogurt and if you are using fresh coriander add this now. Add the eggs and dish up. Serve with a wedge or two of lemon and if you like, sprinkle some smoked paprika over the eggs as a final touch. And there you go, really easy and seriously good.

I've been loving bacon, cream and leeks as well. Well you need an extra layer of fat during the colder months.

Here's another real easy meal that rocked my world last week. It will serve 4 with a salad, but Mark and I ate it all up pretty quick without any help.

Quick Leek and Bacon Tart

Pack of ready made puff pastry
3 or 4 small leeks
6 rashers of Smoked Back Bacon or lardons whatever you have to hand, 
Tub of creme fraiche (you can get the low fat kind if you must)
1 Yellow pepper sliced and de seeded
Fresh or dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pre heat your oven to 200c

Roll out your pastry onto a work surface dusted with flour, I used the baking sheet as a guide for the size I wanted. With a sharp knife mark the pastry 11/2 to 2inches all the way round the edges, careful not to cut through the pastry. Put to one side.

In a large frying pan, add a little oil then add the strips of bacon. Cook for a few minutes then add the leeks and allow to cook for about 10 minutes on a low heat. Add the pepper towards the end so it retains its shape. Season with salt and pepper. Add the creme fraiche and the thyme and stir through. Pile the mixture onto the pastry, keeping it with the square you marked out with a knife earlier. Brush the borders with milk or egg yolk and place in the oven. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is nice and golden. Cut into four, eat one slice each then go back for more!

Ok one more and that's your lot... this is a good un.

Gnocchi Gratin

Pack of Fresh Gnocchi 
1 Pack of diced Pancetta
Tin of Chopped tomatoes
1 Courgette thinly sliced
1 Small onion
1 Orange Pepper
1 Small Leek
Double cream- add depending on taste
Handful of break crumbs (those packet you get in Japanese stores very handy for this)
Grated Parmesan or similar- I used the cheaper Grana Padano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Soften the onion and leeks in a large frying pan then add the pancetta and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the courgettes and peppers and cook till just starting to go soft and add the herbs together with the tomatoes and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the Gnocchi according to the pack instructions. Drain the Gnocchi and tip into the frying pan, season and mix through. Pour over the cream and gently mix together. Put everything in a heat proof dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese. You could add a few pieces of torn mozzarella here, but in the interest of money I left it as is. Put under hot grill and cook till the bread crumbs are nice and golden. Some crusty bread would be good here to mop up the left over sauce.

There you have it enjoy..


Monday, 30 January 2012

America, Italy and home again

Hello dear readers, once again I have let my blog lapse. But never fear I have lots to share.

A small image of mine appeared in a feature on B Tempted in the Kensington Magazine. OK it is very small, but this is my first appearance in a magazine. Whoop!

My Summer was thankfully busy with assisting work and personal projects. I got a little bit of testing in, this time shooting on a Phase One, medium format camera. With a huge choice of props, I tried to keep it simple and practise using colour and tone to support my food product.

The food photographer I work for gave me a few pointers and I am looking forward to shooting a lot more tests.

I was looking forward to a long trip to America in September and I knew it would come around pretty quickly and it certainly did. It was a mother and daughter trip to several places in Canada and ended in New York. My favourite moment was walking through Columbus Park in New York's China Town and listening to groups of Chinese men and women singing and playing traditional instruments.

My first meal in of the trip was in Montreal on Denis street. I had a lentil salad and and beetroot and ginger soup. Very welcome after a long journey.

 If only this would cure my arachnophobia- Standing outside Ottawa National Arts Centre.

A yappy mutt somewhere in Quebec.
Filling Cabinets somewhere in Montreal.

Not long after returning from America, I got a call to jump on a plane to Italy and join the Pizza Pilgrims and Rampage Studio and get my camera operator shoes on. The next two weeks was a real adventure, road tripping through Italy from Rome, up winding roads and mountains, following a little green Piaggio Ape. I don't think I've ever eaten so much pasta in all my life, but it was such fun. The Pilgrims AKA Thom and James regularly has the crew in hysterics.

Sadly I only managed time for one quick test shoot in November, as time was being spent preparing to move home.

Christmas came around very quickly and I found myself working right up to Christmas Eve and again between Boxing Day and New Years Eve. Early in January Mark and I moved into our new money pit flat which has been incredibly stressful, however I soon hope to have a little studio set up in the living room so I can shoot food tests more easily. Then with any luck, I can post pictures on here more often. FINGERS CROSSED!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

I have returned... with lots of photos

So what in the world has been happening since my last post in (oops) February?

Kind of struggling to remember, I turned 28 in April, so maybe now my memory is a little hazier than usual.

Did I make my own birthday cake?..Yes I did and I do not care how sad that it and yes it was delicious. Thank you me!

I seem to remember there being, pork chops with cider and honey, roasted rabbit, lemon meringue pie, pasta with courgettes, peas and mint and recently lots of radishes, asparagus and beetroot. 

I've also been a lot busier in the last couple of weeks with my own food photography, more on that later.

At the end of February I organised a fun photo shoot with my lovely friend Anne Moen. The idea was to shoot a series of portraits with a vintage feel and feature lots of yummy baked treats. It was a pretty epic day as it involved baking a strawberry and rhubarb pie and making several pastel coloured cupcake frostings, a number of dress changes and playing with props. I was lucky to shoot in Anne's house as her landlord has a clear passion for vintage/country style interior design, which was perfect for the shoot. Also since Anne is a bit of a 50's dancer (in particular Lindy hop) she has an abundance of gorgeous dresses and was more than capable of doing her own hair and make up.

I was rather proud of my pie, first attempt at a lattice top. And the cupcake looked very cutes. Oh and Anne is of course amazing. For more check out my Pout and Bake set on flickr.

April became the month of gluttony. I started drinking cider instead of ale and consumed vast amounts of burgers, chips and hot dogs and a hefty number of cakes. The month ended with a BBQ round Mark's brothers house. They are half Argentinian so know so know a thing or two about cooking meat. As a result it was fantastic. However quite a lot of salt is used in Argentinian asado and I was left feeling happy but heavy! With a wedding at the beginning of June, I decided May would be the month of healthy eating so I'd feel nice and svelte in my wiggle dress. No fizzy drinks, no junk food and no cake...NO CAKE!! I'm not exactly massively unhealthy, but I do like to eat a lot and April was a fatty month so I thought it would be a good idea to give my body a break.

The first week was horrible (except our 5 year anniversary meal at Asakusa the best Japanese restaurant I know). I felt like my taste buds were all sad and my boyfriend has to put up with some serious whining. BUT then it was fine, I started eating breakfast nearly everyday (I usually skip it) and eating loads of fruit and sprinkling seeds on just about everything. In fact spring was the perfect time to improve my diet as there were so many lovely seasonal fruit and veg to devour. Didn't hurt the photography inspiration either as I really got stuck in and practised my food photography.

I cooked beetroot for the first time and nearly dyed my hands pink peeling them. They needed a good sprinkling of salt and went nicely in a salad with balsamic vinger and watercress. I also make a beetroot salad with goats cheese, honey, red cabbage and grated carrot.

At the end of May, I was round Mark's brother's place again, having another amazing asado. Several glasses of wine and succulent beef and pork; I was a happy guest. A few days later, I was eating dim sum in the usual restaurant and wondering if I should be feeling guilty. The answer was NO, it was a bank holiday and couldn't I just enjoy one more treat! We then went to Ed's Dinner and I had an Oreo cookie milk shake.WOW talk about sweet and sickly, but dang are they gooooood.

So then it was back to salads and grilled turkey until the wedding.

 Picture by Mark Harrington.

Here I am (with the flower in the hair, failing to pose with my eyes open) at our table for the lovely Tom and Julia's wedding at Hever Castle.

Now bring on the cake and pie! OK so maybe not as much as before :-)

Please click here to visit my flickr photostream for (hopefully) regular food photography and see below my latest images-

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Baked Stuffed Gurnard

Forgive me for not posting my pork chop recipes up here- they were very tasty but for now I'd rather talk about my new friend Bernard the gurnard.

For a change, I actually joined my boyfriend on his Sunday morning visit to the farmers market. After buying very chocolaty, pain o chocolate and some duck breast, the handsome fellow above caught my eye. After seeing the documentary End of the Line, I had decided to try and eat fish from sustainable sources and also try less popular fish. All too often fish such as the gurnard are thrown back into the sea (already dead) when they are caught while trawling for cod and haddock. I wont go on about the issue of over fishing as I probably wont be nearly as eloquent as I'd like and therefore suggest your watch End of the Line yourself.

When I discovered the fish was a gurnard, I decided to call him Bernard. Since he's a bit on the ugly side, he is often overlooked by customers. Apparently due to its dense meaty flesh they are sometimes called the chicken of the sea. After a little research I found that they are not know to have a great deal of flavour, so I opted for a stuffed recipe.

This recipe is adapted from The Camden New Journal

Stuffed Baked Gurnard (serves 2)

Two Gurnards (get the fishmonger to gut and give you the heads so you can make a stock)
2 onions
Pancetta - I used about 6 rashers
Bread crumbs - about 1 slice of bread
1 egg
Handful of flat leaf parsley
Chicken stock- 1 cup (or wine)
Juice of 1 lime

Fry pancetta and 1finely sliced and chopped onion till soft.

 Mix onions and pancetta together with bread crumbs, a handful of flat leaf parsley, thyme, black pepper, salt, 1 egg and the juice of 1 lime.

Slice the second onion and place on a lightly oiled baking dish. Stuff the fish and put on top of the onions. Any extra stuffing can added under and around the fish. Pour a cup of chicken stock in the dish, then brush the fish will oil.

Cover the dish with foil and put in a pre heated oven 200C and bake for 25-30min or till the fish is cooked.

I didn't get a pic of it cooked, oops.

The fish is really lovely and meaty. It has a few bones but they were easy to pick out. As the fish doesn't have a lot of flavour, it's best suited to stuffing and adding to stews.

Go on give the gurnard a go.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Oh so Lazy

Oh dear, I seriously need to write a new post. I've been doing a lot of eating and a fair amount of cooking- just not documenting. Sorry...

Better hit the farmers market tomorrow and buy some meat from our fav butcher. Watch this space for a pork and cider recipe that will made you drool...