Friday, May 17, 2013

Salami Pasta

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe for small pasta with salami, which I first saw on her show, Nigella Kitchen. I love watching her cook because she clearly takes so much pleasure in preparing and eating everything that she makes. She also doesn't seem overly concerned with whether or not something is authentic or fancy - just whether or not it tastes good. That's just my style!

I was excited to try this recipe because it looked easy and tasty. It's also a nice way to use up sliced salami, which we often have on hand and sometimes end up tossing because it sits around too long. I love the addition of the beans in this recipe too. I never would have thought to add them, but they taste great with the salami and they add great texture and protein to the dish. While the dish takes a bit of time to cook because I like leaving the sauce to simmer for a while (though you don't necessarily need to simmer it as long if you don't want to), the dish is very simple to throw together. This one's a definite keeper!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Breaded Goat Cheese Bites

I am kind of obsessed with cheese. I can have a seriously appalling amount of cheese in one sitting. Sometimes, good old cheddar just won't do and I want something even more indulgent. Enter goat cheese. And sometimes just goat cheese isn't enough, so I bread it and fry it. Oh, yeah.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

I have been watching a lot of British chefs on the Food Network lately. Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver have kind of taken over my TV. I love cooking shows, but they are even better when the hosts speak in lovely British accents (though I have to say it is really weird not hearing Gordon Ramsay drop a dozen f-bombs every half hour - his cookery course show is much cleaner than his others!). If you need me, I'll be practicing British cooking terms - like "spring onions" and "double cream" - in a terrible accent.

This cauliflower mac and cheese was inspired by Jamie Oliver's version from his cookbook Meals in Minutes. I kept wanting to make his version but forgetting to get crème fraîche and pancetta at the grocery store, so I just put together my own. I realize that this isn't technically mac and cheese, since I used fusilli and not macaroni, but if you're a stickler for that stuff, just sub in the elbow macaroni and you'll be good to go.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Food Photography Tips and Tricks: A Link Roundup

I am super excited because I bought myself a new toy a few days ago - a new DSLR camera! I have been using a point and shoot to take pictures for the blog, and recently have made an effort to learn more about photography and to improve the pictures that I take for the blog, and in reading about photography, I found it turning into a bit of a new passion. I think my pictures actually have improved quite a bit even in the last few months. I was finally able to get a few pictures on Tastespotting and Foodgawker recently, which was a personal goal of mine for a long time and which has brought a bit more traffic to the site.

One of the best resources I came across is the book Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin, the author of the blog Tartelette which has some of the most beautiful food photography I've seen. It's super straightforward, with tons of pictures to show what she is talking about. It's perfect for a beginner who is enthusiastic about taking better food photos. I've also been looking at lots of online resources, which I have linked to at the end of this post.

Anyway, after doing all of this reading, I realized there are things that I want to do with my photography that I simply couldn't do with my basic point and shoot. That's not to say point and shoot cameras are bad, of course, or that the pictures you take with them aren't good - you can take beautiful pictures with a point and shoot and terrible pictures with a DSLR. However, I wanted to be able to do more with my camera, but couldn't because of its basic settings. I was feeling quite restricted by what my camera was able to do.

For example, one major thing I love in photos is the lovely blurry backgrounds (or "bokeh," as I have learned it's called). My point and shoot can't really do that. I tried to fool it into doing that by using the food (macro) setting, which blurs the background a bit because the camera is being told to focus on what's right in front of it so it can't keep the background completely in focus as well as in the normal setting, but in my opinion it just doesn't look quite like it does when the picture is taken with a DSLR. Maybe a higher-end point and shoot could do it, but mine is pretty basic. I also wanted to be able to experiment with camera settings somewhat, but didn't even have a manual setting on my camera.

I spent some time thinking about whether I wanted to get a really good point and shoot, or if I wanted to take the plunge and buy a DSLR and put to use all of the reading I had been doing about apertures, ISO, depth of field, shutter speeds, and all of that good stuff. I decided I wanted to get a DSLR, so I spent a ton of time looking at them online. I finally found a good deal on a solid entry-level DSLR (a Canon EOS Rebel T2i) and snagged it. I'm so excited to take a ton of pictures with it. We'll be taking a vacation to the west coast in a couple of months so it will be nice to bring it along and take non-food pictures as well.

Anyway, since I have photography on the brain, I thought I'd share some of the most useful online photography resources I have come across over the last few months. (And again, I would highly recommend Plate to Pixel, though it's not as easy to access as just clicking a link - but it's worth it!) Many of these are specific to food photography (including discussions of styling and composition), but there are also general photography resources geared towards beginners. These can be found either on my Resources page or pinned on my Pinterest photography board, so please feel free to check those out. I'll keep adding resources I find to those locations as I find them, so you may want to check back in the future as well. I hope they inspire you to improve your photos the way they have inspired me!

Food Photography Basics - Sally's Baking Addiction

Food Photography Basics - The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Food Photography Props on a Budget - Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach

Food Photography Tips - Bella Eats

Food Photography Tips for Food Blogs and Food Bloggers, Written by a Professional Food Photographer - Food Photography Blog

Food Styling Q and A with Tami Hardeman - Gourmande in the Kitchen

The Language of Food Photography: The Principles of Design - Gourmande in the Kitchen

My Take on Food Styling and Photography: a comprehensive overview of photography, styling and composition basics - 6 Bittersweets

Photography 101: a series of posts, including some that are geared to those with point and shoot cameras - Kitchen Wench

Photography Tips, Tricks and Tutorials - Taylor Takes a Taste

A Quick Guide to Understanding your Digital SLR Camera - Kevin and Amanda

Styling Pro's Secrets to Gorgeous Food Photos - Will Write for Food

When Good Food Looks Bad: A Styling Post - Running with Tweezers

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spicy Italian Sausage Penne

Back-to-back pasta recipes on the blog this week! But I can't help it. I love pasta. It's so easy and versatile (and not to mention delicious). I have a couple of go-to pasta recipes (including my spaghetti alla puttanesca, which I can almost make in my sleep) but I also really like trying something new, or putting a new spin on an old favourite.

I use Italian sausages with pasta quite often, but I don't do anything particularly fancy or complicated with them. Usually I just break them up while frying them and then toss them in tomato sauce, often with artichoke hearts. I then saw Jamie Oliver's recipe for "Pregnant Jools's Pasta" in his cookbook Meals in Minutes, which is a different approach to sausage pasta than my usual. He puts the sausages through the food processor before frying it up, which gives the sausage a more silky texture, as opposed to the more rustic texture of my sausage pastas. He also makes the sauce with carrot, celery (which unfortunately I didn't have on hand) and diced tomatoes, which makes it taste fresh.

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