Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holy Meatloaf!

One of the biggest challenges of Food Styling is taking the fugly out of food.  I'm willing to bet that never in the history of modern American cooking has anyone ever uttered the phrase:

"Oh my!  What a BEAUTIFUL meatloaf!"

Just doesn't sound right, does it?  The name of the item itself hints at it's inherent homely nature.  A loaf.  Made out of meat.  Today's challenge is just that.  A fugly loaf of meat that must look tantalizing, juicy, inviting and even SEXY.

So as a sylist how do I get from HERE:

to HERE:

 Now mind you, this is just a happy snap I took with my iphone.  It doesn't do the final lighting justice AT ALL.  The talented Miss Renee used her impressive lighting skills to bring out the best in this bad boy, but I can't show you that right now...  On the styling end of things, I have precious few options when working with THIS particular arrangement of protein.  Whenever I'm dealing with a brown, shoe box shaped object made of pressed flesh I always try for the cascade effect.  Break that baby up into less offensive pieces and lay them down in a docile, non-confrontational pose.  The last thing you want is an angry wall of meat staring you down like the bouncer at a mud-wrestiling joint.  Then, if the recipe allows, drizzle SOMETHING colorful over it.  And always, ALWAYS add a fresh green leaf.  You gotta get some life and light into that meat brick shot.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oh, that I were a cookie

Photo by Renee Anjanette
For the season Renee indulged my fantasy of creating a hot cocoa hot tub.  In actuality I would like to be  the one bathing in the brown stuff, but nobody wants to see that.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Cake Hat

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

In a perfect world all of my hats would be made of cake.  That way if I ever got caught on a really long bus ride, I'd always have something to snack on. 

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pickled Peppers

As the pace of my life has slowed from frenetic to busy I have become aware of a slight dissatisfaction with the food styling biz that is turning into full-blown guilt.  I’m starting to be a bit uncomfortable with my occasional role in making very bad for you food LOOK very good.  There was a time when I was snarfing down nachos bell grande with the best of them.  I used to be in a band and after our first week of serious touring I realized I would have to give the fast food a rest, because my tongue had swollen up to the size of a gym sock and taken on a blackish hue.  All that to say I am not a purist or a natural born foodie.  Unlike many of my friends, I woke up to the organic, fresh, local, mostly vegetarian-better-for-you-better-for-the-planet trend a little bit late.  It’s not that I don’t get it.  I really WANT to be a better consumer and I’m endlessly fascinated by other people’s quests and discoveries in this realm.  A few weeks ago I was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle in bed flanked by a bag of extra cheesy Doritos and white “cheddar” encrusted popcorn.  I was rapt!  
“Oh Barbara!  Will the disappearing heirloom breed of turkeys you so carefully raised from tiny peeping chicks be able to reproduce on their own????  WILL the eggs hatch into new precious babies that you can harvest next Thanksgiving?  And tell me again about making your own cheese!!”  
I can do that I thought to myself, between alternating handfuls of fake cheese bliss…..I WILL do that.  
It’s just that I’m lazy and afraid of change.  Maybe turkey rearing is too much to take on as my first act of eating responsibly?  So much can go wrong in even the smallest attempts.  What if I pick the one tomato in the farmer’s market that’s not organic?  What if someone offers me a piece of feedlot beef at a BBQ and it smells really really good?  What if I have an insatiable PMS related craving for cheese “flavored” food rather than cheese I’ve lovingly hand crafted from raw milk?  

What I CAN do is go to a Farmer's Market once a week and purchase fresh local fare and cook with it.  Simple enough.  Here is my first attempt, beautiful sweet peppers.

I made a quick pickle out of these beauties, then ate them all week long on sandwiches and in salads.  So good!

Pickled Peppers


1 1/2 pounds sweet peppers, thinly sliced
4 shallots,  thinly sliced
3 cups white wine vinegar
3/4 cups sugar
10 sprigs fresh thyme
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt


Toss peppers and shallots together in a medium bowl, set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, thyme, garlic, crushed pepper, and salt.  Over medium heat, stir mixture until sugar and salt dissolve.  Pour hot brine over peppers and shallots and cover for ten minutes.  Uncover and cool to room temperature.  Divide evenly among four 16 ounce jars, adding a little water if necessary to cover peppers completely.  Chill in fridge for five hours before first use.  Can be kept in fridge up to ten days.

 photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

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Friday, November 26, 2010

What the What?! FRIED CHICKEN that's what!

I am not one of those food stylists with an intense culinary background.  I didn't go to culinary school, I never was a private chef, I sometimes have to look up cooking terms (most recently braise which is creepily on the same page as "brainworm") and I once set an entire 20 pound turkey aflame.  However, I am a slave to the aesthetics of food and I'm Italian so I figure that gives me a genetic edge in the cooking department.  Since I lack the encyclopedic culinary knowledge of some of my cheffier friends I am committed to following my every whim in the kitchen.....

So when the talented Renee  suggested we fry up some chicken, I was all for it.

I followed a deviled fried chicken recipe I found at epicurious.  She fried up real nice and tasted delish. 
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