Monday, February 21, 2011

Death by Wedding Cake

photography by Renee Anjanette Kalmar food styling by yours truly

  I find the aesthetic of the baked good utterly irresistible.  Wedding cakes in particular are fantastical beautiful creatures that call to me with their siren song.  But the moment I succumb and take that first bite I am screwed.  The cake drags me down into the depths of indulgence and I feel sick.  
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Cauliflower Brain Bake

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

My sister and I used to call cauliflower Brain Plant and fancied ourselves zombies when forced to eat it.    Turns out this veg doesn't reanimate dead human flesh on it's own, but it CAN make a nifty model of a brain as detailed here.  These days I generally just grill it up and eat it, no persuasion required.

When I found these orange beauties at the farmer's market, I couldn't resist.  I roasted them up with some stuff we had lying around the studio.  Simple and delicious.

Simple Roasted Cauliflower

1 pound cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
Sea salt to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Mix first five ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Add cranberries and roast for an additional 8-10 minutes.  
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Friday, February 4, 2011


It is clear that when I am tired or stressed I rely entirely too much on sugar to make it through.  Yesterday I worked on a super top secret party book at a fab house in the valley.  The hours were long and I'm not sure if it was the mad roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows or the charming nature of the fairy tale house in general, but as the shoot ground on I became more and more attached to this little fella;  The household KITCHEN GOAT!!!!!    She's actually not a fella but a girl-goat, and I can't tell you her name because I think that would break the confidentiality agreement I signed.  I'll call her Madonna, since it's always been a secret dream of mine to hang out all day in a cozy kitchen just cooking and shooting the shit with Madonna.  And something about her powerful, confident presence in such a toned and compact body really said MADONNA to me, ya know?  I first noticed her while unloading groceries.  I had my back to the door and I heard a loud rustling sound behind me.  I turned around to see  Madonna chewing on the handle of a grocery bag.
"Oh hello there little lady, what's your name?"
"Maa-aaa-aaa-aaa-dooonn-aaa-aaa-aaaa" she bleated with quiet dignity.
"Very pleased to meet you, I'm Sienna.  I'll be doing the food styling for the shoot and this is Rebecca, she'll be helping me out."  I said, gesturing to my assistant for the day the uber-talented Rebecca Farr.
"Got any greeee-eee-eee-eeen bee-eee-eee-aaaa-aaa-aaa-aaaans?"  she asked.
"Not on hand, sorry.  Maybe later you can help us out with some carrot tops.  We're also making sliders and mini pot pies, but I don't think you'll like those." I said.
"I'll give 'em a trrr-rr-rr-yy-yyy-yyy-!  I'm not a picky eee-eee-eeaa-ter."  She bleated enthusiastically.

The day went on like that in chatty camaraderie.  Just me and Rebecca and Madonna cooking and shooting the shit, like I'd always imagined!  Eventually the conversation turned from food to other more general topics.  Our favorite shampoos and the latest happenings on Glee.  We all thought Gwyneth did a great job with that Cee-Lo song, though Madonna was a teensy bit critical of her dancing chops.  By the end of the long day we were all fast friends.  I'm hoping she'll stop by from time to time.  It was so nice to work with such a convivial instant composter.
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tentacles make a lovely cuff, don't you think?

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

I love commercial food styling.  But when I'm strolling through the aisles at the different markets around town my artist brain turns on and I start seeing food in a different light.  The "wow that would make a great accessory if only it wouldn't rot and attract flies"  sort of light.  The talented Renee is my partner in crime.  Together we have collaborated on a series of "food as accessory" images.  Here's a peek at one of the slimier ones.  The model, my friend Emily (owner of an amazing popsicle company, by the way) felt conflicted about wearing this bit of sushi around her wrist.   The week we shot, a two-spotted octopus at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium managed to flood the entire building by pulling out a water recycling tube in it's tank.  Emily felt that an animal with such an inquisitive nature should not end up around her wrist.  She's probably right, but it looked so pretty in the sushi pack next to the wasabi and ginger.  A jewel toned sucker cuff.  Fancy!

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Radical Radicchio

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

Ok. this stuff really blew me away when I stumbled across it at the Farmer's Market last week.  I am more accustomed to the wilty round balls of radicchio that are usually hanging around in dejected looking clumps of 3 or 4 at the grocery store.  They resemble teenagers hanging out in a 7-11 parking lot, all sullen and bitter.  These varieties were so incredibly beautiful I couldn't resist them.  Renee and I scooped them up, took them back to the studio and shot them right away.  Then I developed this little recipe for lunch time.
photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

Radicchio can be slightly tough and bitter raw.  I slice it pretty thin and wilted it with olive oil to cut the bitterness and help with the texture.  The result was awesome!

Radicchio Tangerine Salad

2-3 heads of Radicchio, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces sheep's milk gouda, shaved
4 tangerines, supremed

Juice of two tangerines
1tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
pinch sea salt
pinch fresh ground pepper


For Dressing:

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly incorporated

For Salad:

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet of medium high heat.  Add radicchio and toss constantly with tongs for about a minute or until slightly wilted.  Remove raddiccio from heat and toss in a large bowl with remaining ingredients and dressing.  

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