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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Six Degrees of Bacon | Ohio Food Photographer

Setting up to do a promotional piece for Photo Kitchen, bacon seemed like the obvious choice. It's so popular right now, put bacon on ANYTHING and people will eat it. So I put it on paper. Yum. 

This post is mostly eye candy, but there is a recipe in here for you to try. It's for Candied Bacon. One of my clients Bleu and Fig, a catering company, introduced me to this wonderful idea. Give the people what they want: bacon on top of bacon. Simple sweet and salty candied strips of bacon.

Irresistible Candied Bacon
(warning: this recipe is simple, but time-consuming and requires much dishwashing.)

12 slices bacon, about 1/4-inch thick Center Cut bacon
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1//2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  You’ll want 4 rectangular baking dishes, such as  casserole dishes. Metal dishes will cook the bacon faster than glass dishes. Either is fine. Put all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.  Take each bacon slice and toss it into the bowl, making sure to coat the slice thoroughly. Lay the bacon slices flat into the dishes without overlapping. Sprinkle any sugar left in the bowl over the bacon.

Bake for 20 minutes. Check the bacon. If it is not golden brown and fairly crispy, resist the temptation to turn up the oven temperature, and cook it for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Check it again. When you remove the tray and transfer the bacon to a serving platter or individual plates, the bacon will "crisp" up a little more.

Let sit only 2 minutes after pulling it out of the oven. The sugar needs to solidify somewhat so it doesn't slip off the bacon. If you wait too long, it will stick. Transfer each piece onto a cooling rack. Let it sit on the plate another 4-5 minutes. Then you can eat it or transfer it to an air-tight container. Bacon can sit outside the refrigerator for up to one day. After that, refrigeration is best, but eat at room temperature.

Parchment paper may make the clean-up easier. Pouring hot water into the pans made the sugar melt and sped up the cleaning process.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mini Ground Cherry Pies | Food Stylist, Photographer, Blogger

When typing the title above, I accidentally typed Ground "Cheery" Pie, and considered keeping it, because these mini pies ARE cheery little things. I was introduced to ground cherries last year at the farmer's market. They were described as a cross between a tomatillo (because of their husk casings) and a grape. I wasn't sure what to do with them, until I found a recipe on Vegan Yum-Yum for these mini pies. I ate one mini pie myself, and gave the rest to my two favorite little girls who giggled when they saw them. I giggled some, too.

Since I have yet to perfect a pie crust recipe for myself, I used a store-bought pie dough and simply made the filling to put in them.

Mini Ground Cherry Pies
Makes six

Pie crust of your choosing
2 cups Ground Cherries, de-husked and washed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp flour

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Spray cupcake tins, or use cupcake liners and then spray the liners. Place a small circle of dough in the bottom of each up. Press the dough to form the bottom and sides of the crust.
Fill each cup to the top, slightly overflowing, with ground cherries. Sprinkle equal amounts of the sugar/flour mixture into each cup, over the cherries.
Cut remaining dough into flat circles with the top of a glass or a cookie cutter, then place on top of each mini pie for the top crust. You can smoosh down the edges to connect to the bottom crust.
I always top my pie with a tiny bit of butter and some sprinkled cinnamon.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool a bit before transferring, so they are a little more solid. 

The final product is a somewhat indefinable taste. Not cherry, not grape, not tomato...just a sweet, mild, fruity flavor. Can't imagine anyone could have a complaint about them. Besides, the cuteness factor wins everyone over.

FOOD FIGHT PHOTO SHOOT | What to do in Columbus Ohio on 8/11/12

I'm so excited for the next Bite-Sized Photo Shoots coming up on August 11th, 2012. The theme? FOOD FIGHT!

This shoot is so perfect for family Christmas cards, a treat for your hard-working employees, friends just looking for something fun to do, a silly engagement session, a great birthday gift, you name it. Get out of the habit of stiff, posed portraits and come have some fun with us instead.  

Wasted food is not usually my thing. Quite the contrary. I stress over a blueberry that fell on the floor (and usually wash it off and eat it.) I eat leftovers I hate because I can't bear to throw them out. I have even eaten off of a discarded plate at a restaurant before. I really did. It was Cheesecake Factory when I was 19 years old, a stranger at the table next to mine left an entire piece of cheesecake behind. I ate it.

As you can see, this food fight theme is an environmental stretch for me, but photographically, I LOVE food props, and messes, and people having fun, being silly, interacting and enjoying the simple things in life. I've dreamed of doing a food fight photo shoot for years, ever since I saw the movie Hook, with the amazing food fight scene.

I've been doing some research on the best foods for a food fight. I found a great list at Apartment Therapy, which included popcorn, oatmeal, pudding, nacho cheese, flour, eggs, and cabbage (no, not a whole head. Ouch.).

Spaghetti, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and applesauce, and milk (to go in water guns) are also on my list, but my plan is to go to GFS Food Service and find the cheapest, messiest options available. Any suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pita Pizzas | The Perfect Lazy Dinner

I've been making this simple twist on a Greek classic for over 10 years. Everyone I've shared it with has fallen in love, so now it's your turn. My very first job in high school was at a small family-owned deli around the corner from my house. While most of my friends were busy hating their jobs, I loved mine so much I stayed for 7 years. What can I say, I fell in love with food.

After going vegetarian, I was getting pretty bored of my grilled cheese options. We had a wonderfully convenient sandwich oven at this deli, and typically we'd throw a pita in it for a minute or two before topping it with standard gyro toppings-sliced lamb, feta, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce. Well, I wanted my cheese to be melted, so I topped my pita before throwing it in the oven. A pretty simple adjustment, but it made a world of difference. So the next time, I decided instead of rolling the pita up into a wrap, I'd leave it flat and top it like a pizza. 

Lazy Pita Pizzas
(serves 4)
4 large pitas (not pocket pitas)
8 oz. feta (I like a lot of cheese)
8 slices cheddar cheese
8 slices of tomato
a few handfuls of lettuce
gyro sauce (recipe below)

gyro sauce:
6 oz sour cream
chopped up garlic (I use jarred garlic)
salt and pepper to taste

optional topping variations:
chopped lamb meat
red onion
kalamata olives
mild banana pepper rings

Mix up the gyro sauce a day ahead, if possible. Lay pitas flat on a cookie sheet or pizza stone. They can even be frozen if you forgot to take them out of the freezer in time, just cook them a little longer. Spread a liberal amount of the gyro sauce on the top of each pita. Sprinkle feta over it, then lay cheddar slices on top of the feta. Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 7-12 minutes, until cheese is fully melted and bubbling a little. Take out of the oven, cut each pita into 4ths and top with lettuce and tomato.

This is a great family meal, because each individual can choose their own toppings. I've made these into Italian pizzas, Mexican pizzas, and Reuben pizzas. Best part is, you can keep the pitas in the freezer for whenever you want them and there's no pizza dough to wrestle with.