Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

i’m sorry i lied

July 17, 2009

I’m sorry I lied and said I’d have a non-recipe for you.   Because as we all know, I never posted that non-recipe.  I’m hoping I’ll get to it later today, really.  I also don’t have any new food for you today.  The final stage of the move is happening tomorrow, after which maybe I can begin to resume a somewhat normal life that doesn’t involve digging through plastic bags to figure out what I’m going to wear for the day (yes, I pack my clothes in trash bags.  It makes more sense, OK?).  Anyway, here is a picture of my dog to tide you over.  Let me tell you: Brillo, weird thing that she is, makes everything better.  There.  See her sweet little ears and bushy eyebrows?


Wait for it….

awwww.  What a weird little wonderful creature!



Some more

July 9, 2009

So I am in the final stages of packing up my apartment, which means that I’m not doing much cooking at all. My “cooking” has consisted of such gourmet dinners as: “Figs with peanut butter” and “Leftover Ethiopian Takeout”, which, to tell you the truth, I’ve kind of been enjoying. Sometimes it’s nice to eat in a really simple, ramshackle way. Anyway, since I don’t think you want my recipe for figs with peanut butter (or in case you do, here it is: cut dried figs in half and spread them with peanut butter. eat.), I’ve decided to give you some more photos. This batch is also from the 4th of July.

Above: That’s the art museum in the background, and the street lights leading up to it on the diagonals. I just love the soft light in this one.

This little girl was so sweet. She seemed really overwhelmed by all the people, but excited for the fireworks!

This girl was cute too… Totally enthralled with the glow sticks.

More to come tomorrow… have a great night!


July 8, 2009

It’s been a tough week for me, but there have also been a lot of beautiful moments and a lot of things to smile about.  The fourth of July was definitely one of those things.  I went to see the fireworks at the parkway (the road that leads up to the Phila Art Museum) and I brought my camera.  I’m generally pretty shy about taking pictures, but I challenged myself to just go for it.  Glad I did.

little bit of beauty for sunday

May 24, 2009

Happy Sunday everyone, enjoy it.

*Oh, and Wednesday is the last day of my event! So get those entries in!!

I’m back, with Cheesecake!

May 12, 2008

cheesecake truffles

Please forgive me, I’ve been bad.  Well, not so much bad as busy.  I did a lot of rushing around and baking this week in order to prepare for a vendor fair.  It was in NY, near my parents’ house, and I was asked to come bearing baked goods and business cards.  Well, it turned out to be a bit of a production.  I made all the knockouts: about a million cheesecake truffles (pictured above), lots and lots of Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Cake (thank you Clotilde!), and a bunch of mini blackberry buckles (I’m sure you’ll see that recipe in an upcoming post). 

Today I want to talk about the cheesecake truffles.  These were inspired by last month’s Daring Bakers challenge, cheesecake lollipops.  I wanted to make them again, this time using real vanilla bean (last time I just used extract), but I also wanted to class them up for this event.  The lollipops were cute, don’t get me wrong, but I was looking for something a bit more sophisticated.  I used the exact same recipe and just let these little guys harden up on a baking sheet.  As soon as they solidified, I popped them into these mini cupcake papers. 

Let me tell you, if you’re looking for a show stopper, this is the one.  It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like cheesecake, and even people who are “watching their weight” can’t really justify passing up one of these.  After all, as decacdent as they are, they’re tiny!  I made mine about walnut sized, and it was perfect.  

Cheesecake Truffles

Also, just as a note… last time I made these, I used dark chocolate as coating, and in my opinion, it was too strong against the delicate flavor of the cheesecake.  This time around I opted for coating some with milk chocolate, and some with summer coating (kind of white chocolate, i guess), and I LOVED the results.


Daring Bakers April Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

April 27, 2008

This was my second Daring Bakers Challenge! I feel like I’ve been lucky as far as challenges go. To be completely honest, I was pretty relieved that I joined the DBs after the Julia Child french bread challenge as I’m really not sure that’s something I’m ready to tackle. I’ve actually got a loaf of bread in the oven right now, but it is of the “almost no knead” variety, and it is about as much of a yeast endeavor as I am prepared to take on.

Anyway… I really liked making these pops. The cheesecake part was really simple. I didn’t realize until the last minute that there was no butter in the recipe, and I think that yielded a very creamy and un-greasy cheesecake. The chocolate part was no problem either. I have to admit, I kind of wish I had tried white chocolate, because as much as I love dark chocolate and cheesecake, I somehow don’t love them together. I think, for me, the dark chocolate is just a bit too strong against the soft flavor of cheesecake. Next time I might add a vanilla bean to the batter to get more flavor out of the cheesecake part. I might also try milk chocolate as a coating, which I think would be less intense. Regardless, these are fun to make, and if nothing else, are hopelessly cute. I would definitely suggest giving them a try!

Check out the thousands of other delicious-lookin cheesecake pops made this month by Daring Bakers HERE.

Cheesecake Pops, adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs (I used 3 eggs when I baked half the recipe without a problem)
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, seeded
¼ cup heavy cream

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks (I just used bamboo skewers, although this really wasn’t the best idea)
1 pound chocolate, chopped or in chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I ended up using a bit of butter…)
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 to 2 hours

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paperlined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Results: Make Martha Cringe

April 25, 2008

I have to admit I’m a little bit sad… I had really hoped that “Make Martha Cringe” would generate a bunch of responses.  I got a few comments and some people expressed interest, but in the end, I only got one (awesome) entry!  Maybe this is what happens when events first start?  Maybe no one wants to be tacky?  Oh man.. I’m still going to try again next month anyway and see if maybe it’s just going to take a little while to catch on.

Well, about the gorgeous photo you see above… My friend Kyle from Kumo-Art made “Shrimp and Fish in an Herb Sauce” and styled it with a decidedly 70’s feel.  I LOVE IT!  Way to go, Ky.   I have to admit though, I was hoping for something a bit more gaudy, but that doesn’t take away from how great this styling job is. 

My cousin also sent me this awesome picture of a “meat tree”, which was kind of exactly what I was looking for.

I hope these pictures inspire you for next month!!

Even better the second time

April 11, 2008

Well, I loved my multigrain version of the NY Times No-Knead Bread so much that I just had to make it again. I’m happy to say, this time it was even better. I only made a few changes. (If you missed my recipe the first time, it’s here)

  1. I increased the yeast to almost half a tablespoon
  2. I added even more seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax) and millet
  3. I used a combination of 2C bread flour and 1C spelt flour
  4. I let it rise a bit longer than before… about 22 hours for the first rise and then two for the second rise
  5. I punched down the dough a bit during the second rise. I don’t know, I just thought this would help!
  6. I let it bake about five minutes longer

The bread was amazing (so much so that I have another batch of dough rising right now)! Here is a summary of how it was different from my first loaf. I think the numbering matches up so that the changes I made should correspond with the effects I think they had (yes, I am that nerdy, oh well).

  1. This one was less dense, with a better, more delicate crumb. There were all these amazing little air pockets in the finished loaf.
  2. More delicious!
  3. Again, more delicious!
  4. Same as number 1, and a deeper, more pronounced and yeasty/bready flavor that I really liked.
  5. This second loaf was taller than the first, which was, admittedly, kind of flat.
  6. Better crust!

So, all I have to say is, if you have not made this bread yet, MAKE IT!!!!! Don’t be afraid to play with the recipe. I did, and I am so, so, happy with the results. As a former yeast-o-phobe, I’m also still pretty amazed that I, Caitlin, actually made bread, and a good bread at that! My best compliment was from Mark. I gave him a quarter of the loaf to take home, and today he informed me that ate the entire thing last night, toasted, spread with goat cheese, and drizzled with honey. He said it was the best bread he had eaten in a long time. Look, I’d like to take the credit, but I really can’t (well, maybe I’ll take some credit for being so bold with the grains). This is just one keeper of a recipe.

The most awesome part of this bread was that it inspired us to have a picnic with the bread as the guest of honor. We also had:

  • a salad of mixed greens with lemon-dijon vinaigrette and heirloom tomatoes
  • pan-seared tilapia, prepared simply with lemon and fresh cracked pepper
  • a mini spinach and parmesan frittata
  • peppered goat cheese, and another melty, delicious cheese (can’t remember what it’s called!)
  • apricot and strawberry jam to go with the bread and cheese

Yes, I know it’s excessive, but that was pretty much the only meal we ate all day. Really people, what kind of gluttons do you think we are?

Event: Make Martha Cringe! (Good food behaving badly)

April 2, 2008

(scroll down for event rules)

Let’s talk for a second about the current state of food photography. These days, it’s all about natural beauty. We want to see food glow, basking in just the right amount of gorgeous natural light. We want to see just how fresh and green that spinach is (maybe it was just picked- maybe there’s a second bunch of greens in the background of the shot with the dirt from the garden still gracing its roots)! We want to see how each grain of organic bhutanese red rice clings delicately to the next. I think we could all agree that the current trend in food photography is a good one.

Now… here’s the deal. Yes, we can make our food look gorgeous, fresh, and vibrant. It’s a challenge. It’s fun. We love it. But sometimes it’s just so… pristine. I don’t know about all of you, but every now and then I just get an itch to rebel and make my food look really, really tacky. Maybe it’s just me, but with so much “pretty” food around I think it might be pretty satisfying to see some food looking outlandishly kitschy and garish. Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time, anyone remember the 70’s? Lookin good!

I really love the “garni” on the plate in the back. Classy, no?

Sexy! (I believe these are called “Tomato Wheels”)

So let’s do it. Let’s put our skills to good (or bad) use and revive gratuitous food styling, at least for the purpose of this event. Now, let me make this clear… I’m not interested in bad food, or even bad photography. The food should be something that actually tastes good, and the photographic composition should be deliberate. As for the styling, go wild! Bring on the tacky lighting, fussy structuring, inappropriate props and garni, and arranging of food in compromising positions. Let’s have fun with it. Let’s break all the rules. Let’s Make Martha Cringe.

Yeah baby! (Shrimply delicious??)

Update: There is no restriction on ingredients this month.  Go crazy!

Here are the rules:

  1. Prepare (or create) a recipe involving, style it to your heart’s content, and write a post including your cringe-worthy photo and the accompanying recipe. Please link back to this announcement in your post. Posts must be new, although I seriously doubt that you have any old posts that would be appropriate for this event 😉
  2. You MAY use photoshop or another editing program to alter the color/lighting of your photo.
  3. E-mail me (caitlin DOT larussa AT gmail DOT com) Please make sure that Make Martha Cringe is written in the subject line.
  4. In the e-mail please include:
    • the URL of your entry
    • your name, and your blog’s name
    • the name of the dish
    • your approximate location
  5. The deadline for entries is Sunday, April 20, at midnight (eastern standard time). (I will post a roundup sometime the following week).

The winner (judged this time by me) will receive a mystery prize and will have the privilege of helping me judge the next round.
I can’t wait to see some really awful styling. Bring it on!

If for some reason you need some more inspiration, I’ll just leave you with this…

Good luck!

a retrospective…

February 8, 2008

Well, I have to get some more light for my kitchen. There isn’t any natural light and it’s really hard to get a nice picture, so I’ll have to figure something out. For now, here are some older pictures that I thought I’d share.

Brillo feet

Above: Brillo feet


Above: Baking with Xiao Ge- the best Santas ever!

Kale for the soup

Kale for the beans and greens soup


Beans and yams for the soup