Mocha Panna Cotta

And finally, the closing post on our dinner party…Mocha Panna Cotta

Although it looks pretty good, I have to admit that we haven’t quite perfected the dish. We of course attempted it the nerdy way, with a Panna Cotta recipe from the Modernist Cuisine at Home book.  After three tries, it still hasn’t set properly…. but the flavors are all there!

mocha panna cotta

Happily, we got a chance to delve into some of our favorite pantry items to complete the dish. On top of the Panna Cotta we poured a touch of Woodinville Whiskey’s Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup. (As a Vermonter, whose family has been making maple syrup her whole life, I consider myself something of an expert on the subject and this absolutely makes the cut). For the final touch, we sprinkled on some Espresso Salt (A delectable item which we came across while killing some time in Portsmouth New Hampshire. Every flavor at The Salt Cellar was pretty amazing, but I think the Espresso was my favorite).

mocha panna cotta

Check out these previous posts to view the other courses from our dinner party:

Fried Goat Cheese

Chilled Tomato Soup

The other courses

Chef Steps 200-hour Beef

Although this is the last post for this specific dinner party, there are many creations to come. Please follow the blog to keep up with our culinary adventures!

 

 

A Chef Steps Inspired Dinner Party

For the last week I’ve been posting a great deal about a dinner party we had the other weekend. You may be wondering why I’ve been making such a deal over this particular gathering, after all, we cook for friends all the time. Well I’m happy to finally post the star dish of the night; Chef Steps 200-hour beef (or Pastrami Plate).

Chef Steps 200 hour beef

Although cooking this ourselves would have been pretty nifty, what makes this dish extra special is that the great crew at Chef Steps actually did all the work for us. We were lucky enough to take part in an experiment for Chef Steps. We stopped by their offices in Pike Place Market (such a cool space, full of awesome people!), picked up a box of vacuum sealed prepared foods and brought it home. The kit included instructions on how to finish off each piece and then plate it…leading to the most beautifully presented dish we have yet to create. A huge thank you to Chef Steps for helping us serve such a high-quality dish in our own home.

Chef Steps 200 hour beef

Check out these previous posts to view the other courses from our dinner party:

Fried Goat Cheese

Chilled Tomato Soup

The other courses

Next up, the final course; Mocha Panna Cotta!

 

 

 

The Other Courses

For today’s post, I present you two of our fabulous courses from last week’s dinner party: Fried Vegetables and Tuna Bruschetta.

For the fried vegetable dish we took oyster mushrooms, zucchini, and goat cheese stuffed zucchini blossoms, coated in panko and fried them. Served with a Peanut Soy Sauce.

The other courses

The Tuna Bruschetta was made by one of our guests. I don’t have the inside track on what was in it, as he arrived with is mostly prepared, but I can tell you that it was delicious!

The other courses

Check out these previous posts to view the other courses from our dinner party:

Fried Goat Cheese

Chilled Tomato Soup

Next up, the reason for this elaborate dinner party; Chef Steps Pastrami Plate. With a twist!

Chilled Tomato Soup

chilled tomato soup

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you’ll know that last week the Husband and I hosted a dinner party. In my previous post, I showed a preview of the meal, with our Fried Goat Cheese bites. This week, I have another course to share;  Chef Step’s Chilled Tomato Soup. Happily this Chilled Tomato Soup is was quite easy to make and simply delicious.

Keep reading to see a few images of our process. For the original recipe, head on over to Chef Steps.

chilled tomato soup

We created this dish with farmer’s market tomatos, garlic, shallots and some homegrown basil (sadly, our own tomato plant has yet to produce a significant harvest). We then placed the mixture in a vacuum-sealed bag, sous vide for 10 minutes and then blended. Voila! Chilled tomato soup.

basil oil

Although the soup was quite good on it’s own, the addition of basil oil made it shine. For this dish we made the basil oil suggested in the Chef Steps Chilled Tomato soup recipe, which involved blanching the basil, mixing with oil and pureeing it. However, next time we’d prefer to infuse oil with basil flavor, rather than make this mix. How would we do this? Another Chef steps recipe of course!

chilled tomato soup

I’ll be posting the remaining four dishes from this meal shortly (I promise!). If you missed last week’s preview, check out my previous post on Fried Goat Cheese bites.  And be sure to follow the blog if you want to see more of our culinary adventures!

Thai for two

Instead of working in my own kitchen last week, I headed to a friend’s house to collaborate on a project. We picked up a few dishes from a local Thai restaurant and went to work styling a delicious looking spread. Here are a few images from our “Thai for two” shoot.

Thai Food

We had a coconut soup, curry and of course spring rolls! Thank you to Thian Thai for providing us with these great dishes.

spring rolls

Grilled peach and prosciutto salad

This week I created a grilled peach and prosciutto salad with creme fraiche dressing and crumbled goat cheese. We’ve been on a bit of a grilled fruit kick lately, peaches, apricots, whatever we can get our hands on, and when I saw this recipe in Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie at Home” cookbook, I just had to try it. Grilled peached, cured meat and goat cheese are a delightful combination.

grilled peach salad

The lemon challenge

Lemons

A few weeks ago I attended a food photography workshop with the White on Rice Couple at CreativeLive. (check out my last post to read more about the workshop). Since then I’ve been dreaming about all the different dishes and ingredients I want to shoot. The possibilities are endless! Still, at the end of the workshop, one of the hosts asked us “So, what’s the next thing you’re going to photograph?” and my immediate response, “lemons!”.

The overarching theme to the workshop was that food photography tells the story you have to say about a dish. There are a thousand food photographers that have shot a thousand lemons, it doesn’t mean that the lemon has been overshot. Each photographer has their own experience, their own memories, their own take on what a lemon means to them. One subject. Many voices.

I decided to figure out my own ‘lemon voice.’ To me, lemons are essential. Although they are rarely a prime ingredient you should always have a lemon in the kitchen. Also, lemons epitomize summer. I’ve been trying to come up with a good analogy to my own life and photography but they all just turn sour… :)

In the end, really they are a just a beautiful ingredient, both in flavor and style.

Lemons

Lemons

 

A little CreativeLive Love

Oy, what a week! I meant to write this post when the emotions for my most recent appearance on CreativeLive were fresh, but alas the fates did not grant me the time. Between getting sick, locked out the house and other various mishaps this week has flown by in an unproductive haze. Still, I wanted to post a little CreativeLive love before the week ended. (If you never heard of CreativeLive, you absolutely have to check them out. They are an extraordinary online learning site, run by a wonderful group of people. Seriously, go to their site and discover a world of knowledge!)

So yeah, last week I attended another food photography workshop at CreativeLive. This was my third appearance in the studio audience and I cannot fully express how much each these experiences have meant to me. You learn so much over the course of the three-day workshop, but more importantly you meet some amazing people.  (To read about my first experience at CreativeLive check out this post from last year)

This workshop was run by Diane Cu and Todd Porter (aka the White on Rice Couple).  They are a charming duo with a beautiful photographic style and inspiring insight into the world of food photography. Unlike my first experience, which I went into basically clueless about food photography, I started this course with some knowledge of the work and business.  Still, it was wonderful to watch them work and hear a new perspective. I truly believe you can never have too many teachers.

CreativeLive

Photo from the set. Styled by Diane Cu

Beyond the incredible insights into food photography, the most poignant moment for me was when they started talking about their beginnings. Diane mentioned that one day she was fed up with the business of food photography. That was it. She was done with their food blog.  She didn’t want to pursue this business anymore. But Todd said “No”, quitting was not an option. This struck home for me; it reminded me of my husband. Although he is not a photographer and not technically part of my business, he is the backbone. I can’t count the number of time I have expressed my doubts and desire to veer off this winding photographic path and he’s continued to push me forward.

Recently we were on a walk and I was worrying about something or other, he stopped me and said “Leah, What you do is really amazing. Well, I know I’m forced to say that, but I really mean it. You’re really talented. I don’t say that enough. You can do this.”

Food photography is still pretty new to me. It’s something I started doing because I just love good food; it was a natural progression. For now, portrait photography is my business and food photography is my hobby. I love them both, but we’ll see where the future leads. I recently started a project where I plan on creating and photographing one dish a week and posting here to my blog. So if you love food, stay tuned!

I’ll end with a “Thank You.” Thank you to CreativeLive for being the awesome operation that you are. Thank you to Diane and Todd for your incredible knowledge and for not quitting. And thank you to my husband for never letting me quit. You all rock.

Props from the CreativeLive set

Props from the set

Added bonus, we got to meet Ethan Stowell during the workshop! As a foodie, meeting this famous chef was way cooler than meeting any other sort of celebrity. :)

photo (2)

Red Wine Poached Pears

For this weeks dish, I choose another Chef Steps creation; Red Wine Poached Pears.

mulled wine pears

I started by mixing an entire bottle of red wine with cinnamon, clove and allspice and letting it all simmer. The smell was devine! The recipe tells you to reduce the mulled concoction to 1/5 the original, but alas my kitchen tools failed me again and I did not get an accurate reading from the scale. I ended up over-reducing it by a rather significant amount. When it cooled, I basically had mulled wine taffy. Should have gone with my gut and not the scale measurement…

Still, I took that mulled-wine taffy and sous-vide it with the pears as directed. Happily it melted and coated the pears just fine. From the outside, they looked perfect, but when cut were still rather pear colored and not the beautiful tint shown on Chef Steps. I don’t think the pears absorbed my taffy mixture quite as well as the desired reduction. But oh well, they still tasted pretty yummy!

mulled wine pears2

On another note, it has been brought to my attention that despite the fast approaching summer and beautiful weather, I’ve created many autumn-type dishes these last few weeks. Oops. Autumn is my favorite time of year, I guess I just naturally gravitate to all things warm and cozy. :)

Next week I’ll try for a more summery dish. Hopefully the farmers market will provide me with some ideas! For now, I’ll leave you with this remnant of fall.

mulled wine pears3

Smoked Pork Jowl

…with pickled mustard seed and an orange-soy reduction.

This weekend we came across some smoked pork jowl at the local farmers market. We simply couldn’t pass on this succulent cut of fatty meat (really more like fat with a touch of meat…sorry arteries, my taste buds thank you). Although quite delicious on it’s own, we added some pickled mustard seeds (a la Chefsteps.com) and an orange-soy reduction to make it truly shine. Not a dish I could eat often, but certainly a tasty treat.

smokedporkjowl