July 25, 2012

Hannah's Homewood Summer Yummies

My friend Hannah and I are slowly figuring out this food styling photography business, at least enough to be slightly better than we were when we first started blogs. We were always in charge of words and the intranets, not photos, when we somehow got food magazines on our resumes. So now we are trying to tap just how the magic works in food photo shoots.

Here is a very rough formula:
Natural light all the way
Plus fancy camera
Plus garnishes where needed
Plus different colored cloths
Plus lots and lots of playing with your food
Equals a million photos from which you might pick a couple that look kind of cool

Somehow I managed to take advantage of Hannah's expertise as culinary student and knowledgable foodie to get her develop some summer recipes for the newspaper in the community where she grew up, a.k.a. #2 best area in Birmingham after where I live, a.ka. Homewood. (I happen to be partially responsible for filling pages of said paper, how convenient).

Check out her creations and the results of our afternoon of food play in her backyard.

July 19, 2012

Caramel Brownies

Let me start with a confession: I judge blog posts that start like this one does, with a picture of a collection of baking goods that includes a box cake mix and candy.

I  hesitated to make these brownies for the first time in years, since my baking philosophy has evolved to make me turn up my nose up when I know caramel and cake such as these add that slight chemical taste I now find in packaged foods. They are not pure. Not pure!
BUT then I remembered how a thick, buttery German chocolate dough encases melted caramel and chocolate chips, and remembered how its gooey chocolateness is richer than a chocolate bar.

Most of all, I remembered my time was somewhat limited, and with this recipe I wouldn't have to experiment with a caramel sauce and chance a brownie recipe that was too dry or too over-the-top rich. Convenience products are just so convenient (imagine that).

These convenience-baking-with-a-twist morsels of sweentess garnered many compliments at a large group function, and also prompted this conversation:

Roommate in our House of Sweets: I want you to make these for my birthday.
Me: I think we can find an excuse to make these again before your birthday.
Roommate: No, you don't understand. I want the entire pan to myself.
(Roommate got them for her birthday, and she even shared them.)

July 5, 2012

Flag Fruit Tart for the Fourth

The Fourth of July started with a flurry of butter, sugar, butter, cream and butter: a White Texas Sheet Cake; a vanilla custard base for ice cream; and most festively, a shortbread cookie topped with thick, vanilla pastry cream and carefully placed blueberries and strawberries.
And then I had to take advantage of the greenery around me on the lake and play with my brother's fish eye lens. It makes everything a little funky.

July 3, 2012

Peach Salsa, Summer Squash with Cheese and Panko: A market-inspired dinner

Roommate-I-Got-To-Keep-from-Last-Year: I feel like we just ate a restaurant dinner.
: This is better than a restaurant dinner.

This, my friends, is how we welcomed new roommates 3 and 4 to our home of calm and inspiration (and dream kitchen!), to the land of Pepper Place market and Chilton County peaches, to a new season as ladies of the Court on which we live.

My dinner scheming partner and I also had inspiration from the quinoa salad from Shindigs (her) and the light-yet-cheesy squash casserole on the veggie plate at Urban Standard (me).
Over our summertime fare, we chatted about our "home dreams" and plotted for how this would be the first of many house fellowship dinners and the first of many hospitable welcomes to the home of R+A+H+M. Backyard movie night next, anyone?

A Market-Inspired Menu
 Grilled Chicken Breasts with Chilton County Peach Salsa (recipe below)
Red Quinoa with Pesto and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes over Mixed Greens (roommate creation)
Zucchini and Zyphr Squash with Cheese and Panko (recipe below)
Butterscotch Chip Cookies