Making My Brand Sparkle With Professional Photography

I love photographs of food!  The more colorful and animated the better. When I was just a tiny tot I would sit in my Mom’s kitchen looking at all of the photographs in her cookbooks even before I could read the recipes.  I still choose books not by the cover so much as the number of photos inside. So when I had the opportunity to have a professional photographer photograph me and my culinary creations I jumped at the chance! I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxed I felt as the shutter snapped.

My neighbor’s daughter owns Megapixie Photography, a professional photography studio based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When I saw her photography on the Megapixie website ~ http://megapixie.com ~ something sparked and I couldn’t wait to start putting together a portfolio.    Megapixie offers a small business package that was perfect for my needs.

Established in 2010, the owner of Megapixie is Annemie Tonken.    Annemie is the Dutch version of Anne Marie and is pronounced like the “onomy” in economy or autonomy.  Annemie specializes in fine art child and family photography. A visit to her website with photos of lots of happy bubbly babies and children will make you smile!  Fortunately she enjoys the art of food photography too.  She made me feel completely at ease by  spending some time getting to know me and my expectations prior to the photo session.  She asked me to send examples of the types of photographs I enjoy ~ photos of food and cooks/chefs.  She was encouraging and gently nudged me towards some things that she knew would work well from her wealth of experience.  I love color and she encouraged me to have several “wardrobe changes” because some colors reflect different levels of light better than others.

I had lots of props ready and we  had great fun changing up the set as she clicked the shutter.   The first thing I did that morning to get ready for the photo session was to collect Spring flowers from my garden…Red Bud branches and tiny Grape Hyacinth flowers.  Did you know that Red Bud flower buds are edible?  They have a fresh, slightly sweet tart flavor.

And of course we had several bottles of champagne ready to pop open over the course of the sunny Friday morning…but just for snappin’ photos not for sippin!  Since country ham biscuits are my signature dish I made some to photograph.

Here’s Annemie taking photos in my kitchen.

 

One of the first photos she took was a photo of a champagne glass and some blue hyacinths on an antique cobblers bench. My mother bought the bench in the 1950’s at an antique store when they first moved to Roanoke, Virginia.  It made a beautiful backdrop for the photographs.   I was tickled that Annemie chose the cobblers bench because it has always been one of my favorite pieces of furniture. I can just imagine a cobbler sitting on the bench thoughtfully making shoes.  Annemie sat on the floor and then climbed on a stool to get just the right shot.

Here she staged the pouring of champagne into a champagne flute. By using candles lit behind the flute she made it look like an evening of celebration.

I anticipate many uses for my photographs. I will use this photo for future submissions to magazines and other publications.  Thank you Megapixie for this fabulously fun  photo session!

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Fire And Ice Kentucky Lemonade ~ Celebrate Derby Day!

What’s shaken’ at the River and Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia?!

Find out and enjoy some of Shane Lumpp’s fabulous cocktail recipes 

on the Roanoker Magazine’s Blog:  

 

https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/cocktails-with-shane/

 

This year the Kentucky Derby is on May 5, the same day as Cinco de Mayo.  So let’s make “Cinco de Mayo Kentucky Lemonade”!  with Kentucky bourbon of course!

Fire and Ice Kentucky Lemonade 

Makes 8 cups

  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (from approximately 6 lemons ~ don’t worry about the seeds, they will be strained out later)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves + a few mint sprigs for garnish
  • 2/3 cup Bourbon
  • cups ginger ale
  • large ice cubes
  • 12 slices fresh Mandarin oranges, cut slices in half
  • Maker’s Mark Bourbon Cherries for garnish
  • 8 very thin slices (adjust the number of slices to taste ~  these are hot, so be careful!) Serrano peppers, seeds and membrane removed
  • Fine sugar for cocktail glass rim (fine sugar is available at Fresh Market)
  1. In a small saucepan, combine granulated sugar and water and heat over medium heat.  Heat until sugar dissolves into water and mixture is clear.  Simmer 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

  2. Add lemon juice, mint leaves, Serrano pepper slices and Bourbon, then let mixture cool.

  3. Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a pitcher to remove solid particles and mint leaves.  Rim cocktail glasses with fine sugar.  To rim glasses place fine sugar on a small plate.  Rub the edge of each cocktail glass with a lemon wedge.  Roll the edge of the glass in the fine sugar.  For each lemonade cocktail mix 1/2 cup lemonade mixture to 1/2 cup ginger ale and stir to combine.  Add 2 or more large ice cubes and 2 mandarin orange slices.  Garnish with Maker’s Mark Bourbon Cherries and a sprig of mint.

    April was a happy month of celebrations for our family.  We enjoyed a special food and wine pairing dinner at River and Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia.  My bubbly sister-in-law Kelly is pictured above with a jeroboam of Billecart-Salmon “Brut Réserve” Champagne. (Jeroboam = 4 standard bottles of champagne).  We enjoyed pairing this champagne with a spectacular seafood display…Lobster, American Sturgeon Caviar service, oysters, shrimp, smoked trout rillette. 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So What’s A “Comet Vintage”

A Comet Vintage! How cool is this! Thank you Champagne Chick!

the champagne chick

(Image: spiritmagazine.drinks.ng)

Have you ever seen this image on a Champagne cork or bottle?  If you have, then you’re drinking a Comet Vintage.

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Flavor, Next Level – Beyond Salt And Pepper

I can’t wait to try the champagne soaked cedar planks…thank you Talk-a-Vino!

Talk-A-Vino

I love cooking. Cooking allows you to be creative, and you are only limited by your own imagination in what will show up on the table in the end. That and maybe some skill – but skill, of course, can be learned and mastered.

While creativity, imagination, and skill are important, one quality will separate success and failure in the final dish – flavor. Of course, the situation is not that dramatic in real life – this is what “not too bad” and “interesting” descriptors are for, but the flavor rules. This for sure is true in the home cooking. If dish on the table looks great – excellent, definitely a bonus. The texture typically is important too – if the rice more resembles mashed potatoes, that is not really cool. But flavor rules – once we take the first bite, the presentation becomes secondary and the flavor is what…

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A Visit With Gloria Smiley ~ Food Stylist Extraordinaire

Atlanta Gloria

I felt like I won the lottery when my friend Kate asked me to join her on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a cooking class taught by Gloria Smiley.

Gloria is an independent food stylist for print and film.  She has taken classes at Cordon Bleu and LaVarenne in Paris and with Lydie Marshall in Nyons, France.  Some of her most memorable clients include Julia Child,  Jean George Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.  She is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, IACP and AIWF.

 We were very excited to take a fish and shellfish cooking class taught by Gloria at the Cook’s Warehouse in Atlanta.  Gloria was warmhearted and welcoming as she shared tips about how to make sure we purchase fish and shellfish that is fresh and delicious.  Then we rolled up our sleeves and joined her into the kitchen to prepare some of her prize recipes including:

Scallops Baumaniere with Vegetables

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Roasted Salt and Pepper and Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce

Seared Swordfish with Lemon Garlic Cream

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Red Snapper! Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!

Here’s Gloria’s recipe for Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon ~ my favorite recipe from her cooking class…

This preparation is good with any mild white fish. The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 six-ounce red snapper fillets without skin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces creme fraiche

3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard without grains

2 tablespoons shallots

2 teaspoons capers, packed in salt, rinsed and dried

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Optional:  1/2 cup panko crumbs, toasted

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On a USA pan (coated with silicone) or on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the creme fraiche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Spread the sauce evenly  over the fish fillets making sure the fish is entirely covered.  (This can be done an hour or so in advance of cooking and placed in refrigerator.)  Put lemon slices on op of the fish in decorative pattern.
  4. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets or until they are barely done.  A thermometer should read 135 degrees – no higher.  It is important not to overcook the fish.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted Panko crumbs, if you like – adds a nice bit of crunch – Serve fillets hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned on top.

Gloria’s tips for cooking fish:

  1.  Get everything in the recipe ready before cooking the fish so that the process moves quickly once the cooking begins.
  2. Heat a dry pan then put a little oil in it, then put the fish in the pan. It will stick but the fish surface will caramelize and then you can easily turn it over in the pan.
  3. After filleting fish, make your own fish stock ~ it freezes very well.
  4. After marinating fish or meat, pat it dry with paper towels.  The dry surface will encourage browning.  Browning gives the food another layer of flavor.  If food is touching in the pan (such as scallops), they won’t brown where they are touching, so keep them apart in the pan.

That’s me on the left, Gloria Smiley in the center and Kate on the right.

Gloria explained to the class that cooking classes at the Cook’s Warehouse are a very good way to discover the type of knife you like best since we used several types of knives that evening.  She also shared a superstition about knives with us: “Don’t give knives as gifts because it severs the relationship.”

Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables

The scallops were so pretty as they simmered in Noilly Prat Vermouth under the watchful eye of my friend Kate. Gloria loves this recipe. The first time she had Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables was in Provence, France, such a delectable memory. 

A hint: purchase “dry” sea scallops.   Wet scallops are shucked and placed directly into a container filled with cold water to help preserve them for a longer period of time.  These scallops absorb water and plump up, giving them a less pure flavor and a tougher texture.  After Dry scallops are shucked  they go into a dry container with no water or preservatives. Their flavor is  concentrated and fresh.

…and may I suggest a little bubbly to enjoy with the seafood…

Champagne Pierre De Bry Brut Reserve

Primarily pinot noir grapes with a splash of chardonnay. Elegant and sophisticated.  Notes of golden apple, apricot, lightly toasted bread and lemon curd. Does not skimp on the bubbles! Perfect pairing for the Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce that we learned how to make in Gloria Smiley’s class.

After class we shopped in the Cook’s Warehouse. I bought some of these fish spatulas, just the right size to turn fish fillets.

I continued my seafood extravaganza when I returned home…this appetizer shrimp recipe has just the right amount of spicy kick. So easy to prepare…ready in minutes!

Giada’s Spicy Shrimp

Calabrian Shrimp

Giada De Laurentiis recipe for Spicy Shrimp was in the Sunday, April 8, 2018 issue of Parade Magazine. I knew as soon as I opened the oven door that it was going to be delicious because the aroma wafting from my oven was fantastic!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons Calabrian chile paste or red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Add one pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails intact), toss to coat.  Marinate 10 minutes at room temperature. Spread shrimp evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque all the way through. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Serves 4 – 6.

And to serve with the spicy shrimp…Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs Champagne. 100% chardonnay grapes.  Brilliant pale yellow with a fine, persistent mousse.  Delightfully fresh, citrus, orchard fruit and brioche fill the glass.  $40 range. The perfect aperitif, wonderful choice to serve with seafood.

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Cava’s big steps towards the sparkling elite

💖 Cava!

VINO INTERIANO

Fine bubbles, subtle yet complex. Toasty notes, rich texture, berry and floral notes and a mineral, almost steely finish.   Vintage champagne?  Close… though actually I’m describing high-end Cava.  Cava?

Yes. For most consumers, the word “cava” usually brings to mind cheap, simple, inoffensive mass-produced sparkling wines from Spain. Millions are sold every year and most of them fit the descriptions above.  However, a handful of quality-driven producers, working with very high standards in the vineyard and in the cellar are in the process of slowly shifting this reputation via exceptional, terroir-driven, world-class wines.  So what makes high-end cava so distinctive?

First of all, it’s the traditional grapes is made from, primarily Xarello complemented by Macabeo (known as Viura in Rioja) and Parellada.  Xarello is grown almost exclusively in Catalonia and when farmed appropriate it expresses terroir and a sense of place. Second, it’s the care and oversight of their vineyards…

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Kumquat Champagne Cocktail With Candied Kumquat Garnish

Kumquats may look like miniature oranges but make no mistake they are very different…

Kumquats have an edible rind which is tender and sweet.  Oranges have inedible rinds.

Kumquat flesh is dry and very tart.  The flesh of an orange is sweet with a bit of tartness.

Kumquats are more expensive than oranges. I paid $6.99 for 12 ounces. Oranges would have costed me 99 cents for a pound.

Both kumquats and oranges are rich in vitamin C.  Both fruits have seeds.

For sweet cocktail lovers please note…this cocktail is NOT SWEET!  It has the tartness of kumquat with just a hint of sweet and lots of fun bubbles.

Kumquat Champagne Cocktail

This recipe is from Epicurious.com.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups thinly sliced kumquats

1/3 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

1/4 cup sugar

1 750-ml bottle brut Champagne, well chilled (I used sparkling wine for this recipe since I rarely use true champagne to make cocktails.)

PREPARATION

    1. Using back of large spoon, mash first 3 ingredients in bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Strain mixture through fine sieve set over bowl, pressing on solids.
    2. Pour 2 tablespoons kumquat syrup into each of four 6-ounce Champagne flutes. Fill each with 2/3 cup Champagne.

Garnish with candied kumquats.  (I saved the kumquats from the cocktail kumquat syrup to make the candied kumquats.)

Candied Kumquats

12 ounces sliced kumquats

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Place water and sugar in a saucepan. Stir to combine.  Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add kumquat slices and stir to coat the slices with sugar water.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

I also served the candied kumquats with Roasted Pork Loin finished with Oliveto Olive Wood Smoked Olive Oil…divine!   So easy, I just put a small pork loin in a baking pan, drizzled it with some of the wood smoked olive oil (gives the pork a little hint of smokey flavor)and sprinkled it with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.  Baked in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.   After I took it out of the oven I drizzled it with some more of the smoked olive oil and served each portion of pork with a spoonful of the candied kumquats.

 

I always love the signs outside our local wine shop Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar…

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