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Sweet Paul Workshop NYC

Since Lorna’s unforgettable French experience last autumn taking part in a residential food styling & photography workshop hosted by Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille I have been on the lookout for something for myself.  So recently when flipping through Sweet Paul magazine I spotted that Sweet Paul would be hosting a workshop in downtown Manhattan, just a short hop on the subway, I was thrilled as I’ve been a fan of his work for a while now.  The workshop was held at the TriBeCa shooting kitchen, which is a chefs kitchen and daylight studio specifically designed and equipped for food shoots.

Before the class began we helped ourselves to breakfast, the addition of a fantastic sauerkraut in the usual NY line up of bagels, lox and cream cheese not going unnoticed… as it turned out the chef cooking for the workshop that day was the pickling and canning expert Michaela Hayes, from Crock and Jar. I have to admit to a slight fear of canning and pickling, although I’ve always wanted to give it a try, so now I know that Michaela runs a workshop of her own I’ll be on the lookout for her posting new workshop dates!

As you can see from the photos, Sweet Paul took us through all aspects of setting up a story for the magazine. We watched the cooking preparation, prop selection, setting up of the shot, the photographing, how Paul chooses his final images, and all along the way we were given tricks, tips and suggestions for improving our images.

It turned out my subway ride was by far the shortest journey of any of the people attending. On the way up in the elevator I met two lovely food stylists both from Florida, followed closely by Melissa from My Sweet Remedy (who also co-authors a food blog with her sister), who had made the trip from Montreal, and Denise who works with Occasions Caterers in from Washington DC. One of the great things about these workshops has to be getting to meet all the other attendees who have a shared passion, everyone was incredibly friendly and it was so interesting to hear about their backgrounds. Three of the other attendees were also food bloggers, two both just starting out (too new to have sites), and the third was Gina Homolka of Skinny Taste whose blog featuring healthy low-fat, family friendly recipes is very popular and has been around since 2008. Rounding off the group were business partners, Susan Gibbs from Juniper Moon Farm (which is such a cool site and has a LambCam so you can watch the sheep!!) and Jeannie Martini, who are in the process of launching an online magazine of their very own.

I can’t say enough about how much you can learn just from watching really talented people do what they do. Paul made selecting his props and setting up his shots look so effortless whilst talking us through every detail. I was so impressed by his creativity and his generosity in sharing his wealth of experience with us. The same can definitely be said of Colin Cooke, our photographer for the day, just watching him go through the process whilst bombarding him with a ton of questions really helped me to understand his workflow. His assistant also gave me some great Lightroom tips – so thank you to both of them. I left the workshop fully inspired, having learnt many new things, and I’m also now anticipating what is likely to be an expensive trip to B&H – my local photographic superstore!!

So that about wraps things up for this post other than to say a final thank you to all the people I met on Saturday. I hope to bump into some of you again one day soon and wish you the best of luck for all your future projects. For those Green Figs and Ham readers who are now grinding their teeth and exclaiming “but where are the recipes” (you know who you are!) cooking will resume soon, I promise! – Melani

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Margie Kane - The workshop was amazing and it was a pleasure getting to meet you. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since then.

Sarah (Thyme) - See! I still can’t leave your blog…the NYC photographers workshop now has me reading all about it. One day….I’m going to get to one of these workshops.

Pickled Shrimp

So the Holidays are officially over and 2012 is here, Happy New Year to you all and thank you for your continued support and kind comments!

Lorna and I did plenty of cooking while she was here which was so much fun, it was lovely to have the time together to try out some new things we’d discovered or been working on. It’s also a great time of year, not just for cooking, but for carrying on family traditions surrounding cooking. When we were growing up our Dad always served Christmas dinner at lunch time (of course) and then in the evening we’d have a cold buffet with roasted ham, shrimp, cheeses, pickles and leftovers from dinner like chicken and roast potatoes, it was always hard to decide which meal I enjoyed more. This year Lorna and I followed his tradition and made this recipe for the evening buffet. I usually reserve making this until I have a larger crowd coming over as I hate to have any wasted, but on Boxing Day I saw Lorna sneaking some leftovers into a salad which turned out to be delicious, so you could also make it for a smaller group and plan for a great lunch the next day.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I love Frank Stitts cookbook Southern TableI have many many cookbooks, and although they are beautiful to look at (very important to me) and seem to have great recipes, it’s often the case that nothing in them really catches my eye when I’m flipping through for dinner ideas. Frank’s book is different, I often find just what I’m looking for and more besides, so it’s no surprise that a while ago whilst trying to figure out something new to do as a party hors d’oeuvre I came across this recipe…

Pickled Shrimp
serves 8 to 12 as an hors d’oeuvre 

to cook the shrimp
1 onion quartered
1 celery stalk cut in chunks
1 lemon sliced
4 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of kosher or sea salt
1.5 pounds of medium shrimp peeled

Put 8 cups of water in a large pot, add the onion, celery, lemon and parsley, bring it to the boil and then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes. Next add the salt and the shrimp and once the water returns to the very beginning of a simmer remove the pan from the heat, the water should not boil as it will make the shrimp tough – just look out for that first tiny bubble and then it’s done. Drain the shrimp but do NOT rinse as you’ll lose a lot of the flavor. Allow them to cool completely before pickling them.

to pickle the shrimp
1 medium onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves very thinly sliced
2 lemons thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
7 bay leaves
2 whole hot dried chili peppers
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1.5 pounds of cooked shrimp from above (completely cooled)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and coat the shrimp throughly. Pack everything into a large glass jar (has to be glass and ideally sterilised), cover it tightly and put in the fridge overnight to allow all the flavors to develop. You can keep it in the fridge for about 3 days, but no longer than that. Once you’re ready for them tip them into a serving dish (do this about 10 minutes before they need to be out so the olive oil has chance to melt) and dive in! – Melani

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Sanda - Loved it!!Hope you 2 had great time together!!!

nadia - gorgeous pics and sounds delicous!

Krista - These look so fresh and delicious! I can imagine they’d be perfect as leftovers, tucked in a salad or spring rolls or something. :-)

Kankana - Just found your blog and it’s so gorgeous!Two sisters working together and sharing in the same space is such a beautiful idea :)
And the photos are OH SO GOOD!

Best of the Foodie Blogs: Ten at Ten (10) | Foodies 100 - […] Another photo that caught my eye this week was Stuart’s Sausage and Fennel Casserole it is simply stunning. As are Lorna and Mel’s beautiful photos in their post Pickled Shrimp. […]

Porcini Mushroom salt rub

One of the best things about this time of year for me is that I get to cook for more people than just Jon and I. My kids aren’t really up for trying too many new things so it’s a pleasure to have Lorna and Mum here, and to have Jon’s family over for dinner so much. Last night, Lorna and I cooked dinner for the first night of Chanukah, and as we have a big dinner to cook on Sunday, we wanted to make something easy, but still impressive. Jon’s parents had already tried this rub on a prime rib roast at a previous dinner party at our place and both loved it, so I thought this time we’d try it on steaks. The rubbed steaks were served with Lorna’s Potato and Swiss Chard Dauphinoise, and followed by a Chocolate Tart with a pecan biscuit crust (recipe coming soon!), it was the perfect weeknight dinner party.

If you’ve ever been to Eataly, Mario Batali’s Italian grocery store on 5th Avenue here in New York, there’s a good chance you’ll have noticed their rotisserie prime rib in the back corner of the store, it always smells so good and I was keen to try and come up with a rub that would make steaks or a roast taste as good as that smell. That’s where the idea for this came from. I had to experiment with amounts, but I’m really very happy with the outcome.

Porcini Salt Rub
Makes 1/2 cup, enough for 4 large steaks

1/2 oz of dried porcini mushrooms
1.5 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of  kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon of black truffle salt (optional)

Pulse the dried porcini’s and the brown sugar in a spice grinder or food processor, pour what you have into a container, add the salt, put the lid on and give it a good shake. It’s now ready to use just sprinkle it liberally on your meat – Melani (& Lorna)

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MikeVFMK - Love this rub! This is something I can see myself making and using when it warms up.

I’ve never been to Eataly, but only because I’m in Toronto. I can wish though. Happy Chanukah to you and your family.

Sanda - Looks amazing!!1

Kimberly - How envious am I that you have Lorna there for the holidays??? Wishing you all an absolutely magical season filled with fabulous food and wonderful friends and family.
Much love,

Jen Laceda - Would love, love, love to try this rub! Hmmm, I can smell it right now…Thanks for sharing and testing the rub recipe.

Krista - I just found your blog today and am pleased as punch. :-) Your photos are inspiring and these ones especially feel so Old World. :-) Love this rub and look forward to experimenting with it. :-)

Shaheen [The Purple Foodie] - Just got back from Italy, and I can’t wait to make this salt rub with the porcini mushrooms I got. (Just discovered your blog, and I totally love it. Subscribed!)

Nutty New York Granola

Well so much for the slew of Thanksgiving recipes I was planning to post, is it me, or is time just zooming by these days? Anyway, as Thanksgiving is now just a happy memory, that means Christmas is just around the corner, and that means a visit from Lorna! Yes she’s here in New York with us and whilst we’re planning/ cooking some posts we’d like to do together I thought I’d quickly publish a simple granola recipe that we’ve been enjoying for breakfast.

Nutty Granola
makes approximately 18 1/2 cup servings

1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup flaked almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Heat oven to 350F/180C, combine the nuts, sunflower seeds, oats and ground flax seed on a large sheet pan and bake/toast for about 20 minutes stirring a few times during baking. While that’s in the oven melt the butter with the rest of the ingredients together in a small pan. Remove the seeds, oats & flax from the oven and transfer into a large bowl, turn down the oven to 250F/120C, pour the melted ingredients over and give it a good stir to evenly coat everything. Spread it back out on the baking tray, return to the oven and bake for 1hr 30min stirring occasionally so it browns evenly. Once time’s up remove it from the oven and let it cool completely, then gently break it up and store it in an airtight jar; it keeps for ages this way – Melani


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bellamara - I love this!! Just made it and can’t stop nibbling ;-) Thank you so much for this recipe!

Sneh | Cook Republic - This is a beautiful recipe. I made it earlier this week and absolutely love it :-) Thanks for sharing!

Sautéed Brussels sprouts
 with Bacon

So next on my Thanksgiving recipe recommendation list is Brussels sprouts, yum! Okay, so I know that’s unlikely to be everyone’s first reaction, and I also know that Brussels sprouts are often given a bad name by over enthusiastic cooking and early memories of squishy greeny-grey things we were forced to eat on the side of holiday dinners, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

This recipe gets around the over cooking by having you take the Brussels sprouts apart so you can quickly sauté them, and includes bacon and shallots (let’s face it what doesn’t taste better with bacon – apologies to all you vegetarians) to give you a dish that is beautifully bright green – a hit on any holiday plate and one you might even be tempted to cook during the week without guests.

Sautéed Brussels sprouts

Serves 4

4 cups of Brussels sprouts
4 rashers of streaky bacon (roughly cut up)
1 large shallot (or a small onion)
2 tablespoons of water
Salt & pepper to taste

Trim the bottom of each sprout and cut in half before removing & discarding the core, separate out the leaves into a large bowl. This can be done a day ahead if you wish, just store the leaves in a zip-lock bag in the fridge.

Heat a dry sauté pan, throw in the bacon and cook until it’s crispy then remove from the pan and place to one side. Pour off the majority of the bacon grease, place the pan back on the heat and add in the shallots sautéing until soft (2 minutes or so), next add in the Brussels sprout leaves and 2 tablespoons of water, stir, and cook until the leaves are bright green – about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Finally, gently mix the crisped bacon back in and you are ready to serve :) – Melani

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Karine Keldany - Great pictures. Love the colors and theme. Original.

la domestique - Last week at la domestique was dedicated to Brussels sprouts and I love the tender, sweet leaves quickly sauteed like you’ve done here. Yum!

Jen Laceda - I just found your blog and had to include you in my faves! You guys have a wonderful site!

You know, I never liked the taste of brussel sprouts, as it is too strong for me….BUT, I love bacon…so why not put bacon on brussel srpouts?? Cool idea!

Gerard - Add walnuts to the above ;0) super tasty!!

Tamsin - I love Brussel sprouts .. to the point where I’ll even eat them cold with salt and pepper and a gin and tonic. I know, I’m weird! However hot with bacon like your recipe is just delicious. Have you tried adding sweet chestnuts too?