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Entries in Halifax food photography (66)

Saturday
Jun072014

Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars with Speculoos Cookie Crust

My Mum's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was a spring staple in our house. Golden crust that would crumble into flaky shards as your fork cut through. Thick, sticky, sweet and sour filling that would ooze onto your plate, waiting to be scraped up with the edge of your fork after you took the last bite

I thought about making Mum's pie (which would have made Sean a very happy man) but something I've been wanting to make for a long time is cheesecake (plus, I kind of suck at pastry).

You see, I've never made a cheesecake before.

Weird, I know.

For me, Spring = RhubarbI love seeing the first stalks at the markets and grocery stores - deep pink ends and bright green tips, fastened together in long bunches, belying any hint of the mouth puckering tartness that's to come. I thought I'd try making a cheesecake with some fresh rhubarb that I bought at the Elmridge Farms stall at the Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market.

After a little online research, I chose THIS RECIPE from allrecipes.com.

I love to look for 5 star recipes on allrecipes.com - they almost always turn out to be fantastic! One thing I really like to do before I make any dish, is read the comments left by other people that have made the recipe, and then decide how I'm going to tweak it accordingly.

For this recipe:

- I baked the cheesecake in an 8x8 Pyrex dish which I lined with parchment paper. I let the paper overhang on each side of the dish, acting as 'handles', so I could lift the cheesecake out when it was cool.

- I chose not to make the crust listed in the recipe. Instead, I made my own crust with a sleeve of Speculoos cookies (about 30 cookies). I zipped them up in my food processor until they were crumbly and then mixed in 1/2C melted butter. Next time I would use 1/4C of butter instead of 1/2C - my crust was more of a paste than a crumbly press in. I pre-baked my crust for 7 minutes. I got my Speculoos cookies at the Bayer's Lake European Farmer's Market.

- I took the advice of a couple of commenters and used 4C of rhubarb instead of 3C. I didn't change the amount of sugar at all.

- Next time I make cheesecake I will let my cream cheese come to room temp or soften it a bit in the microwave. I didn't realize that somewhat cold cream cheese will leave you with lumps. Duly noted.

- I baked my cheesecake in a water bath (placed 8x8 pan in a larger baking dish and using boiled water from the kettle, filled up the bigger dish until the water came about halfway up the sides of the 8x8 dish) for 45 minutes, turned off the oven, and let it sit inside for another 15 minutes without opening the oven door. It was perfectly baked with no cracks! Yay!

- I didn't make the sour cream topping even though I bought sour cream specifically for it - I don't know. I just didn't feel like it. The thing is - the only vanilla in the recipe is in the sour cream topping. Next time, I'd add some vanilla to my cream cheese batter because I kind of felt like the rhubarb cheesecake bars were missing something, but, I shared the bars with a group of friends and every single person loved them.

I would definitely make this recipe again but luckily, rhubarb season isn't over yet, so maybe I'll try my hand at Mum's strawberry rhubarb pie next.

Friday
Apr252014

The Coast : Food and Drink Guide 2014

The Coasts' 2014 Food and Drink Guide came out last Thursday and so I thought I'd share a selection of shots, including a few outtakes that didn't make it into the guide.

Field Guide - 'Merry in the Blossoming' Cocktail

 


Agricola Street Brasserie - Warm Salad with Pan-Seared Arctic Char

 

 

 

2 Doors Down - Old School Cheeseburger (not in the guide)


EDNA - Pan-roasted Halibut on Celery Root Purée


General Tso's Octopus


Highland Drive Storehouse - Light and Fragrant Curried Chicken

 

enVie - Roasted Local Vegetable and Valley Apple Soup

 

Brooklyn Warehouse - Orzo 'Mac and Cheese'

 

The Stubborn Goat - Bocconcini-stuffed Meatballs in Harissa Sauce


Selwood Green - Almost Spring Salad


Morris East - Peanut Butter Tart with Honey Sponge

 

Dhaba Express - Saffron Pulao Rice

 

La Frasca - Roasted Butternut Squash Agnolotti

 

Indochine - Pork Meatball Banh Mi (not in the guide)

Wednesday
Apr092014

Lighting Practice : Eggs

You may remember I bought myself a small studio strobe kit just after Christmas. For the last three months, I've been trying to teach myself how to make artificial light look like natural light and let me tell you - it ain't easy. Sure, I own some great books on the subject, and have Pinterest boards full of inspiration, but the only thing that seems to really work for me is practice.

I practice almost every day.

Some of the photos I take with my strobes look like absolute shit.

Some look like the egg photo above (inspired by this). I am pretty happy with this shot.

I'm still at the very early stages of learning, but I do have a few tips for anyone else that is trying to learn food photography with strobes:

- Keep a notebook - I have a thick, spiral bound ruled notebook that is PACKED with notes and diagrams of what has worked, and what hasn't worked for me, for every set-up - I use it as a reference and a starting point for every shot

- It's all about the shadows - You can buy a big beautiful softbox and get some really nice clean light on your subject, but if there aren't any shadows your photo will look dull and lifeless - shadows add depth which makes artificial light look more natural

- Study light everywhere you go - Seriously. Everywhere. The way sunlight streams onto your table in the restaurant at brunch, the way the gloom of a rainy day settles into your living room when you're reading a book in the afternoon, the way the sunset breaks through the trees in the park at dusk. Look at it. See it. It will change the way you look at lighting.

But of course, none of it matters if you don't practice.