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Entries in spring (10)


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.


Jordan Hipson's SPRING Playbook + Food Photography 101

I was contacted by Jordan Hipson in November about my food photography as he was just about to film his live episode of 'How-To For the Holidays' at Lighthouz Furniture in Burnside.

'Hi Kelly - Would you loan us a few framed photos we could include on our holiday set? We could sell them on site for you! I would adore to have some of your photos in the background - they are fantastic!! Also, would you be interested in being the photographer for the cover of our Spring Playbook?'

Since that conversation began over 5 months ago, Jordan and I have messaged each other at least 100 times - and we still haven't met in person! That's all about to change though, as the Spring Playbook is released this week with a fabulous launch party happening Wednesday night.

Jordan was absolutely amazing to work with and gave me full creative control over the styling and photography for the cover. I sent him a few ideas of different food to feature and he chose Naan Bread Personal Pizzas. I thought they'd be great for spring - cute, colourful and a way to feature spring vegetables even though I was shooting in January. I made three versions - Asparagus and Pinenut with Lemon Ricotta - Pea, Pancetta and Feta - Prosciutto, Radish and Goat Cheese - and ate all three for dinner after I photographed them.

The photo background on The Playbook's cover is a piece of plywood that I painted white and then painted Robin's Egg Blue. After the blue paint was dry, I scratched it up to show the white paint underneath.

Jordan's reaction to the proofs I sent was awesome - 

'OH MY GOD. Where do you live, I am coming to kiss you!'

'So you like it then?', I asked.

In addition to the cover shot, I also contributed my photo and recipe for Rhubarb Curd,

and I wrote an article called 'Food Photography 101' featuring 5 food photography tips and tricks that I use on a regular basis. Along with each tip, I featured a little 'side note' to the accompanying photos. Below are the photos I chose for my feature along with the side notes I just mentioned. To read my full article click here.


1. Play With Your Light

Classic Lemon Bars - The highlights on the white linen in the bottom left corner were completely blown out so I propped up a piece of black foamboard, just off camera, facing the fabric, to absorb some of the light. Doing this reduced the light in the highlights and brought back some of the texture back to the fabric.



2. Don't Be Afraid To Get Closer

Cardamom Vanilla Brown Butter Spread - A tight close-up allows you to capture the essence of a simple recipe. Flecks of ground cardamom and vanilla bean, crunchy sugar crystals and the burnished hue of brown butter really stand out when you get closer.


3. Straight-On vs Overhead

I tend to photograph food with height from s straight-on perspective and food that is flat from an overhead persective. It works well for me.

Straight-On - French Sablé Cookies


Overhead - Blood Orange Marmalade


4. The Colour Wheel

I often refer to the colour wheel when I'm deciding on which props to feature in my food photography. Google 'colour wheel' for an absolute ton of information if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Gluten-Free Blood Orange Coconut Cake - The warm pinks and oranges of this photograph are all closely related on the colour wheel.


Six-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd - the deep blue in the background fabric is the opposite to bright sunny yellow on the colour wheel.


5. The Camera Doesn't Always See What You See And That's Ok

Juniper Berries - My personal policy is to capture as much quality as possible in-camera and keep editing at a minimum, however, I refuse to feel guilty about processing images when things don't quite look the way I want. I believe that honing my post-processing skills is necessary both to my creative vision and my business.


You can read the full issue of Jordan's Playbook here - http://issuu.com/jordanhipson/docs/playbook/1?e=11279994/7218636

For more information visit www.jordanhipson.com or @jordansplaybook.


Julia Child's Cherry Clafoutis

As the wet damp Nova Scotia spring fades into the long, and hopefully hot, days of summer, things start to happen. One of my favourite things is when cherries go on sale.

I keep my eye on these plump shiny little red fruits from the time they make their first appearance at $10.99/lb, until around now, when they're $3.99/lb and sometimes less.

Ok, great. I've got two pounds of fresh cherries. Now what? 

Pie would be the obvious answer, especially in my house, where my husband Sean will eat practically anything with the word 'pie' in it.

I feel kind of bad.

Cherry pie is Sean's favourite.

But I didn't feel like making pie.

I felt like making Clafoutis.

(Is it Cla-foo-TEE or Cla-FOO-tee?) 

I don't really know, but either way, it's friggin' good.

I read somewhere that if you leave the pits in the cherries, they'll have more flavour when baked so I did just that. Plus, I don't own a cherry pitter and I didn't feel like pitting 60 cherries by hand.

You know.

'Cause that blows.

I didn't really know what Clafoutis WAS. Is it cake? Is it custard? Is it flan? 

Turns out it's kind of all three but more on the eggy custardy/flan/crepe side of things.

Warm Cherry Clafoutis dusted with powdered sugar. A small delight in my hectic life.

I used Julia Child's recipe for Clafoutis posted on Epicurious

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