Thursday, October 24, 2013

Krusteaz Crew Pancakes

If you have to make pancakes for 70 high school rowers I give a big thumbs up to Krusteaz Pancake Mix.. easy and fast to mix, just add water until its like runny milkshake and ladle, spoon, pour from bowl, however you want to do it.. these were done really quickly with the same mixing spoon and not very pretty or consistent but at 730 am with many mouths to feed and other stuff to cook up I was not too worried about what the mom's thought.  So if you don't mind the loose technique and the grill is at  the right temperature, you can do 70-80 in 20 min. and the right temp is had by using a camp chef stove and griddle, huge BTU output in both heat and surface area of flame, very important when working a griddle.  I will be manning my griddle next Sunday on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia for yet another early morning cookout for our crew, rain or shine.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Homage to Oreo - you know you want one

2013 Oreo

Maybe I am just a contrarian but ever since I heard the press play up the mice/cocaine/oreo tests it just increased my desire to go buy a pack.  There will come a day when Bloomberg is just a faded memory and we may not be able to get our Oreo fix...but not today.  I bought a pack at Fairway in Stamford, CT just to protest the silliness of it all.  If you missed it then a big never mind, it is not worth your time.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Craft beers

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

American beer is in full renaissance, ale, lager, stout, wheat, etc..
The first wave was the microbrewery movement of the 90's and California was ground zero giving me first hand knowledge of many of the small start-up brews... some of which have grown to be not-so-micro.  Now we are into the Craft beer era and I say bring it on.  The movement has been toward the meatier brews..pale ales to heavy full stouts, with bitters and rye in the mix. Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, are all perking with new brews... I just learned today of a couple more breweries that have started in the last year or so north of Manhattan, both in the Bronx.  I intend to track them down and giv'em a go.  There is something very autumnal about a good full I say bring them on.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Farm to Table

Rhode Island Red hen @ Stone Barns Center

The Hens at Stone Barns Center are free range...they have a large area to roam that is bordered by movable fences so they lead a nomadic life feeding off whatever feed they get and the natural indigenous plants growing in their temporary fields as seen here.  I have just been through 2 dozen of the eggs and they were wonderful.  If you don't know Stone Barns then check out their website. They are leaders in the "farm to table" concept which I witnessed last week first hand.   

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Camp Pumpkin Pie

October is awesome here in the northeast, a perfect day to participate in a scout cook-off out in the woods.. woods that are in the throws of changing from green to orange and yet the weather here is still mild, shirtsleeves, did I say perfect?  So how could I resist the scout leader category of Dutch Oven Dessert?  It has been a long while since I made a pumpkin pie from scratch and I have never attempted a scratch dutch oven pie so it was game on. Okay, due to time constraints at the cook-off, I cooked and pureed the pumpkin last night at home (I love that Blendtec), but otherwise the crust was mixed, kneaded and baked in the cast iron dutch oven using only charcoal for top and bottom heat. Also I used 4 Rhode Island Red eggs from Stone Barns in the filling which is a whole separate story... the eggs of these free ranging chickens are awesome.
Finally I had my scouts as horsepower to whip my unsweetened cream up.. using a mason jar with a white wine cork placed inside, they took turns and in 7 minutes had a perfect consistency, this was topped with ground nutmeg.
 If you fancy the 6 buck costco pies that are out now, then you would not like this one..and I would not call it the end-all of pies, but it is from scratch out in the woods and came out to my liking, really nice. Subtle, sweet, fattening and organic..what is there not to like? Food Sylists need not answer this.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What flavor is your Sundae?

Diversity is a good thing..well in some things, the concept is good but in hot fudge sundaes?  not really to my taste.
I don't usually do sundaes, but if in the mood,  likely a chocolate related mood, I like a traditional vanilla hot fudge sundae.. without the whip cream, without the nuts and candied sprinkles and sans that fake looking cherry, just some vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Per client/agency request, this shot required nine scoops of different flavors the only one you can't see is behind the thin-mint, all real ice-cream, nothing fake here except the coloring in the Marichino cherry.  I am not sure what food dye is pumped into those things but real it isn't, nor is this forced diversity of flavors real, but a concept
that sounded good on paper.  
Food styling:  Susan Brouchard  Client: Dryers

Friday, August 16, 2013

Their Zucchini my recipe.

It's mid August, who is baking?? I was not thinking about firing up the oven for a couple of hours today but...
My neighbor, feeling sorry that we have only one vegetable bearing plant ( in a pot too) handed over some monster zucchinis, like 3 pounders.  So here you go my late summer Zucchini bread recipe.

3.5 C all purpose I used up my unbleached white then added whole wheat.
1TBSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP salt
1 TSP ground ginger
1 TSP baking soda
.5 TSP nutmeg
.5 TSP ground cloves
.25 baking powder
2 C  Sugar  I used 1 C brown and 1 cup white
3 large eggs
1.5 OZ Grand Marnier.. or brandy.. to keep it plain vanilla, 1 OZ plain vanilla
.5 LB salted butter softened
3 C shreaded Zucchini
1.5 C mixed nuts and dried fruit.

Pre-heat oven to 350
mix together flour, spices, soda and power and put aside
mix in large bowl the eggs, booze, sugars and softened butter til smooth
(if like me and without mixer, having the butter soft makes it blend easier!)
add in the flour mix until absorbed then add in the zucchini and nut mix.
oil or butter the 4x10 loaf pans and pour batter in.
Cook at 350.. mine takes about 55 minutes.
cool 15 minutes

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Calamari Mood

August, beach, novel, calamari..they all seem to fit so well together.  This is where my head is at while I sit inside watching a summer rain shower.  People always mention the benefits of east coast living like the change of seasons..well within a season you have a range of weather as well, unlike California where a spring day can be very similar to a summer day or a fall day.  Days here in the east are like moods and August rain puts me in the mood to share a plate calamari.

This shot was done for Hilton, specifically for their Finn & Porter restaurants and styled pretty much as they serve it up. There have been some negative press on calamari because lets face it, not everyone can handle the idea of squid, or seafood in general.. but squid seems to be the breaking point for a large group.  I find raw squid a bit hard to down but I will ingest just about anything battered and deep fried.  If you find yourself near a Finn & Porter or staying at a Hilton try it, they do it well, not too oily or over-battered.
This goes down very well with a not-to-sweet I am really in the mood.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mysterious Ramekin

Empty dishes can tell a story...and a photo of one creates a historical article, but one with many open questions.  What did this ramekin hold? Was it shared or liked..not in the world of Facebook, but in the traditional sense?  What made that color?  Can you feel the intrigue building?
Sadly this was a recovered image from one of my first hard drives that crashed, all the contents were either damaged or lost..this is one of about a thousand that I recovered somewhat in tack but lacking any original ID. So it will remain a mystery until I uncover the shots before and after and see if some legible story takes form.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Blackstrap Brisket revisited

My slowcooked Blackstrap Brisket about 3 hours into cooking, yes I peek about this time to check out the liquid content and give it a stir, at this point I can alter heat or go topless with the dutch oven to reduce down the liquid.

This is a slow cooked brisket recipe I have been tweaking for a few years,
never the same, all the extra spices/flavors can be used, subsituted or omitted
as desired. The best results I have found are from making up a rub paste/
marinade and letting sit for 10-24 hours. Cooking times vary depending how
well your dutch oven seals and how loaded up it is..these are my times based on
my dutch oven..your time may vary.
7-8 lbs Brisket ( I cut brisket into chunks about the size of the dutch oven..12” )
~4 lbs Yellow Onions ( 3 really big ones )
Paste / Marinade:
½ cup brown sugar
2 oz rum
2 oz maple syrup
1 tbs ground sea salt
1 tps black ground pepper
1 tps ground cayenne pepper
1 tbs sweet ground paprika
1 tbs smoked ground paprika
1 tps granulated garlic
Cooking stock:
juices from marinade
3 oz Blackstrap Molasses
2 double espresso shots ( or 3oz really strong coffee)
3 garlic cloves, mashed and chopped
Mix up the the marinade paste, it should be like a thick milkshake, throughly
rub, spread and massage the paste onto your brisket, cover / seal and leave
refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
When done marinating, there will be a few oz of liquid marinade pour and set
aside for cooking stock.
Preheat your dutch oven to med-high on your cooktop adding 1 tbs of cooking oil.
Cut your brisket into chunks approximately the size of your dutch oven lid.
Sear both sides of each chunk of brisket, slightly longer on sides with fat.
Remove brisket from dutch oven and turn off cooktop. Preheat oven to 300F.
Cut up onions, I like to slice these like longitude line on the globe. Mix into
dutch oven with brisket. Mix up your cooking stock and dump-in. Do a few
grinds with sea salt and dust with some sweet paprika, cover and put in middle
of oven. Leave covered for 3+ hours, take out stir, poke and taste, cover again 2
+hours.. you can eat now or turn oven off and let coast for when you want.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pointless objects

my 3 a day... trying to get through this supply so I can move on to a better, more natural brand..I don't have an issue with a one a days but this brand seems pretty artificial to me, not sure where they get their ingredients or what they are.  I never have been a vitamin popper but see that as the aging process kicks in they have their place.  Still unsure of fish oil effects..they are in my drawer so I will keep popping before they get older than me. When I intake large amounts of veg and fruits I'm not sure what the point is to pop these things?.. but since I bought them they will be used up.

Monday, May 6, 2013


The Blendtec loaded with fruit

apple/spinach/lime/ginger drink

The fruit & green drinks are being blended by my new Blentec machine..all I can say is this machine takes blending to a new frontier.  How many blenders can make flour from your grains?  Whole juice from just about anything that grows and have it not be chunky and thick.. this thing is awesome.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Big Apple


Getting back to basics with both diet and craft is always a good thing.  Being that I am now trying to limit my bread intake, what I use to consider as the basis of my food, I am now looking more at fruits and veg.. I sliced this apple the other day and besides thinking " wow, not bad for a non-food stylist" I also was transported to the apple shots of Paul Caponigro how stark and beautiful these things are..
I often think of Caponigro and our looking at similar things in nature here in NY.  I don't have many photographers work on my walls but one of his is among them.  He is one of my elders in the tradition of masters, whether he knows it or not. Also he came to mind because my brother forwarded a blog piece on the senior Caponigro by his son John Paul.   So today, I pay homage to b&w fruits of the earth and to my stomach.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I see a green drink in my future.

Midori Martini ad - Publicis SF

Life changes and when it does you can hit the green bottle..but which one?  I am considering doing a 7-10 green juice fast and not going for the green martini's.  All I need is a good blender / juicer and a few trips to stock up on chard, kale, cucumber and spinach for the basis for the mean green drinks.  It will be a challenge to keep cooking and feeding my boys but at least my wife will be up for it and share my bliss..or not!  I need a kick start to the summer and this will help re-align my taste-buds and get me away from the carbs and sweets that keep creeping into my diet.  I have done fasts before but never with the desire to pump up the nutrient quotient and do reboot to my general eating habits.  I don't need to loose a ton.. but would feel a lot better with 20 off, if I get in some regular aerobics that should be pretty attainable in the next month.  We shall see..but first to get an industrial strength juicer.    

Friday, April 26, 2013

Appetit Appeal

Now that spring is really upon us I am desiring some lighter fare and when I came across this shot from my Wine Lover cookbook it really hit me. First off, I think that it is a really good example of a successful food shot, George Dolese did a great job making the salad and the light I did really fits the recipe..but on a personal note.. it has real "appetite appeal", what all of us in the food image industry strive for when creating a food photograph.  It just looks good and makes you want it.  So that is what stopped me to look at this today.. it looks really good, my eyes like and my stomach wants it.  Making and viewing food photographs is a subject endeavor, besides good craft, beautiful ingredients, appropriate lighting and composition, the weather, the season and just your personal mood all have a play in the "appetite appeal" equation.
For today, it all adds up for me.

From The Wine Lover Cooks with Wine by Sid Goldstein, Chronicle Books.

Poached Dijon Chicken on Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad

" This variation on Waldorf salad features chicken simmered in a mustard-
flavored poaching liquid, surrounded by sweet-tart apples, bitter walnuts and salty blue cheese.   Topping of the melange of flavors is a sweet-sour dressing similar to Italian agrodoice. Wine is used both in the poaching liquid and in the dressing. Enjoy with a fruity Riesling or a crisp Pinot Gris/Grigio.
To make the poaching liquid: In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 35 to 40 minutes.  Add the chicken breast, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until opaque throughout.  Using tongs, transfer chicken to a plate and let cool.  Save the liquid for another use.
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the honey, water, vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon, lemon juice and the mustard,  whisk thoroughly.  Whisk in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
To Serve:  divide the greens among 4 salad plates. Cut the chicken into slices.  Top the greens with the sliced chicken, apples and walnuts.  Spoon the dressing over.  Sprinkle with the blue cheese.  Serves 4 as an entree."

Poaching Liquid
2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup diced celery
1 onion, quartered
2 sprigs tarragon
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup Champagne or dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

12  ounces mixed salad greens
2 red apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How do you take your bananas?

Back to the perfection question.. what is perfect to me is not even close to edible to others.  So, for the sake engaging the reading audience, how do you like your bananas?  For eating, not banana bread or giving to Justin Bieber's monkey when visiting your place, or for the photo shoot.  Is is an age thing?.. the younger the eater the more over ripe these become?  Perish the thought that I did not want to engage my readers..but I can not help notice how few comments come back to me. Just to be on record these bananas are absolutely least in my book they are.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Breaking the daily bread - habit

This is what a meal is about, breaking bread.  It has been going on forever.
Why is it that the really yummy things in life are not good for you?  When it comes to bread the saying " all things in moderation" just does not seem to apply.  When a food does not sit well with you just one bite can be devastating, a poison.  No, I don't need an Epi-pen if I have bread but I do feel better without it.. yet I really like bread.  Yeasty, wheatie, full of gluten, I love bread.  Flat bread, sour-dough bread, ... I feel like that guy talkn' shrimp in Forest Gump...except for over-the-top rye bread, I love it all.  Even the idea of Gluten free bread instinctively brings my hand up to cover my yawn.  The Gluten free industry is upon us and I may have to embrace the cause.. but not today.. I would rather go without any bread at this point. I will see how long that lasts before I succumb to the gluten-fee trend or just live with the consequences.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Leaving the comfort of cruise control

Chef John Ash & T bone steak

A few years back I was shooting for Bonterra /Brown Forman while Mr Ash was the culinary director, this shot of him with a nice T-bone steak was one of a few that day and reminds me of how my kids now see me.

The cook has had some feedback from the front of the house...
Where's the beef?  well this is not what I am hearing from those I cook for.. in fact they have had it with my simple meat, veg & potato wife asked me this morning if I could get a Jamie Oliver cookbook?  Alright, I have to admit the last year I have slipped into cooking cruise control, relying on the same old things to make my cooking job easier but at the expense of my family.   So, in interest of all and an attempt to change the house menu, I am off to the grocery with a recipe I pulled out of "Firehouse Food: Cooking with San Francisco's Firefighters".  I will start with something easy like Joe's Special..Yes it has ground beef but it is camouflaged in spinach, onions and scrambled eggs, I don't think they will really recognize it if I am diligent in breaking it down to bits.
 It has been almost 10 years since shooting this book with author and stylist George Dolese and of course the SFFD.  George told me recently that Chronicle Books has finally taken it out of print..a nice long run.

The recipes here are not fancy and do not require much prep or obscure ingredients from specialty markets.  I have eaten all that was shown in the cookbook but I have not cooked from it.  All the reviews have been good and many claim it is their "go to" cookbook..well I am going to it today.. we shall see if meets with approval.  Even though I have shot many cookbooks and we did follow those recipes, I am not wild about cooking from a recipe.. but I will put aside that and follow it to a T.. I can't promise precise measuring though..but it will be close.  I would love that T-bone steak with a Caesar salad tonight..but instead it will be Joe's Special scramble.

The Joe's Special was a hit.. I couldn't help but tweak as I went..and I did not have a stylist cutting and preparing the ingredients for maximum curb appeal but my picky son cleaned this plate and went back for seconds.  Yes, those are pan roasted potatoes but truth be told, I have not been doing roastie potatoes since the holidays. So this was a disguised meat&potato meal, but not the "same ole", this was a hit.  It looks like I have some cookbook reading to do in the coming weeks and expand my comfort zone.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Flawed Perfection

My theory on food photography is very simple - a few things need to be in play and working together  to have a good food or beverage photograph: beautiful food and styling, beautiful light & camera craft, props and set working together  in a supporting role and finally appropriate post processing.  Piece of cake?
Each of the above fundamental elements takes experience and aesthetics to achieve consistently, day to day. Sure anyone with a camera and a nice looking plate of food can stumble into a great food shot...the stars align and viola!, great shot.
Perfection is not part of the equation when it comes to the food and styling, or better put, perfection is found in the imperfections, the natural quality of food with some crumbs or here in the coffee cup shot where the crema and cup is not perfect.  It is beyond easy to remove imperfections these days,  with PS it is very easy to make a shot too "cleaned up". Showing the imperfections conveys a reality to the photograph, life is not perfect.   Speaking of crumbs, here is Birdbath's Maple + Bacon scone  which I used as the subject of my first blog post.. this is what they look like before being reduced to a few crumbs.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chops pretending to be roast

Another Sunday another roast.. well kind of.. I had to do some shooting today and I didn't have a roast in the fridge to roast so had to make do with what was buried in the deep freeze..lucky me, I found some 1 1/2 inch thick pork chops off the bone.  Once thawed, (90%) I did a quick dry rub and put them in a 350F oven as shown, pretending that it was an uncut roast again.  That was it..45 min later I shut off oven and covered and let them coast for another 20 in the cooling oven. Similar to slow cooking were you can just leave and do something else but this is a lot quicker to the table. I went and worked on editing from my afternoon shoot.
The rub was a combination of garlic powder, paprika, onion salt, sea salt and ground pepper. What I forgot to show here is what really set the pork off nicely, some Stonewall Kitchen Cranberry Sauce.. just as we were sitting down I remembered that I had gotten it out to use.  About 12 years ago I shot some of their product and I became a believer.  Costco sold large quart containers of their whole berry relish last thanksgiving and I froze about half for it was the freezer saving my Sunday roast.  You reap what you stock your freezer with good stuff!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

New Beginnings

Food is a staple to life, that is a given...Food as a way of life, that is less given... and Food as visual art is way down on the list, unless it is an ancient oil still-life by a known master is not a given at all.  My interest in food has been integral to my interest in photography, but I am a professional photographer, so I approached food from the visual aspect, as subject to transform into 2 dimensions..I am not a chef or stylist so this blog will show my roots and have a different angle than someone trained in the culinary arts.
 However..Life took a turn for me and I have been the sole food guy in my household for the past 6 years. This practical experience of food being first and foremost something to sustain my family and friends has given me a whole new perspective and appreciation of what food means to me.
I choose Nammet for the blog title for a few reasons.  It is something from my past.. my pre-colonial heritage in rural england..Nammet is fairly common word of that era in southern england... now its use limited to the natives of the Isle of Wight of which my wife is one.  Over the years  I have connected with that place..rural, seaside, land of Al Tennyson and Julie Cameron, dairy farmers and sheep herders, royal sailers and pubs...quite a mix.
This Nammet is not haute cuisine or fusion or any "ism", it refers more to basics...simplicity and what is on hand..or eaten with hands.  For me it references what food was prior to TV dinners and 64 oz big gulps.  I am no fanatic, vegan, or whole foods devotee...I crave baked gooey cinnamon rolls,  I will eat  fries off anyone's plate if allowed and when the opportunity arises, eat what I kill.
So, while I aspire to eat only local organic hudson valley produce, I will buy a bag of tangerines at costco shipped in from where-ever.  I have also loosened my "shoulds" in food photography, I am no longer bound to the 8x10 view camera and will shoot food with anything that captures an image, as this iphone shot of the onion.  The blog is my sketchbook of things that happen along the way, a sythesis of edible and visual.  This my take on food, the little I know of it.  Sometimes straightforward, sometime obscure, seemingly contrary to a variety of camps, I take, learn and share from all perspectives.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Starting with Crumbs

Maple + Bacon Scone remnants

Many years ago I came across a scone so good, so tasty, that I truly became addicted.  These were the buttery current scones from South Park Cafe, San Francisco circa early 90's..The chef left at some point before I could demand a recipe so I have been on a holy-grail-scone quest ever since.. along the way I have experienced the gastro-range, from okay scones to outright horrible scones, nothing coming close to South Park's.. until lately.  
The Maple + Bacon scone from Birdbath is the eptiomy of good nammet.  They are simply amazing.  For the same reason there are only crumbs left for me to photograph, so too, few words are available to convey how tasty and satisfying these scones are.  Just wow!  My wife's office is just a few steps from their Tribeca bakery and she got hooked, occasionally she gets one for me.  Even though this was all that was left on the counter today..and now almost a day old, I did a Gary Oldman Dracula-straight-edge-razor-licking take, devouring these crumbs in a nanosecond. They are a fantastic mix / balance of sweet and savory..intrigued?  If you live or work in NYC, get yourself to one of their locations and enjoy more than crumbs.