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Archive for October, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I wish you all a Happy Halloween!

Love,
Petra

 

P.S.: Sorry for the high spookiness factor of the picture. But don’t you get too scared, it’s still a merry dough ball from my kitchen!
 

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These bite-sized cookies are perfect for having with tea.

(Psst, coffee is all right too.)

They taste wonderful and are very, very simple to make.

I like to prepare them when my sugar craving strikes out of the blue. Or when friends call unexpectedly saying they will come soon.

These cookies just save lives.

 
 

Here’s the list of ingredients.
 
 

1. To make your own Tea Cookies, first preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

2. Sift the flour and sugars into a larger bowl.
 

 

3. Add the softened butter, two egg yolks and lemon zest…
 

 

4. …and use pastry cutter or just a plain fork to turn the ingredients into a crumbly mixture.

 

5. Then use your hands to form a ball.

 
 

Like this one.

Though creating a face is not necessary.

But it helps.

Kidding!

But it really does.

Kidding again!

 

Now I’d like to tell you this: Please, be patient when you find yourself in the phase in-between the crumbs and the dough ball. It only takes patience and trust that those crumbs will eventually come together. Give it five minutes or so and you’ll see success!
 

 

6. Place the dough ball on a very, very lightly floured surface.

This dough is almost not sticky at all so you really need very little flour, if any.

And besides that, the more flour you’d be using the firmer the cookies would get. And we don’t need that.

 

7. Using the palms of your hands, roll the dough until you form a log which is about 1.5 inches (3.5 cm) wide in diameter.

 

8. Then cut the log into about 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick rounds.
 
 

9. Place the rounds onto the sheet and bake in the preheated oven (350 °F – 175 °C) for 10 minutes.

The cookies should still be very pale in color when baked.
 
 

10. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Enjoy, dear friends.

(This recipe makes about 30 cookies and will take you about 40 minutes to make.)
 

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I am writing this post for one reason.

I’d just like the whole world to know how much I love Photoshop.

Among millions other things it helps me with every day, it is a real hero when it comes to correcting shadows.

Especially in food photography, eliminating the underexposed areas (aka shadows) and showing their true structure and color is a very precious thing. It makes the food so much more appetizing.

Just let me show you something…
 
 

This is the original picture from my recipe for Farfalle with Tomato-Cheese Sauce.

I like the picture, but not as much as…
 
 

… I like this one.

This picture has undergone one simple Photoshop procedure.

As a result, the most wonderful shade of red color I know has appeared. Mere looking at that color has strong therapeutic effect on me.
 
 

This is how to do it:

1. Open the photo is Photoshop (I am using Photoshop Elements 8).

2. Click EnhanceAdjust LightingShadows/Highlights in the upper bar.

3. A smaller window will pop up with the first (Lighten Shadows) slider dragged to 25 automatically.

You should already see that your picture has improved substantially. If you don’t see any change, make sure you have selected the Preview check box.

You can move the first slider left or right to find the right amount of correction.

4. If you are happy with the result, click OK.

And that’s it.
 
 

Just give it a try and enjoy the beautiful changes it brings.

Love,
Petra

(To learn more about my quest against shadows have a look at this.)

 

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See the picture?

I’ve taken it.

It proves that I don’t write and think about food only. Sometimes I leave my kitchen for a little while to go for a trip and visit some strange places. (Hm, now that I think about that trip, I just remembered that I had a really awesome sandwich prior to taking these photos. It was yummy!)

Anyhow, in my life there surely are other issues than food that catch my attention.

Like, food photography, for example.

Oh, yeah, you’re right. That’s still very much about food.

Hm, there has to be something else that interests me. I am a sensitive and caring human being, after all.

YES, now I remembered!

The next thing I really care about are my personal issues.

They are fun!

Not!

 

For example, I like to climb onto very strange vehicles.  They carry my high in the mountains. But that’s not the issue. This one is simple to solve. I’m too lazy to walk and too eager to take nice pics from high above.

The issue that I want to talk about is my nervous breakdown that I seem to go through each time I find myself in a stressful situation.

The breakdown lasts for about five minutes.

And it’s wild.

And beastly.

And on this particular trip it started right after they had sat me in the blue chair that you see in the picture.
 
 

Right now, when I am taking this picture, I am cursing the day this insane passenger ropeway was built. I am cursing the grass below for not being more soft and cushy. I am giving my man a threatening look because he dares to breath and rock our seats as a result. And most of all, I am cursing myself for not wearing a parachute on my back.
 
 

Mere five minutes later I am the king of the world. I am enjoying the cool fresh air, I am reveling in the beauty around and I am tapping my man on the knee saying: “Lovely, huh?”.

 

I can’t reverse that thing although I know it is coming.

When the stress begins I get convinced that I am a goner any time soon.

When the five minutes have passed and I come to my senses a wide smile appears on my face and you wouldn’t find a more careless person in the whole wide world.

But those five minutes – you don’t want to be near me when they are happening.

You just don’t.

 

Which makes me think of my man right now. Poor him, he gets to be near me all the time.

Lord, bless his kind and precious heart.
 
 

I doubt this guy has his 5 beastly minutes.

Though, he might – when he meets a photographer who takes photos right IN HIS FACE.

Luckily, we were heading in opposite directions. Which is the only occasion when I dare take pictures of strangers.

I am that courageous.

Hm, I think I’ve just revealed my next issue…
 

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Farfalle pasta is the best!

Don’t you think?

This kind of pasta has grown closest to my heart. For some reason it even tastes better than the other kinds.

Yum!

 

This time I’ve decided to prepare these lovely little bow-ties with a very simple tomato sauce.

But there’s this thing I need to own up… I saw Feta cheese in the fridge and just couldn’t resist and had to add it to the sauce. The temptation was too strong. Stronger than me.

The result?

The cheese has given a unique tang to the sauce and it was all perfectly yummilicious!
 
 

These are the ingredients that you need if you want to make your own Tomato-Feta Farfalle.
 
 

1. First, peel and slice the garlic thinly.
 
 

2. Then pour the olive oil into a pan and heat it up.

 

3. When the oil begins to sizzle add the garlic.

Cook for about 1 minute stirring constantly.
 
 

4. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt and sugar and stir again.
 
 

5. Now cut your Feta cheese into little cubes (or just crumble it if you feel especially mischievous)…
 
 

6. …and add it to the sauce.

 

 

7. Stir it all and let cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Stir every two minutes or so.

 

I wonder, will I ever tire of this color?

I don’t think so.

The color of tomato sauce might actually be the reason why I fell in love with food photography.

 

8. In the meantime, grab the basil leaves, give them a rough chop…
 
 

9. …and add them to the sauce about 18 minutes into the cooking process so that the basil can cook with the sauce for about two minutes.

 
 

You’ll notice that the sauce has reduced in volume a little and has become more thick.

 
 

10. Cook the bow-ties according to the package instructions.
 
 

And serve.

You can even sprinkle a little Parmesan on top. That will transfer you to heaven instantly.

Enjoy, dear friends!


(This recipe makes 6 portions and will take you about 30 minutes to prepare.)

 

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Just recently I brought a story about the Photoshop Crop Tool and what gorgeous role it plays in my life.

Surprisingly, the story seems to be expanding into a series.

This is part two…

 
 

This is the original picture with no editing at all.
 
 

And this is my new crop.

Okay, I might be the only person on Earth who thinks so, but that line of ice-cream-licking heads – that’s too cute and funny.

I just love those ladies!
 

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I’d love to reveal a little secret about our monkey household of two.

We love biscuits! All sorts of them!

Unbelievable, huh?

 

Biscuits are especially enjoyed by the male monkey over here.

You should see his smile each time he finds out they are in the oven.

It’s the widest and most content smile I’ve ever seen.

And when the biscuits are done my boyfriend immediately grabs his plate of at least fourteen and hurries to watch his favorite sitcoms.

I love to make biscuits because somehow they make the world a perfect place.

They are magical.
 
 

Here are the ingredients.
 
 

And here’s the bacon.

It’s a crucial part of the magic.
 
 

1. To make your own Bacon and Cheese Biscuits, first preheat the oven to 390 °F (200 °C).

 

2. Then slice the bacon thinly.
 
 

3. In a large pan, fry the bacon over moderate heat until crisp.

This will take a couple of minutes.
 
 

4. When beautifully crispy, remove the bacon from the pan and crumble it finely.
 
 

5. Grab the cheese and grate it.
 
 

Just like this.

This is a lot of cheese.

 

The cheese mostly will constitute the flavor of your biscuits. So choose the one you really like.

It’s completely up to you.

I used Leerdammer. Next time I’ll try Cheddar, I think.

It’s fun because the biscuits can be different every time.
 
 

6. Now we need a large bowl.

Using a pastry cutter (or just a fork), combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper and butter until crumbs form.
 
 

7. Stir in the grated cheese and the bacon.
 
 

8. Then add the milk…
 
 

9. …and stir together just until the dry ingredients are well moistened.
 
 

10. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and make a Halloween face out of it.

Sorry.

What I really mean is that now you should knead the dough 4 – 5 times.

To make the biscuits perfectly soft, the trick is not to over-knead the dough.

 
 

11. Roll it out to about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thickness.

When it gets sticky use some flour to make the job easier.
 
 

12. Cut out rounds using a 2-inch (5 cm) cutter.

Pat the scraps together, re-roll them and cut out some more rounds.
 
 

13. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange your biscuits on the sheet about 1/2 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
 
 

14. And bake them for about 15 minutes.
 
 

These are so yummy.

Enjoy, dear friends!

 

This recipe makes about 36 biscuits.

(The recipe was adapted from LeitesCulinaria.com.)
 

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