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Posts Tagged ‘food styling’

As I promised before in the post about my cameras, here I am with a couple of words about my lenses.

First of all, I love my lenses.

Very much.

Second of all, I just love them.

 

These are the names of the babies (from left to right): Canon 50mm F 1.8, Tamron Macro 60 mm F 2, Canon 18-55mm (which came as a kit lens with my Canon Rebel T2i camera).

I use the first one (Canon 50mm) to shoot food.

The Tamron 60 mm is great for food too, but since it is a macro lens I use it quite often outside to shoot flowers, bugs or other cute tiny things.

To capture wider angles, I use the Canon 18-55 (the kit lens).

 

Now let me show you and compare a few interesting features that these lenses possess.

 

1. Comparison with the Same Settings

Each of these shots was taken with a different lens. To make the comparison most accurate I kept the same settings for each shot. All pictures were taken at 5.6 aperture and they are not edited at all.

Though that last thing was a bit hard to digest.

I find these images pretty similar in their appearance. Maybe just the last one is a little colder in colors (has more blue tones in it) than the other two.

But there’s more to compare…
 
 

2. Lowering the Aperture (Blurry Background)

Well, who doesn’t like a nice blurry background.

That really injects the magic into the pictures, doesn’t it?

The part of the lens which provides for the blurriness of the picture is called the aperture (if you are not that familiar with this term you can find a little more about it here).

I love to use low aperture settings, especially for the food shots.

The kit lens that came with the camera (Canon 18-55mm) has the lowest aperture number of 5.6 (the second picture of this post shows you the result).

But I knew that there was a whole new world of possibilities when you go lower than 5.6.

So there came a moment in my life when I felt that I couldn’t go a day longer without a proper low aperture lens. That was when I got these two:

This picture was taken with the Canon 50mm at its lowest aperture – F 1.8.

See the blurry background? And how little portion of the picture is actually in focus? So that is caused by the low 1.8 aperture setting.

Again, this picture could really benefit from some vigorous Photoshop treatment, but this post is not about that.
 
 

This is a shot taken with the Tamron 60mm at 2.0 aperture (which is its lowest aperture number).

I like the blurriness of the background a lot.

In this aspect, these two lenses produce very similar results.

 

Also, these two lenses are prime, which means that you cannot zoom in or zoom out. In other words, they have fixed focal length. But that thing is perfectly all right – it makes you move a little more and stretch your body quite often which, I guess, is a nice health supporting benefit.

 

If the low aperture setting had been the only feature that I wanted for my pictures I would only have acquired the Canon 50mm lens. That one was much cheaper than the Tamron 60mm.

But I also needed Tamron. Have a look why…
 
 

3. Getting Closer to the Subject

This is closest that the Canon 50mm allows you to get to the subject.

If you go closer, the lens cannot focus anymore.

 
 

This is how close the Tamron 60mm allows you to get.

Amazing detail!

I often use this feature when taking pictures in my kitchen – spices, sugar or cake structure, that all looks perfectly detailed.

I love it!

 

So these are my beloved lenses.

I hope this information helped you.

At least a little.
 
 

… and psst, don’t tell this to my boyfriend

There’s also this cutie!

It’s the Canon 75-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

I frequently steal this one from my boyfriend to capture…
 
 

… squirrels …
 
 

… or baby orangutans, or basically anything that happens to be far away from me.

I think I love this lens much more than my boyfriend does and I also use it way more often.

So who really has the moral right to own it, I ask?

I think it’s me, I answer.

Definitely, it’s me!
 
 

It fills the last free space in my camera bag perfectly, anyway.
 

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Right now I am preparing a yummy recipe that I’ll be posting here tomorrow. Meanwhile I have something else you might want to see.

 
Over the past few months some of you asked me how this or that photo had been taken. Your questions gave me an idea that you might find interesting to see how several of my sets looked like. I myself love this kind of information and seek it eagerly wherever possible.

So, from now on, if I find the photo set that I’ve created interesting in a certain way I’ll show it to you.

If it helps at least one of you then my mission was worth it.

 

The picture above is by far not perfect or exquisite or anything. But what I find interesting about it is the lighting. You might be wondering how on earth that set was lit and whether I used artificial lights or not. And how I dare own photography lighting without letting you know.
 
 

So, this is what the set looked like.

I don’t use lights since I don’t own photography lights.

But what I own is my home-made silver reflector (you can find its heart-touching story here). And then I have one window. And then I have some white paper that I duct taped to the wall and to my kitchen countertop. And that’s it!

Very, very simple.
 
 

This is the job that my camera did.

Well, she was really trying.

I still love her dearly.

And yes, I refer to my camera as her. It’s my best friend after all. Actually, I might start calling her Amelie.
 
 

And this is how Photoshop helped.

Needless to say, I love Photoshop.

I might start calling it Fred.

 

See you soon!

Love,

Petra
 

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Textiles are food’s best friend.

That is the reason why textiles are my best friend, too.

Whether they are tablecloths, table mats, kitchen towels, napkins or just spare pieces of fabric, I love them all.

Dearly.

Well, welcome to the universe of my addictions.

This is one of many.

Many, many.

 

As with any other obsession, buying colorful textiles is completely out of my control and I see no end to this activity.

The only thing I need is MORE!

 
 

This week, I was ‘lucky’ enough to stumble upon these cuties in Tesco.

I immediately saw perfect props for my photographs in them.
 
 

They were being sold as color-matching sets of two under the official name ‘Tea Towels’.

 

There was a blue set – this could work perfectly in pictures with biscuits or bread.
 
 

Then there was this olive-green set.

I love it.

It could help salads of any kind stand out.

Pasta salads included.
 
 

A red set.

What a color!

Hypnotizing!

It’s delivering a very brave statement.

When I look at it my brain keeps screaming ‘RED’ for the next five minutes.
 
 

And then I grabbed this brown set, too.

Can you see the top towel?

There are prints of cakes and steaming cups of coffee on it.

Well, how was I supposed to not buy it?

How?

How could that be done, I ask?
 
 

Have I already told you how much I love them?

Can’t wait to use them all.
 

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The early fall is truly magical.

These days I love to revel in all the pleasant impressions that this time of year evokes in me.

I love the calm… as if everything is coming to rest after all the hard work.

I’m excited when I see first signs of the glitter party that nature is going to throw soon.

Also, I love to go for long walks and enjoy the nice and warm days.

And if I didn’t sleep so late I’d definitely enjoy the crisp and cool mornings.

Hm, you can’t have everything, I guess.

 

But most of all, I enjoy the fruits of this season.

Like apples, for example.

In my world, there’s nothing more wonderful than the smell of apples and cinnamon coming out of the oven.

That’s why I end up making all sorts of apple-cinnamon creations these days each year – Apple Crisp being one of my favorite.

Yum!
 
 

The ingredients are simple and economical.

And that’s great.

 

Now I invite you to have a look at what crazy stuff was going on in my kitchen…
 

1. First, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
 
2. I placed all the ‘topping’ ingredients into one bowl – namely the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, salt, oats and walnuts.
 
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that crazy.
 
 

3. Using a fork, I combined them all just until this crumbly mixture had formed and no large pieces of butter were visible.

The topping is finished.

Easy!
 
 

4. Then I grabbed six medium apples.

These are Golden Delicious.

Also Empire, Gala, or Braeburn are especially good in this recipe.
 
 


5. I peeled, washed, cored and sliced them.
 
 

6. And then I cut the slices into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks.
 
 

7. To make the filling, I placed the apples, the lemon zest (I used dried lemon zest) and the sugar in a larger bowl…
 
 

8. …and tossed it to combine.

Mmmm… can you smell that?

Instant home!
 
 

9. I am brushing a dish with vegetable oil here.

Instead, you can butter the dish or just spray it with some cooking spray.

Also, although I used a slightly larger dish, I recommend to use a 9 inch (23 cm) deep dish pie plate or an 8 x 8 x 2 inch (20 x 20 x 5 cm) baking dish.

 
 

10. Fill the dish with the fragrant apple filling.

 
 

11. And, using your fingertips, spread the topping evenly over the apples.
 
 

12. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

 
 

13. Remove from the oven, place on the cooling rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Then dig into it with a spoon and check whether everything is all right.
 
 

And if everything is perfectly all right, and it definitely will be, proceed to another step – fill a bowl with some more spoonfuls of this flavorful, juicy and crispy wonder.

Add a nice, fat scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Or two.

Or four.
 
 

And have a great time!
 

If, by any chance, you end up with some leftovers, refrigerate them and reheat them before serving.
 
 

Enjoy!

 

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I’ve been carrying an idea to prepare a tuna sandwich in my head for quite some time.

Cause I love tuna.

It’s my favorite fish of them all.

Maybe because that’s the only one I eat, actually.

 

Anyway, recently, when making this delish Potato Soup, I ended up with one unused celery root and was looking for a dish that would incorporate it somehow.

Things have come full circle when one of the first recipes that I came across was actually for a Tuna Sandwich.

There was no question about the celery root any more.

Task completed.

Case solved.

What needs to be done, has to be done.

 

When I searched some more I also found out that people have produced about a zillion Tuna Sandwich recipes throughout the history.

It looks like it’s some kind of a popular ritual that we all share and enjoy.

Okay folks, I wanna play this game too and this is my addition…
 
 

Please, meet the ingredients.

They are yummy.
 
 

Let’s start with this handsome buddy, if you don’t mind.

It’s a celery root aka celeriac.

I write about its life story and why it needs your love here.
 
 

1. Slice off the skin of the root, wash it and grate it finely.
 
 

Like this.
 
 

2. Grab one half of red onion and chop it.

It will add a wonderful taste and also a wonderful color to the salad.
 
 

3. Let the onion and the celery make friends in a larger bowl.
 
 

4. Now break the Chinese cabbage into individual leaves, wash them and drain them.
 
 

5. Slice the leaves into thin strips, leaving out the firmer parts.

And I don’t mean fingers here.

Which you should of course leave out.

 
 

6. Then chop the cabbage even more finely and add it into the bowl.
 
 

7. Drain the tuna and throw it in too.
 
 

8. And now the best part (for some of us) – add nice eight heaping tablespoons of mayo.

That amount might sound a little devilish, I agree.

But consider that we are making a lot of sandwiches here – about ten – so it’s kinda all right.

Right?

Are you with me?

 
 

9. Season it with the Worcestershire sauce and mix until combined.

 

10. And then taste it and add some salt if you wish to.
 
 

11. Spread the newly made salad mixture on a bread slice and top with another slice of bread.
 
 

Then have a bite and enter heaven instantly.

It’s beyond delicious!

Enjoy, dear friends.

(This recipe feeds one smaller army – it makes about 10 sandwiches.)
 

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My name is Petra and I am… ahem… a cheesecake maniac.

Yes, I dream about cheesecakes.

Yes, I collect cheesecake recipes.

Yes, I’ve prepared many.

Yes, I am sure I have yet many of them to prepare.

No, I don’t think there is a power in this world that would stop me from doing so.

Yes, I’ll be showing you all of them.

And YES, I’ll be more than happy if you had a look at how I made this awesome one…

 
 

Here we have our lovely ingredients, ladies and gentlemen.

Of course, there’s a lot of cream cheese in there. But definitely not too much.

That fact suggests that this cheesecake is a milder one.

Which I definitely can confirm (after eating many, many a slices).

Though it is not as rich as New York Cheesecake, I’d define it as being ‘heavenly’ mild.

A heavenly mild cheesecake.

That’s what it is.
 
 

1. To make it, preheat the oven to 284 F (140 C).
 

2. Second, using a vegetable oil, spray a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan.
 

3. Wrap two layers of foil around the pan. This cake is going to be baked in a water bath and the foil will prevent  the water from seeping in.
 
 

4. Place the cream cheese, butter and milk into a metal (or heatproof) bowl.
 

5. Now place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and – stirring constantly – let the ingredients melt.

If you’ve ever wondered why bowls are sometimes placed over simmering water then I have the answer for you. It’s because the ingredients in the bowl need very mild and gentle heat to melt, nothing too strong. In cases such as these, the steam from the simmering water works best. Otherwise some ingredients might not only melt but also cook and curdle. And who wants that?
 
 

6. After the melted cream cheese mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the egg yolks, the cake flour, the cornstarch (corn flour) and the lemon juice.
 

7. Whisk the mixture until smooth.
 
 

8. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy.
 

9. Then add the sugar and whip for another couple of minutes until soft peaks form.
 
 

10. In two batches, pour the cream cheese mixture into the egg whites.
 
 

11. Fold the two batters together gently after each addition…
 
 

12. …until they are well combined.

Try to be as gentle as possible in this process, since we’ve worked hard to make the whites light and airy and we definitely don’t want to lose that.

I am speaking in the name of all whipped egg whites in the world here!
 
 

13. Divide the batter evenly into two bowls and add the cocoa powder into one of them.
 

14. Mix in the cocoa gently.
 

And let the fun begin…
 

15. So this is how the zebra strips are achieved – nothing difficult at all.

Take your sprayed springform pan and place 3 tablespoons of cream colored batter in a circle in the center of the pan. Then take 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter and place in the center. Keep adding circles and the batter will spread of its own accord.
 
 

16. Find a large baking dish that will fit the springform pan.

Fill the empty baking dish 1/4 of the way full with hot water and place the springform pan inside.
 

17. Bake in the lower third of the oven at 284 F (140 C) for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
 

18. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside (with the door still closed) for another 10 minutes.
 

19. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely.
 
 

This cake tastes best after it’s been refrigerated for a couple of hours. It becomes slightly more dense and moist.

Enjoy, dear friends.

(This recipe was adapted from Treats.)
 

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Well, this might be the most interesting thing I’ve ever baked.

I’d describe it as decadent, fascinating and delicious.

The combination of a mildly sweet pie crust and a rather strong lemony filling will not allow you to stay indifferent to this tart.

You’ll either love it or…you’ll love it even more.

The taste is definitely intense, but very impressive, delicious and refreshing – especially to all the lemon lovers out there.
 
 

This is what you need to prepare this yummy treat.
 
 

1. First, we are going to use the flour, butter, egg yolk and the sugar (2 tablespoons).

Place all these ingredients in a medium bowl and with your hand, first combine them and then knead until you have a nice dough ball.

But don’t you work too much at this point, dear friends – I mean, don’t overwork the dough since pie crusts don’t like it, they want to remain flaky after baking.
 
 


2. Now, place the dough ball between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll it out into an 11 – 12 inch (28 – 30 cm) circle.

Wow, this rolling between two papers, that’s something. I definitely recommend it if you want to make you life easier.
So much easier. It’s a pleasure to work this way. No sticking to the working surface whatsoever – you can forever forget that.
 
 

3. Have ready an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan (with removable bottom, preferably, though I didn’t use that).

Spray the pan with a little oil.

Remove the top paper from the rolled out dough and invert the dough into the pan (along with the remaining paper that will end up being on top now).

Lightly press the pastry into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.
 
 

4. Remove the paper…
 
 

…only to crumple it and lay it out over the pastry again. Fill the paper with pie weights or just dried beans or peas.

Pop into the oven and bake at 375 F (190 C) for about 9 minutes, then remove the paper along with the weights and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to only 300 F (150 C).

Yeah, we are blind-baking (or pre-baking) here. This process keeps the unfilled pie crust from puffing up in the oven or becoming too soggy when the tart gets filled and baked.
 
 

5. Meanwhile we can prepare the filling for our tart.

Squeeze the juice out of four small lemons.

Make sure the juice contains no seeds – we don’t want this kind of surprise in the tart. Unless we wanted that, for some reason…
 
 

6. In the bowl of you electric mixer mix the eggs with the sugar (1/2 cup – 100 grams) for about 5 minutes or until smooth, fluffy and almost white in color.

Then add the cream and the lemon juice and mix again shortly.
 
 

7. Fill the crust with the filling and bake at 300 F (150 C) for about 40 minutes or until the filling doesn’t wobble.
 
 

8. Remove from the oven and let cool on the wire rack.
 
 

9. We are going to cover the whole tart with a nice lemony and syrupy glaze.

To prepare the syrup, pour the water and sugar (1/3 cup – 70 grams) into a saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and heat the mixture up.

Peel the remaining lemon and slice it into thin rounds. Add the lemon rounds into the saucepan and let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Then pour the mixture over the tart and spread it evenly.

And that’s it.
 
 

Mmmmmm…

 
 

Yummy!

I recommend chilling the tart before serving.

Also, store it in the refrigerator.

Enjoy, dear friends.
 

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