Standard Omelette and Canned Sardines : Roasted Leek

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Ahmm… yes, It finally happened. A canned product on this blog. I have zero problems with that. I love canned food. It is frowned upon, right? I know that in some places it’s actually well respected and quite a treat. Spain for example has a canning industry that is famous worldwide and extremely popular to locals as well. Their canned seafood is super high quality stuff. When I get canned food at the store, whenever possible, I try to get the stuff imported from Spain or Italy, they just know what they’re doing, period.  I love sardines. Not everybody does. Canned sardines in tomato sauce.. canned heaven. Canned octopus, canned chapirones, canned cod, canned anything. Ah! all so good! ok, stop me. 

5 Tips on How to Improve Your Phone Food Photography Now

Window lighting only, no tungsten contamination, phone held with 2 hands, sharp enough photo.
Window lighting only, no tungsten contamination, phone held with 2 hands, sharp enough photo.

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a long time. I frequently get asked about photography tips and how to get nicer pictures of food. Over the last few years I’ve found 5 areas that need to be understood in order to take a good photo. Specially a food photo. I’m working on a food styling post as well and can’t wait to finish that one, but food styling and plating without some basic photo skills is kinda pointless so I figured I’d start with this article.

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Another example of sunny window lighting, with the window behind the dish. There’s some tungsten contamination from some lightbulbs too terrible. Some post color editing done.

I assume you don’t own any fancy gear and do most of your shooting using a phone camera (these tips apply to any digital photography). Phone photography is extremely popular these days and phone cameras have come a long way. I remember when they used to suck. These days, some amazing photography can be done with just a simple camera or a phone camera but to do so, understanding a few basic concepts of photography is indispensable. I’ll go over some basic stuff here that can easily be learned and applied right away!

Chicken and Potato Salad : Tomatoes : Pickles and Carrots : Chinese Cabbage

 

 

 

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First salad of the summer! I’m still busy working on that photo and food styling post but figured I’d take a break (not really) and get some cooking done and blogged. On the photo and styling post I want to go over some basic lighting and composition, and also some color stuff and photo editing. I also want to cover my photography gear but more of that later. With summer officially kicked off on this hemisphere and the women’s soccer world cup taking over every bar and restaurant in the city, I thought a healthy and colourful salad, the brunchy type, would be the perfect thing to make.

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I did a couple of things here that I would normally not do. I cooked the eggs, the chicken and the potatoes sous vide. The chicken was leftover from dinner the night before and the motivation for making this salad really. I also shot it overexposed on purpose. I like that kind of lighting for a crisp and sunny morning, the bloody mary type of morning. Anyways, this is a super simple salad to make, and the sous vide step is not a requirement,  the ingredient list is super flexible too so use it as a reference or not. Ok, here we go:

Poached and Grilled Whole Chicken : Guinness Beer Glaze : Grilled Leeks and Bell Peppers

… that was a long title…. but certain recipes require long winded descriptions or at least this one does because it’s awesome. Sometimes I get lucky in the kitchen and things turn out the way I imagine… sometimes I don’t. Plenty of kitchen disaster and drama in the past, but not this time. This was pure awesomeness. I love chicken. The happy kind. The ones allowed to run free until they… well, they get butchered. And it is for this reason that when cooking them or any animal, I try to do it as responsibly as possible. Minimize waste and I try to pay close attention to temperature and time.

IMG_8216 Anyways… back to the awesomeness of chicken. For this recipe I decided to poach it and grill it since it’s summer time and all. If you haven’t tried this before, I’d say, give it a shot, chances are, you’ll never look back. If you own sous vide gear, go for it, but if you don’t and you have a pot, a thermometer and some patience, you won’t regret it.  The glaze was inspired by the super popular guinness glazed chicken wings at The Tilted Kilt Sports Bar in Long Beach, this is not an add (this blog is add free anyways), their chicken wings just happen to be awesome.

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Big Night : Cremini Mushroom and Mozzarella Arancini : Lamb Ragu Spaghetti

Say one evening you’re looking for recipes with one idea in mind… to blow somebody’s mind… in that case.. turning to Italy is the most effective choice. Italy has to mean “delicious” in some language I swear.  I like cooking… I like cooking a lot, and I’ve tried many things in the kitchen over the last few years, but without a doubt, cooking anything italian-inspired has always been memorable, and the perfect time travel device. As a kid, I ate more pasta and pizza than anything else I can remember. Growing up in Venezuela exposed me to Italian food.. the legit kind I wanna say, no offence Pizza Hut.

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During WWII, many Italians migrated to Venezuela looking for a brighter future away from the devastation of Europe at the time, and they brought with them the gift of their cuisine, their humour, their heritage and their hard working nature. Italian restaurants back home will forever be in my heart.  Whenever I cook for somebody I care about, 9 out of 10, Italian food it’s what’s for dinner.. except for my girlfriend. She has to put up with all the other “weird” stuff I want to cook as well. This evening, I cooked for my friend Raechel, and she brought the gifts of leftover risotto, arancini cravings, fresh basil and good wine. She made the arancini. Her first time. I’ve never seen her this excited before. I’ve rarely seen anyone this excited about cooking before.

 

 

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Cream of Black Beans : Kimchi Juice : Yolk

 

FullSizeRender-19Not many people are fond of black beans. Count myself out! Love black beans, as a side or as its own dish. Extremely popular in all of latin cuisine, black beans are delicious but ONLY when prepared right. I guess that’s pretty much any ingredient. A few years ago, when I was getting started with cooking, I tried making my first batch of black beans. Disaster beans. What can possibly go wrong with something so simple. Cooking dry beans might call for soaking them in water overnight first. Cooking black beans, DEFINITELY requires soaking them in water over night. Skip this step, and… well, disaster beans. Another thing that I learned that time. Don’t cook them in seasoned stock or add salt to the cooking water. The skins will be so tough it might upset your stomach. After taking care of soaking and cooking in plain water, making black beans took a turn in the direction of awesomeness.  Adding stock, salt any other seasonings after the fact was the way to go. A bit counterintuitive but it’s actually the only way I would ever cook these little guys. I apply the same philosophy to any legumes really.

 

 

 

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Another ingredient has the ability to take black beans into the next level. Sugar. And not just a pinch. I actually add a lot, and they don’t become sweet, they just become even more awesome.

In this edition of black beans, I’ve also included kimchi juice. For two reason. First. I hate throwing away good stuff. I eat a lot of kimchi. I usually have leftover kimchi liquid in the fridge. Second. Kimchi juice and black beans, a match made in heaven.  That layer of heat is incredible. Any other source of heat would have a similar impact, but what can I say. I love kimchi… oh.. and eggs.

Tortilla Española : Tortilla de Patatas : Spanish Omelette

A while ago I posted an article about this dish but it’s time to bring it back. Not a whole lot to this recipe. 3 Ingredients (ok, 6 if you count oil, salt and pepper) and 10-15 minutes to make. The technique is quite tricky I have to say, cooking omelets is actually not that easy, takes a lot of practice. I don’t mind the practice. I can’t stop eating eggs, I’m like that snake… yep, that one, the one that eats lots of eggs.

FullSizeRender-15The “secret” to properly cook eggs, like anything else, it’s careful attention to temperature and time. Eggs overcook easily. Also…, yolks and whites cook at different temperatures. The yolks cook at a lower temperature than the white part. The yolks set at around 158F or 70C. The whites completely set at 180F or 82.2C These temperatures are definitely inside overcooked-egg territory. I like eggs cooked a little below these. But anyways, with omelets, the problem becomes and average problem. Somewhere in the middle the omelet will be cooked satisfactorily.

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I use a non stick pan. with a lid over low heat. Like really low. The thicker the omelet the longer the cooking time basically. Consider using a diffuser over the stove to keep that harsh heat away from those delicate eggs. With an infrared thermometer you can measure very precisely how hot it is. Around 162C and any omelet would be honored to be cooked in that pan.