Hello! It’s food photography and styling challenge time with The Inspired Plate!
I wait too long to start these monthly challenges, especially this month. I thought my only issue this month would be the surprising number of family photography shoots I had scheduled (it’s August – in Florida), but it seems like the to-do list grew by leaps and bounds ever since the beginning of the month. And just as if there wasn’t quite enough going on, it became necessary to factor in a tropical storm/hurricane by the name of Isaac. Until the track verifies and sets its sight on a fairly definite destination, one has to stop what one is doing to stock up, get organized, do laundry, and otherwise prepare to hunker down or to evacuate. Isaac keeps tracking west, so we’re “just” going to get tropical storm conditions meaning lots of wind and rain, and flooding. We’ll probably lose power since it seems like this island can lose power on the best of days. Go figure. And I really really dislike losing power.
But on to our challenge! The assignment this month with The Inspired Plate is to style and shoot a summer dessert. I’m honestly not a big dessert person, although I’m totally impressed by the work of many pastry chefs. So…I had two plans – one for popsicles, and one for a dessert carpaccio. Two plans because I wasn’t sure if either would work!
By the way, have you seen this book? It’s called the People’s Pops by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell, & Joel Horowitz. Amazing popsicle recipes and a well-deserved success story hailing from Brooklyn.
So I made some popsicles! And won’t do it again! LOL My kitchen floor was so crazy sticky after all of the watermelon and cantaloupe purees in spite of several wet Swifferings. One pop had booze in it – the apertif Campari – and I put toooooo much in. Oh well. That’s too bad….
So I got started, with lots of produce…
The first is for Cantaloupe with Campari and Cantaloupe with Cream. Campari is booze. Do not give to children! You may not even want to give to yourself. 😉
And the next is a basil-infused watermelon pop – so refreshing!
Then because I wasn’t really sure how the pops were going to turn out, I also made a dish from the July issue of Bon Appetit with just a couple of tweaks. You know, just in case.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s challenge with The Inspired Plate! Next up is Valeria Howell of MindZen Photography with her delicious take on this assignment! Please travel our blog circle as we are linked to one another for additional amazing and mouth-watering summer desserts and and beautiful photography!
Cantaloupe & Campari | Cantaloupe Cream Popsicles
- 1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
- 1 cup simple syrup*
- 2 tablespoons Camapri
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Puree the cantaloupe chunks in a food processor . You will have close to 3 cups of puree.
- Divide the mixture into two large glass measuring cups. Add the Campari to one, and the heavy cream to the other.
- Divide the simple syrup and add equally to both measuring cups, tasting as you go to reach the appropriate level of sweetness.
- Pour the mixture into ice pop molds, leaving a bit of room at the top. Insert the stick through the top of the tray and freeze until solid. To remove the pops, place the mold tray in a sink of hot water for a few moments that comes up to, but does not cover the molds. Test a pop and if it releases easily, they are ready to remove. Store in plastic bags in the freezer.
Makes 10 popsicles.
Adapted from the book People’s Pops
*To make simple syrup: In a small saucepan, add ¾ cup water and ¾ cup organic cane sugar (or regular sugar) and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves; remove from the heat and let cool. Makes 1¼ cups.
Watermelon & Basil Popsicles
- 2 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
- 1¼ cups simple syrup infused with a handful of fresh basil*
- 15 small leaves additional basil, rolled an sliced into small strips (chiffonade)
- *Make the simple syrup by combining ¾ cup organic cane sugar (or regular sugar) and ¾ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; stir to dissolve sugar. When liquid is transparent, add the fresh basil, let simmer for a minute, remove from the heat and let cool. Remove the basil after the liquid has cooled and discard.
- Add the basil-infused simple syrup to the watermelon puree, tasting for the appropriate amount of sweetness. Add the chiffonade of basil to the mixture and pour into an ice pop mold, leaving just a bit of room at the top. Add the sticks and freeze until firm. Unmold by placing in a hot water bath in the sink that comes just up to the mold top, but not over it. Store in plastic bags in the freezer.
Makes 10 popsicles
Adapted from the book People’s Pops
Melon Carpaccio with Lime
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, July 2012
- ½ cup organic cane sugar (or regular)
- 4 sprigs mint plus additional leaves for garnish
- ½ vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
- assortment of edible flowers
- coconut sorbet
- Make a simple syrup by combining ¼ cup water with the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the mint and the pinch of red pepper flakes; remove from the heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain with a fine-mesh sieve into a glass measuring cup or small bowl and add the lime juice.
- In a large glass baking dish, add the melon slices and pour all but ¼ of the syrup over the melon. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill for at least 1½ hours.
- Present melon on dessert plates garnished with mint leaves and edible flowers and an additional drizzle of the syrup. Add a scoop of sorbet to each dish and sprinkle all with the lime zest. Serve immediately.
When I received an email from mom Jessica asking if I would be available to do a photo session with her two children, I gave her one heck of a big YES! Although I absolutely enjoy working with the large family groups, it’s a nice change of pace to be able to slow down and execute a little bit more creativity and one-on-one session time when working with just one or two children or adults. This family from the Atlanta area was spending several weeks here this summer on the south end of Longboat Key so we decided to venture to the nature preserve that is just over the New Pass Bridge to start our session, and then to head over to the Longboat Key Club Resort for some beach shots.
These two children are precious and I think the only word they said to me the entire time was “cheese.” I desperately tried to give them a “new” word, but it never caught on lol! Jessica – thank you for choosing me to capture your sweet kiddos and I hope we can get together for another session in the future.
It’s our July food photography and styling challenge – already! I can’t believe half the year has already gone by. Back in January, I was fortunate to stumble upon a group of ladies that were forming a group with the purpose of improving their food photography and styling skills and it’s been a wonderful journey so far. Everybody brings something different to the group which we all learn and benefit from.
This month’s challenge is to style and photograph a BBQ dish (or grilled). Did I mention that I don’t even own an outdoor grill? Or that I’m not a fan of BBQ in general? Now I know how the group participants last month who didn’t like fish felt! To not own a grill seems almost unAmerican I guess. Sure, we had one, but the Florida salt air finally did it in a few years ago. In addition, living in an elevated home means one spends their time running up and down stairs and being separated from family or friends if grilling is underway. So……long story short, we just never used it much and subsequently didn’t feel any strong need to purchase a new one. I broil and roast. I roast and broil. No smoke. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I just don’t like smoky tasting food. I don’t even want smoked turkey deli meat in a sandwich.
To that end, I did however put a lot of energy into this month’s challenge! Some of the California participants in our group were able to meet up and complete this month’s assignment together which sounded and looked like a lot of fun. As for me, I decided to work on my “indoor” grilling skills. I really couldn’t decide what to make even as the days dwindled down to our deadline (which is right now). I wasn’t loving the idea of meat…..so I decided upon shrimp, radicchio, and hearts of palm skewers, as well as a dessert component. I also made a fresh salsa to go along with the skewers (yum). Styling it all, however, was another big component of this challenge. I knew I wanted to shoot outside in late day light to give it that “outside BBQ” feel and look. I didn’t, though, want a classic July 4th hamburgers and hot dogs appearance either, because that wasn’t representative of the story behind my dishes.
I was looking for upscale casual. Sort of like casual Fridays in the office when you get to wear something less conservative but not jeans or shorts? Do companies still do that?
Starting off with the salsa……made with mango, pineapple, kiwi fruit, red onion, orange bell pepper, jalapeño, and cilantro. I used to
hate dislike cilantro immensely but have somehow come to enjoy it in recent years. This salsa is soooo good with a nice spicy kick which you really kind of need when making a fruit-based salsa.
All recipes follow at the end of this post.
Then on to the appetizer – or small plate dish – skewers of jumbo shrimp, hearts of palm, and radicchio and lime wedges. I love hearts of palm. Did you know that hearts of palm come from the sabel palmetto or cabbage palm? That is Florida’s state tree.
A nice addition to round out this dinner would be a grilled pork tenderloin with rice pilaf.
On to dessert! This is Carla Hall’s recipe from The Chew – and it’s aptly named Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Sandwich. Oh yeah, oh yum. You can find the recipe HERE. The raspberry sauce was my little addition. I also included a pullback of how I took the photo – it was brilliantly sunny so a diffuser panel was a necessity….however, the pop-up storm brewing just off camera left definitely was NOT a necessity to the shoot.
I shot the dessert first and because of the storm, wasn’t sure if I would be able to shoot the appetizer course or not! Luckily the sun came back out just in time for the sunset, and enough light to get my shots. It was a beautiful set within a stormy sky.
Please continue on through our blog circle to see what everyone came up with for their BBQ/Grilling dishes this month. Next up is Allison Jacobs of Allison Jacobs Photography and I can’t wait to see what she posted!
mango pineapple kiwi salsa
- 1½ cups diced pineapple
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- 2 kiwi fruit, peeled and diced
- 1 small orange bell pepper, diced
- ¼ red onion, diced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
- pinch of sugar
- Combine the pineapple, mango, kiwi fruit, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro in a bowl and gently toss together. Add the lime juice and pinch of sugar and stir to combine.
shrimp, radicchio, and hearts of palm skewers
- ¾ pound jumbo shrimp (approximately 15 shrimp to one pound), cleaned, deveined, and tails left on*
- 1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, patted dry, and cut in half
- 1 small head radicchio, cut into 4 wedges
- 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- pinch red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and coarse ground pepper
- Prepare a grill with medium-high heat.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, toss to combine, and let marinate for 15 minutes.
- On each of 4 metal skewers thread 1 shrimp, 1 hearts of palm half, 1 radicchio wedge, 1 lime wedge, 1 shrimp, and 1 hearts of palm half. You will have extra hearts of palm to nosh on, or add to the grill as is.
- Place skewers on grill and cook for 2½ minutes per side or until cooked through.
- Serve warm as an appetizer, accompanied by Pineapple Mango Kiwi Salsa
Serves 4 as an appetizer
*Use whatever kind of shrimp is available or that is on sale. Add three to each skewer if you would like if they are smaller in size.
- 1 pint fresh raspberries, rinsed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat until raspberries become soft, using a wooden spoon to crush and stir the berries, about 10-12 minutes.
- Strain mixture through a fine sieve or a colander lined with cheesecloth.
- Let cool and serve.
Makes about 1 cup