Beth – Sometimes simple objects make the most beautiful photos. When Bette placed these ingredients and props onto the wood table, I responded to the simplicity of the shapes, color and textures.
Bette – I saw the pink/ purple color in the kale that A.J. brought to the shoot and I immediately thought of this pink bowl. I’ve had it for a long time and hadn’t had a chance to use it in a shot yet.
I love the color and how it brings up the color of the veining of the kale. I also love how its edge mimics the kale edges.
The rest of the shot came together once we saw the colors working together.
A.J. – Green garlic, sometimes known as young garlic or spring garlic, is immature garlic that has not yet formed its familiar large white bulb. At it’s earliest stage it is long and slender, looking very much like a green onion. As it matures a small tender bulb forms at the root end. Except for the root and tough green tops, the entire garlic is edible. Green garlic adds a more delicate garlic flavor than it does when mature. Use it raw or cooked but use it quickly. It’s only around for a short time in early to mid spring.
- 3 pounds mussels
- 4 green garlic
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 – 6 slices crusty bread, toasted
- Fresh parsley leaves
- Soak mussels in cold water to cover and remove beards; drain, then soak one or two more times, or until water is free of sand.
- Cut green garlic in half lengthwise, then cut into 2-inch pieces.
- Combine garlic and olive oil in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until garlic is limp. Add white wine, fresh thyme, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Add mussels, cover pot and simmer until mussels have opened.
- Arrange toasted bread in 4 or 6 individual bowls. Spoon mussels and their liquid over the bread, sprinkle with parsley leaves and serve immediately.
Beth – Dark objects are always difficult to light. These mussels were particularly challenging because of the white barnacles and streaks on their shell. The more I brightened the exposure, the more blown out these white areas became.
When faced with these types of objects I find the larger, broader and softer the light the better. I pulled the strobe head far from the V flat I was bouncing light into to create this type of light.
Normally I would use a white bounce card on the right to open up the shadows but found it flattened out the shape and dimension of these mussels quickly because of their reflective quality. My solution was to add a small amount of fill, enough to give dimension to the shells furthest away from the light while allowing some to go black in the shadows. It maintained the feeling and look I was hoping for in this photo.
Beth – Our blog is a labor of love done around our work schedule and responsibilities to our families and friends. Bette was crazy busy so we decided to invite Kira Corbin to our shoot to style the next two blog postings. Below she writes about her passion for props and what she considers and thinks about when styling for a photograph. We loved her point of view and collaborating on all these images. If you want to see more of her work go to http://kiracorbin.com/
Kira – For this story, and all of the lovely work the ladies are doing here on OST, the focus is on the ingredients, so that was my starting point for propping. On the one hand I consider how to represent them well graphically, in terms of shape and color, and on the other in mood and spirit. Green garlic is a spring time treat, the newly born garlic plant shooting up, and the mussels are briny, tender and highly perishable. Freshness and the fleeting feeling of spring are themes here.
To use only white, for the clean, fresh aspect of spring, was an option. But I found some inspiration in the idea that sometimes introducing an opposing color, some sharp contrast, is what will help the eye see the difference, and see each color more clearly. If all of the props in this shot had been white, the food would still certainly pop, but you might loose the impact of the white. That fresh feeling of the white. It might have just all melt away, too neutral. And though food is the star, the props are there to create connotation, environment, mood. Additionally, the introduction of some black and green props merges all of the ingredients together, bridging their aesthetic differences and creating visual cohesiveness, very much how the recipe melds each individual flavor into a unified (delicious!) expression.
A.J. – I love using pancakes for savory preparations. This recipe works well with any smoked fish…….trout, salmon, etc. I was very excited to use the smoked pollock that I found at the Union Square Greenmarket. Occasionally I’ll hot-smoke a piece of salmon using my stove-top smoker. Serve these pancakes as an appetizer but they also work well for lunch or as a light dinner.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- Sea salt
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1¾ cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons melted butter, plus additional for coating griddle
- 8 ounces crème fraiche
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish
- 1 heaping teaspoon grainy mustard
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 8 ounces hot-smoked pollock
- Micro greens, for garnish
- Watercress, for garnish
- Merlot sea salt, to taste
- To make cornmeal pancakes combine flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Stir with a whisk until blended. Heat a large griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat hot griddle with butter. Add one heaping tablespoon of cornmeal batter at a time and brown pancakes on both sides. (Pancakes can be kept warm in a 200-degree oven while preparing rest of the recipe.)
- Combine crème fraiche, lemon zest, horseradish, mustard and sea salt to taste.
- Core, quarter and thinly slice the apple; toss with lemon juice. Flake smoked pollock and divide equal amounts over each pancake. Top with sliced apples, garnish with micro greens and watercress. Drizzle with crème fraiche sauce and sprinkle each pancake with merlot sea salt. Serve immediately.
Beth – Last summer I had the luck of meeting the owners Natalie and Steven Judelson of the Amagansett Sea Salt Co. amagansettseasalt.com. We were renting a house in Amagansett for a week and friends who were visiting suggested we take a look at their operation. Little did I know that we would drive down a dirt road next to a cornfield, to find row after row of wooden structures with black plastic buckets covered with plastic domes set up in a field. Of course I came prepared with a camera albeit a point and shoot and took these photos while we were there.
Natalie and Steven graciously poured us glasses of Prosecco and explained the process of making salt from the Atlantic Ocean just down the block. Natalie provided us with snacks so we could taste the different salts and explained her process for making the merlot salt used in our posting. I highly suggest that to learn about how they make their salt you watch this video where Natalie and Steven explain the process. Amagansettseasalt_vimeo
Bette – These white porcelain dishes are vintage lab pieces by Coors. They are collectible and I love them. I have been collecting them for years and have found them in the most unexpected places. They are not difficult to find at flea markets, and antique stores throughout the country. I love them for their simplicity.
We have carried them in my store ARCHIVE HOME in Nyack. Please visit us at the store or find us on ETSY - archivehome
A.J. – I was enamored with this round cast iron griddle when I saw it at Beth’s studio. It was another great find by Bette. She was about to wrap it up and return it to her studio when I suggested we use it for an OST shoot. I have a small well-used collection of cast iron skillets, griddles, muffin pans, baking pans and covered casseroles. I use them often and for all sorts of frying, braising, bread baking and I occasionally place one directly on a rack over the hot coals of my Weber grill. They are favored by many cooks for their ability to conduct heat evenly. Cast iron is basically indestructible but it’s important to always keep it well seasoned. Keep your eyes open for cast iron pans when browsing through antique shops and fairs. They are usually affordably priced and will last a lifetime.
Bette - My sister, Patti Blau, is a wonderful illustrator, painter, and designer. When we were shooting the recipes with our “focus on fish” entry, the smoked fish was not very pretty no matter how we looked at it. We called Patti and asked her to illustrate something for us. I sent her the images that we shot for this recipe, and she sent me back these whimsical and wonderful illustrations of fish. I love her drawings. She paints interiors, vintage objects, tropical seascapes, portraits, fashion still life, beauty and food. We hope you enjoy her drawings as much as we do. She has a card line writeables.com if you’d like to contact her or see some of her vintage designed cards and or her fine art paintings.