Showing posts with label The Inspired Plate Challenges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Inspired Plate Challenges. Show all posts

The Inspired Plate | December | Cast Iron

I always have mixed feelings this time of year. Our last post usually means changes with our TIP group of gals. We have all grown in our art, our photography and even our businesses. It's a good thing.. but it often means our schedules change and we all can't keep up with the demands. I'm going to miss those gals who won't be participating next year!

This last post of the season is Cast Iron Cookware/ or Favorite pots and pans. My favorites are definitely my cast iron. So.. everything cooked here today has been baked, browned and grilled on three different forms of cast iron. My Artisan Boule bread was baked in an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven, my leg of lamb was warmed/browned in my favorite antique cast iron pan, and my panini sandwhich was pressed and grilled on my cast iron grill and weighted down with a cast iron pan.

So here we go..

Grilled Rosemary Lamb Panini
with Currant Jelly, Spinach and English Cheddar 
on a Fresh Artisan Boule

I hope you enjoy the photo journaling of this recipe.. I enjoyed preparing it just as much as my little family enjoyed eating it!

I used the no knead procedure here. It made a WONDERFUL dough with beautiful air pockets, crunchy crust and a perfectly chewy crumb! The best recipe I have yet used for bread!

Baked in an enameled cast iron pot. So easy and quick!!

Mmmm.. perfect loaf!!

This pretty little piece of pottery is from my daughter Kat, who bought it for me at her college's Art Department Christmas Boutique. She bought it specifically for my photo stylings. :) I love the colors and have decided these shades really do need to appear more in my photo shoots!

I made a rosemary & herb crusted roasted lamb for Christmas dinner. It was SO moist and made the perfect grilled panini sandwiches!

Spread a hearty helping of currant jam on the inside slices of bread, thick slices of English cheddar cheese, good sized portions of lamb slices. Spread butter on outsides of bread. Place on hot cast iron grill and place a heavy cast iron pan or pot on top to weight it down. Turn over to grill on other side. When done add spinach.. Voila!

Be sure to head on over to see what my dear friend Stacey Siegal | Kitchen Serendipity | Longobat Key & Bradenton FL Photographer is cooking and photographing! 
And check out her beautiful recipes and food photos when your there.. this gal can cook!! :)

Till next year.. 
Buon Appetito!! 

The Inspired Plate | November | A Casual Holiday Breakfast

Welcome to The Inspired Plate. It's the Holidays and we're shooting special foods styled in a holiday setting! I chose breakfast because the aroma of the apples and spices lingering in my house with this granola preparation always puts me in the mood for music, baking and hot tea! I can't believe another year has gone by! Starting January, we'll be celebrating 3 years with The Inspired Plate. So if you're a professional photographer with a niche for food.. definitely email us and let us know! Or visit us at our Facebook Page and leave us a comment!

Casual breakfasts are the key to a stress free day here in our household, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. At least once a week I make a big batch of this granola. This is an adapted recipe that my mom happened to get from one of the cooks at our church's, (Calvary Chapel) Retreat Center here in our local San Bernardino Mountains.

What I love about this granola is the ease of changing the flavor with just a different combination of fruits, nuts and spices. My husband and I like ours with plain greek yogurt and fruit, while the kids prefer there's with milk.. and sometimes as a snack in a baggie for their lunches. This shoot was photographed using a wonderful cranberry sauce, "Crushing Cranberry" that my friend Cheryl made. She made around 200 jars for our church's Christmas Boutique. The best Cranberry Sauce with the essence of orange I've ever had!

Here is the simple granola recipe.. and please don't forget to make your way over to see the rest of the gals' festive food fare! Next up is my dear friend Kim Kelly, San Diego Food Photographer. Her amazing recipes never disappoint!

Laurie's Homemade Granola
Adapted from CC Conference Center Twin Peaks Kitchen
1 Cup Almonds
1 Cup Shredded Coconut
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
6 Cups Old Fashion Oats (not quick oats)
**Chopped Apples
1 Cup Honey
3/4 Cups Salad Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine almonds, coconut, cinnamon and oats. Mix well.
In a small saucepan, heat honey and oil to simmer, add to the oats mixture
stirring to mix. Divide between two 9x13 or so, baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Add chopped apples, stir. Bake an additional 10 minutes. When granola is cool, store in sealed containers.

** For this Holiday Granola; I made it with the slivered almonds, chopped apples, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Perfect for our breakfast celebration! But I often substitute *soaked raisins or dried cranberries with a variety of nuts and spices.

* For soaked raisins; Put your raisins in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them steep for 5-10 minutes or over night, and then drain them thoroughly. 

The Inspired Plate | Fall Dishes | October Challenge

Fall with it's golden umber hues and blush burghandies create a perfectly dressed holiday table. 
Here on The Inspired Plate we're capturing the perfect collection of color and epicurean delights to get you ready for a season of cooking simple or fancy. 

This month's Food Photography challenge was to create and shoot our favorite Fall dish. 
Salads are all the rage in my household since the year 2013 began, and i'm planning on ending it too with my favorite produce and edible accouterments. 

Start your festivities by grilling up some acorn squash, asparagus and red pears and tossing them on a bed of arugula and romaine lettuce leaf. I added goat cheese drizzled with a fig dressing, a few pecans for crunch and some rosemary baguettes sliced and drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven till golden. For the dressing mix olive oil and a fig jam together till a smooth consistency is achieved. This salad was amazing!! 

Fresh sage from my garden was the herb of choice here..  I used it on the acorn squash when roasting. 

For the fig sauce, I buy Dalmatia Fig Spread from Fresh and Easy stores here in So. Ca.  I also brushed fig dressing on the pears before roasted them...

...and drizzled over the goat cheese before adding to the salad.

Please head on over to our TIP Photographers, Stacey Siegal | Sarasota-Bradenton FL  Food Photographer  and Tammy Bilodeau, Whitecourt, AB Photographer to see their interpretations of our photo challenge! I already to a peek and can assure you, you will LOVE what they have to share!

Buon Apetito!

The Inspired Plate | Fresh From the Market | August 2013

Welcome to August's issue of The Inspired Plate's food photography challenge. This month in the heat of the Summer we're tackling "Fresh from the Market". I chose one of the hottest days to drag my poor husband and daughter to Old Town Temecula. As fun as it was browsing the vendor stalls.. we were literally there to pick up our herbs and produce and get back to the cool of the truck.

This time around I had a recipe in mind.. an Argentinian Pesto called "Chimichurri" to go on our grilled salmon. The sauce is a tangy blend of parsley, oregano and basil blended with garlic, red wine vinegar, red peppers, shallots, olive oil and lemon.

We made a wonderful salad from a beautiful bunch of red leaf lettuce and baby spinach that I also picked up from the Temecula Farmers Market. Added grilled corn, avocados and a balsamic vinaigrette.. and topped it with the Chimichurri topped salmon. So Good!

Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce
(adapted) Recipe courtesy Bob Blumer Food

1 cup lightly packed chopped "Italian" parsley
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/8 cup fresh chopped basil leaves

2 tablespoons shallot or onion, minced
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Place all chimichurri sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until well chopped, but not pureed. Refrigerate till your ready to use.

Make sure to visit my dear friend Sabrina Wong, Perth Food Photographer. I know she'll have some wonderful photos to share! Also make your way around The Inspired Plate's circle. I love our gals!! Ciao!!

Seasonal | The Inspired Plate | Strawberries and Cream

Seasonal was this months challenge for The Inspired Plate team, I wasn't going to participate this month, and actually am a day late, but my sweet girlfriends from TIP linked me in anyway! LOVE them!!! We had a seasonal lunch treat yesterday for my kids.. Strawberries fresh from the garden! 

The TIP gals cooked and baked up some delicious treats for your eye pleasure.. please make your way over to check out their gorgeous photos! My friend Kat Clark ALWAYS has something delicious cooking up.. her family is totally blessed!! :)

Strawberries and Cream

Fresh Strawberries
Whole Cream
1/2 tsp. Sugar (as needed) I use NuStevia 

Clean and slice strawberries.
Add cream.. start with a 1/4 cup. Add more if you like it saucy! :)
Add sugar if needed. The cream has a naturally sweet taste so you don't need much at all. 

Laurie xo

The Inspired Plate | Frozen Dessert | June 2013

Welcome to The Inspired Plate's, June edition of our food photography challenge!  This month.. and just in time for the heat of summer, we celebrate with Frozen DessertsI think I can safely say this was a favorite! Everything came together without stress and time constraints, and, I even had my mom's drawer of beautiful serviettes to chose the perfect color napkin to go with the berry colored palette. Thanks Mom!! :)

This is the most simple of desserts! A gluten free tart, strawberry ice cream and fresh berries with a frosty dash of powdered sugar. Pretty and tasty! The gluten free crust is an almond shortbread crust recipe that I have used many times and absolutely LOVE! It makes for a great afternoon tea cookie too. :)

Gluten Free Tart with Strawberry Ice Cream and Fresh Berries

Gluten Free Almond Shortbread Crust
1.5 Quarts Strawberry Ice Cream
2 Pints 2 varieties of Fresh Berries (cleaned and dried)
Powdered Sugar for dusting top
Tart Pan

Gluten Free Almond Shortbread Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup fine almond flour (meal)
1/3 cup “gluten free” *all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt

For Shortbread Crust

Pre-Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Pulse almond flour with sugar in a food processor, add cornstarch, gluten free flour and salt. Pulse till well combined. Add butter and vanilla, mix just enough for the dough to start gathering together. Lightly butter the bottom of a tart pan or a cheesecake pan and up the sides a quarter of an inch. Press the shortbread mixture on the bottom. Pierce with a fork. Bake the crust in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. (till golden)

Have ice cream ready at a soft stage but not melted. When tart shell is cool, fill with ice cream, blending with swirls. Put back in freezer for 20 minutes. When ice cream is firm, take out of freezer and top with fresh fruit and dust with powdered sugar. It's ready and yummy to enjoy at this point! 

I've missed my TIP girls these past few months! I had been so busy that I really haven't been able to participate in the challenges. I'm so glad to be sharing this month and I can't wait to see all the frozen dessert photos! With fourth of July coming up.. I'm sure I'll have plenty ideas for an extravaganza sweet!

Please now visit my friend 
Sabrina Wong, Perth Food Photography! This girl is my favorite gal down under and talented!!!!! Oh my! She is also a med student and still finds time to travel the world and shoot beautiful photography! After visiting her.. make your way through the circle to see the rest of The Inspired Plate!

The Inspired Plate | April Challenge | Snack Foods

This months Inspired Plate photo challenge is "Snack Food" with a story! My story.. a family reunion to celebrate my mom and dad turning 80!! What a glorious time we all had! The snack.. ahem, "healthy dessert", was a trifle in a jar!

Our celebration was held in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, where two of my sisters live. We had a few days of play and scavenging the country side, hiking and picnicking to boot! I must admit, I was pretty busy this trip and took my camera out of it's bag just a few times!

Here we all are, our happy Italian family! From left to right, my little sister Faith, Laurie (that's me), Mom, Dad, Valerie and Cynthia! That's us. I love my family!! xo

My sister Valerie's family top left, and my mom and dad with a few of the Granddaughters'. We were missing quite a few of the Grandkids, whether at work or away at college, their presence was surely missed!

Sweet cousins who drove up from Southern Cal. It was wonderful to see many of them too!

Our sweet sister Faith and her darling husband Jeff hosted this shindig at their casa over looking the Santa Barbara coast and mountain range. It was a spectacular view! 

These boys aren't camera shy at all! My nephews Matt and David with my brother in law Mike! 

My sisters and I. Photo courtesy of my niece Ashley Cimino! 

I hope you enjoyed a little of my "Snack Food" story through these photos! Now be sure to head on over to my sweet Southern California girlfriend's blog, Allison Jacobs, Orange County Food Photographer, to see her take on "Snack Foods"! 


The Inspired Plate | March Challenge | Breakfast

This month The Inspired Plate is celebrating our monthly challenge with "Breakfast".
I know this looks like a simple breakfast.. with not too many ingredients, but I so often eat alone
in the mornings after the kids have all gone to school and this for me is quick and satisfying. A soft cooked egg, thinly sliced and buttered sourdough toast.. perfect for dipping, and a cup of tea. 

A few of the gals added a challenge element to their photos, Morning Sunlight. The top photo was shot early in the day with my place setting in front of the light source. Creating a "Backlit" effect. I love the warm glow it gives and you can almost see a faint outline of the trees in my backyard.

I had so much fun shopping for props this month. Spring is definitely in the air and all the beautiful hues of yellow, pink and lavender set the tone for this place setting beautifully. I LOVE this tea cup and saucer. And this egg cup.. so adorable! Right before Easter isn't really the best time to be looking for egg cups. I scoured the antique market and probably spent 3 hours perusing the aisles to find one that would match this lovely tea set. But, I have an idea that many hostesses thinking of serving soft cooked eggs on Easter.. and throughout Spring, was a very good idea!

My garden is in bloom with a variety of lavender plants and daisies. I just love this pop of color streaming through my kitchen and family room windows!

Soft Boiled Eggs are easy to cook. Take out your eggs ahead of time and allow them to come to room temperature. This will prevent them from cracking when you put them into the water. Boil water in a small saucepan. Make sure you have at least 3/4 of the pan filled. Bring to a rolling boil. Lower temperature to medium high, carefully place eggs in water. Allow them to come back to a soft boil. (not simmer) Cook exactly for 4 minutes for firm whites and a soft yolk. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy with your favorite toast! I drizzle my sourdough toast with honey. yum. I love the salty savory taste with the sweetness of a little honey! :)

Please be sure to head on over to Stacey Siegal | Bradenton FL Food Photographer. I am sure she will have some beautiful and scrumptious photos and recipes to share! My lucky friend sits pretty on the warm beaches of Bradenton and rocks her camera! She is SO talented and it is a privilege having her join us for a second year!

Ciao and Buon Appetito!

The Inspired Plate | February | Eggs

Welcome to The Inspired Plate’s February edition of our monthly food photography challenge. Today we are celebrating the “Egg”.  This was a last minute photo shoot for me and I needed to make something quick! With the cold weather we have been experiencing ‘Egg Flower Soup’ sounded like the perfect choice! Although.. I really wasn’t pleased with the lack of “egg lustre”. Eggs really are the prettiest subject matter and I had to at least offer a photo in it’s traditional form. So, a Sunday afternoon brunch dish of ‘Eggs with Andouille Sausage and Fried Potatoes’ made a quick appearance on my photo table too. 

The recipe for the Egg Flower Soup is as simple as a few cups of chicken broth and stirred up eggs. It goes as follows;


4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Tsp. White peppercorns finely milled
1 Tsp. Freshly grated ginger, or ground dried ginger
2 Tbs. Corn starch plus water to make a thin slurry
2 eggs well beaten with 2 teaspoons of water
2-3 green onions sliced
(Sea Salt if needed)
Chow-Mein Noodles

Heat 4 cups of chicken broth. Meanwhile, clean and slice green onions and set aside.
Make the cornstarch slurry by adding a few teaspoons of water the cornstarch. Set aside. Add pepper and ginger. Stir till simmering. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir till it thickens a bit. Let come to a gentle simmer and then turn the heat off.
Give the eggs and water another quick whip.. Take soup pot off of the heat. While stirring the soup around, slowly add the egg mixture in a thin stream. The egg will cook in thin shreds. Mix in your green onions and top with chow-mien noodles. Enjoy!! :)

I hope you enjoy our challenge round this month. I am so excited to see what the rest of the gals are sharing today. I'm also excited to share with you, my friend Jayme Franklin | Family Portrait and Film Photographer, has come to join our team. I first met Jayme a few years ago when we shared in a few other personal photo projects. I am SO glad that she has finally taken the foodie plunge!!! Welcome Jayme! xoxo

Now make sure you head on over to my Southern California comadre (girl-friend), Kim Kelly | San Diego Photographer and Writer!! If I haven't told you before, I LOVE this gal and she is an amazing cook, travel and food writer as well as photographer! Please leave her a sweet note, and then make your way through the Inspired Plate Circle!

And here is our Cajun style Sunday Brunch with spicy Andouille Sausage, Fried White Rose Potatoes and Eggs Sunny Side Up! 

Laurie V.