Friday, June 25, 2010

Food Stylying Advice from Delores Custer

I've signed a contract with Pelican Publishing to create Scandinavian Classic Baking which will be published in spring, 2011. In addition to developing the recipes I'm also going to be the stylist for many of the photos. There's a photo of every recipe. I know just enough about styling food for photo to know how much I don't know and that it takes an alchemists magic for success.

That leads me back to Delores. I actually met her years ago when she was in Minneapolis for Food on Film, sponsored by the Twin Cities HEIB. I know how much respect she has in the industry and was delighted when she published Food Styling- The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera.

In her 400 page generously illustrated book she covers how to become a food stylist and the importance of food skills in success. In addition she give specific tips for many kinds of food and the ethics involved in showing products honestly. There are many photos showing the same food surrounded by different colors, lighting and props. Beautiful food isn't enough, you must develop an eye.

In addition she provides lists of equipment, tips on selecting produce and much more. My favorite part is the stories she tells of specific shoots and what was involved; she prepared the food held by Paul Newman in a promotion for Newman's Own Diablo Sauce. It was smokin' and so was he, surrounded by fire.

This book is worth the investment for anyone who wants to take great shots of food.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day Favorite

Father's Day oincides with fresh blueberry season almost every year. Because blueberries are abundant, it's a perfect time to bake a blueberry tart. This recipes has been a favorite of mine since I first baked it in the 70's. Because some fresh blueberries are added after baking, their freshness is accented.

It's very easy to bake because the crust is pressed into the pan- you don't have to roll out a pastry dough which can be challenging. Try it and I think you'll agree.

Blueberry Tart with Vanilla Whipped Cream

If you're new to baking you'll like this crust because it is made in the food processor and pressed, not rolled, into the tart pan. Lightly dust your fingers with flour if the pastry is sticky. I like to sift a little powdered sugar on top of the tart after it has cooled. For a special touch top with whipped cream or ice cream.


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut-up
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

3 cups fresh blueberries, divided
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 400°F with oven rack in middle.

Combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a food processor bowl. Add butter and pulse until dough resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. With processor running, add vinegar. Process until dough starts to clump together, about 10 seconds.
Gather dough into a ball and place in center of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Using your fingers, press dough out to the edges of the pan and up the sides. Lightly dust your fingers with a little flour if dough is sticky.

Sprinkle 2 cups blueberries into the tart shell.
Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon in small bowl and mix. Sprinkle evenly over the blueberries.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is bubbling and sugar has dissolved. Remove tart from oven and press the reserved 1 cup of blueberries into the warm fruit. Cool on wire cooling rack at least 2 hours before cutting.
Chill Vanilla Whipped Cream until serving time, then mound over tart.

BAKER’S NOTES: The filling must be bubbling all over in order to dissolve the sugar.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS: The acid in the vinegar helps make the pastry tender. The vinegar flavor completely disappears during baking.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Whole Grains Salads

Here's the link from my TV appearance.

Today I prepared whole grain salads on Showcase Minnesota. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough to fill the time but as usual I have more than enough. I discussed the importance of whole grains and prepared a Wheat Berry Salad.

Tonight I could actually serve 3 whole grain salads for dinner but think that's a bit much. We're going to grill some chicken.

Here's a recipe for Blueberry Rhubarb Crumble from Baking Basics and Beyond. It will complete the summertime menu.

Blueberry Rhubarb Crumble

Fresh, sweet blueberries tame the tartness of rhubarb in this British crumble. Rhubarb is traditionally a sign of spring, and I always buy extra when I go to the farmers’ market or find it at the supermarket. It can be frozen without washing or trimming but should be tightly wrapped.


1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup orange juice, or water

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut-up

Heat oven to 350°F with oven rack in center. Spray bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking dish or 1 1/2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix granulated sugar with 1/4 cup of flour and cinnamon in large bowl. Add rhubarb, blueberries, and orange juice and stir until fruit is well coated. Be careful not to break the blueberries. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
Bake 30 minutes or until juices are starting to thicken and bubble.

Mix remaining 1/2 cup of flour with the brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Crumble over the hot fruit.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes longer or until juices are bubbling and rhubarb is fork-tender. Cool on wire cooling rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store any remaining in refrigerator.

BAKER’S NOTE: Because frozen rhubarb and frozen blueberries are available throughout the year, this dessert can be baked any time. When you are using frozen rhubarb, I suggest chopping the largest pieces. Use the rhubarb and blueberries while still frozen. After adding the topping, you will need to bake about 60 minutes longer.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS: When I serve this dessert warm, I offer it with a little cream.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pizzaria Bianco- Worth the Wait?

We just returned from Phoenix and finally managed to eat at Pizzaria Bianco in downtown. We gave in and waited almost 3 hours for a table. I have never waited that long for anything!!

We arrived at 4:05 for the 5 p.m. opening and were too late to be in the first seating. We learned this at 5 p.m. after the doors opened and the line slowly moved forward. We were the first group that had to continue waiting. Don't forget, it was Phoenix and the temperature was at least 99 degrees F.-- but it's a dry heat and there was some shade. My son was the one who stood patiently in line.

There's a bar in the house next door and we were able to wait inside and have a drink and appetizers. Probably because we had a 7-year old and a 4-year old with us, we had a room to ourselves and had a nice visit while we waited.

Our appetizer was Bruschetta, toasted bread spread with a mild goat cheese and drizzled with olive oil and a little basil. Quality ingredients and very simple!!

We were seated around 7 p.m. and the food came quickly after that. I ordered my favorite Pizza Margarita. The crust was crisp and chewy and toppings were fresh and everyone at the table devoured their pizza.

Was it worth a 3 hour wait? I didn't think it was any better than Punch Pizza in the Twin Cities but maybe I was just disgruntled from the long wait. For me, I think it's all about the wait!