Food Photography

Tomatoes: Flavors of Summer

I am an unashamed lover of all things tomato. Well, except for tomato juice. That's just plain nasty.

But give me a vine ripe -- preferably home-grown beauty -- a salt shaker, and I have a meal that's perfect for any time of the day or night.

I typically plant three or four tomato plants each spring. I'd grow more, but my husband is allergic to them. Good! More for me. But honestly, the past two seasons have been dismal when it comes to my tomato harvest. Dismal is a generous term. It was downright pathetic. I successfully grew a whopping three, count 'em three, Purple Cherokees (my favorite) and five black cherry tomatoes.

I'm blaming an abnormally cool April that immediately went into a sweltering May with little rain and it stayed like that all summer long. Even with ample irrigation, my crop was pitiful.

According to Wikepedia, the tomato originated in western South America. While many people think it's a vegetable, genetically, it's a fruit. Tomatoes are the edible, often red, berry of the nightshade Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. There are more than 3,000 varieties of heirloom or heritage tomatoes in active cultivation worldwide and more than 15,000 known varieties.

Fruit. Vegetable. Whatever you call it, they're downright delicious.

If you had a bumper crop, send some my way.


Tomato cucumber salad:

This simple salad could not be any easier to prepare. Dice up your favorite cherry tomatoes, add cucumbers (something we did grow in abundance this year), add cubed feta and your favorite herbs (fresh thyme and oregano, all home grown) and toss with Italian dressing (Good Seasons seen here) and salt and pepper to taste.

  Tomato cucumber salad

Tomato cucumber salad

Slow-roasted Beefsteak Tomatoes

The secret to roasting tomatoes....low and slow. These beauties were roasted on a sheet pan in a 200-degree oven for about two hours. I don't really set a time. I usually eyeball them to tell when they're done. Cut beefsteak, or any large meaty variety, into wedges and arrange on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, your favorite herbs (thyme and oregano), drizzle with olive oil (go light) and a balsamic glaze. Once they're done, add more herbs.

The recipe possibilities for these are endless. After I pulled them from the over, I ate 10 standing over the pan.

 Slow roasted tomatoes

Slow roasted tomatoes

Caprese

The only thing simpler than the tomato cucumber salad seen above is caprese: a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. I sliced up red beefsteaks and yellow tomatoes and added fresh mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and a balsamic glaze. Garnish with fresh basil.

The red tomatoes came courtesy of my brother-in-law who has a badass garden and grows hundreds of pounds of vegetables a year. The yellow variety compliments of my mother-in-law. The basil came from my garden. I also made four jars of pesto this year, but that's a blog post for next year.

 Caprese

Caprese

Bruschetta

Some of the best bruschetta I've ever consumed was in Italy. Ever since then, I've been on a quest to find good bruschetta here in the states.

Bruschetta originates as an antipasto (starter dish) from consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt.

I took mine a step further and topped by adding herbed ricotta, roasted cherry tomatoes and topped with fresh herbs, olive oil, balsamic glaze and S&P (salt and pepper). I started with a good crusty, ciabatta. I sliced it on the diagonal and brushed with olive oil. After a few minutes of stove-top searing, I spread a nice thick layer of herbed ricotta followed with the roasted tomatoes and garnish as desired.

This is perfect starter for your next dinner party or even a light dinner all for yourself.

 Bruschetta

Bruschetta

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

I broke my own rule on roasting for this dish. Instead of roasting low and slow, I opted for high and fast. I cranked the oven up to 500-degrees.

Using my $2.00 flea market, cast iron skillet, I added a variety of cherry tomatoes, peeled, whole clove garlic, fresh herbs and a generous amount olive oil. After only 10 minutes, I finished them under the broiler on high for a few extra minutes. The high heat causes the tomatoes to burst, releasing their juices and making it's own sauce.

 Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Once the tomatoes were done, I added a few more fresh herbs and served them atop thin spaghetti topped with shaved Parmesan and S&P to taste. You could also use angel hair if preferred.

 Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

 Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Whatever tomatoes are leftover will keep in the fridge for a solid two weeks. If they last that long.

Food Photography | Chicken | Arkansas Food Photographer

Chicken.

Low in fat and amazingly high in protein, relatively inexpensive and easy to raise on your own, chicken is a staple on the dinner table around the world.

Memorial Day is next Monday and the vast majority of the U.S. are taking advantage of the upcoming long weekend. It's a safe bet that many of us - most of us - will fire up the grill at some point and chicken will be on the menu.

When it comes to the grill, I'll admit that I am a proud charcoal snob. I can hear the collective *gasp* of the gas grill lovers, but sorry, charcoal just tastes better. Simple (and cheap) chicken drumsticks are a perfect evening dinner.

I used the leftovers to make BBQ chicken pizza...more on that below.

 BBQ chicken legs.

BBQ chicken legs.


If anything deep fried is more your flavor, the possibilities with fried chicken are endless. I ate deep fried chicken quite often as a kid, but as an adult, I don't indulge as much except when it comes to the fried chicken sandwich. Thick and juicy, with just a hint of spice, sandwich your perfectly fried chicken breast between a toasted bun topped with, spicy mayo, homemade slaw and bread and butter pickles (my fave) and you have perfection.

 

 Fried chicken sandwich with slaw and pickles.

Fried chicken sandwich with slaw and pickles.


For those with a wicked sweet tooth, here's a twist on chicken and waffles. Use the waffles as the bun and the maple syrup as a dipping sauce and these chicken and waffles sandwiches are a great for Sunday brunch. Or any day of the week.

Warning: this can - and will - get messy, but who cares? It's chicken and waffles sandwiches.

 Chicken and waffles.

Chicken and waffles.


I'm a huge fan of Hoisin Sauce which is a thick, somewhat pungent sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meats. With it's sweet and salty taste, It's also used in some stir fry's and as a dipping sauce. For a twist to the standard BBQ sauce, use Hoisin sauce and make lettuce wraps garnished with scallions and sesame seeds for a fast and easy summertime dinner. Chopsticks are optional.

 Chicken lettuce wraps.

Chicken lettuce wraps.


A favorite for a weekday, a weekend lunch, is the chicken salad sandwich. Chicken salad is one of those items that can be made in bulk and it'll keep in the fridge for several days...if it lasts that long. I like to buy chicken tender strips, add them to a large pot of water and let it come to a slow simmer for just a few minutes. The slow poach yields a wonderfully moist chicken tender that's easy to shred with endless uses.

The uber health conscious scoffs at chicken salad because of the mayo, excessive amount of mayo. It CAN be made healthy and lower in fat with the right substitutions. Try subbing 3/4 of the mayo with nonfat, plain yogurt. Greek yogurt doesn't sub as well. I find it too tangy with a slightly gritty texture. The rest of the ingredients are up to you, but for me, it's a finely diced apples, grapes, chopped walnuts and fresh thyme.

 Chicken salad.

Chicken salad.


After the long Memorial Day weekend is all but a memory, and your fridge is full of leftovers from the grill (if there are any) what can you do with the leftover chicken? BBQ chicken pizza is the perfect solution.

Homemade pizza dough is always best, but if you're not up for making your own, the store bought kind will do just fine. Take any and all leftover chicken, shred finely and add just a touch of your favorite BBQ sauce. The topping are left to your imagination. Sauteed red onions, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh pulled mozzarella cheese with a few ribbons of basil are my favorites. Simple, easy and messy...the perfect pizza.

 Karen E. Segrave | KES Photo

Food photography Chicken

So...what are you having for dinner tonight?

 

 

Food Photography | Dark

ALL THINGS DARK

I not a dark and moody person. Well all know someone like that. Always in a grumpy mood, never looking at the bright side of anything. Glass half empty.

That's not who I am.

But I love LOVE dark food. Not sure why. Maybe it's the dark tones, the deep shadows, the subtle highlights or the feeling it gives when you look at it, but I simply love all things and all foods that are dark when it comes to food photography. It's a nice and fun contrast to one of my earlier food photography projects on madeleines.