Food Styling & Photography Masterclass

Food, Photography

Hi everyone,

Last Saturday (17th) I was lucky enough to attend a masterclass in food styling & photography run by the Guardian. After a bit of a shock alarm (not used to an early wake-up call on the weekends) I got up and headed to the swanky Guardian offices at Kings Cross.

After a cuppa, we made a start. We all introduced ourselves – lots of professional photographers, beginners & all levels in between but we all had one thing in common though I think, which was enthusiasm. We were then introduced to the lovely ladies running the masterclass – Jill Mead; Photographer & Rosie Reynolds; Food Stylist. They made everyone feel so very welcome. I learnt lots of tips in the talks they gave us & it was so lovely to hear them talk so passionately about their subjects.

Figs.jpg

We then had a practical demonstration, where I picked up some tips on lighting & a bit about the best lenses to use. I now want a macro lens so I better get saving those pennies. I also did however, feel that I knew quite a lot of what was being spoken about which was great for my confidence as I don’t always believe in myself. All my practising and constant research is obviously working!

After lunch (which was fabulous, I had mushroom stroganoff, salad & chocolate cake) we started to take our own photos. We bought along a selection of our own props and were provided with some scones, fruit & veg, jam etc. I didn’t really feel like my practical session was on my side that day, I took a few photos but I think the most valuable part of the day for me was the talks in the morning and in fact sharing my knowledge & ideas with others & looking at others work & finding out about what they do. I wasn’t at all disappointed that my practical inspiration wasn’t on my side that day, as I gained so much!

I am looking forward to going on a shoot with Jill at some point in the near future.

For lots more foodie pics & to see what I get up to follow my Instagram –  @mariablackstone or Twitter.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Plum Jam

Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

One of life’s simple pleasures has got to be a slice of hot, buttery toast & homemade jam served with a cup of tea, or coffee on a drizzly weekend morning. Lazing around the house, in comfy clothes watching the rain drops fall on the window.

This jam for me was a bit of an experiment. I went to Garson’s Farm & picked some plums & bought some apricots from their amazing farm shop. The apricot jam, which funnily enough I thought would turn out better isn’t quite right. However, I’ve decided that you can buy it in the shops & it’s much less hassle. This plum jam however, tastes amazing which is good news, as I made about 5 jars.

I thought jam making would be quite easy, but turns out it was quite a stressful experience for me. I had to boil my jam for a fair amount of time, to bring it to the consistency needed. It was so worth it though …

 Ingredients

  • 1kg plums (I used Victoria plums) stoned & quartered
  • 1kg white, granulated sugar
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100ml water
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • knob of butter

Method

  1. Begin by sterilising your jars, I washed mine in hot soapy water then placed them in a low oven to dry. Keep your jars warm here until you are ready to fill them.
  2. Place the plums and the water in a large saucepan, and cook on a low heat for about ten minutes until the plums start to soften.
  3. Add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon to the pan.
  4. Dissolve the sugar slowly, without boiling the mixture. This takes about ten minutes.
  5. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to a rolling boil, and cook until reaching a jammy consistency. This is 105*c on a sugar thermometer. You can also test it, by putting some plates in the freezer, and spooning some mixture on the cold plate and leave to cool. It should wrinkle slightly when you push it with your finger. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes, but it actually took me about 25 minutes.
  6. When ready, take off the heat and stir in the butter – this helps to disperse any scum on the top. Leave to cool for about 10 – 15 minutes and then ladle in to your hot jars. Screw on the lids straight away to seal them, and leave to cool.
  7. Serve on hot buttered toast, or spoon into the bottom of a pastry case and top with almond cake filling for a delicious twist on a Bakewell tart.

It makes great gifts for Christmas, simply add a homemade label with some ribbon, or be greedy and keep all the jars for yourself.

Enjoy!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

 

Dippy Egg Cakes

Baking, Food, Photography, Recipes

Easter may have come and gone but this recipe is perfect to use up those mini eggs and indulge just once more before we get back to working on our summer bodies! Easter is usually all about chocolate, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE chocolate, but the Creme Egg brownies have been done so I wanted to go down a different route. Easter is also about spring, yellow is the colour that comes to mind for me – daffodils, tulips and Easter chicks!

These cupcakes are inspired by the humble dippy egg, seeing as Easter is all about eggs! They have a surprise centre. A delicious, tangy lemon and passion fruit curd, that ooze like a dippy egg when cut, or bitten in to. There are a few parts to the recipe, but these can be made the day before, and assembled the next day. After all holidays are about being relaxed and fun, so why not get in your kitchen and have a go.

Makes 12

Ingredients

Sponge

6oz butter/margarine

6oz caster sugar

3 eggs

6oz self raising flour

Tsp lemon extract

Lemon curd 

I only used half for this recipe, but why not serve the rest with some meringues and cream, or spread on toast?

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

65g sugar

90g butter

4 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

4 passion fruits

Frosting

100g White Chocolate

140ml double cream (I used half an elmlea carton)

Method

Lemon Curd

1. Add the zest, juice, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan, and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.

2. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, once the mixture in the pan has melted I added this to the egg yolks and whisked. How about making some Easter chick meringues with the left over egg whites?

3. Add this back to the saucepan and whisk continuously on a low heat until thickened, and bubbles start to appear. Ensure you whisk all the time, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled egg!

4. Pour this into a heatproof bowl, and cover with cling film, making sure the film touches the curd directly, to stop a skin forming. Once cool enough refrigerate.

5. Once cool, scoop the flesh of four passion fruits and stir into the curd, set this aside in the fridge until ready to use.

Frosting

1. Melt the white chocolate, you can either do this in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave. If using a microwave, ensure you don’t burn the chocolate as it has a high sugar content.

2. Add the cream to the chocolate and using an electric whisk (or a hand whisk and some muscle) whisk the mixture till light and fluffy. It should be thick enough to resemble a light buttercream. Be careful not to over whisk, otherwise the cream will split.

3. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Sponges

1. Preheat the oven to 180 or 160 fan and line a 12 hole cupcake pan with 12 cases.

2. I used a kitchen aid, but you can use an electric whisk or do it by hand. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between to ensure each egg is encorporated to avoid curdling. If it curdles, add some flour and continue. Mix in the lemon extract at this point. I used a Sainsburys taste the difference one.

4. Add the flour, and mix enough to encorporate all the flour, but don’t over mix other wise your cakes will be tough.

5. Spoon the mixture into the cases, and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until light and springy, and a skewer comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Assembly

1. Using an apple corer, or a knife cut out a hole in the centre of each cake. The deeper the more lemon curd you can fit in! Yummy!

2. Fill the holes with the curd, you can use a piping bag or a teaspoon. I found the curd was fairly runny, so using a teaspoon was easier than a piping bag.

3. Top the cakes with a spoonful of the frosting, and smooth over with a pallette knife. I aimed for a dome, to look a bit like an egg shape.

4. Top with freeze dried raspberries, and mini eggs. However, you can top with whatever you like. This for me is what baking is about! I like the tang of the dried raspberries, but you could top with a little fresh passion fruit, some flakes of white chocolate or whatever you fancy!

Check my other post for instructions on how to make the Easter chick meringues, 🐥🐣.

I hope you get in the kitchen and have a go at these, it seems complicated, but if you take it in steps its achievable  and you can impress all your friends. Feel free to send me pictures of your bakes!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Spiced Rhubarb Compote

Food, Photography, Uncategorized

It’s that time of year again where gorgeous pink rhubarb is in season. I love roasting it and revealing its beautiful vibrant pink colour oozing with sweet juices infused with clementine, vanilla and spices.

I stumbled upon this recipe which I adapted from Waitrose when I was creating work for one of my final year projects at university. I created large arrangements from a recipes ingredients. The series is entitled Don’t Play With Your Food’ and depict a recipe’s ingredients arranged in a way to express the beauty of natural foods – their different colours, shapes, textures and characters. The other recipes I chose were Lentil Curry, Summer Fruits with a Lime, Mint & Vanilla Syrup, a Blood Orange & Beetroot Salad, and a Pistachio & Pomegranate cake. You can view the series here. The series stems from my passion for food and cooking. The images highlight that food is fun and enjoyable and aims to encourage people to think about the food that they eat in a similar way.

I adapted the recipe slightly – using some signiture spice from Waitrose, that was left over from Christmas. I substituted the cinnamon stick and star anise for a teaspoon of this.

Ingredients – see the original recipe here

  • 1 pack of rhubarb – cut into 5-6cm sticks
  • 2 clementines – one peeled, both cut into 1 cm slices
  • 1 vanilla pod – split lengthways with the seeds scraped out
  • 60g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Waitrose signature spice (or you can use a mix of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg etc)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200*c or 180*c fan.
  2. In a roasting dish, add the rhubarb, clementine slices, sugar, vanilla (seeds & pod).
  3. Cover the roasting dish with tinfoil and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, add the maple syrup and return to the oven, this time uncovered and roast for a further ten minutes until the rhubarb has softened slightly and it’s perfectly pink surrounded by the cooking juices.
  5. Leave to cool and then enjoy!

This is perfect served for breakfast on top of yoghurt, the vivid pink rhubarb and its juices bleeding into the bleak white of the yoghurt. I tend to blend my rhubarb with a stick blender as my mum and I prefer the smooth consistency. For a dessert idea swirl some rhubarb through natural yoghurt or whipped cream and serve with meringue. It’s simply delicious.

Happy Tuesday!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Freshly Baked Bread

Baking, Food, Photography, Uncategorized

Nothing quite beats the smell of freshly baked bread filling the house. My dad is the bread baker in our house (sees himself as a bit of a Paul Hollywood, which is funny as he’s actually called Paul. He has taken over from mum and this loaf he made this weekend was pretty spectacular.

BreadBread 2

I decided to change things up on here, post pictures and maybe even some short films of food & things (especially now I’ve got my new camera). So there won’t always be a recipe but I’m hoping this small change will allow me to post more, be more creative and give you recipes that I’m really proud of, rather than rushing to put something crummy up (excuse the pun). If I don’t like this new way of doing things I’ll change it back!

A girl with a creative appetite,

Maria x

Mulled Wine Jelly

Food, Recipes

Hello,

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, filled with lots of food & love. I’m apologising for the lack of posts in the past couple of months. I got a new internship, and was working 7 day weeks for a while, but I have now left my weekend job and for once in a very long time feel settled and fairly happy. I am loving my internship & am looking forward to what 2016 holds for me. I have set my self some personal goals, I’d like to remind my self that these aren’t simply New Year’s resolutions that won’t make it past January. Instead goals that I’d like to aim for and hopefully achieve by the end of the year. I’m not going to beat myself up about them if I don’t complete them, as I don’t know what life holds but I will work incredibly hard for them.

Onto the recipe, which is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. If you have any left over red wine from the heavy festive period, or any cream left over from all those desserts then this is the perfect recipe for you. I used a bottle of mulled wine (the type that’s already infused and spiced) but you can use some red wine and add those festive flavours, such as cinnamon, star anise & cloves. To his recipe I added a clementine, mascarpone cream, which was actually left over from the filling of our Christmas Eve yule log. But just use what you have, double cream is fine!

Ingredients

300ml red wine or mulled wine
300ml cranberry juice
50g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
A grating of fresh nutmeg
2 clementines
5 gelatine sheets
4 tablespoons double cream
Zest of 1 clementine
Icing sugar to taste

Method

  1. Place the wine, cranberry juice, sugar and cinnamon in a large pan. Add the nutmeg and prick the clementines with a fork. Add to the pan and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved. If you’re using plain red wine you will want to leave the mixture to infuse.
  2. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. Bring the wine back to a simmer (if you let it infuse). Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and add to the simmering wine mixture.
  3. Stir well until the gelatine dissolves. Combine both mixtures and pour into 6 glasses.
  4. Set in the fridge.
  5. To serve, whip your double cream to soft peaks, add icing sugar to your desired sweetness & add in the zest of one clementine. Dollop on some of your cream & serve with friends & family!

Mulled Wine Jelly 1

Enjoy the next few days & have a lovely new year.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Apple, Thyme and Lemon Sausage Rolls

Baking, Food, Recipes

Christmas isn’t complete with out an abundance of homemade sausage rolls. I always have the intention of making them to last over the holiday, but in reality I’ve eaten about 6 before they’ve even gone cold! I pack the rest of them away in an airtight container, and pick at them throughout the festive period. Knowing that I don’t need a sausage roll, nor do I really want one, but at Christmas you just eat and eat, because you can. Christmas time is all about over indulgence, because you know January is approaching and its going to be all about resolutions, healthy eating and working off these tasty sausage rolls in the gym!

I like to flavour my sausage rolls, this year I went for pork, apple and thyme. I love pork and apple, a classic combination, the sweet apple complements the rich pork. Thyme is a herb that also works well with the apple. If you made my apple and thyme sauce, and had any left over – you could put this in, instead of the apple.

Ingredients

1 apple – (I used a Nutribullet to make a pulp, you could use a few teaspoons of my apple sauce recipe, a food processor, or chop finely with a knife)

2 tsp dried thyme

Zest of 1 lemon and a few drops of lemon extract ( I use sainsbury’s taste the difference – the extract is optional, but adds a more intense lemon flavour, without adding liquid from the juice)

450g good quality sausage meat (I used my local butcher)

1 block of ready made all butter puff pastry (You can use filo pastry for a lighter version, but it is christmas after all!)

1 beaten egg for glazing

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, or 180 fan.

2. In a bowl, mix together the sausage meat, apple, thyme, lemon and seasoning with salt and pepper. Mix well to ensure the mixture is evenly incorporated. I tend to fry off a little of the mixture in a pan to test seasoning and flavour, you can then adjust accordingly.

3. With a rolling pin, and a little flour, roll out the puff pastry, to about 3-4mm thick, and keep it fairly rectangular. You want to then cut this in half so you have two long rectangles. If you wish to have smaller sausage rolls, you can cut this into three.

4. Divide your mixture and place in a long thick line down the middle of the pastry.

5. Roll the pastry up to encase the sausage mixture. Ensuring the pastry is sealed well.

6. Chill the long rolls in the fridge, for about half an hour.

7. Slice the long rolls into pieces – dependant on how big you like your sausage rolls. Place on a baking tray, I lined mine with silicone mats, you could use greaseproof paper. I snipped the top of each roll with scissors, purely to make them look nice.

8. Egg wash the rolls, and place in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the sausage meat is cooked. The bigger your sausage roll, the longer they may take.

9. Take out of the oven, and let them cool on a wire rack. (If you can wait that long) Serve to friends and family, or devour too many of them by yourself!

Enjoy! Have a lovely Christmas

Sausage Rolls

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
Maria x