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

Happy Birthday Doris

Baking, Photography, Uncategorized

A cake I made for a friend’s grandmas 99th birthday. Happy Birthday Doris.

Vanilla sponge filled with butter cream & summer berry jam. Topped with fresh berries, macarons & fresh flowers.

If you’d like me to make you a cake, please get in touch.

DSC_2574

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

I have a new camera

Baking, Photography, Uncategorized

I’ve really fell out of routine with my blogging, during the summer I had so much free time and a lot more daylight (good for photography) so creating blog posts was fairly easy and a fun thing to do, then I got sucked into the world of work as a recent graduate and found it hard to find the time. However things are looking up and not only that but they are looking exciting. I have now been offered a job from my internship, and am enjoying having my weekends off after working a part time job at the weekends.

I have also FINALLY bought a new camera, lens and tripod. Something I’ve been saying I want to do since my second year of university. I never had the funds, as it is jolly expensive. With spending a lot of money (especially when you don’t have much) comes a lot of consideration and thinking. I finally jumped in though and got myself a beautiful Nikon D810 and a 50 mm lens. I used it last weekend and photographed these delicious brownies and my, is it a beauty of a camera. I’m excited to continue using it to create lots of beautiful images that I’m proud of.

This post is less of a recipe and more of an update of stuff, because sometimes I need to remind myself of what I’m doing and achieving. I’m currently doing some freelance design/photography work which is going well and it’s lovely to know that others think my work is good enough for them to use for their own endeavors.

I also have just entered the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I know that my chances are slim (or pretty much impossible) with the tough competition out there but as my mum says, to be in it to win it you have to play the game (or something like that, if any of you know my mum she has a saying for EVERYTHING).

I’ll leave you to feast your eyes on these delicious brownies, which were a Meringue Girls recipe from their book, ‘Everything Sweet’. They are made with coconut flour, which is a great gluten free alternative (but still taste extremely guilty). I swirled in some peanut butter and added in some frozen raspberries for some added peanut butter and jelly time. (I used to love that cartoon). They are extremely decadent and are in good competition to my go to Thornton’s brownie recipe.

Brownie.jpg

I will promise to try and be better with this blogging thing!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Sarah’s Broccoli, Chilli & Lemon Pasta

Food, Photography, Recipes

Hello lovely readers,

First of all I’d like to thank everyone for their kind responses to last weeks post. I am aiming to be more open and honest on this blog, and just be me, as that’s what it’s all about right? This was the first time I received so many comments from people that actually know me in person, and it was so lovely to know that I have your support and to all the graduates out their, knowing we are in the same boat is tough, and like Daisy said, it’s like being in the middle of a stormy ocean, which is on fire haha but I promise you if we stick it out we will get to where we want to be! So thank you, I’m more positive this week and know that good things will come.

A quote springs to mind of a card I have siting in a frame in my room that my best friend Ally gave me, it says “She waited patiently until happiness surrounded her and good luck lay in piles at her feet. Help yourself she said kindly, good things come to those who wait.”

Last weekend as you know I decided to go and visit my friend Daisy in Nottingham, and I had a lovely time. It was just what I needed to get away from the stress, clear my head and come back to London fighting. It was certainly filled with food & alcohol, so this weeks recipe is a lighter one. On the saturday, we went for lunch at The Pudding Pantry, and then out for dinner to Annie’s a burger joint, then out for cocktails. Sunday we went to the Nottingham Food Festival at Wollaton.We were extremely lucky with the weather and saw John Whaite, and Lisa Faulkner do a cookery demonstration, ate lots of lovely food including BBQ slow cooked brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, and churros, washed down with some Pimm’s! This week I have been applying for jobs & internships, keeping fit to burn off all those calories and keeping positive.

As promised, this weeks recipe is inspired by one of my close friends, Sarah. Through university, particularly in our third year we shared a love of healthy, tasty and experimental dishes. I taught her a few things, as did she, and we also learnt that you can’t make icing for chocolate protein cookies from hot chocolate powder, out of date margarine, milk and water. It doesn’t work, don’t even try it. Ha! Sarah is one of those people who has such a positive outlook on life, really wants the best for herself, and others. She really drives me, and understands my ambitions and helps me to be the best I can. She constantly shares these posts to her friends and circles, and for that I am extremely grateful, so without further ado, here is the recipe…

Recipe Card Final

To keep up to date with my foodie adventures and the occasional selfie please follow my instagram @mariablackstone and for pointless tweets follow me on twitter @mariablackstone (obviously extremely original on the user name front).

I hope you like this recipe, its light and fairly healthy with the half fat creme fraiche, and brown pasta. I couldn’t resist a bit of naughty bacon, plus it looks nice. It makes a change from my love of everything indulgent, and I sure do need it after the weekend I’ve had. If you have any ideas for future recipes, please do drop me a message! I am off out to Prezzo’s tonight for dinner with the girls and will then be back on my job applications at full speed!

Speak to you all next week,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x