Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Food Fanatic

A few months ago, I was invited to participate in a Weekend Food Styling Workshop led by two food stylists I've worked with and an LA food photographer.  Denise Vivaldo and Cindie Flannigan are industry veterans who've done everything from catered to the stars, consulted on cookbooks and styled commercial food shoots and tv shows.  Their partner in crime was local food photographer Matt Armendariz.  Food bloggers may be familiar with his ever popular blog called Matt Bites.

The workshop was a boot camp of sorts that focused on how foodies can make the most of their blogs by learning how to prepare and style food for the camera.  The first day focused on styling techniques and the second day was devoted to shooting our chosen recipe.  There were about a dozen participants with interesting backgrounds - the former Bon Appetit food editor, a few caterers, a photographer and even a food scientist.

I learned some great techniques and secrets to styling and it was great fun to peruse the photographer's amazing stash of props.  Matt had every color and kind of dish, pot, linen, napkin, spoon, cutting board and knick-knack you could imagine.  I was in heaven.

I decided to keep in simple and bake some scallion biscuits from a recipe I found in Gourmet Magazine.  Some of the other participants were a bit more ambitious and chose more complicated recipes like baked salmon, salads with edible flowers, sushi, etc.

I wanted to keep the image rustic as I imagined these biscuits would be served on an old farm table accompanied by thick slices of bacon and fried eggs.   Anyway, so here's the recipe along with a photo of what I shot on Day 2.  I've also included links to the stylists and photographer in case you're interested in their work or future classes.

Scallion Biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Scant teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add scallions and 3/4 cup milk and stir with a fork just until a dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 6 to 8 times, then pat into an 8-inch square (1/2 inch thick). Cut into 16 (2-inch) squares and transfer to a buttered baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Brush with remaining tablespoon milk, then bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

 **I found that cutting the dough into 16 squares resulted in very small (and not particularly photogenic) rocks, so I cut them into about 8-10 larger biscuits.

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