Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Blockbuster Snack Time....

Unwind With Popcorn

Popcorn is a universal snack choice. Its aroma is unique and unmistakable, in theaters, shops, and at home. It signals a time to relax and enjoy. Certain food is known to help slow you down and relieve stress, and popcorn is one of them.

Specialty popcorn is one of the great products that originate from right here in Chicago. In fact, it's been the official state snack in Illinois since 2003.

A bit of background: Although Native Americans are often credited with first popping corn, there is actually evidence of it in the Far East long before Columbus came in 1492, and archeological speculation that corn was popped in Mexico thousands of years ago.

Then we have the eternal question, why does popcorn pop? The short answer is that pressure builds up inside the kernel, creating an explosion of sorts. Today, specific strains of corn are grown for popping purposes. And we're glad to hear it.

We were privileged to be able to shoot for Garrett Popcorn Shops® and showcase their extraordinary popcorn, flavors and natural ingredients.

Learn more about Garrett Popcorn Shops, a Chicago tradition since 1949.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sticky Sweet S'mores Bars...

Sticky Sweet S'mores Bars

Pan-baked S'mores

What’s the one unique treat that conjures up all your best memories about camp and camping? Just the mere mention of S’mores, or any of its ingredients, recalls a great time in the great outdoors. Forget about the poison ivy, the hard mattress, the bee stings, the long hikes, the Snipe hunts. Toasting S’mores over a crackling fire, then biting into this combo of sweet creaminess and crunch erased all the bad memories, and soothed your aching feet and back.

With staying power stronger than its predecessors, the Mallomar or Moon Pie, S’mores, were enjoyed as early as 1927 – by Girl Scouts no less – as mentioned in their handbook,

“Tramping and Trailing.”

Sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker, a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate melt into a gooey mix that won’t be found in any other confection. There are always modifications or suggestions for improvement – add peanut butter, use a cookie, chocolate chips or even nuts - but the original is still the best.

Until now. Did you know that you could microwave S'mores? Have you ever put one in your toaster oven? Better still, are you aware that it's possible to capture their flavor and texture in a bar?

Try these easy peasy recipes and you'll be amazed and have a couple dozen S'mores to share, without a campfire, long before National S'mores Day on August 10th.   

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pulled Corned Beef on Seared Rye

Irish pub-style

When you go to an Irish pub, whether it’s on St. Patrick’s Day or not, you always hope that you’ll hear an old-timer with an Irish brogue telling a sensational story about buried treasure, leprechauns, luck and some mischief. Then you order your Guinness or Harp and sit back, you can just close your eyes for a minute and let him take you along wherever the story goes.

Suddenly, the aroma of delectable corned beef fills the room and you’re back to reality in the pub, ordering a flavorful sandwich that's stacked high with beef, cheese and just a hint of coarse mustard. This is truly Irish pub heaven.

We wanted to make the shot look like a pub, so we didn’t need a lot of light. We had a large soft source from the right as our main light and a point source from the right as well, to give the image just a touch of sunlight, like from a window. Then, we had another point light source from the back left, as if there was another window on the other side of the pub. We also used a soft light source from above to fill in some contrast.

Make your own -- Pulled Corned Beef & Seared Rye

Drown the Shamrock!

No fuss - no special pour - no waiting.

Harp Lager is a Vienna-style Irish brew that's a leading brand in Ireland. It was created in 1960 by the Guinness Brewery (now called Diageo) in Dundalk, Ireland. According to legend, the Irish celebrants on St. Patrick's Day wore shamrocks on their clothes and took them off at the end of the day to place in their whiskey. We recommend Harp.

St. Patrick's Day is a good time to ponder all its inconsistencies while enjoying a noble brew. First,
St. Patrick was not Irish, second, he started off as an atheist. Next, St. Patrick's Day was a holy day in Ireland -- Irish Americans made it the amusing food and drink fest it is today. And, there is no corn in corned beef. Never mind the irony, by now you should be just enjoying the Harp and laughing about it all with friends. 


 How to Black and Tan

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Scrumptious Snickerdoodles

     Making homemade cookies is always a great idea. Never in history
     has the following conversation been recorded:

     Person 1: "Do you want fresh homemade cookies?

     Person 2: "No, I don't."

Making homemade cookies is both rewarding and very enjoyable. The anticipation, waiting for that timer to ding, is excruciating. As the aroma fills the room, all you can think about is, "How much longer until I can taste that cookie?" This is the reason store-bought cookies were created -- because people couldn't handle the wait. True story, look it up! (Don't actually.)

To light this shot, we used two point-light sources from the back. One light was coming from the left and one from the right. The purpose of these lights was to skim across the surface of the cookies to bring out their texture. A large, soft light source from above filled in the shadows and kept the contrast low. But even with the overhead light, we still needed some light to highlight the main cookie. To do that, we brought in a modeled mirror to reflect the back-lights onto the front of
the cookie. 

Make them now

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The comfort of biscuits

  Everyone loves warm biscuits, fresh from the oven…

When it’s cold outside, a warm biscuit just seems like the natural bread selection to go with most meals or for a special treat. A biscuit is the original comfort food. Take a bite of its crusty golden top and soft, fluffy inside and you’ll be on cloud 9. Pure creamery butter is a requirement, but you might also add some honey.

Biscuits go with almost everything, and in fact, they make ho-hum meals better. You’re in a hurry and have a quick bowl of soup or a quick salad; think how much better each would be with a simple, mouth-watering biscuit!

Biscuits are national and international favorites. Add gravy to a biscuit and you have a proper Southern breakfast food. In England, a biscuit's a cracker and in Canada, it's a cookie. And cooks everywhere are always trying to improve upon the almost perfect. We now have recipes for cheese biscuits, pizza biscuits and the pièce de résistance – bacon biscuits!

Good news, you can actually make perfectly simple and simply perfect biscuits like these in a half hour.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Game Day Menu

We wanted to create a menu for our game day party.  The problem with doing that when you're a photography studio is you can't just have a "word" menu.  We needed a photo menu!

When you have 15 people in your house, nobody wants to take the time to look at and read a regular menu; that takes valuable attention away from the game and commercials. Pass around a photo menu, and people just have to grunt and point.

Whatever you serve for game day, make sure its something good.  As long as its warm, heavy and goes well with beer, you should be good to go.

NOTE: Many of these recipes are already in our archive!