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After a bitter-cold, snowy, season, every New Yorker I know is looking for Winter to come to an end, and soon! I was actually going to post this story on Saturday, but then it literally started snowing. Small, airy flakes started descending side-ways from the sky. So here, a story about the End of Winter. Hopefully this is our visual good luck charm for hustling Spring in, and sending old man Winter packing. Photographs by Christopher Testani. Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart. Shot on location in Montauk, NY.

Can’t get enough of Grant Cornett.

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Grant Cornett and I have collaborated on cookbooks and editorial shoots in the past, and it’s always great to work with him!

Here is some recent work I spied of his… These images appeared in The New Times Magazine, March 1st, 2015 in the Eat Column, by Francis Lam. The story was titled “More Than a Name. Learning to cook a Ghanaian Spinach Stew in the Bronx.” The pic above is of Ghanaian Spinach Stew with Sweet Plantains. Photos by Grant Cornett. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop Stylist: Theo Vamvounakis.

Nose to Tail Eating

PigHeadDinnerAftermath ChicharronSalad Above: Chicharron, Radish, and Dandelion Green Salad paired with a Pinot Grigio JaysPigHeadDinner Above: Butter Beans with crushed Tomatoes and Roasted Pork Belly, Beef Bone Marrow with Sweet Cream Butter and Grilled Bread, and Roasted Pigs Head paired with a Beaujolais. JaysPigHeadRaw FriedSmeltAbove: Fried smelt with a Garlic Aioli.

 

I ran into the very lovely and inspiring food writer Melissa Clark last night and she graciously reminded me that I had not posted a single thing in about a year, and where had the blog gone? The answer is this: I’ve had an absolutely insane travel schedule and a thumping great workload which have put me on hiatus from keeping my blog up to date this past year, and it’s true, it’s been neglected and I’m truly sorry. But New Years’ resolutions aside (does anyone make those anymore? And besides… Eek, it’s March, so forget that idea!) I’ve resolved to keep my site up to date with food imagery, tips and cool food ideas and great talent that inspires me, on a much more regular basis. Let’s toast to that!

In that vein, here is a recent shoot from Photographer Justin Walker. It’s inspired by Fergus Henderson’s restaurant: St John, in London. Chef Jay Wolman, who works at Marlow and Sons & Diner, here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, created a memorable Winter Feast celebrating Nose-(or head!) to-tail eating, that involved crispy pig skin, beans and wonderful bone marrow. Inspired from Fergus’ 2013 book, which is not entirely a new concept, but certainly a reminder of the continued importance of eating the whole animal, and looking for ways to wrestle with the ugly bits, to ultimately not waste a single piece.

Enjoy!

Food: Chef Jay Wolman. Styling by Kaitlyn Du Ross. Photography: Justin Walker.

Follow them on Instagram:
Jay Wolman @the_white_bison
Justin Walker @behindthedawn
Kaitlyn Du Ross @babethebluebox

Justin Walker is a commercial and fine-art photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. He specializes in food, travel, and conceptual still-life photography. A native of Durango, Colorado, he grew up hunting, fishing, camping, snowboarding, and spending most of his waking hours outdoors. His childhood always involved a family adventure in the making; from commercial salmon and halibut fishing in Alaska to ranching in southwestern Colorado. The natural world is a foundation of inspiration in much of his work. He now splits his time in between Brooklyn, NY and the Catskill Mountains. With a background in graphic design, his photographic style encompasses a similar clean cut graphic aesthetic.

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Want to see my most recent work? I now have a separate section devoted to just this. Click Here. Or on the page tab at the top marked ‘Recent Work.’

A trip to Vedge, a Vegan Restaurant in Philadelphia.

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Why would you seek out a Vegan restaurant during Winter, when you know that most of the peak produce available would be more plentiful in Summer?

Yet, here I was, on an speeding Acela train to Philly, meeting up with photographer Jason Varney to shoot a March Story for Cooking Light at Vedge restaurant, in December.

I didn’t have high hopes. As a person who prides herself on trying the medium-rare all-beef burger as my measure for how good a restaurant is, I was expecting to fake pleasure at a cold carrot or oooh phony praise at a curry flavored lentil. I really had no idea.

Photographer Jason Varney met me at the train station. He’s one of my favorite people to work with ever; not least because he is a master at capturing the beauty of natural light, but his foppish, red beard shrouds the endearing qualities of one of the kindest men I’ve ever known.

And how was the food? Vedge restaurant didn’t disappoint, from the first extra strong coffee poured for us kindly by Kate, the co-owner, to the final red-wine soaked mushroom, and you can see the results and get recipes to try at home, in the March Issue of Cooking Light magazine. (On newsstands now.)

Photos: Jason Varney
Art Direction/styling: Dimity Jones

To subscribe to Cooking Light, click here.

 

 

Memorial Day Cookout: Pork Butt. (And then some.)


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Everyone’s got to have a plan for the butt… 

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We created a cocktail: A Cucumber and Cardamon Gin Fizz. 

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An 8lb Pork Butt with Bone In, roasted at 300 degrees for 7 hours. 

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Asparagus ready to roast.

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S’mores please. Graham Crackers, with a slab of chocolate and soft and sticky marshmallow, from the hot campfire. 

CampfireBeansPotatoes+©DimityJonesCampfire cookout; roasted potatoes, and Boston Baked Beans

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Better than carving in the tree: A tree drawing. 

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Leftover Roasted Pork. 

boysintree_©DimityJonesBoys; they like to climb trees.

PulledPorkSandwiches_©DimityJonesThe next day, lunch; Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Relish, BBQ Sauce, and Cheddar on Brioche Buns. 

PORK TO DIE FOR:
Mem
orial Day Weekend was spent on the Delaware River, upstate New York. I didn’t have a lot of time to figure out the menu, but inspired by a recent shoot I did for the upcoming issue of Cooking Light magazine, I grabbed a pork butt, (bone in) and started roasting… 3 hours at home on in my oven, and then I threw the pork butt, cooled, in a plastic bag and hauled it up the next day in a car with my son and some friends, to the house where we roasted the butt for another 4 hours. We built a fire, and when crackling and hot, roasted both Purple and Yellow potatoes, some fresh Asparagus and in another cast iron skillet some Boston Baked Beans. A perfect impromptu dinner paired with cool cucumber gin cocktails, sprinkled with powdered cardamon. And for dessert? S’mores and Mint and Chocolate chip Ice-cream. The next day we used the leftovers for pulled pork sandwiches with relish, BBQ sauce, and Cheddar on Brioche buns.

RECIPES:

PORK BUTT: Take an 8 lb Pork Butt. Combine 3 tablespoons of Dark Brown Sugar, 2 big glugs of Chinese style Chili and Garlic Sauce, 1 teaspoon of Mustard Powder, 2 teaspoons of Salt, a teaspoon of freshly ground Pepper. Stab the raw pork butt and stud with slivers of Fresh Garlic all over. (Cut the clove in half, then insert). Rub the sugar/chilli salt rub all over the top. Preheat oven to 410, add pork butt in a baking dish, then reduce heat to 300, for 7 hours. Use an internal themometer, and when the inside comes to 135, and the pork is juicy but tender, remove. The pork will be mild in terms of spiciness, and able to stand up to robust BBQ sauces. Good for kids.

STOVETOP BOSTON BAKED BEANS: Start one day in advance. Let 1 pound of dried Pinto Beans stand in water overnight. Drain beans, set aside. Cook one diced slab of Double Smoked Bacon (like Schaller Weber), about 10oz until crisp. Drain bacon leaving fat and in the fat, fry 1 medium Brown Onion, finely diced. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of ketchup, 1/3 cup of maple syrup, 1/3 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/4 cup Dry Mustard, 2 tablespoons of Molasses or Treacle, 2 Bay Leaves, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped Garlic, 1 teaspoon of Salt, 1 teaspoon of ground Pepper. Pour the softened beans, the cooked onions and crispy bacon mixture into dutch oven or heavy based saucepan on the stove top. Pour over the ketchup sauce mixture, and then add 4 cups of Chicken Stock. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, as it becomes evaporated add slowly another 4 cups of Water, or enough water until the beans are tender and the liquid has thickened, and reduced. About 4 hours. (You can make this ahead and just heat the beans before serving.)

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Pics: Dimity Jones.

 

 

 

Charred Ramps + Asparagus with Baked Eggs + Cream

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What happens when a food stylist and a food photographer get together for breakfast? They decide to shoot what their cooking! Photographer Linda Pugliese and Food Stylist Chelsea Zimmer got together to cook up a breakfast and decided to shoot their Charred Scallion + Asparagus breakfast dish complete with Eggs and Cream. Spring-like and oh-so yummy. A great idea for what to do with Ramps that are currently right in season.Thankfully they shared their shots and recipe with me. Thank you!

Charred Ramps + Asparagus with Baked Eggs + Cream.
1 T butter, divided
4 ramps, cleaned, trimmed + chopped
1 T olive oil
1/2 bunch asparagus, ends snapped
1/2 bunch green garlic, washed + trimmed
6 farm fresh eggs
2 T heavy cream
salt + pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Heat a knob of butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add ramps, a good pinch of salt + pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes until soft. Set aside.
3. Turn heat to high. Coat asparagus and green garlic with olive oil. When pan is smoking, in batches, toss asparagus and green garlic until just render and charred; 1-2 minutes.
4. Throw a knob of butter in the skillet, all the pre-cooked veg and make 6 nests within the vegetables. Carefully crack the eggs into the nests, season with salt and pepper and finish with a drizzle of heavy cream.
5. Cover the skillet tightly with tin foil and bake for 12-14 minutes, just until the egg whites have set and the yokes are still soft. Start checking after 10 minutes.

6. Cut carefully with a sharp knife and serve immediately with buttered crusty bread.

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PHOTOGRAPHER: LINDA PUGLIESE, Click here to see her work. 
FOOD STYLIST CHELSEA ZIMMER, Click here to see her work. 

Yellow Squash Soup with Cured Strawberries

YellowSquashSoup_©GrantCornett
This time last year, in early Spring, photographer Grant Cornett and myself, and his artist girlfriend Janine Iversen, were in Kentucky to work on Edward Lee‘s first cookbook, “Smoke & Pickles. Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen.”

 

The budget was tight, there was no money for props, let alone a prop stylist, so for surfaces we ripped down an old wooden fence, flipped over the bottom side of the backyard BBQ grill, stole the perfect blackened lid off a large soy sauce barrel (thanks Matt Jamie!), used the under side of a few stained cookie sheet pans, and propped up an old bourbon box as a backdrop. For plates, cups and cutlery, Edward literally went door-to-door and stole dinnerware items from his kindly friends. (Thank you good ladies of Louisville!)

 

The adventure began and it was incredible. We visited Edward’s pig supplier; a wonderful couple at Red Dirt Farm in Kentucky, we visited a Bourbon Distillery, a garden in outer Louisville, bars, restaurants, including Fried Bologna sandwiches at Wagners. (See my link here.) the city club, and of course his wine studio where we shot 22 shots a day. It was hard work but fun and when we needed a break we would go out the back door, and lay in the garden and stare at the Fedex planes flying, in 10 minute intervals, over our heads, to places far beyond.

 

The food was put together by Edward, and his team; Nick Sullivan and Kevin Ashworth at restaurant 610 Magnolia who also made our daily lunches. (See what we ate here.) 

 

Edward Lee is one of those rare gems; a chef, a cook, a writer, and a true creative. He has an incredible work ethic, and he’s the real deal. I’m so proud to call Ed a friend. We met about 13 years ago when I was hanging out at his restaurant “Clay” on Mott Street, New York. It was a pleasure to work on his book, and I thank him for allowing me to be part of it.

 

To purchase it, go ahead and click here.
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SUMMER SQUASH SOUP AND CURED STRAWBERRIES
As summer is right around the corner this soup is delicious. I love this pic because it was one of the first shots we did, and it was the surface I loved the best, (the ripped down wooden fence). From Edward: This is s refreshing soup that tastes like Summer in a bowl. The curing process here both intensifies the flavor of the strawberries and cuts the tartness. It gives the berries an almost meaty texture. Pair this with a classic French Sancerre. Serves 8. Recipe © Edward Lee, Smoke & Pickles, Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen. 

 

Soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 pounds yellow squash, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Strawberries:
1 lb fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

 

1) To make the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the yellow squash and thyme and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the squash is soft all the way through. Take off the heat and let cool fro a few minutes.
2) Transfer the soup to a blender, add the sour cream and salt, and puree on high unitl very smooth, about 2 minutes. Check the consistency; if the soup is a little gritty, strain it through a fine mesh sieve. Chill in the refiigerator for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
3) About 1 hour before serving, make the strawberries. Slice the strawberries into 1/2 inch slices and place them in a glass bowl. Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the strawberries and gently toss them with your fingers—making sure not to crush them. Let them cure for about an hour at room temperature; no longer; or they will get too soft.
4) To serve, ladle the chilled soup into bowls. Top each one with a few cured strawberries. Crack some fresh black pepper over the top and serve immediately.

 

Note: Try the cured strawberries on your next cheese plate, or as an accompaniment to a cured meat platter. Cure only what you need at the time, since they do not hold for very long.

 

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To get the Smoke & Pickles Cookbook by Edward Lee, click here.
(Art Direction: Dimity Jones)

Hot Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

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I got up this morning and made 2 dozen Buttermilk Biscuits. It had been weighing on my mind all night. They’re actually for a friends’ birthday party, a foodie-friend, actually the ex Creative Director of Martha Stewart (no pressure!) and while it was the first thing I thought about this morning when I woke, I literally got up, as in a trance, made coffee, and then grabbed a big bowl and started making, and they were done in 30 minutes. Sometimes its better not to think too hard about things and just do it! Begin the motions and before you know it, it’s done. 10 minutes to make them, 20 for baking time and within minutes the house was fragrant with the smell of fresh baked biscuits and I realized it wasn’t even 10 am and the task that was on my mind most of the night was completed. I used a special buttermilk this time and I think it made a huge difference. This recipe is from Alton Brown so it’s foolproof, and easy, and Oh-so-good… I highly recommend getting up tomorrow morning and making everyone a batch of these…. Hot Southern Buttermilk Biscuits, pile them high with lots of Unsalted Butter and Strawberry Jam, or Orange Marmalade which is my favorite… Heaven!

Have a great weekend everyone! x

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HOT BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Recipe from Alton Brown
The recipe makes 1 dozen, I doubled this to make my 2 dozen.

2 cups of flour (I used all purpose)
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt (I used kosher salt)
2 tablespoons of butter (I used Organic Unsalted)
2 tablespoons of shortening (I used Organic All Vegetable Shortening)
1 cup of Buttermilk (I used Amish Country Buttermilk with live probiotic cultures from Eco Meal)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Using your fingertips rub the butter and shortening until the mixture looks like thick crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky. Turn dough onto floured surface, and gently fold dough onto itself a couple of times. Press out to 1 inch think round, cut out biscuits with a 2 inch cutter, be sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet. Reform scrap dough working as little as possible and continue cutting. (Note from Alton: biscuits from the second roll out will not be quite as light from the first but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top. 15-20 minutes.

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Pics: Dimity Jones

 

How to Slaughter a Chicken (and make the dish Arroz Cabidela)

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New York photographer Linda Pugliese, who has deep Italian roots, also has family in Guadeloupe. When her grandmother left Italy in the 1930’s for New York, her sister moved to the south of France and started part of the family there. Her cousin Sebastian, originally from Aux-en-Provence, was recently contracted for work in Guadeloupe (considered the French West Indies, part of France but in the Caribbean, they speak french but the true local language is Creole). Sebastian’s wife is Angolan, and on days of celebration she makes this chicken dish called Arroz Cabidela. The dish, originally from Portugal, requires hanging a chicken upside down so the blood may be captured. The blood is then cooked together with the meat and rice which imparts a cinnamon-y and rich tasting flavor to the dish, similar to blood sausage.
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HOW to SLAUGHTER a CHICKEN and make ARROZ CABIDELA
We have to remember, that every time we pick up a chicken breast at the butcher or even a few tightly packed in a styrofoam container at the supermarket, someone has slaughtered a chicken. Linda who was a vegetarian for 8 years felt she needed to understand further animal slaughter in order to really have the right to eat meat; because as she and I agree; its really important to realize what your’e eating. Bottom line: when you eat meat, you’re eating an animal, that someone, if not you, at some point, has slaughtered. 
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GO!
1. It’s best to have 3 people to slaughter the chicken; One to hold the chicken down. One to slice the neck, and the other to capture the blood. Once the blood is finished draining, the chicken will likely stop moving. (From Linda: As we needed to collect the blood, we didn’t allow it to run around. The chicken is still alive for a few minutes after you cut its head off, hence the famous expression:  ‘Running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off”. Tania held the chicken while my cousin Sandy collected the blood in a jar.)
2. Drain the blood in a jar with finger of white vinegar to sterilize and add flavor. 
3. Boil water in a large pot. Dunk the chicken in the hot water to loosen the feathers. Carefully pluck them, slowly but sternly so you don’t rip all the skin. It’s best to do it one feather at a time.
4. Clean away any dirt from the feet, and the outer layer of yellow skin.
5. Hold the chicken over an open flame to scorch off any remaining hairs.
6. Begin to break down the carcass, beginning at the waste hole (butt hole, if you will, I don’t know how to say this nicely). Cut into it going vertically from the bottom to the neck, being careful to avoid cutting the waste bag or piercing any of the inside digestive organs. Remove inedible organs like the intestines (you’ll want to keep the stomach, bang it with the knife to loosen the contents, cut it open and clean it out, peel away the outside blue-purple skin —this was my favorite part to eat, very tender, then livers and the heart which I think are more familiar to most). There is a bright green bag that you should discard and take care to avoid puncturing. According to Tania, if you puncture this sac, you will have ruined the whole chicken. Once all the insides are out, it begins to look a lot like a chicken you can find in Chinatown.
7. When breaking down the meat, be sure each piece has bone left on it, to ensure there is the most flavor, even breaking bones if necessary. For example, the breasts she cut in half, leaving the ribs attached.
8. Cover broken down chicken with vinegar, salt and warm water, drain, then cover with cold water.
9. Slice two onions and begin to fry slowly in a large pot. Drain the chicken and pat dry, add a few splashes of vinegar (this is used to disinfect over and over through the process, but also adds flavor). Toss the chicken with salt, white pepper, black pepper, 7 crushed garlic cloves, and a few bay leaves.
10. When the onions begin to soften and brown slightly, add the chicken to the pot. Once browned, cover with water, cover the pot and allow to cook for an hour or so on medium low heat (the water should be simmering, not boiling).
11. remove chicken from cooking liquid, add rice. if you need more water to cook the rice, add it, and season. Once rice is almost cooked (10-15 minutes later) add the chicken back in, stir in the blood and cook slowly until the rice has finished cooking. (From Linda: The blood is pretty crucial to the recipe. It adds a cinnamon flavor and richness to the dish, similar to blood sausage. The meat itself was very tender; we killed the chicken and ate it the same day.)
This rice and chicken dish is usually served with a salad of tomatoes and cucumber.
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LINDA PUGLIESE: is a food photographer and aspiring professional pasta maker. Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, she grew up surrounded by sailboats & picnic tables covered in piles of crabs. Her favorite guilty pleasure, is really good vanilla ice cream with a sprinkle of maldon sea salt on top. She will gladly set an alarm hourly through the night to wake up and stir the ragu in winter and could easily live off yogurt topped with blueberry jam. And some days she does. Click here to check out her work.