Monthly Archives: July 2015

Food Photography – some Tips and Tricks

Food Porn is definitely a ‘Thing’!

Instagram is thriving because we love looking at beautiful food pictures. It does not only create cravings but also presents a lifestyle – healthy food, convenient food, comfort food, etc. Great food photography makes people want to be part of the bigger picture. I mean is it really about the Chewy Sultana Cookies that Deliciously Ella makes? I doubt it. It is about her, her story and philosophy, her lifestyle that inspires people to live healthier lives. But to buy into a story like this, we want to see lovely pictures that help us visualise what we could have – and she does that pretty well.

My food photography is not the greatest (yet!) but I am working on it. 🙂 A year ago I treated myself to a really nice DSLR Sony camera, which I use a lot for my pictures. However, you don’t need heavy equipment anymore or spend a fortune on an excellent camera. Thanks to all those new Photo Editor Apps, ‘photoshopping’ has become pretty easy and made food photography a lot more accessible. But there is more to a good picture than changing the filter and adding some fake highlights.

I recently attended a workshop by Echo Food Sessions in collaboration with Grub Club , who invited professional photographer and Instagram enthusiast Isabelle to lead a workshop on how to do great food photography for your business using the simplest of tools – your phone and Instagram. The Grub Club has summarised some of her top tips:

Get Inspired

  • Browse through food magazines, blogs and Instagram feeds, and replicate things you like.
  • As well as your food, think about other ways you can tell the story of your business/brand – how about some pictures of your suppliers, your prep process, or people enjoying your food at an event?

Setting Up Your Shot

  • Try out different layers and textures in the background – everything from wooden chopping boards to slate, to fabric like tablecloths and napkins (make sure you iron them first).
  • Take pictures from directly above – stand on a chair, or even arrange your shoot on the floor so you can get a good angle.
  • Have plenty of natural light streaming through – daylight is the best setting for food photography.
  • Use props to offset the balance of your shot – e.g. a knife halfway on the plate, a sprig of mint in the background, a little glass with flowers in a corner.
  • Keep it simple – don’t overload the plate or surroundings: focus on the food and use a few striking props to enhance.

Using Instagram

  • Take pictures using your camera app, and upload them into Instagram afterwards – that way you can select the best ones, crop and edit to get the very best picture.
  • Don’t just use filters – use the wrench tool to adjust things like brightness and structure. Try Tilt Shift to focus different areas of the picture.
  • When choosing a filter, you can adjust the level of filter to apply by double clicking on the filter and sliding to adjust.
  • Add a location so your picture will appear on maps.
  • Use hashtags to describe your picture and engage others – Tagmoatic is a useful tool for generating hashtags.
  • Try the new layout tool for creating collages.

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Adding to the above, my advice is

  • Use small portions – you don’t need to take a picture of an entire serving size. A small portion of all the goodness you created is absolutely sufficient for a great picture.
  • Add ingredients into your picture -it is really nice for the other person looking at your picture to follow the story of your dish. What ingredients have you used, how have you prepared it?
  • Use colours in your food – make your dish stand out more by adding accents. Perhaps some pomegranate on white yoghurt and a mint leaf. Complimentary colours can create some striking optical effects.
  • Take your time & prepare in advance – block out an entire morning/afternoon (best when it is light) and get everything you need in advance. It takes a while until you get the perfect shot. I requires a lot of experimenting and trying out. You don’t want to realise afterwards that all your pictures are rubbish. Prepare and get all the props and ingredients in advance so you can focus on photographing, not wasting time on getting your bits and bobs together. Plus not being stressed by time pressure makes it an easier and more enjoyable process.

To see a few of my food photograpy, follow me on Instagram at FoodInbrixton and Bruench_popup

 

 

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Quark – The Guilt Free Ingredient and next Big Thing in Nutrition

I love Quark (‘kvarg’)

.. and I don’t mean the type of matter particle you find in your physics books.

No, I am talking about the Quark that is lovely and creamy, very easy to work with and super healthy too.

Quark is very popular in German-speaking countries and I am really surprised why Quark is still not very common in the UK. But what is it? Quark is a fresh curd cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. You can easily miss it among of all the cottage cheeses, cream cheeses and ricottas. From a nutritional standpoint, I would go for Quark over Greek yoghurt, normal yoghurts and other soft cheeses any day.

Here a little comparison to give you the full picture

 

Lake District

Fat Free Quark

Total 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt Onken Natural Yogurt Low Fat
Energy             63kcal          96 kcal              46kcal
Fat              0.4 g           5.0 g               0.1g
of which saturates              0.2 g           3.6 g               0.1g
Carbohydrate              3.4 g           3.8 g               4.3g
of which sugars              3.4 g           3.8 g               4.3g
Protein              11.6 g           9.0 g               5.4g
Salt

             0.1 g

           0.1g               0.2 g

 

As you can see, it is a great source of protein, naturally fat free and low in salt and sugar – perfect if you are in training mode or simply like to eat healthy and look after yourself.

I use a lot of Quark in my daily cooking and Berlin brünch popups. It is such a versatile dairy ingredient perfect for mixing and baking, in savoury and sweet dishes. At my pop ups many of my guests ask me  where they can buy Quark.

Unfortunately, you cannot get Quark everywhere but don’t despair. The Lake District Dairy Co. Quark, which I personally really like comes in three varieties – ‘Original’, ‘Lemon’ and ‘Vanilla’ and you can get your hands on a 250g pot at a larger Sainsbury’s (the smaller stores often don’t have it). They usually put it separate from the yoghurts and close to the Mascarpone and Ricotta. A pot at the supermarket costs you £1.25 but Sainsbury’s house brand Quark is pretty good too and costs £1.

Here some interesting facts about Quark

  • Quark originated in Europe and is very populat in the northern countries
  • Quark accounts for about half of the total cheese consumption in Germany
  • It has double the amount of protein content than common yoghurts
  • It is the perfect healthy alternative to ricotta, mascarpone and cottage cheese
  • Unlike most commercial cheeses, quark contains neither rennet nor added salt

Now then, I hope this gives you a bit of an idea what I am on about. All I can say is give it a go, taste it and experiment with it. Below a few inspirations and recipes which I love and which are easy for you to try at home.

One of my own signature brünch dishes is Vanilla Quark with home-made Amaranth & Chia Granola. If this sounds too complicated, come along to one of my brünches and I walk you through it.

Tip – Don’t buy the ready-made Vanilla Quark but add fresh vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste and some icing sugar to the ‘Original’ version. If you don’t have Granola at hand, top it up with some fresh fruit and nuts and et voilà 🙂

18.1.15 (2 of 17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or how about a German Quark Cheesecake with poppy seeds?

 

Quark Cheesecake by Essen und Trinken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture & Recipe from ‘Essen und Trinken‘

Tip – Always drain the Quark in a towel before adding it to the mix, otherwise the cake becomes too wet.

Or, if you like it savoury, try out this delicious herb quark (German – Kräuterquark) on rye bread

Krauterquark

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture by Eatsmarter.de

Tip – I like to add chives, parsley, garlic and onion but you can add any herb you like really. Add the Herb Quark to your tortillas, sandwiches, on boiled potatoes (typical German dish) or Sweet Potato Wedges instead of sour cream and Mayonnaise.

Or Waffles with Quark?

Tip – Best with fresh fruit, icing sugar and perhaps some golden syrup

 

 Waffles with Quark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture by brünch 

RECIPE FOR YOU TO TRY AT HOME

So here it comes – one of my favourite Quark recipes is QUARK ICE CREAM

IMG_20150603_105323

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture by brünch 

I can eat ice cream any day of the year and any time of the day.

I love a proper gelato – creamy and rich in a fresh home-made waffle. So GOOD! My friend Michael, who is possibly the best chocolatier in London and also a passionate cook, made a fantastic ice cream at one of his dinner parties and I got very excited. Weeks after I was still thinking about it and had so many ideas of what type of ice creams I could make. So I borrowed his ice cream machine and tried a few things out. It is brilliant – you can literally add anything you like ie Molasses, dry sourdough bread (yes, it’s amazing), earl grey tea, Nutella, your favourite chocolate bar, fresh fruit and QUARK.

I was designing my menu for my German-inspired Summer Dinner Pop Up and I decided to serve Quark Ice Cream with Rote Grütze, a German fruit compote which I serve at my Sunday Berlin brünches. A few days later, Michael, his girlfriend Alex and their little daughter Augustine witnessed the making of the best Quark ice cream I have ever tasted (well, it was kind of the first one I tasted..)

Making ice cream is so easy and done within only one hour – perfect for when you have friends spontaneously showing up for dinner. This one is definitely a winner. We tried a few versions until we were happy with the texture, flavour and looks of my frozen desert.

Here is how it goes:

Ingredients

  • 150 gr of sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 300 gr natural quark (The Original Dairy Farm Quark from Sainsbury works well)
  • 2 vanilla beans OR 2 tablespoons pure vanilla bean paste

Method

takes 20 mins to make and 30 mins in the ice cream machine

makes about 500 ml of ice cream

 

  • Add the sugar with a little bit of water (3-4 table spoons) into a sauce pan until dissolved.
  • Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl and slowly whisk in the sugar syrup until pale and creamy and tripling in volume.
  • Whisk together the cream and quark with a hand-held whisk until it becomes creamy and smooth. Add the vanilla and stir.
  • Fold in the egg mixture and blend with a baking spatula until fully combined.
  • Add the smooth cream into the bucket of the ice cream machine (¾ full) and set the timer for 30 minutes. If you don’t use a machine, fill the cream into a Tupper Ware Box and put into the freezer overnight. Blitz the frozen mix in the morning and back into the freezer for an hour. The latter takes longer but tastes equally delicious.

Ready!

The ice cream maker is definitely on my birthday wish list. Mum I hope you are reading this..:)

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