Last day of contest!

November 15, 2009 in contest

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[This contest is now CLOSED. Please click here to see who the winner was.]

Well, today the time has come, the final day of the Samsung BestBuy contest! You can enter to win a $200 gift certificate from BestBuy up until 5pm PST or 8 pm EST this evening.

You may remember my previous post where I reviewed the amazing Samsung electric convection range and over-the-range microwave – Samsung Range and Microwave Spectacular.

You’ve got 8 chances to win that $200 Best Buy card. Please keep in mind, the giveaway is for the gift card and not appliances.

I have disabled the comments and pingback on this post as you should go to the review to enter – Samsung Range and Microwave Spectacular.

I wish you each luck!

I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for visiting and also for leaving a huge number of comments on the contest page – Samsung Range and Microwave Spectacular.

At times it has been almost overwhelming hearing about the desperate state of your appliances! I empathize completely because I am in the same place, I promise you.

Here is my litany: washing machine runs VERY slowly because something funky is going on with the hot water input pipe, our refrigerator freezes fresh food (especially lettuces I just bought) but only sometimes so its hard to predict when this will happen, my freezer blows out all light bulbs so its always dark and it is also malfunctioning in a way that there is something hot along the roof of the freezer compartment and icicles form, our dishwasher is haunted in that it will work ok one time and then spontaneously erupt in the next run and sprays the kitchen floor.

I don’t have a budget to replace any of these appliances.

I know your pain.

I thought I would show you just how desperately we needed this range (even though it was a complete shock to get it and we still stare at it in awe, sad huh?)

Our old range was 14 years old. I was in denial about how much it didn’t work because, yet again, there is to budget to replace it.

Samsung review: old stove

The self-cleaning function on the oven no longer worked. This means that it was slowly building up yuck. I have small children so using nasty chemicals to clean it is hard to do. I tried it once but, even with ventilation, the house was toxified.

Samsung review: old stove

The microwave stopped working all together at about 4 years (10 years ago). My children didn’t even know what a microwave was, we didn’t talk about it even though it was there. It was like a well lit cabinet.

The range top had four burners and only one, small, burner worked. That small burner was starting to not work when I got the news that I would get a chance to participate in this review.

Samsung review: old stove

One burner didn’t work anymore because some screw had gone loose deep in the bowels of the control panel and then one of the knobs fell off.

Samsung review: old stove

All of that is a distant memory now.

I dont mind saying that now I am baking a whole lot more because, when I bake, things actually work! I know its revolutionary!

I recently put the proofing and convection baking to a greater test as I baked up SIX loaves of bread at the same time. I made 12 loaves that day for an event I was helping out with (Edible Forest Gardening Workshop).

Samsung Review: Massive bread bake-off!

Final proofing after shaping

Samsung Review: Massive bread bake-off!

Baked!

Samsung Review: Massive bread bake-off!

Some of that day’s baking.

Samsung Review: Massive bread bake-off!

My little guy posing in front of the loaves.

Just to reiterate:

CONTEST INFORMATION

To enter, leave me a comment at this post – Samsung Range and Microwave Spectacular and tell me WHICH Samsung appliance would make your life easier? It doesnt have to be a range or microwave, it can be any of the appliances they make. You may also blog about which Samsung appliance you like most, linking to the review post – Samsung Range and Microwave Spectacular – and ALSO leaving a link in the comments on that page letting me know about your blog post.

The contest will begin at 10/5/2009 at 5pm PST and will end 11/15/09 at 5 pm PST.

Please be certain that the e-mail address you leave is correct!

Rules:

  • No duplicate comments
  • You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link to this post in the comments
  • You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments
  • This giveaway is open to US-Residents, age 18 and older
  • Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by e-mail
  • You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected

To see the full listing of official rules please visit here: Official Rules

Bright Spicy Holiday Desserts – Bon Appetit Contest

November 1, 2009 in christmas, contest, dessert, Food Porn

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I have entered this post into the annual Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off and I would be deeply thankful if you would follow THIS LINK and vote for my entry!

I have been fretting over this post for DAYS. I have been conceptualizing, racking my culinary brains, wondering if this entry should be super child friendly or uber – urbane and a global foodie galore. I have been hoping for just the slightest break in the driving dark rains here in Massachusetts. I baked all day yesterday while also getting ready for Halloween.

Today was meant to be simple – just assemble the lovely tidbits you see below and shoot. Not so fast!

At least the sun came out.

I asked my 13 yo daughter to help set out a stool onto which I would be setting the tray with the styled food. The 3 yo and the 6 yo decide that it would be time to run hair-burning-crazy amok around the house and outside of it – they see my camera as a few moments where I will be distracted and they run like the wind with it.

As the 13 yo was helping me with the stool one of our roosters attacked her and it was a fierce and brutal one. One of the girl chickens had some how found an antique plastic 6 pack plastic and had it wrapped tightly on her neck. As my DD was leaning over to help this poor hen the rooster launched himself at my poor daughter. She then was chasing the rooster around the garden as I rushed out to shoot while I still had sun.

So, as I am shooting these photos, 3 and 6 yos are running amok, 13 yos are running around in the garden, bleeding and swearing a blue streak, and a whole flock of chickens were assembled around me, the soft rustling of their feathers belying their impending attack.

Jeepers, what I do for food photography these days.

It is my hope that this holiday dessert offering can be considered delicious and non-denominational, good for any tradition.

When I was trying to think of what is THE iconic holiday dessert I was completely at a loss. In my house growing up, we just didnt do desserts. We had no tradition beyond Colombian bunuelos and those are not going to win a Bon Appetit contest.

My husband, being a first generation immigrant from England, suggested trifle. I vetoed that almost as soon as it came out of his mouth – trifle is NOT good food photography food.

I envisioned complicated frosted christmas cakes but decided I wasnt in the mood to do the frosting and knew it would not end well.

At some point, it struck me that holiday desserts have been about precious spices since time immemorial. With this thought in mind, I set out to find recipes that might showcase the spices I like and do it in a way that might win this contest.

I think its possible that the following two recipes might fit that bill. I had also in mind a persimmon panna cotta but I fell deeply in love with my persimmon, she is so very beautiful, that I decided to offer her simply as she is. Many cultures have done the same, serving simple fruits at the holidays.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Once again, please consider visiting THIS LINK to vote for my entry into the Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off. The voting selects favorites and then the chefs at Bon Appetit prepare those recipes and then selects the grand prize winner.

What does the winner get?

A trip for two to NY and dinner at Le Bernardin restaurant with Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild and Restaurant Editor Andrew Knowlton!

If I win, I am going to take my 13 yo daughter (who should have stopped bleeding by then) and we will try things like foie gras and lord knows what else at Le Bernardin! It should be something she will remember for a long time and I would love to be able to meet Barbara Fairchild and Andrew Knowlton though I am not exactly certain what we will talk about!

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Besides the persimmon, which is not an entry so much as food porn, we have, in front, Rosemary Coconut Hedgie Cookies (a variation of my very popular Chocolate Coconut Hedgies) and a Cardamom Cream Cake topped by figlets. The hedgies, as usual, are simple but just fantastic. They are crunchy and coconutty and sweet on the outside while still moist inside.

The Cardamom Cream Cake was something new to me and is also a very simple recipe. It is a traditional dessert in Scandinavian countries. The cake is very moist, quite decadent (made with heavy cream) and can stand up to all sorts of decorating abuse you might throw at it. I prefer simple. As such, all I did was make a homemade cardamom syrup, put that on the bottom layer and then sprinkled the top layer with powdered sugar.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Rosemary Coconut Hedgie Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 C flaked sweetened coconut
  • powdered sugar, as desired

Directions

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.

Cream together butter, minced rosemary, brown and white sugars. Make certain that it is very well mixed and that you get a light fluffy texture (you have incorporated air into the mix).

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Make golf ball sized dough balls and put onto parchment.

You can dredge in powdered sugar or more coconut before baking.

Bake for about 25 minutes (your oven may be different, watch the first batch).

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Dust with powdered sugar.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Cardamom Cream Cake topped by figlets (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • several figlets, sliced in half for garnish
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Put about 2 tsp cardamom pods into a coffee grinder and grind as much as you can. Pick out the pod husks and any other large bits, set aside. You will use some of this in the cake and then in the following recipe for the syrup. Please be careful because this grinding releases A LOT of really intense cardamom essence into the air which can really choke you up. We had to open windows to vet out the kitchen area.

In a large bowl, mix (low speed) together all purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, freshly ground cardamom, and salt. Use an electric mixer so that you can get a really good whip going. Keep your mixer on low and blend in your eggs. Next add your heavy cream and slowly turn the speed up to high. Continue beating until the batter looks like softly whipped cream. There is no water in this recipe so you do not need to worry much about excess gluten development. Really whip it.

You can then pour this batter into a cake pan but I wanted to get fancy so I used two spring form pans and spread it out thin so that I could cut the cake with a cookie cutter.

Bake until the toothpick comes out clean (an hour but check at 40 minutes on to be sure you do not over cook)

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Cool on a rack and then decorate as you wish. I think dusting with powdered sugar is the traditional way.

Like I mentioned before, I wanted to turn up the cardamom notch so I made a cardamom syrup that I put on the bottom layer. I sliced my figlets and adorned the top of the cake with them.

Cardamom Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cardamom, pod husks and all
  • 1 C granulated sugar

Directions

Add ground cardamom to water in small pot, bring to a boil, add sugar, simmer until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Strain out large bits, store in cool place until use.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Dont forget to visit THIS LINK to vote for my entry into the Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off.

Drop me a comment to let me know if you did so I can thank you!

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Sprouting Beauty

February 14, 2009 in contest, Food Porn

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So I have still been thinking about which photo I should submit to Lou Manna’s food photography contest. Its been a struggle between two realities (or perceived ones). On the one hand I know that there will be many beautiful elaborate photos submitted to Lou and his various judges. On the other hand when I go to shoot I am not inspired to do extremely elaborate super-styled shots of a cornucopia of food. I am in a phase where I am most compelled to explore the simplicity of basic food types.

I previously blogged about possibly using a shot of a papaya that I did just for this contest.

Papaya study

I still like this one but today I decided to try something else hence the sprout shots. I like the shot at the top because it is somewhat unexpected (like seeing herring hanging from a clothes line or some such) and it may evoke thoughts about local food (like in your own backyard), and the whole farm to fork concept.

I am starting seeds for the 2009 Humble Garden so I have plenty of subjects on hand. Today’s sprouts are mesclun lettuce greens. In the past, my garden has provided many MANY beautiful subjects that always inspire me with their natural splendor.

Organic Garden Tomatoes: all our own!

Organic Garden Tomatoes: all our own!

Modern Indian Cooking: spicy eggplant on basmati

I have several other variations from this shoot as well as some set-up shots to show the behind the scenes aspects.

Manna Contest shots: 50 mm

Manna Contest shots: 100mm

Manna Contest shots: set up

Manna Contest shots: set up

Manna Contest shots: set up

I am going to submit the image at the top, cross your fingers!

Tropical Still Life

January 16, 2009 in contest, Food Photo 101, Food Porn

(Don’t forget to enter Lou Manna’s “Best Looking Food of 2009 contest” to win everything you could possibly need for food photography! See my previous post for details. Contest ends February 16th, 2009)

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You would think that I might have all sorts of time to dive back into food photography now that I have been laid off but its not been the case. I have been doing something MUCH more important – reconnecting with the family who I had to spend a lot of very stressful time away from this past year (really took a toll on us all).

I am trying to ease back into the wonderful world of food photography by doing some shots for Lou Manna’s contest (see above for details) – while also job hunting, an activity that takes precedence over any projects.

I am not certain that this batch of photos really hits on what is needed to win this contest of Lou’s. There isnt a whole lot of obvious styling – its much more subtle – its about the shape of the plate curves and the chunks of papaya. I consider this a study of the very odd looking papaya and, at base, I hope you learn something about this fruit and also are not repulsed by the odd black seeds and how they cling to the interior.

Papaya study

Some of these are more and others are less suitable for possible contest submissions. I would love to hear from you if you think any of these have an ineffable quality that you find arresting. Its ok if you dont find that in any, would like to hear about that too.

Papaya study

Here is an impromptu shot of the fruit after I hacked it to bits. People seem to like this one too (sans the label – a bit of photoshopping can deal with that)

Papaya study

This one plays with depth of field on a more obvious level.

Papaya study

I will be doing more studies before the contest deadline, I am not sure that this set represents the level of skill and styling that is competitive enough.