Archive for the ‘In the Kitchen’ Category

I had the distinguished honor to work with the Art Culinaire team last fall, which in turn put my camera and I along side 3 very accomplished chefs.

The issue was just released earlier this month, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos from the assignment.

This will be a short photo story of these 3 unique individuals, and the diverse environments in which they work.

Blaine Wetzel; Willows Inn/Lummi Island, Wa:

Blaine in the kitchen.

Blaine foraging along the shores of Lummi Island.

Smoked Tequila Oysters (to die for!).

King crab and the beginning ‘snacks’.

Halibut “chop” and Grilled celery root w/ horseradish mousse and chestnuts.

The smokehouse.

Organic grains with pickled mushrooms, and Blaine in the kitchen (once again).

Jason Franey; Canlis/Seattle, Wa:

Jason and his crew, in the kitchen.

A breakfast ‘style’ dish “Smoked” salmon with maple syrup on the left, and a Froie gras and rabbit torchon with pine ash dish on the right.

Jason and his crew on the roof of Canlis overlooking South Lake Union.

Matt Dillon; Sitka + Spruce, Corson Building/Vashon Island, Wa:

Matt Dillon and his piggy friend.

Whole beets in spiced brown butter with pickled rose petals.

Matt in his home kitchen.

Smelt with grated beets.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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Being in Paris, I feel like I’ve been living deep in the mind of a photographer…everything is new, interesting, or just simply asking to be photographed.  This of course can be experienced anywhere, even Seattle, but sometimes when things are seen on a daily basis as routine, their beauty can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

Because I have food on the photo-brain, naturally, I find grocery shopping to be a very important task.  Everything is scrutinized, examined, and asked the question “would I want to photograph you?”

p.s. yes, I am that strange girl in the market spending way too long looking at a single piece of fruit from different angles and heights…sorry.

Cut to my Parisian friend, Celine, introducing me to LaFayette Gourmet.  Think, Whole Foods ‘Paris’ – this was my kind of grocery store!  I love being surrounded by beautiful food.

Coincidentally, I was all out of food at home, so I decided I would do a little shopping.  Given the price tags (again, think Whole Foods) I had to make an agreement with myself – whatever I buy I have to make into a photo.

After taking into consideration colors, textures, shapes/lines…and what I actually wanted to eat…I finally had a basket full of mouth-watering things that I couldn’t touch until the sun was shining…oh, the woes of being a natural light photographer.

So, the first food to get the spotlight were these great little vegetables!

Again, this is something I could have easily found at the grocery or market in Seattle…but because I have photography on the brain 10-fold, somehow they finally grabbed my attention.

Afterwards, I cut these puppies up and roasted them with olive oil, chopped garlic, fresh basil leaves, a dash of salt, and some sharp cheese layered on top.  I love cooking veggies until they brown a bit along the edges – so good.  (by that point, I was so hungry…I did not photograph…sorry…next dish)

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Thanksgiving is slowly becoming one of my favorite holidays…next to Christmas and Easter (can’t beat fresh Easter candy!)

Over the years it has become a holiday where adventure, experimentation, and tradition comes together into one very large, over zealous meal.  My family doesn’t serve your average green bean casserole, stove top stuffing, or cranberry jelly out of a can…we make chipotle apple soup, oyster stuffing, grapefruit-mint vinaigrette on a spinach salad…sometimes we’ll even have themes, like last year we had a plethora of apples and mint in the garden, so we created a menu to compliment those flavors (ie, chipotle apple soup and grapefruit-mint vinaigrette).

One recipe that I found last year that I absolutely fell in love with was a Cranberry, Sour Cherry, and Grapefruit chutney from MarthaStewart.com.

I’ve never been a fan of cranberry sauce (too much sugar maybe?) – but make a chutney with cranberries and citrus, and I will swoon for days…or in this case, years.  Make that citrus, grapefruit, and I’ll be your friend for life.  J’aime le pamplemousse!

Being in Paris this year, I didn’t need to make much, in fact, I didn’t have to make anything.  But I couldn’t ignore the Thanksgiving buzz in the air, and I had to have this cranberry chutney, turkey or no turkey.



There is something about cranberries that makes me feel very ‘girly’ – they glitter like little jewels – makes my heart flutter!

And it’s so satisfying to stir them in a warming pot – that hallow sound that they make when they clink together, it’s like mixing a bowl full of gum balls.


Now, I’m not sure if cranberries are a common thing to find in Paris, my guess is that they are not.  It was something that I pondered while I was putting my grocery list together, and thought it best to google before I left and became frustrated when I couldn’t find the main ingredient in my one simple craving.  And in my search, I found this store, Thanksgiving.  Well that’s fitting…

It’s an English grocery store, that carries all of those undeniable cravings from back home that you just can’t find in your everyday French market.  Cream cheese, Kraft Mac and Cheese, Black beans, Tortillas, Chipotle/Jalapeno, American Oreos, Popcorn, and yes, Cranberries (whole, canned, or jellied).

Homesick no more…for just 3,50 euro, you too can feel the comforting pleasure of Kraft powered cheese…or a bowl of black beans.  An absurd price to pay in the states, but in France, priceless.


Back to the cranberry goodness…



You can’t beat fresh, whole, cranberries.

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The story of a homemade huckleberry pie…


The huckleberries were hand-picked by the baker herself.




A letter “J” for the birthday girl – Janea – and a healthy sprinkle of sugar completes the crust.




Nothing like a perfectly sweet/perfectly tart huckleberry pie with a flaky/buttery crust.
I normally need a heaping scoop of ice cream to go with a piece of pie, but this was perfect just by itself.



…those last two bites were gone soon after that picture was taken.

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Yesterday afternoon, Janea’s sister Erinn, whom is visiting from Eastern Oregon, made a lovely huckleberry pie from scratch for Janea’s birthday (which was also yesterday). She was gracious enough to let me document her as she baked, which I’ll hopefully get to post about here soon. But for now, I’m going to show you what we made with the left over scraps of the pie crust.
There was just enough for something small and sweet, and that is when Janea and I remembered that we had a bag full of fresh figs in the fridge…that were quickly becoming less and less fresh as the days pass (the green ones especially).
So, we went with it. We got out two little ramekins to mold the pie crust into, and filled them to the brim with figs cut in half.



We added some yummy raw chestnut honey from Spain to the figs, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar – just to see.

And plopped them in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350F.


et voila’…



It was a fairly successful experiment…it was kind of like eating an oversized fig newton.


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After having a lovely happy hour meal at Pesos Kitchen on lower Queen Anne, Janea and I waddled our little stuffed and tipsy behinds to Metropolitan market with the grand idea of buying ingredients to create fresh tequila bliss at home. All we needed were the limes! (the rest of the necessities were conveniently in our cupboard at home – including a choice of tequila)

Janea made the simple syrup (sugar and water), and I was in charge of squeezing the limes. Giada from the Food Network (love her!) taught me this trick where you roll the limes with some light force on the counter before cutting them open – I believe it is to help loosen them up a bit inside, to get the juices flowing – it worked pretty well. We only needed about a lime each for our drinks, and quite honestly, we had some ingredients left over…no complaints here, just means more for later 🙂


Now, in my humble opinion, the margarita is all about two ingredients: limes and salt. Tequila, yes…but if it is not tart and salty, then I’m not impressed.  I always ask for LOTS of salt when I order a margarita.




Quite refreshing on a warm summer evening in a west facing window apartment!  I used up the left over ingredients the next day, except that time it was enjoyed out of a mug…I hope that is not too weird.

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My mother turned 50 last week.  And as a part of her birthday celebration, my mom’s best friend, Janea and I put together a menu fit for a queen.

It started with a molten chocolate cake, and quickly turned into a conversation about lobster tails, beets, and barbecued peaches.

To make matters far more decadent, we then became inspired after watching “Julie and Julia” to make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon (‘one of the best dishes concocted by man’, is I believe how she put it?!)

Our menu was mouth watering.

On a personal note, this wasn’t just a celebration about turning 50 (at least not in my eyes).  Even though turning the big 5-0 does generally call for a big to-do.

My mother was diagnosed with type 2B breast cancer back in November of last year.  She weathered through surgery, chemo therapy and radiation all within the last 10 months – and she is doing great now!  Her hair is growing back, her energy and sense of adventure is thriving (possibly more than it ever has been before – don’t even get me started on what she did with her friends on her birthday!), and there is a sense of strength within her that is hard to ignore – she was always a strong woman in my eyes, but now, I think she knows it too.

This wasn’t just a birthday celebration – this was a celebration of life, a celebration of sticking to your guns and staying strong through all of the battles and all of the hardships that life can throw our way, this was a celebration of my mom, Laurie Leigh Wilson-Smith.

So, nothing was too good for this dinner – we wanted epic – we wanted “my mouth is doing a happy dance x 10 100″.

The meuu for the evening:

Raw oyster shooter in a lemon cucumber cup with shallot and champagne-vinegar mignonette

Chili-lime crab salad with fresh garden grape tomatoes and avocado

Roasted rainbow beet salad with frisee, candied maracona almonds, and a hard nutty cheese (never can remember the name!) with a Dijon/vinegar dressing

Lobster tail bolognese pasta

Lobster tail with a decadent butter sauce (it has such a long list of ingredients, I won’t even try to remember it all – but it was gooooooood)

Boeuf Bourguignon

and as a palette cleanser aka taste explosion…

Date filled with chorizo wrapped in bacon accompanied with an oven broiled peach coated in cinnamon and rum sauce paired with fresh mint.

for dessert…

a dark chocolate raspberry fallen souffle‘.

And everything had a pairing of wine/champagne – it was fantastic!

and of course, I took a few pictures…




Janea went to Pike Place Market to retrieve the lobster tails, and asked the guy there “which one of these says ‘I LOVE YOU!’?”  This is the one he chose:






Oh yes, and it didn’t stop there.

For breakfast (!) we made smoked salmon deviled eggs (I will never use Mayonnaise again – this was a recipe from the Herbal Kitchen cookbook that called for sour cream and it was AMAZING!), raspberry and strawberry fruit cups with honey, cinnamon, and fresh mint, freshly peeled shrimp paired with lemon cucumbers, and a lovely vidalia onion tart served with Fran’s hot chocolate.  Once you get us started…we just can’t stop 🙂






It was a very nice weekend.  All about food, family, and celebration.

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