Lighting Experiments with Monica

I’ve been looking at the amazing work of Brandon Woelfel and Josefien Hoekstra the last couple of months. I love their post processing, color toning, Josefien’s use of latex and in the case of Brandon Woelfel I love how he plays with those small led lights.

I have already been playing around with color gels on several occasions. And I’ve been reading up on the topic of led lights. I had originally planned to use Christmas lights for the experiments. But I quickly learned that the wires used in Christmas lights are way too thick and that even the smallest of those lights are too big.

So, I’ve found these lights on Amazon.de. They are dead cheap and are battery operated. They seem to be perfect for this kind of work:

I still have a lot to learn, but these couple of shots I did with Monica are pretty cool.

Starlit Monica

Starlit Monica

Starlit Monica

Starlit Monica

Visiting The Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Taking that trip to Tennessee in the spring all started when I said wanted to visit the Jack Daniel’s distillery someday. That someday turned into very soon. And early this year, that  very soon turned into this year.

We took a day trip from Nashville to Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniel’s distillery. We choose their Taste of Lynchburg tour. It’s a 3 hour tour that starts with lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant. No, strike that, it starts with delicious lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s. I will not forget their recipe for candied apples.

Miss Mary Bobo's Restaurant in Lynchburg, TN

The tour continues through the town square of Lynchburg, TN and past the cemetery where Jack Daniel and other members of the Daniel family are buried. Then on to the Jack Daniel’s distillery itself.

You are welcomed at a little museum that tells the story of Jack Daniel, Lynchburg and the distillery before you embareque on walking tour through the distillery. The process of make Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is pretty much the same as any other distilled drink. But it is particularly nice to see the purification process through charcoal and how they treat the barrels to get the typical taste of Jack Daniel’s.

Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, TN

Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, TN

Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, TN

The tour ends at one of the more than 90 barrel houses for a tasting of their finest whiskeys. And after that, you can rest content in a rocking chair under the porch of their welcome house.

Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, TN

Selfie at the Jack Daniel's distillery

Prickly Pear Ice Cream (aka Cactus Ice Cream)

I am continuing to experiment with homemade ice cream. Last week, I found some fruit purees at a local supermarket. They came pre-made and it quite some exotic flavors. I was a bit skeptic. At first glace, they looked more like juice then puree. But I decided to give them a try. I grabbed a bag of prickly pear–the fruit from a certain type of cactus–puree. It turned out to be a very flavorful puree. Exactly what I would use for making ice cream.

Prickly Pear Ice Cream (aka Cactus Ice Cream)

This is how you make my prickly pear ice cream:

Preparation Method:

Whisk 3 egg yokes and half of the sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Meanwhile combine the heavy cream, milk, the other half of the sugar and the seeds of 1 vanilla pod in a saucepan. When the dairy mixture is close to the boiling point, add half to the beaten egg yokes while whisking to prevent the egg yokes from setting. Add the eggs and dairy to the remainder of the diary mixture and simmer over a medium heat whisking regularly. Add the cactus puree and a pinch of salt. The mixture will start to thicken much like custard. The mixture will be ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Once ready, transfer the custard to a container, let it cool to room temperature and put in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours; overnight if possible.

To make the ice cream, transfer it to your ice cream machine and follow the instructions of the machine. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yokes
  • 500ml heavy cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 225gr caster sugar
  • 350ml cactus puree
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • pinch of salt

Raspberry Ice Cream

By popular demand, I will gladly share my recipe for the raspberry ice cream I bragged about on my Instagram last week.

Ingredients for Raspberry Ice Cream

Preparation Method:

Place your fruits, 55gr of sugar and the lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook the fruit to a jam-like consistency, then puree and pass through a strainer to get any lumps out. Set the purree aside for later.

Put the milk, cream, remaining sugar, a pinch of salt and the seeds of 1 vanilla bean in another saucepan and cook until the sugar is dissolved.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl until pale. When the eggs are whisked, add half of the heated milk to mixture whisking as you pour. Now add this mixture to the rest of the milk and simmer over a medium heat to thicken. The custard will be ready once the liquid coats the back of a wooden spoon. Take of the heat and stir in the fruit purree.

Let the mixture cool down and rest in the fridge for at least 4 hour or until chilled. When chilled, add the mixture to your ice cream machine and follow the instructions to make the ice cream. After, freeze it for at least 2 hours in the freezer before serving.

Tip: replace the raspberries for blueberries or strawberries. I prefer fresh fruit, but when not available frozen fruit will do nicely as well.

Ingredients:

  • 250ml milk
  • 500ml heavy cream
  • 250gr of raspberries
  • 225gr sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1,5 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Jack Daniel’s Ice Cream

Ingredients for Jack Daniel's Ice Cream

Making ice cream is not as hard as it seems. It actually takes no time at all. And the good thing about homemade ice cream is, you can make any flavor you like. And I happen to love Jack Daniel’s whiskey so I had a go at making Jack Daniel’s ice cream.

Preparation Method:

Pour the milk and the cream in a large sauce pan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add to the milk and cream mixture. Bring the mixture up to a simmer on a medium high heat. Pay attention not to burn, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, add the egg yolks to a large bowl, then add the sugar. Start mixing the yolks and the sugar as soon as you have added the sugar or your yolks will burn. Whisk the yolks and the sugar until pale and fluffy.

When the milk and cream mixture is up to the simmering point, slowly add half it to the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Whisk immediately to prevent your yolks from cooking and creating lumps. Add the egg mixture back in with the rest of the milk and cream, and bring back up to a soft boil. It will slowly thicken to a custard-like consistency. Keep stirring to prevent the custard from burning. The custard has the right consistency when it sticks to a spoon.

Take the custard off the heat, and stir in the salt and the Jack Daniel’s.

Leave the custard to cool in the fridge overnight. Then add the custard to your ice cream machine and follow the instructions to make the ice cream. After, freeze it for at least 2 hours in the freezer before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 375ml milk
  • 250ml heavy cream
  • 85ml Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey
  • 225gr Sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt

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Lobster Bisque & Fennel Foam

Lobster Bisque & Fennel Foam

I’m continuing my kitchen experiments and I’m working on my food photography skills at the same time. I had a go at fennel infused foam the other day to top soups.

Veggie Lasagna

Veggie Lasagna

My simple veggie lasagna is a perfect lunchtime recipe. It’s quick and easy. This is how you make it:

Preparation Method: (serves 2)

Slice 4 thin long slices of zucchini. Use a mandolin if you have one, but if you don’t just  use a very sharp kitchen knife. Place a slice of zucchini on your plate, season with salt & pepper, and layer it with ricotta, sun dried tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, slivers of basil and a generous helping of pesto. Top with another slice zucchini, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt & peper. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Zucchini
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Pine Nuts
  • Basil
  • Pesto
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Peper

Homemade Jucy Lucy’s

I love burgers. I won’t deny it: I love burgers!

Ok, I won’t always make my own patties, but it is well worth the effort. Actually it ain’t that much of an effort. And for my homemade Jucy Lucy, I like to make my own patties. Did I just say Jucy Lucy? Yep! A Jucy Lucy basically is a cheeseburger with the cheese inside the patty.

Serve on a beautiful big size bun from your local bakery and layer it with your favorite condiments. I like to mix up things: mayonnaise, ketchup, onions rings, tomatoes, advocados, salsa, pickles, … The options are endless.

For this recipe, I used mayo, lettuce, tomato, my homemade ketchup, maple syrup glazed smoked bacon and pico de gallo.

Preparation Method: (serves 6)

For the burger patties, add the ground beef, 1tsp of ground cumin, 1tsp of sweet paprika, 1/2tsp of garlic powder and an egg to a mixing bowl. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. When it is mixed well, form into a disc and put in the fridge for at less to firm up.

Homemade Jucy Lucy

In a separate bowl mix 100gr Emmental cheese and 150gr Cheddar cheese. Take you ground beef from the fridge. Decide into 6 equal parts. Each part will make 1 burger patty. Devide each of the parts in 2 again and form 2 discs of about 8cm with them. Put one disc on your working table, put a good spoonful of the cheese mix in the middle. Put the 2nd disc on top and close the sides to form a burger patty stuffed with cheese. Return to fridge to firm up again.

While the patties firm up, you can make the other condiments. Read all about my homemade ketchup in a previous blog post.

For the the maple syrup glazed smoked, spread 12 thinly sliced slices of smoked bacon on a baking tray. Make sure the slices do not touch or overlap. Brush each slice with a generous amount of maple syrup. Put in a pre-heated oven at 120°C for 45 minutes. This will cook and dry the bacon. Take out of the oven and leave to cool a cooling rack to further crisp up the bacon.

I made a final relish: pico de gallo. Dice up 4 Roma tomatoes and 1/2 a rede onion, chop up the chilantro, and dice the clove of garlic and 1/2 a jalapeño pepper very finely. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl, season with pepper and salt and add the juic of a lime. Mix well and marinate for at least an hour.

We are ready to build the burger now. Slice the burger buns open, brush with olive oil and put on and high-heat grill to toast. Now grill the burger patties until they have crosshatched grill marks on both sides. About a minute or 2 before the patties are done, put the glazed smoke bacon on the grill too to warm through.

Spread some mayonnaise on the both half of the bun, add a leaf of iceberg lettuce, a slice of cœur de bœuf tomato and the grilled burger patty. Top with the homemade ketchup, the glazed smoked bacon and the pico de gallo. Close with the top half of the bun. Keep everything together with a skewer and top with a pickle.

Ingredients:

  • 500gr lean ground beef
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1/2tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 100gr grated Emmental cheese
  • 150gr grated Cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • Maple syrup
  • 12 sliced of smoked bacon
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of chilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 lime
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cœur de bœuf tomato
  • Olive oil
  • 6 burger buns

 

Homemade Ketchup

iPhone_IMG_3184_LR

iPhone_IMG_3188_LR

iPhone_IMG_3190_LR

Making your own ketchup is a lot of fun and so easy to do. You can make it to your own taste and match it to the dish you’re serving.

Ingredients:

  • 6 roma or san marzano tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • 2 table spoons of sugar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil

Preparation Method:

Preheat the oven at 120ºC. Quarter the tomatoes and spread evenly on a backing sheet. Crush the 4 cloves of garlic with the side of your knife. Don’t bother to peel the garlic as it will be discarded later. Add the crushed garlic to the tomatoes. Season with pepper and salt and sprinkle over 2 table spoons of sugar. Add a couple of sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and about 10 leaves of basil. Sprinkle over a little olive oil.

Put the tomatoes in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes, until the tomatoes are semi dried out. After you take the tomatoes out of the oven, remove the skins, blend to a puree then pass through a strainer to remove the pips. Check the seasoning: the ketchup should be slightly sweet. Add sugar if needed. Refrigerate before serving.

You can easily spice up your ketchup with Tabasco sauce if you like it spicy or a bit of red wine vinegar if you like it tangy. I like mine sweet and peppery but with a clear taste of tomatoes, so I only add freshly cracked black pepper.

The longer you leave the tomatoes in the oven, the more they will dry out. Drying out the tomatoes will intensify their flavor and will get you a more concentrated ketchup.

Limu Salad

Limu salad is a Hawaiian side dish, often served with as a side with Poke. Traditionally, Limu salad is made with fresh seaweed–after all limu is the Hawaiian word for seaweed–but as that is hard to find in Belgium, I replaced the seaweed with samphire.

Hawaiian Limu Salad

It is a simple recipe that will get you a very tasty salad on the table in minutes.

Preparation method: (serves 2)

Blanch the samphire for a minute or 2 in boiling water and refresh it right away in an ice bath to keep it vibrant green and crispy. When cooled, drain. Half the cherry tomatoes, cut the onion and the cucumber is strips. Add the veggies to a bowl and mix.

For the dressing, crush the garlic and the pink rock salt in a pestle and mortar to a paste. Add the sherry vingear and the Shoyu sauce and fresh chili pepper to taste. Shoyu sauce should be available from Asian specialty stores but you could replace it with soy sauce if you want.

Dress the veggies with the dressing right before serving. That will keep the veggies nice and crunchy, and prevent them from discoloring.

Ingredients:

  • 100gr samphire
  • small white onion
  • 5 or 6 cherry tomatoes in various colors
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tea spoon of (Hawaiian) pink rock salt
  • 2 table spoons of Shoyu sauce
  • 2 table spoons of sherry vingear
  • chili peper