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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

365 Days of Photography - February 1-15

I'm having so much fun shooting so many photos around the city and in my apartment and sharing them with my friends, family and blog fans. I'll continue to add to this February 1-15 post so come back in a few days. 

Also, please check out the first 31 days of the 365 Days of Photography Challenge in the links below and tell me which shots you liked best:
January 1-January 15, 2015 -- Days 1-15 
January 16-January 31, 2014 -- Days 16-31 

                                                             Day 36: February , 2014

                                                           Day 35: February 4, 2014

                                                            Day 34: February 3, 2014

                                                            Day 33: February 2, 2014

                                                      Day 32: February 1, 2014

Click to see all the photos for January 1-January 15, 2015 -- Days 1-15 

Birthday Souffle -- January 15, 2014

And, here to see all the shots I made for January 16-January 31, 2014 -- Days 16-31

Homemade Creole Spice Mix - January 22, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

365 Days of Photography (Mostly Food): Days 16-31

I've been having so much fun this year taking a lot more photos with my Nikon D90 thanks to Simi Jois over at Turmeric 'N Spice who challenged me and others to join her in a 365 Day Photo Challenge. 

On this page you'll find the second half of January and I'll update this page every few days until the end of the month. Scroll down and enjoy.

In case you missed the first 15 days, here's a link: 365 Days of Photography 2014: Days 1-15 


                                                   Day 31: January 31, 2014

                                                    Day 30: January 30, 2014

                                                    Day 29: January 29, 2014

                                                    Day 28: January 28, 2014

                                                   Day 27: January 27, 2014

                                                     Day 26: January 26, 2014

                                                    Day 25: January 25, 2014

                                                    Day 24: January 24, 2014

                                                  Day 23: January 23, 2014     

                                                 Day 22: January 22, 2014

                                                     Day 21: January 21, 2014

                                               Day 20: January 20, 2014

                                                          Day 19: January 19, 2014

                                                             Day 18: January 18, 2014

                                                            Day 17: January 17, 2014

                                                                Day 16: January 16, 2014

Days 1-15 of 365 Days of Photography (Mostly Food) ranges from a cheese souffle I made for my stepdaughter's birthday dinner, a "New Year's resolution" kale and mint smoothie, leftovers from a photo shoot I did for a magazine (food coloring), and my favorite, this still life with oranges........  -- click here for the other 14. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saul Zabar and Banksy's 2013 New York Residence...

Imagine my delight today when I learned that Saul Zabar is a Banksy fan (and why). 

Zabar, the octogenarian owner of the New York institution Zabar's on New York's upper west side, is best known for introducing fresh roasted gourmet coffee by the pound to New Yorkers nearly 50 years ago, and its over the top appetizing department with all kinds of smoked fish, and enormous cheese selection. 

As it turns out, he's also a Banksy fan. And, for good reason. 

Zabar must have been surprised when he discovered that during Banksy's one month residency in New York this past October, the enigmatic graffiti artist left one of his works on the side of a building that Zabar owns. 

The work, a silhouette of a boy with a hammer striking a fire department standpipe as if he were playing the carnival strongman "high striker" game painted on the side of a building on the other side of Broadway from the grocery store (NE corner of 79th St), has since been destroyed, despite Zabar covering it with Plexiglass to protect it from vandels. 

But, Zabar keeps the memory alive with the photo above of him and Banksy that is displayed in the store's "coffee" window. 

And, via another shot in the store that's hung above the cash registers which is of a member of Zabar's team walking in front of the high striker.

Here's the shot that I took back on October 20th, 2013. It was a fun and memorable New York moment.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

365 Days of Photography 2014 Challenge - Days 1-15

I've been invited to join the 365 Days of Photography 2014 challenge by a fellow Culinary Content Network (the brainchild blogger community of The Daily Meal's Sharon Gitelle) food blogger, Simi Jois of Tumeric 'n Spice. Some friends of Simi's - Pia Chatterjee and Sophia Sodeto--  have joined and the list is growing. The purpose of the year-long project is to improve our photographs. Brilliant idea, just brilliant, Simi! 

                                                   Day 15: January 15, 2014

                                                          Day 14: January 14, 2014

Day 13: January 13, 2014

                                             Day 12: January 12, 2014

                                               Day 11: January 11, 2014

                                                     Day 10: January 10, 2014 

                                                       Day 9: January 9, 2014 

                                                     Day 8: January 8, 2014

                                                    Day 7: January 7, 2014

                                                        Day 6: January 6, 2014


                                                    Day 5: January 5, 2014

                                                    Day 4: January 4, 2014

                                                    Day 3: January 3, 2014

                                                     Day 2: January 2, 2014

                                                     Day 1: January 1, 2014 

Here are the rules Simi created:
* No rules, enjoy creating an image each day.
* Post one photograph every day for 365 days of 2014 either on your blog or create an album on Facebook with album name ‘365 - days of photography’or anything you want, it’s your work. If you cannot post due to some reason, don’t beat yourself, it’s ok ! No big deal. If you are on vacation, post it after your vacation.
* You can click any subject, use your i-phone, point and shoot or a jazzy DSLR. Take your pick. The idea is to improve on photography.
(Not so complicated right! So pick up your camera and shoot. :)   ).

Other 365 Days of Photography 2014 Projects (list as of January 6, 2014):  
Simi Jois
Sophia Sodeto
Pia Chatterjee
Jayasri (link TBD) 


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Santa's Peppermint Stick Torte with Fudge Topping -- A Family Tradition

For 18 years I've been making this special Christmas holiday dessert -- the All-American Peppermint Stick Torte with Fudge Topping from Bon Appetit magazine.  It's a frozen peppermint parfait in a chocolate wafer crust topped with fudge. Made with the finest ingredients, it's a very grown-up version of a peppermint ice cream cake. Last night, my family of twelve demolished all but two pieces from a 12-inch cake!!! 

The cake is made in four parts using Bon Appetit's easy to follow recipe on Epicurious (you'll need a spring pan, food processor and electric mixer and a few days to allow the cake to freeze between steps): 
1) a chocolate wafer cookie crumb crust 
2) peppermint parfait 
3) frozen fudge topping
4) whipped cream and hot fudge topping

To make the crust you need really good chocolate wafer cookies, butter and sugar. In recent years, Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, which is the best store bought cookie for a crisp and chocolatey crust,  are almost impossible to find unless you buy them on Amazon ($26, 18 ounces). Eager to find the perfect substitute, I discover that Alice Medrich, the goddess of chocolate desserts and cookbook author, has mastered the "real chocolate wafer" recipe which Smitten Kitchen shares here

You'll want to buy top quality peppermint for the peppermint parfait. Old-fashioned hard peppermint candies naturally flavored with real peppermint are not so easy to find, and neither is superior quality peppermint extract.  I prefer Brach's brand candies -- and keep a stash on hand at all times -- for an authentic flavor and pure peppermint extract made from US grown peppermint by Nielsen Massey.

Pulverized peppermint stick candy powder and a generous teaspoon of extract gets stirred into egg yolks and sugar that's been heated to 170 degrees (F) --- the bright pink and super sticky mixture is cooled before folding in the whipped cream. 

Real heavy cream that has not been ultra-pasteurized is the best for whipping (and flavor) and should be used straight out of the fridge as cold cream will form the desired stiff peaks more quickly. In New York, I buy Ronnybrook Farms heavy cream -- not only is it a premium product but I know that the farmers are nice to their cows.  

After the parfait is poured into the frozen cookie crumb crust, the torte goes back in the freezer overnight so the parfait can freeze solid before step three-- the frozen fudge topping. 

I like to use a good quality bittersweet chocolate such as Ghirardelli, Valrhona or Elite, which is made in Israel. 

Twenty minutes before serving, remove the torte from the freezer so it's easier to cut. Whip the remaining cream and using a pastry bag and frosting tip, pipe some of the cream to decorate the top of the cake, and add peppermint candies. Put the rest of the cream in a serving dish and  heat up the remaining chocolate fudge sauce to spoon over individual slices. 

Click on over to for the recipe….

Here's what you'll need to make it...
1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies, broken or homemade "real chocolate wafers"
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled

1 7 1/2-ounce package hard red-and- white striped peppermint candies (about 45 pieces)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (I always double the amount of peppermint to 1 teaspoon)

3 cups chilled whipping cream

Sauce for frozen topping and warm fudge sauce
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Decorating the top 
Additional peppermint candies -- several dozen pieces
1 cup whipping cream, beaten to form stiff peaks