Hello to all the followers of my blog A Food Stylist’s Blog. Firstly I would like to thank you all for following me and my posts over the last 3years.
As my life and business has evolved in France I am now finding that most of time is take up with running my Cookery School and all the spin offs from it – Come Cook In France – therefore I am now blogging directly from the website www.comecookinfrance.com
If you wish to continue following my posts and my life in France (and I really hope that you all will) please click on the link, go to the blog page and you can then subscribe there.
Well after an initial burst of warm spring weather, it is yet again cool and wet, so in order to give myself a little taste of summer, I came across this lovely summer entertaining feature my husband, photographer Ian Wallace and I shot last summer for Food & Travel magazine in the UK.
As you can see from Ian’s stunning photos it was a lovely sunny day and the colours from the food, styling and flowers zing out at you. Rather than a formal sit down menu, the al fresco nature of the story led me to assemble sharing patters, ideal for a more relaxed ambience.
Seared tuna is one of my favourite ways of eating this meaty and some would say king of the ocean. Here it is served with a spiced chermoula salsa with a hint of chilli. Chermoula is a combination of herbs, spices and aromatics used as a marinade or sauce in many Arabic countries. The actual combination of ingredients varies widely from country to country and even region to region and this one is inspired by a version I had in a London restaurant many years ago. It is great with most types of meaty fish, chicken, and lamb or even drizzled over grilled vegetables.
Beef and anchovy are happy sparing partners and here, beautifully moist slices of rare beef fillet is served with a creamy anchovy dressing. A contrasting texture comes in the form of the crispy pangrattato, Italian for fried bread crumbs. It is spiced up here with a little red onion, garlic and fresh thyme.
Alongside our main dishes are two pretty salad platters full of Mediterranean flavours – you can almost feel the warmth of the sun as you look at them. The orange, fennel, radish and olive crumb salad is my version of a dish I was served last summer by friends who love everything Spanish. They too had been inspired by this dish from Ibiza, one of the Spanish balearic Islands. I love the little sprinkles of blackness made by the olive crumbs.
To further complement our two main dishes is a platter of char-grilled asparagus topped with creamy burrata cheese – where balls of buffalo mozzarella are filled with a rich creamy centre that oozes pure yumminess when cut open. The dressing is made sweet with the inclusion of vincotta, a thick syrup made by the long, slow reduction of grape must, produced in the Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Lombardy, Apulia, and Marche regions of Italy. If is available from Itlian food stores or online. If you can’t find it, an aged or reduced balsamic vinegar is a good alternative.
I simply adore coconut, so any excuse really to use it in a recipe. It adds a wonderful moist texture to this simple cake made just that little bit more special with the passionfruit drizzle. You can sieve out the passionfruit seeds if you prefer, but I think they look great and I love the crunch they add.
And if you don’t fancy cake, why not treat yourself to this delicious and decadent cocktail inspired, upside down cheesecake. It is a lovely end to this summer feast and the salty zing from the salted lime praline is lovely surprise.
Summer may still be a little ways off for us here in France, but at least I can dream of warmer evenings and delicious flavours to come.
Moroccan tuna with chemoula salsa
6 x 180g tuna loin steaks
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds (optional)
1 bunch coriander
1 large red chili, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
a pinch of saffron strands
juice ½ lemon
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
salt and pepper
lemon wedges, to garnish
Trim the tuna steaks and brush with a little oil. Combine the paprika, cinnamon, fennel fronds if using, salt and pepper and press all over the tuna. Set aside.
Make the chermoula. Combine the coriander leaves and smaller stalks, chilli, garlic, saffron strands, lemon juice, oil and some salt and pepper in a mini food processor and blitz until smooth.
Sear the tuna on a hot barbecue or griddle pan for 1 minute each side and then rest for 2-3 minutes. Slice thickly and serve with the chermoula.
Thyme beef fillet with anchovy dressing and pangrattata
1.25 kg beef fillet
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, bashed
100g day old bread, made into rough crumbs
½ small red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
25g pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 anchovy fillets, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5. Rub the beef fillet with oil and then dust with the thyme, salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a high heat and sear the beef for about 4 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Transfer to a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile make the pangrattata. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic for 3-4 minutes over a low heat until lightly golden. Discard garlic. Increase the heat, add the breadcrumbs to the pan and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until evenly browned. Drain on kitchen paper. Combine the onion with the vinegar and set aside to soften for 15 mins. Drain and pat dry.
Make the dressing. Place the aioli, anchovies, lemon juice and a little pepper in a blender and puree until smooth. Cover and set aside.
To serve, place the breadcrumbs, onion, pine nuts, capers and parsley in a bowl and stir well. Cut the beef into thin slices (it should be lovely a pink in the middle) and top with some of the pangrattata, the anchovy dressing and a little extra drizzle of oil.
Asparagus, burrata and pistachio salad with vincotta dressing
1 kg asparagus spears
2 teaspoons olive oil
200g ball buratta cheese
300g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
50g rocket leaves
25g pistachio nuts, chopped
15g Parmesan shavings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vincotto (or aged balsamic)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Trim the asparagus stalks and place on a tray, add the oil and season with salt and pepper, stir well. Cook on a hot griddle pan for 3-4 minutes turning half way through until lightly charred. Transfer to a platter and let cool.
Make the dressing. Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.
Tear the burrata into pieces and arrange over the asparagus with the tomatoes, rocket and pistachio nuts. Drizzle over the dressing and serve scattered with parmesan shavings.
Ibiza salad with orange, fennel, radish and olive crumb
50g pitted black olives
300g baby new potatoes
1 small head fennel, trimmed (fronds reserved for the beef)
8 large radishes, trimmed
3 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
a small fresh chervil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 140c/220f/gas mark 1. Make the olive crumb. Place the olives on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake the olives for 1-1/2 hours until dried out. Leave to cool and then transfer to a chopping board. Chop finely until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes for 10-12 minutes until just tender, drain, refresh under cold water and drain again. Pat dry and let cool. Cut larger potatoes in half.
Finely slice the fennel. Thinly slice the radishes.
Peel and thinly slice the oranges over a bowl to catch the juices and arrange the slices on a platter. Taking all the peelings and ends of the oranges squeeze any juice into the bowl. Whisk in the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard and salt and pepper.
Top the orange slices with the potatoes, fennel and radish slices and scatter over the chervil leaves. Top with the olive crumbs and serve drizzled with the dressing.
Coconut cake with passionfruit syrup and raspberries
180g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
225 g desiccated coconut
225 g self-raising flour
250g Greek yogurt or crème fraiche
150g caster sugar
100ml passionfruit pulp, about 6 large passionfruit
Preheat the oven to 160c/fan-forced 140c/325f/gas mark 3. Oil and line a 23cm loose-bottom cake tin. Cream the butter and half the sugar together until smooth and then beat in the remaining sugar and eggs, a little at a time until combined (don’t worry if the mixture appears curdled). Fold in the coconut and flour until smooth and spoon into the prepared tin.
Transfer to the oven and bake 45-50 minutes, covering loosely with foil if the cake begins to brown. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire tray and spike with holes.
Meanwhile, make the passionfruit drizzle. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Add the passionfruit pulp and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 8-10 minutes until reduced slightly and thickened. Spoon all but a few tablespoons over the cake and let infuse until cold.
Serve the cake in wedges with the yogurt, raspberries and remaining sauce.
Margarita cheesecake pots with salted lime
200g white chocolate, melted
50g butter, melted
175g digestive biscuits, crushed
grated zest and juice 3 limes
250g caster sugar
600g soft cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt
Finely grate 50g of the white chocolate into a shallow bowl. Take 8 martini or margarita glasses, dip the rims into cold water and then into the grated chocolate to coat the rims. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and pour into a bowl. Add the digestives and stir well until evenly coated. Divide between the glasses pressing them down lightly using the end of a rolling pin. Chill until required.
Combine the lime juice, tequila and half the sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Leave to cool completely.
Melt the remaining chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water), stirring until the chocolate is melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Place the cheese in a food processor with the tequila lime mixture and blitz until smooth. Then stir in the melted chocolate and cream and blend again. Using a piping bag with a large lain nozzle divide the mixture between the glasses. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Make praline. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Combine the remaining sugar with 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and heat very gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring for a further 5-6 mins until the liquid turns golden brown. Pour the caramel onto the prepared tray and leave to go cold.
Roughly crumble the praline and place in a food processor with the lime zest and salt and blitz to make a slightly chunky crumb mixture. Spoon onto the set creams and serve at once.
“Come and join us in the beautiful French countryside for 6 days of cooking, styling, photography, eating, drinking and making friends. If it sounds perfect, well that’s because it is!”
For anyone with a passion for food, food styling or food photography, this 6 day course is a perfect way to improve your skills as I join up with acclaimed food and lifestyle photographer Ian Wallace. This amazing course will take place in the stunning workshop accommodation venue Les Soeurs Anglaises in the Dordogne.
In June this year, Ian and I will be sharing all the knowledge we have gained from our years of experience working in food publishing. The course will include demonstrations, discussions and practical hands-on classes over the 6 days and covers all the skills needed to produce your own beautiful food images. Alongside the daily classes, all meals will be provided accompanied by wines from the region. There will also be a visit to local brocantes to source vintage props and time off to explore the local area, stunning villages and food markets.
“This is a totally immersive course for lovers of good food, budding food bloggers, food stylists and photographers, set in a truly beautiful setting with a relaxed ambience and wonderful food and wine”
Our workshops are the perfect platform for small business owners who want to improve the quality of their images for both website use and social media content. It can help chef’s looking to market themselves and their food. Food bloggers who want to improve their food styling and photographic skills. Even food stylist looking to get involved in the food publishing industry. Lovers of good food and wine with a penchant for France and all it’s charm.
What’s on offer
We have access to really beautiful settings where we can shoot on location
We will learn how to prepare and cook food, style it and plate it for a perfect food shot.
You can only take a beautiful still life image of an ingredient if you can source them in the first place. We shop at local food markets or help ourselves to home grown veggies.
The course is hosted Katie Elliot Armitage co/owner of the fabulous workshop accommodation venue Les Soeurs Anglaises in the Dordogne in South West France. Katie has been running workshops here for over 10 years and after many successful textile and music workshops Katie is looking to offer more food and wine based courses. Set on the outskirts of a pretty French town, the venue nestles in beautiful gardens, surrounded by rolling hills and fields full of sunflowers, cereals and sweetcorn. The stunning workshop is in a converted barn with cathedral ceilings and a vast wall of glass that opens up to invite the outdoors in. The atmosphere is one of calm seclusion, a perfect environment for learning, relaxing, entertaining and eating.
A hint at what lies beyond the two huge workshop doors – this is a truly beautiful environment in which to work – it will inspire you.
And then of course, after all the hard work is done, there will be plenty of time to kick back and enjoy the pool and other recreational area of the property.
Each workshop is bespoke. We like to look at what is going on at the time in the local area so we can take you out to photograph a market, producers or festivals depending on what is happening. We can also use the extensive grounds or the workshop at our accommodation. That said, all courses include the following criteria in order to ensure you get the maximum information in order to create your own stunning images.
Ian going through some of the basics of setting up a food shot
A great stall for plates
Sourcing props at home…… and at the local brocante
How to prepare and cook food for photography
Shooting light and dark and how it affects food
What is included
Six days/seven nights in one of the beautiful ensuite rooms at Les Souers Anglaises
Double ensuite bedroom
Twin ensuite bedroom
One of the two lovely pools
Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided. Breakfast by the pool with locally sourced pastries, fresh juices. A light salad lunch and a three course dinner with wines form the region.
As well as the above, all your tuition costs with internationally acclaimed food photographer Ian Wallace and food writer, stylist and cook book author Louise Pickford.
There will be hands on practical shoots, outdoors when possible with all the food and props provided.
At the end of the stay you will receive a handout package including a copy of all the images and all the recipes.
The course runs from June 6th – June 11th
A: Luxury double bedroom en suite (single occupancy) : £2450
B: Luxury double bedroom en suite (shared occupancy): £1950
C: Standard twin bedroom with shared bathroom (single occupancy): £2100
D: Standard twin bedroom with shared bathroom (shared occupancy): £1550
For the Food Styling & Photography Workshop we require a £400 non-refundable deposit to secure a booking, the full balance being payable two months prior to the start of the workshop.
Flights are not included but we can arrange to collect you from Bordeaux or Bergerac airports or from the train station at Angouleme, this has a direct high speed train link from Paris.
Louise Pickford has been writing about and styling food for over 25 years in both London and Sydney, where she was involved in recipe writing and development, styling the props as well as the food for shoots. She became food editor on several glossy magazine as well as styling a host of books for Bauer Media’s Woman’s Weekly titles. Recently Louise and Ian relocated to SW France where they continue to work together for clients around the world including Delicious Magazine Australia, the UK and Holland, Food & Travel Magazine, Grazia UK and The Mail on Sunday. She has written more than 30 cookery books to date, including over a dozen for bespoke publishers Ryland, Peters & Small.
Ian Wallace has built a very successful career working in both London and Sydney for clients that included all the main book publishers, and top food magazine titles and Sunday newspaper supplements, shooting a mixture of editorial, packaging and advertising, clients including Marks and Spencer, Vogue Entertaining and Travel, Delicious Magazine Australia and UK, Gourmet Traveller, The Mail on Sunday and Food and Travel Magazine as well as photographing many book titles for Bauer Media and News Life Media and Ryland Peters and small.