The Splendid Table radio program is a longtime favorite of mine. I especially admire radio host Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s creativity in her regular “Stump the Cook” challenge: Listeners call in and ask her to combine random ingredients into something they can cook—and would like to eat. So, I was excited to be asked to shoot images for this new monthly USA Weekend Magazine feature that spotlights her on-air challenges. As usual, Lynne came up with a delicious-sounding, inventive recipe, incorporating all the ingredients into a harmonious whole: Sriracha Oatmeal-Crusted Tilapia over Pan-Roasted Carrots with Almond and Garlic. (Listen to this “Stump the Cook” radio spot, here.) Like Lynne’s creative recipe, the USA Weekend page design combined the ingredient of typography to integrate with my photo for a fun, dynamic layout that really invites the reader to dig in. My creative ingredients included their page layout, food items and the background. According to the layout given to me,

Choctál Ice Cream

Thursday, 24 July 2014

You scream, I scream. Choctál’s fantastic ice cream is something to scream about. Deceptively simple, Choctál offers “just” vanilla and chocolate—but, they are four specific variations on each of those classics, made with all-natural, excellent ingredients from all over the world. I learned about them—and got to taste than all—when I shot their delectable product line for their website, along with food stylist Lisa Cherkasky. Each flavor comes from a different vanilla or cacao bean from a single source. As their website explains, “Like fine varietal wines and gourmet coffees, Choctál ice creams are made from single-origin ingredients—one variety of cacao or vanilla, harvested from a single region. It’s the unique flavor profile of each local variety that gives Choctál chocolates and vanillas their deliciously distinctive nuances.” The vanillas come from Mexico, New Guinea, Indonesia and Madagascar. The chocolates come from Costa Rica, Ghana, The Dominican Republic and Borneo. You can order any—or all—of these flavors from

Summer Brunch

Friday, 11 July 2014

There is nothing like the combination of good friends and good food. That is what our longtime food group, SOFA (Society of Food Afficianados) is all about. For 16+ years, we have always done dinners, but on a recent Sunday, we broke with tradition and gathered for brunch. The setting was perfect for a glorious summer day. I love the alive feeling of summer air—it delights all my senses. And, our hosts’ Takoma Park, MD house is like stepping into an Italian villa, with their lovely outdoor dining area and gardens. Passing by one of the pretty sights in their home, I couldn’t resist photographing the platter of squash blossoms from their garden and foraged mushrooms (at top). When our group of ten gets together, everyone brings a dish to share. Simple pleasures… Bread and olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a delicious dessert… As soon as we arrived it was instant relaxation. But,

Sizzle & Smoke

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Sizzle & Smoke: What an apt title for Chef Steven Petusevsky’s new cookbook for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Steve has a lively (sizzling! smoking!) personality, which always makes for a great flow of creative energy at a shoot. Shooting his recipes, along with food stylist Lisa Cherkasky, reminded me of why I love summer. This Grilled Athenian Burger, made with lean ground beef, features Greek Yogurt Spread, and is served on a whole grain bun. The subtitle of the book imparts the real angle: it’s The Ultimate Guide to Grilling for Diabetes, Prediabetes, and Heart Health. Grilling food can be a naturally lower-fat, healthy way to cook. In this book, Steve offers 125 delicious recipes for meats, seafood and poultry, as well as nutritious sauces and sides. A real expert on healthful cusine and natural foods, he’s also really fun to work with, and truly, a class act! Grilled fresh corn-on-the-cob is such a summer

It’s strawberry season—the perfect time for this Summer Breeze Smoothie! It is one of a series of “Fun Family Recipes” that I shot, along with food stylist Lisa Cherkasky, for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Their We Can program offers these recipes online and as these downloadable PDF recipe cards, shown here. This recipe for Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken is a smart, lighter version of this classic, favorite dish. This Quinoa and Black Bean Salad recipe is refreshing and vegan. This recipe for Autumn Salad, including Granny Smith apples, dried cranberries and walnuts, would be tasty any time of year. I feel good about working with programs and clients that help to provide information on healthy and delicious foods, like NHBLI’s We Can program: “(Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) is a national movement designed to give parents, caregivers, and entire communities a way to help children 8 to 13 years old stay at a healthy weight.” Some of these recipes

What a delightful surprise to be invited to the Taiwan State Banquet Cuisine Night! Thanks to a kind invitation from Press Officer Daniel Yilung Huang, Marty and I found ourselves at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO, the de facto embassy of Taiwan). We were treated to an elegant, sumptuous dinner while learning about a wide range of Taiwanese foods and customs, hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Lyushun Shen. Held at historic Twin Oaks, a beautifully restored mid-19th-century house in Northwest Washington, DC, the evening included a fabulous demonstration of highly skilled techniques by gold-medalist pastry chef Chef W.T. Huang (including noodle-pulling); and intricate sculptures by Chef Kai-Tun Hsu, master in seafood, noodles and fruit carvings. At top is his carved buttercup squash figure of Zhongkui, a Chinese folklore character considered a “ghost buster.” The dinner was fantastic, with a menu that really showcased the wide variety in Taiwanese

Congratulations to Robyn Webb and Barbara Seelig-Brown, two very smart and talented authors (and more)! Both recently won awards for cookbooks we collaborated on for the American Diabetes Association. I am so proud of them both, and really enjoy photographing recipes for their cookbooks, along with food stylist Lisa Cherkasky. Robyn Webb’s The Smart Shopper Diabetes Cookbook just won a Silver Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association. In addition to being author of many books, Robyn is also a nutritionist, culinary educator and Food Editor for American Diabetes Association’s magazine, Diabetes Forecast. In The Smart Shopper, Robyn shares her savvy secrets to making healthful eating more convenient—and more delicious. Recipes include a chapter on “Quick & Easy Desserts,” like the frosty chocolate treat, below. The Smart Shopper also was cited as one of The Washington Post’s Best Cookbooks of 2013. I’m also pleased to have worked with her on another award-winner, The

Chef Geoff’s

Monday, 05 May 2014

So much fun seeing this “Pepper Bacon Pizza” photo that I shot for Chef Geoff’s Rockville, MD restaurant on a huge sign in the Rockville Metro station! It’s always exciting to see my images displayed larger than life—usually my work is seen so much smaller, whether online or in print! (Last year, some of my images for the IRS were also seen on super-big posters in the Metro.) Chef Geoff’s “CG Burger,” below, is featured in May’s great special—the $9 “Burger&Beverage Duo,” that also incorporates “NorthWestAle,” a brand-new craftbeer collaboration between Chef Geoff and Virginia’s Port City Brewing Company. I addition to running five sucessful DC-area restaurants, Chef Geoff Tracy finds time to give back to the community. National Restaurant Association gave Geoff their  “Restaurant Neighbor Award” for community service, and he contributes generously to area charities. I always admire that giving spirit (and enjoy his delicious food)—so, I look forward to working with Chef

Passover Cooking with Mara

Monday, 14 April 2014

It is so nice to have Mara in DC to help me cook for Passover. And boy, can she cook! OK, it’s more like Mara made the Charoset and Maror for 2nd Seder, and I photographed her cooking… This year’s Maror did bring tears to our eyes. Marty made an appearance as a taster to make sure we were on track. Dov, our usual Chief Matzah-Ball Maker, is in India for the semester. So, tomorrow, my nephew Elan is taking his place in that honored role. You may find our favorite recipes for these traditional dishes in my previous post. We hope everyone has a good Passover!  

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Missing Dov and Missing Columbus

Friday, 11 April 2014

On our last trip to Columbus I was a little grumpy being part of the parent moving crew. But now that three months have passed I certainly miss Dov—and eating in Columbus. You have to love Knead Urban Diner with sandwiches named “The Motherclucker” (above), “The Egg McJunkin” (below), and bathrooms wallpapered with vintage cookbook pages. Sadly this favorite Columbus restaurant has closed (but, they hope to relocate). Exploring India this semester, Dov sent us the photo below: He was out for a meat fix at a spot that is a restaurant by night and garage by day. His first thought was that this is the kind of place that all the guidebooks warn you against. But, he said that the food was terrific! I thought sharing a garage with a restaurant was strange, but this type of thing seems to be a common practice in India. For example, there is The New Lucky Restaurant, which

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