Entries tagged with “Lisa Cherkasky”.

Appetizing appetizers can be just a few easy steps away… Food Network’s 12 Last-Minute Appetizers from the Pantry presents ideas that transform packaged items into “company-worthy snacks.” I shot this group of images showing basic ingredients and their appealing, simple transformations. Even colorful, jarred red peppers look more inviting when “cut into strips and tossed with olive oil and something green…cilantro, parsley, capers or scallions.”

This feature was one in a Food Network series that I did with food stylist Lisa Cherkasky. The other features are: 5 Pantry-Raid Recipes, using only “nonperishable pantry ingredients”; and Supermarket Ingredient Shortcuts, suggesting “quick fixes at the grocery store that will help you get dinner done quicker tonight.” Sometimes I can really use this kind of practical inspiration in the kitchen, so I hope it helps other busy people, too!




What makes it worth getting out of bed at a B&B or hotel? A fabulous breakfast! Even on vacation, I might jump out of bed for these “Lemon Souffle Pancakes with Blueberry Compote.” This recipe, from 1851 Historic Maple Hill Manor in Springfield, Kentucky, won BedandBreakfast.com’s award for the “Best B&B Breakfast Tournament.” I shot this image for USA Today’s magazine, Best Years’ story, 6 award-winning breakfasts from B&Bs.”  It might just be worth the trip to Kentucky, but in case you can’t make it there to taste them (or to bring home the pancake mix they sell), try their celebrated recipe


Breakfast can be tempting and relatively healthy—even when traveling. That is the new attraction promoted by Springhill Suites by Marriott. For their guests’ complimentary breakfasts, they are offering a new selection of “fresh, natural, delicious options,” including this oatmeal, beautifully studded with selections from their toppings bar. Here is an array of their new, healthier breakfast treats, which I shot, with food-styling by Lisa Cherkasky


I love the fresh colors that the creative team at Marriott chose for this promo. The simple, clean design of these pieces…and the tasty breakfast possibilities…make me want to book a stay!



Brrrr! The first day of winter is not until Dec. 21, but, it might as well be today. To get a birds-eye view of the first real snowfall of this winter, yesterday I ventured out of the studio into the sleet to take some shots of the historic Holy Rood Cemetery in Georgetown. Feeling that chill outside convinced me that it’s a perfect day to be inside—preferably with something hot and comforting to eat.

This is my idea of the perfect snow-day combo: “Grilled Cheese and Roasted Tomato Soup” from the menu at Founding Famers restaurants, which is also included in the new Founding Farmers Cookbook (by Nevin Martell, with my photos and styling by Lisa Cherkasky).

As the song says, “the weather outside is frightful,” but I can appreciate the beauty in it (especially now that I am inside, warm and dry). Mmmm…grilled cheese…


Thanksgivukkah: What’s not to love about eight festive days of turkey (sandwiches!) and pies? The last time these holidays converged was 1888. But, it doesn’t feel that out-of-sync. On both holidays we enjoy gathering with family and friends for a thoughtful, warm occasion marked with feasting on favorite traditional foods. And, event the purposes of both holidays are related:

“The concept of Hanukkah is a concept of thanksgiving. Hanukkah marks the first victory over religious persecution,” explains Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg of Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Congregation (who married me and Marty there). In a story about Thanksgivukkah in The Baltimore Sun, he observes, “On Thanksgiving, we’re celebrating living in a country that has allowed us to have that freedom.”

USA Weekend Magazine always gives readers holiday recipes. This year, they also consulted several pie-baking experts and published their tips for making the best holiday pies (featuring my photos and food styling by Lisa Cherkasky). If you find pie-making intimidating, the article offers this comfort in the words of pie expert Kate McDermott: “I think people are so concerned their pie should be perfect. They should throw that out the window. A good pie looks like it was made with love. Don’t strive for the perfect picture of what a pie ‘should’ look like.”

The classic-looking holiday plate above shows recipes from the new The Founding Farmers Cookbook, which I shot (with food styling by Lisa Cherkasky). These traditional dishes are: “Roasted Turkey with Sage Gravy,” “Roasted Chestnut-Corn Bread Stuffing,” and “Cranberry Relish.” You can find recipes for all of these in the book—but, if you prefer to not cook the feast yourself this year, you can also find them on the special Thanksgiving menu at their three restaurants.

A variation on the traditional Thanksgiving dessert might be this spicy, earthy “Sweet Potato Pie with Candied Ginger,” (below) from The New Jewish Table.

I shot the recipes for this cookbook, by Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray of DC’s Equinox Restaurant (written with David Hagedorn). It celebrates the complementary blending of Ellen’s Jewish family favorites and Todd’s New-American cuisine point-of-view. There are sections for each season and special menus for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Passover and Hanukkah. Some of the great recipes in their Hanukkah menu are “Chopped Liver with Sweet Marsala Onions,” “Matzoh-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens,” and “Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Latkes.” If you don’t care to cook on/over the holidays, their restaurant, Equinox is offering special menus for both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!

Happy Thanksgivukkah to all… Enjoy—it won’t happen again for approximately 77,000 years!

This project really did sing! Happily, most of my work does go well, but shooting the brand new Founding Farmers Cookbook was the kind of project that made me feel as if I could keep shooting for the rest of my life. I came to love everything about Founding Farmers—the food, the restaurants, their mission, and all the people I worked with. With three related locations in and near Washington DC, they are a collective of farmers and restaurateurs who offer “…a place where true, sustainably farmed, grown and harvested American foods are brought to [their] guests.” The fitting, full book title is: The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers.

We shot 109 photos, and they all came together easily and beautifully. Prepared recipes were styled by Lisa Cherkasky and shot in my studio, including Benedict Arnold (their unique take on Eggs Benedict), above (and Peach-Blueberry Crisp, at top). Everyone in the group connected immediately, with Jennifer Motruk Loy and Riva Warrilow of VSAG paving the way efficiently so we could focus on creativity. Aside from the actual recipes, the book was written by wonderful (and highly prolific) Washington, DC food writer, Nevin Martell, so it has to be good!

Prop stylist Audrey Weppler selected the backgrounds and props after we visited the restaurants. The eclectic materials in these shots really help to communicate the aesthetic of the restaurants—classic rusticity combined with a modern sensibility, as shown in the images above, Farm Bread with Brie, Onion Preserves and Sliced Apple, and below, Fish and Chips; and…

Southern Pan-Fried Chicken and Waffles, and…

Butternut Squash-Mascarpone Ravioli.

We also spent three days in each of the group’s three restaurants to capture action shots. It was THRILLING shooting there!

The energy, visuals, people and vibe were fantastic. I loved capturing it all, from the blizzard of sugar-coating Uncle Buck’s Beignets in the kitchen, to the bustle in the front of the house, with its colorful decor, including this display of preserves.

In some instances, as with this Skillet Cornbread, it was fun doing shots of the same items: the individual skillets of flaky, sweet cornbread, hot from the restaurant kitchen; and, shot in my studio, presented as it is served in the restaurant, with honey butter and sea salt.

Founding Farmers has a terrific mission, and they express it well on their own website: “The Founding Farmers name represents a combination of ideas: it is a celebration of the land and the American family farmer; it is a nod to the founding fathers of our country, many of whom owned and farmed land that surrounds Washington, D.C….” That Presidential-farm theme is very close to my heart, having spent so much wonderful time photographing George Washington’s Mount Vernon—the historic garden, recipes and mansion for various publications, including their cookbook, guidebook and annual report.

The book was designed by award-winning Washington DC firm, The General Design Company. I especially love all the playful-yet-streamlined (and data-packed) infographics by Creative Director, Soung Wiser. In addition to the great recipes, this type of useful, interesting information really adds value to this book. Check out a couple of my favorite graphics, below.

Being launched by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC on October 29, the book’s press release includes the recipe for that fantastic Peach-Blueberry Crisp, shown at top. You may order their book online; or attend one of these scheduled book-signing events. Or, just make a point of dining at one of their three DC-area restaurants to sample their fantastic menu—and pick up your copy of the book there!

“Clamor in the kitchen”: Fun, organized mayhem in my studio, shooting for King Arthur Flour. It’s just an appropriate coincidence that it’s also one of the HZDG agency’s taglines for their campaign! My studio was totally buzzing with the creative energy and activity of all contributors to the project.

Looking at jumbled ingredients spread out in a kitchen, sometimes it’s hard to imagine they’ll eventually combine into the delicious, gorgeous dish you have in mind: will it be a recipe for a delicacy—or, a disaster? Diverse ingredients for this project’s complex recipe included models, makeup, costumes, sets—and, of course, food. For the photo backgrounds, we built two kitchen sets—and Lisa Cherkasky did all the real baking and food styling next to them, in my real studio kitchen.

At the end of the day the CD, AD and I looked at each other and couldn’t believe we had cooked it all up! The careful pre-production planning of our great team was key to making our recipe turn out so beautifully.

To see more about their comprehensive, multi-platform creative campaign for King Arthur Flour, please check out the agency’s blog.


From from panini to po’ boy, from bánh mì to bocadillo, from gyro to grinder, from chivito to shwarma… Washingtonian Magazine’s food and dining editors judged DC’s highly diverse sandwich offerings, and picked 25 favorites for their “Ultimate Sandwich Guide.” I shot them all, collaborating with food stylist Lisa Cherkasky (who’s also a sandwich expert and writes a very cool blog, “The Lunch Encounter: All Things Sandwich”).

Their “#1 Sandwich in Washington” (shown at top) is the sumptous Steak and Cheese from Ray’s to the Third: The editors rhapsodize about it: “It starts with beef—tender, buttery strips of rib eye and top sirloin…Sweet grilled onions and a thorough coating of American and provolone cheese mean every bite is sweet and salty, crunchy and lushly soft. The roll…keeps this drippy indulgence together without distracting from the deliciousness inside…Decadent? Good God, yes. But it’s well worth the penance a proper calorie fest requires.” All true…

Included in the feature package is a fun timeline of “Sandwiches of the Century…Washington’s most iconic Italian subs, cheesesteaks, lobster rolls and more” (running along the bottoms of pages). Beginning at 1901, it includes the 1939 icon, “Corned Beef and Roquefort Crema Cheese” from Wagshal’s; 1960’s icon, the “Teen Twist” grilled ham and cheese at Hot Shoppes; and, it continues through to this year’s representative, “The Luther—a glazed doughnut with bacon and fried chicken—at GBD.”

There was such variety in the group of 25 winners. It was fun to shoot (and to try) so many different types of sandwiches. I can honestly say: We tasted them all—and we’re still stuffed!

Tomatoes… Peaches… Nothing says “summer” like their fresh juiciness in peak season. This recipe for  “Tomato and peach salad with feta and red onion,” which I shot, is shared in USA Weekend Magazine from Peaches, by Kelly Alexander. It’s a creative way to combine them for a seasonal, sweet and savory dish. USA Weekend features a cookbook each week for their Cookbook Sweepstakes giveaway, and I’ve shot the recipes for most of them, with styling by Lisa Cherkasky, including all of the photos in this post.

This recipe for “Summer three-bean and potato salad with fresh herbs” from Flour, Too, by Joanne Chang, offers another opportunity to use the season’s freshest ingredients in the farmers’ market or grocery store.

“Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and Pico de Gallo” is another refreshing dish. This cool, yet spicy hot recipe is from The Hot Sauce Cookbook, by Robb Walsh.

“Fish en Papillote,” a recipe for a classic cooking technique, is interpreted here with fennel and mushrooms, by Susan Spungen in What’s a Hostess to Do?. 

“Candied Bacon Slices.” Because… Bacon. This recipe is from Bacon Nation, by Peter Kaminsky and Maria Rama, who say, “There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love bacon, and those who haven’t tasted it yet.”



Foods that kids will really love eating—that are also healthy and super-easy to prepare…That is Mom Made Foods: appetizing, nutritious frozen foods, created just for kids. I collaborated with founder/CEO, savvy “mompreneur” Heather Stouffer, shooting these packaging images for Bites, the newest items in her product line. The healthful freshness of the product itself inspired me to use fresh-feeling, open lighting. Lisa Cherkasky’s food styling and the fun, whimsical package design really add to the appeal. And, after just a little cooking, the Bites brown very nicely. I can see why kids really like them—they are simply tasty morsels of familiar foods that are fun to eat.

They appeal to parents because they’re healthy and allow flexibility: quick to cook, they can be entrees or side dishes, or can be combined with spaghetti. Or, they can even be served as kabobs, skewered with vegetables or fruit (a fun idea inspired by Heather’s young kids, following in their mom’s enterprising footsteps)! Mom Made Foods’ all-organic product lines include Mom Made Meals,  Mom Made Munchies, and the new Mom Made Bites: kid-sized meatballs made with antibiotic-free meats. Bites come in three varieties: Turkey, Chicken & Apple, and Beef & Cheese.

Both a mother and a busy manager in the tech industry before starting Mom Made Foods, company CEO Stouffer explains that she started her company in 2006 because, “What I didn’t realize was how challenging it was to prepare family dinners from scratch every night, and that sometimes it wasn’t possible at all. I needed a break from cooking, and when I went looking for a store-bought alternative, I couldn’t find one.”

The real truth is that it can be a challenge to figure out what young kids will eat—unless they are like Dov, who ate everything. Mara was so picky, we thought it would be more efficient to just make her lunch and put it directly into the trashcan—just skip the whole routine—the packing of the lunch box, carrying it to school, carrying it home—only to be thrown away! But then, when she was a teenager she ate everything.

When my kids were young, my feeling was: don’t sweat it—put healthy food out, and see what takes. Great products from Mom Made Foods make it so much easier for parents to exercise that philosophy! Find them in “the freezer aisle of leading national retailers and local natural food stores.” Look for the new Mom Made Foods Bites this summer in SuperTarget, Whole Foods stores and many others.

Summer means grilling! When warm weather arrives, we are always happy to move our cooking and dining outdoors. Marty is really looking forward to firing up his Big Green Egg again this year, so we can enjoy our grilled favorites and maybe even try some new recipes.

For several years, I’ve been happy to shoot summer grilling features for USA Weekend Magazine (with styling by Lisa Cherkasky). This year, they spotlight Chef Bobby Flay, who offers grilling tips in “All Fired Up!”. Our photos help to feature these recipes from his cookbook, Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction: “Nectarine, Black Pepper and Blue Cheese Salad” (above), and “Fire-Roasted Baby Lamb Chops with Smoked Paprika-Orange BBQ Sauce” (below). This book is offered as part of USA Weekend’s weekly cookbook-giveaway sweepstakes.

In the interview, Flay says he loves his Big Green Egg grill, too—just like Marty, my favorite chef. Maybe one of these recipes will inspire new summer favorites for you, too. Happy grilling!