Thursday, November 15, 2012

My inner Masterchef

Bringing out my inner Masterchef...thank goodness for many hours spent working with great chefs like Gary Rhodes and Neven Maguire - I'm hoping they would be proud of my dots, quenelles, soil and swipes!

As seen in a Masterchef Ireland supplement magazine in the RTE guide recently.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to School Lunch-boxes

My back to school lunch box ideas are packed with ideas for interesting packaging and fun flavor combinations for nutritionally balanced kiddie feasts! Check them out in this months issue of AIB bank magazine. Thanks to cutie model Oscar for holding the pasty-saurus rex so perfectly!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Irish Country Magazine, July Issue

If you haven't already picked up the current issue of Irish Country Mag, then grab one quick as it is flying off the shelves. The magazine is a great new publication packed with all things home, garden, fashion, family and of course food. My kinda magazine!

Of course I had my finger in the pie and prop and food styled a couple of features. Catherine Fulvio's BBQ recipes were delicious and if I could cook and style them in the rain then you can too! The God's were against us that day but it didn't dampen our Summer spirit as you can see from the summery shot above.

The second feature was with fabulous Irish Cheese producers which was a very tasty job indeed. We won't mention the calories piled on from excessive cheese eating on the day. I couldn't name a favourite between Wicklow blue, Triskel, Knockdrinna and Durrus and the people behind them were equally as charming. Actually, it was lovely to read a bit more about their interesting stories recently when i nabbed a rare five minutes peace.

Try the mag yourself, a very enjoyable and relaxing read altogether!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Italian Food Memories

Well it's not often that work turns into a bit of a jolly but it appears to have done just that for me recently. I was lucky enough to be whisked away to the Piemonte region of Italy for a few days as a guest of Sacla and they have seriously layed down the gauntlet for foodies on tour.

From the fabulous Claire Blampied, MD of Sacla, Sue of Panache PR through to the Sacla family in Italy, I, along with a group of other Irish Foodies, was treated like one of the family. We broke bread, broke our sides laughing, wined, dined and harvested fresh basil. Get that for an Italian mix up. Here's my Italian family album with some snippets of my food memories. (Check out my other blog for some speedy mom pitta pizzas and more Italian chit-chat).

We were welcomed by the Sacla family to their home in Asti in Northern Italy. Yes, Asti as in Spumante *glass thrust in hand* ...we're loving it here already. The Ercole family have been in business for 70 years spanning three generations and I can honestly say they were as warm and genuine as an Irish family. 

They treated us to a memorable Italian meal made by local chefs Sandra Strocco and Massimiliano Musso, a mother and son duo, from Michelin-starred Ristorante Ca'Vittoria. One of my favorite courses was oricchiette pasta dressed with Sacla's chilli pesto blended with a gorgeously creamy ricotta with a little extra on top. You have to try it! Since coming home, I've dipped everything from crackers and breadsticks, to my fingers, into the jar of pesto to bring me back there.

One Italian villa in a vineyard, a wine tasting and a dinner al fresco later and we were off to Amateis farm in Alessandria. This farm have been supplying Sacla with basil since the early 80's. Sacla buy about 90% of their basil from this family run farm. They provide enough basil for about 580,000 jars of pesto per year. Thats a lot of pesto, so you can only imagine the amount of basil. We got to wander through acres of abundant basil drills which was quite therapeutic. (Which reminds me, I must throw out my sad attempt  of a basil plant which hangs limply in my kitchen window). There was great excitement when the harvester turned up to delicately pick some basil. In seconds there were piles of the fresh and flouncy leaves and the fragrance was intoxicating. Then, all was topped off by the most amazing lunch on the farm with the family...gorgeous cheeses and parma ham with sweet and juicy peaches and melon...and a whole lot of nodding and smiling at each other as means of communication through the language barrier.

Now, I will try and let the snaps speak for themselves (and therefore not go on too much about the fabulous time that was had). So, sticking with the food memories, I will never forget the most amazing little goody parcel of egg in a thick and creamy, cheesy sauce with fresh asparagus, baked in a clear plastic pouch. In the photo, it may not look like the prettiest thing, but its' out-of-this-worldness will remain with me forever. Ok, so will the most magnificent bellini's ever served to man. By the way, I'm so wrapping my breadsticks in a piece of linen cloth from now on. How shi-shi. On a final note, Clare introduced me to the most delicious, refreshing and cleansing (and yes, cleansing was needed at this point) little drink...balsamic vinegar topped with chilled, sparkling water. I know, sounds weird, but believe me, it is now high on my drinks list of interesting little numbers. Thankfully Claire will be bringing some tasty little balsamic vinegars to our shores via Sacla later this year. So to Sacla and all the fond foodie memories you created for me, Grazie Mille!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Styling BFree Bread

I styled 6 recipes using wheat and gluten free bread for BFree Breads. Gluten free breads have come a long way since the day of their bath sponge texture. These breads in particular are so delicious you wouldn't really notice the difference between them and normal bread. So, even if you're not wheat or gluten intolerant they are a great alternative.

Food styling wise, I'm all about attention to detail. A little gloss of oil in all the right places, like on the olives and the roasted red peppers. Then interesting shapes like the cherry tomatoes, the cut of the red onion, the thinly sliced apple rounds and not forgetting my special basil plant that nobody is allowed to touch (or kill!) on me as it has the most perfect little pointy, curvy leaves. Oh what a weird and wonderful life I lead. Final attention to detail goes to getting those tasty looking flaky edges on the cheese slice, picking out turkey slices with nice golden edging and arranging asparagus tips so the look like they just happened to fall into that relaxed position. The irony (several goes and a few swear words later).

On the prop styling side of things, we went for a simple, fresh and healthy look. The wood gives a natural feel besides being a nice texture with an interesting grain. The torn paper is white parchment in some cases and also that lovely paper cheese sometimes comes wrapped in (of which I have a freakish stack of). It helps ground the food, adds another interesting layer and texture and keeps the look fresh and modern. The use of one or the other or both throughout the shots, marry's them together into a nice little collection. You agree?

Check out more of my work and the delicious, healthy recipes here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Some snaps from overhead...

(c) Cliona O'Flaherty

These are some photos from an Udo's Oil shoot that I worked on as mentioned in a previous post. 

As you can see, the photo's were taken from over head which really shows off the food. However, when shooting food in this way you really have no where to hide so it's important to pay extra attention to the placement of each piece of food,  the shapes created and the props that you use. What looks great side on may not translate as beautifully from above and vice versa. 

Shooting everything in a collection in this way might be a bit of a headache to look at, so these shots were mixed with others shot in a more normal way.

Anyhow, pretty pretty..

Friday, March 16, 2012

Paddy's Day Pie

(c) Harry Weir

I made and styled these pie's for Superquinn's cookbook A Passion for Food. Beef and stout are a classic Irish combination so they would make the perfect lunch or dinner for St. Patrick's Day! Enjoy!

Beef, Mushroom and Stout Pie

Serves 6

4 tbsp sunflower oil
1kg (2 1/4 lb) round steak, well trimmed
2 onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely sliced
4 celery sticks, finely chopped
600ml (1 pint) stout
1 litre (1 3/4 pints) beef or chicken stock
250g (9oz) flat breakfast mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
600g (1lb 6oz) self raising flour, plus extra for dusting
300g ( 11oz) shredded vegetable suet
Sea salt and ground pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan with a lid and sauté half of the beef until it is well coloured. Transfer to a plate and repeat until all the beef is cooked.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan and sauté the onions, carrots and celery for 10 minutes without colouring.

Pour in the stout and simmer gently until reduced by half, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any sediment. Return the beef to the pan with the stout, stock and mushrooms. Season and cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 1-1.5 hours until the beef is just tender but still holding its shape.

Strain through a colander set over a bowl, reserving the liquid and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220 C ( Gas mark 7/ 425 F).

To make the pastry crust, sieve the flour into a bowl, stir in the suet and add just enough cold water to make a firm dough - 400 ml (14 fl oz) is about right.
Rest for 5 minutes, then cut into six pieces and roll out each one on a lightly floured board to a circle that is about 1cm (1/2 in) thick.

Divide the meat among individual pie dishes that hold about 450 ml (3/4 pint) and pour over enough of the gravy to come almost to the top. Do not overfill. Cut any superfluous strip off each pastry circle, dampen the rim of each dish and press the pastry strip firmly into place around the rim. Dampen the pastry strip in turn and lay the pastry lids on top. Press down to fit the lid and then press all around with a fork and then transfer to baking sheets.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

Serve set on plates and straight to the table.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Banana Breakfast Booster!

(c) Cliona O'Flaherty

A delicious recipe from a recent recipe booklet shoot for Naturalife's Udos Oil.


This is a great energy booster in the morning. It is really tasty,very easy to make and will keep you going until lunch.

1 thick slice of wholemeal bread
1 large banana
sesame seeds
15ml of Udo's Choice Oil

Mash up the banana and spread it over the bread Scatter the sesame seeds on top and place under a warm grill for a few minutes or until it has toasted a light golden brown. Remove the toast from the grill and let it cool slightly before drizzling the oil evenly over the top.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Peasant Chic Picnic

Images show some behind the scenes action on an Irish Country Magazine feature on Irish Food Bloggers, featuring Imen McDonnell, Lorna Sixsmith, Pat Whelan and Ella McSweeney.

The theme was a 'peasant chic' picnic. Luckily we shot on location at the lovely Village at Lyons which housed us in a cosy conservatory to shield us from the elements.

Check out the contributors food and interviews in the first fabulous issue of the mag out on March 29th 2012.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Irish Country Magazine Feature

These are some behind the scenes snaps from a food feature for Catherine Fuvio in Irish Country Magazine. Photographers Carol Dunne and Jack Caffrey were as creative as ever. Check out the recipes and finished feature when the mag hits the shelves on March 29th.