This one is a total death by chocolate, but at least it’s a rich, decadent death;) The cake itself is such a pure, unadulterated chocolate indulgence that is only made richer by the lusciousness of bittersweet ganache and the earthiness of raw pistachios. Bright green pistachio hues play nicely against the glistening dark chocolate for a breathtaking presentation. This was my wonderful friend Jenny’s unofficial birthday cake and I think she left pretty pleased. A small slice will satisfy even the most ravenous of cravings! It’s a good day to be a food photographer;)

Chocolate Cake with Raw Pistachios


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 10 ounces grated bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • raw pistachios (available at health food and persian markets)

~ Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray a bundt pan. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

~ Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Grease or spray a bundt pan.

~ In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture. Pour into bundt pan.

~ Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool.

~ Place grated chocolate in a bowl, heat milk until it almost boils, pour over chocolate and whisk smooth. Pour over cake, top generously with raw pistachios.

* Feel free to use boxed cake mix. The ganache and pistachios make it extra rich and simply incredible!


Dark Chocolate Cake Batter

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

 food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

REFRESHING and TANGY! As stoners and chefs (and now this food photographer) have known for ages, butter fat is an amazing tool for capturing the flavors of herbs, spices, and foods. Compound butters are so much more complex than the sum of their parts. Give it a try! It’s super easy and makes all kinds of dishes a bit more special. This one is super garlicky and lemony, great for fish dishes, rices, chicken and anything else you can dream up. Stay tuned because soon I’ll share a couple sweet compound butter recipes for toast, pancakes, french toast, you name it!

Garlic Herb Whipped Butter

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 tsp smashed garlic
  • juice and zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • 1/4-1/3 cup finely chopped herbs ( I used parsley, chives, cilantro and scallions)

~ Leave butter out in a bowl until softened.

~ Add all ingredients and blend with a hand mixer until whipped and light.

~ Refrigerate for a couple hours (ideally) to allow flavors to fully develop.

ENJOY and remember to share your own ideas with us!

*** Vampires beware! With all this garlic you can sleep soundly;)

Don’t forget to try compound butters with the oh-so-famous no knead dutch oven bread!!
Head of Garlic

Let’s start this one off with a graphic image of a food we see time and again with little visual impact. I passed this little gem at the farmers’ market and was reminded of one of the first recipes I ever really made, ya know, back when I was too cool to cook. So glad I outgrew that tasteless, and generally hungry, phase of my life!

This is a simple recipe blending the sweet creaminess of squash with the salty indulgence of butter. I use wonton wrappers instead of pasta to lighten it up a bit and make the filling a more dominant taste over the pasta. Take a couple hours and get your hands dirty making this go-to recipe. I always make a ton and freeze them between parchment in a freezer bag for easy delicious dinners any day of the week.

Acorn Squash Art Food Photography


  •     1 large acorn squash, seeds removed
  •     1 cup finely grated Gruyere
  •     2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  •     Heaping 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  •     Salt and pepper to taste


  •     2 packages wonton wrappers from the refrigerated area of the grocery store


  •   2 sticks  unsalted butter
  •    20+ fresh sage leaves
  •     Salt and pepper to taste
  •    shaved parmesan cheese

~  Steam the squash over boiling water cut side down in a covered pot until soft and easily pierced with a fork (~20 minutes or so). Let cool, scoop out flesh, mash (drain excess water if necessary) and stir in the gruyere, nutmeg and ginger.

~ Flour a work surface. Place a small dollop of filling in the center each wonton wrapper, moisten the edges with water or a beaten egg, place a second wrapper on top and press or pinch the edges together. Cook raviolis in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.

~ Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add sage and cook until leaves are wilted and slightly crisped and the butter smells sweet and browns. Pour over raviolis and enjoy!

Let us know what you think! What are your favorite squash recipes and winter treats?

Acorn Squash Ravioli Making

 food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier




We hosted the holidays this year and, with all the craziness surrounding the first holiday at our house, we totally forgot about the beautiful fresh cranberries hanging out in the fridge. Oooops! No problem, this recipe is a great use of a simply wonderful fruit that gets the cold shoulder for most of the year. I’ve been slathering it on fresh bread and even eating it with a spoon. It’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet with the option to add persimmons, blood orange slices, candied ginger etc.

So pretty with rich reds and a gorgeous glisten. Enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce

  • 12 oz package of fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
  • slices from 1 blood orange (optional)
  • chopped toasted pecans (optional)
~ Put all ingredients in a pan and bring to a bowl. Reduce to simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes until it thickens and gels slightly.
Let cool.

Homemade Bread

For this beautiful crusty fresh bread I use the No-knead dutch oven recipe below adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery and featured here in the New York Times. It’s super easy and quite genius but you should start the night before and let it do it’s first rise overnight. It’s especially fantastic with white flour (I know, I know) and I’ve found that it’s best to cut the flour by 1/3 of a cup if using whole wheat flour to prevent the bread from becoming to dense. You’ll get a big loaf out of this recipe with no fuss!

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal

~ In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

~ Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

~ Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel cornmeal (or flour); put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

~ At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (I bake for 7-10 minutes uncovered otherwise the bottom burns in my oven), until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Smother with cranberry preserves and ENJOY!

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