The other day I was perusing the magical shelves and piles of vibrant produce in one of the larger mexican markets in our neighborhood when I noticed the strange looking but beautiful beans sitting unassumingly on a produce shelf. What are these long long beans?! Magic beans?! Maybe….well, no but I simply couldn’t resist my curiosity and picked up a big bundle. Shoot first, ask questions later is definitely my motto when it comes to gorgeous mystery foods! These little beauties are called Guajes and taste as if garlic and onion had a baby that came out tasting mostly like papa garlic. They are a delicious and powerful ingredient for salsas and, in this case, guacamole. If you happen by guajes at a mexican or asian market, pick up a small bundle and give them a try. I’ve even been throwing them in stir-fry dishes or some extra ooomph!

Try this fresh, healthy, and super flavorful guacamole at your next get together!

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

  • 3 avocados, flesh scooped out
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 handful chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh guajes seeds pulled from the bean, finely diced or smashed

Mix avocado and lime juice in a large bowl, draining any excess juice. Mash in cumin, cayenne, salt and gaujes. Fold in tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Top with a squeeze of lime juice and a few fresh whole guaje seeds.

ENJOY!

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I recently teamed up with my pal Secia from Petite Insanities for an extra special sweet treat. It’s always fun to explore the ethnic backgrounds of friends but even more fun to explore the foods of different cultures. I first had Loukoumades a couple years ago when Secia took me to my first greek festival and WOW, they are so crispy and airy you can’t have just one. This is Secia’s family recipe and we had too much fun making (and eating) these cute little dollops of deliciousness. I hesitate to call them a donut because the term just doesn’t do them justice. Try them out for yourself and you too will find them in a class of their own.

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

  • 2 packages active dry yest
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 3/4 c. scalded milk
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 c. softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. water
  • frying oil

~ Add yeast to warm water (not hot) and let stand.

~ Pour scalded milk in bowl, add sugar and salt; blend together and cool to lukewarm.

~ Stir yeast mixture well and add to milk and sugar.

~ Mix in butter, eggs and flour and beat vigorously until batter in smooth.

~ Cover and let rise for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.

~ Stir down well and let rise for another 30 minutes.

~ Stir down again and heat frying oil to 350 degrees in a tall walled pan (reduces splatter mess) 2″ deep.

~Drop batter in small dollops into hot oil, turning until golden brown.

~ Drain on paper towel and drizzle with cool honey, cinnamon and walnuts

** Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier


I am an absolute meat eater. I eat veggies by the handful, but I could not imagine my life without meat. For health’s sake I like to get leaner cuts of steak and dress them up a bit which is exactly what we’re doing with this glaze. It is a beautiful way to serve a tender lean cut of delicious meat. A salad of full flavored punchy greens serves as a nice contrast to the savory richness of the meat both in terms of flavor and aesthetic. I’m a little bit in love with the second shot because it has the feel of a painting. What do you think?

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

GLAZE (for 4 steaks):

  • 3/4 cup cabernet sauvignon
  • 1 shallot finely minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (not pictured)
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil for searing steaks

SALAD:

***Any and all of your favorite zesty ingredients such as:

  • mint/shiso leaves
  • cilantro
  • red onion
  • wild arugula
  • mustard greens
  • sugar snaps peas for a sweet contrast – the list goes on…

~ Salt and pepper both sides of filets then sear both sides at medium-high heat in pre-heated pan of olive oil for about 3 minutes each side to lock in juices

~ Reduce heat to medium and cook both sides to desired doneness. Remove from pan and set aside.

~ Increase heat to medium high and deglaze pan with cabernet. Add thyme leaves, shallots and salt and pepper. Simmer for a couple minutes until shallots are translucent.

~ Brush a bit of the glaze over each filet and serve with a zesty salad.

ENJOY!

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I recently shot a fine art type series with Pacific raw oysters, which are much more interesting looking that the east coast varieties I was accustomed to seeing. Like octopus, oysters are considered an aphrodisiac. I suppose there is some food sexiness in the strange shapes and glistening texture beneath that ruffled, harsh shell. My Petite Insanities friend Secia hand modeled in this one for a female component to this aphrodisiac claim. Regardless of their aphrodisiac status, shooting these slippery little suckers was a fun and tasty exploration.

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

 

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

 

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

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