This is one of my absolute favorite soups! It’s fresh and full of glorious garden heirloom heaven. We are quite lucky here in southern California because the farmers’ markets are already chock full of gorgeous heirloom tomato varieties and I, for one, will always take advantage of that. This roasted tomato soup can easily be made vegetarian or vegan friendly by substituting butter for more olive oil and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

If heirlooms are too pricey in your area you can mix in some cherry and vine tomatoes. The heirlooms in our garden are still babies but once they get popping we’ll be churning out this soup weekly. You could also try serving it cold for a refreshing meal on a hot day.


  • 4 pounds heirloom tomatoes or a mix of heirlooms, cherry, and vine tomatoes
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 small onions of your choice, sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh sweet basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional if you like a creamier tomato soup)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Core and slice big tomatoes into consistent thick slices or halve smaller ones. Spread tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and onion slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes until caramelized. Keep an eye on them so they don’t over cook and dry out.

Add roasted tomatoes, garlic, onion, chicken broth, butter, and bay leaves to a stock pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until the soup has reduced by about a third or until you reach your preferred consistency.

Add fresh basil leaves to pot and fish out the bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup or process in a blender in batches until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and add cream if desired. Yum!

Fresh and light seafood dishes just feel like summer to me. Crisp fresh flavors and chilled white wine on a cool summer’s night can make any day special. This recipe is easily adaptable to any flavors you’d like to add and gives a great basic starting point for any shellfish dish. You can pile the mussels on linguine and pour the sauce over top or simply eat them as is like we do sopping up the sauce with crusty seedy bread. I used olive oil and it tasted great but you can also use butter for a more indulgent meal.

I bought Carlsbad Aquafarm mussels and they were delightful. Tasty and succulent. Though I usually avoid farmed seafood, this aquafarm has quality seafood and operates in an incredibly eco-friendly manner.


  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger root
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 slices lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and salt and saute until shallots are lightly browned. Add wine, lemon and most of the parsley reserving some for garnish. Bring to a boil then add mussels, cover pot, and cook until the mussels pop open. Discard any mussels that didn’t open. Remove mussels from pan and cook down sauce to desired consistency (I prefer it a little more watery). Salt and pepper to taste and spoon sauce over mussels. Garnish with remaining parsley. DELICIOUS!!


food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Okay, this will be the last honey post for a while. I know, I’m obsessed. This is, as of now, the last of a tiny series of sorts focused around honey, which I use for EVERYTHING! It’s delicious chewiness lends itself to everything from toast to stir fry (just a spoonful of honey makes a happy tummy) and I also use it in homemade lotions and scrubs as well as a moisturizing and antibacterial face wash. Eating raw local honey can even help allergy sufferers over the long term. Thanks bees for letting us steal the fruit of your incessant labor!

Honey is a fun subject with it’s amber hue and sticky slow motion it lends itself to some pretty fun light play.

I’ve been engrossed in a pretty fantastic project these days and I haven’t had much time to shoot for the blog lately so please forgive me if things are a bit erratic or I miss a week here or there. I hope to share some of what I’ve been up to soon:)

Have a great week and don’t forget to take your spoonful of honey!

Honey in jar art food photography

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!!! To celebrate today I’m posting early this week so enjoy this refreshing mexican dish to accompany those Coronas! Enjoy the delicious festivities!

West coast living has got me wondering how I ever survived without avocados. Though you can buy them on the east coast, they aren’t as big a part of the food culture as they are here, where they are grown. If you have a friend with an avocado tree, you know that there comes a time of year that the sheer volume of ripening avocados on a single tree can become a burden. What to do with all those precious little green orbs? Cold soup, of course! Avocados are luscious and rich while being chock full of healthy goodness. This absurdly easy soup is a true taste of west coast living. It’s a cool, healthy, silky green treat for those hot dry days. You may notice this recipe doesn’t call for lemon juice, which is a common flavor partner with avocado. The tangy acidity of the tomatillos provides the tart component for this soup and boy does it do it well.

I love this with the the crab and fresh peppers but it’s fantastic alone simply topped with chives as well. For dairy-free peeps try substituting coconut milk and a squeeze of lemon for the buttermilk (good idea Katie!).


all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

  • 5 ripe avocados (peeled and pitted)
  • 1- 1/2 cups reduced fat buttermilk
  • 4″ length of an english cucumber
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatillos
  • 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 seeded serrano peppers
  • 1/4 cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons smashed garlic
  • 4 mini bells pepper, halved and thinly sliced
  • small bunch of fresh chives, chopped
  • lump crabmeat (optional)

~ Throw avocados, buttermilk, cucumber, tomatillos, broth, serranos, cilantro, salt, and garlic in the blender and puree until silky smooth.

~ Spoon into bowls and top with crab, bell pepper, and chives.

Told you it was easy;)


all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

More honey time in the studio. Shooting honey has been extra fun because honey really has a life of it’s own and, unlike many food subjects like lettuce which just wilts and deflates, honey drips and oozes and bubbles and catches light differently with each frame. This makes for fun shooting but, admittedly, not so fun editing. What do ya’ll think of these? Does honey turn you on? 😉 I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Oh, whip a hunk of honeycomb into a stick of softened butter for yet another new and fantastic compound butter experiment. You won’t regret it. The raw honey sealed inside a honeycomb is as pure as it get, a totally untouched and unadulterated flavor. Trust me, you will notice the difference!

Honey art food photography

Honeycomb art food photography

Honeycomb art food photography


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