Hey everybody! I’ve been a bit busy over here with projects galore spanning every aspect of life, work, play, construction, animal rescue you name it we’ve got it going on over here. Busy is good. I like the feeling of days so full of everything under the sun that I simply die like a battery on the couch at the end of each day. That said, busy summer days can get sticky and sweaty so it’s nice to have a cool, refreshing drink that’s quick to make and gets the thirst quenching job done with a twist of deliciousness.

Me and my food stylist friend Sienna DeGovia were playing around in the studio the other day embarking on some gorgeous food photography projects when she whipped us this tasty beverage. She had found some mini tangerines still on branches and we just couldn’t resist shooting these extra tiny cuties! As a¬† food photographer in a city like Los Angeles I am lucky to have many resources in terms of stylists and Sienna is one of my favorite people to work with. She’s the bee’s knees;)

In other news, I’m honored to have won a Photo District News contest in the category of Food! It’s always pretty fun to read people saying flattering things about you and, truth be told, I’m a bit of a slacker when it comes to applying for contests so I was pretty pumped to get this acknowledgement. You may remember the winning photo of a deconstructed pasta dish from this post of Tortellini with Spring Peas and Parmesan. You’ll find the lovely writeup below.

Also, a splash of vodka or rum would be fantastic in this drink;) Happy sipping!!

Contest Winner food photographer Crystal Cartier



and now for refreshment….

tangerine drink by food photographer Crystal Cartier

  • 3 full size tangerines, quartered
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 Tablespoon raw sugar
  • crushed ice
  • additional rosemary sprigs or tangerine slices to garnish, optional

~ Add tangerines, rosemary and sugar to a large pitcher. Muddle together to release juices and flavors.

~ Add ice leaving room for the sparkling water. Add sparkling water and stir gently.

~ Divide among glasses and feel free to garnish with additional rosemary sprigs or slices of tangerine.


I forget about eggplant. Every week I buy loads of veggies but always forget about eggplant. This week I saw these little baby eggplants screaming in cuteness for some culinary attention and just had to get them and figure it out later. We always have tons of squash and the like here, but eggplant requires a different kind of flavor profile and treatment. I kept it simple this time around and these little buggers were just so tender and succulent. Super easy, pretty healthy and incredibly satisfying, this recipe is a keeper for those busy weeknights when you’re tired but still want real food.

What do you do with your eggplant?

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

  • 6 baby eggplants (mine were 2-3″ long)
  • fruity, full-bodied olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, diced
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • goat cheese
  • aged balsamic vinegar, drizzle for serving

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

~ Halve eggplant lengthwise and toss with enough olive olive to lightly coat. Spread on foiled lined baking dish and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until eggplant is tender.

~Plate eggplant and top each half with a spoonful of goat cheese, a drizzle of aged balsamic, and a light drizzle of olive oil (if desired).


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

A very dear friend of mine just got married. At her bachelorette we ate at a fantastic restaurant in Santa Ynez wine country called Root 246. As we’re gobbling down appetizer after appetizer I put some unidentified garnish in my mouth and I’m blown away. What IS this?! Everyone tries it and the perplexed expressions multiply. Finally I feel the light bulb go on. “Fennel!” I yelled entirely too loudly. “It’s pickled fennel!” Thank goodness too because the mystery of that little side dish would have driven us bonkers. It was deliciously tart, sweet and crunchy and I had to have more. This recipe is a bit different than what I had at 246 but with comparable characteristics. It’s a refreshing palette cleanser and a great use of fennel.

What are your favorite pickled veggies?

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 lemon, zest removed in strips then juiced
  • 1 orange, zest removed in strips then juiced
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 pieces star anise
  • sterilized 1 quart canning jar

~ Cut fennel bulb in half vertically, remove core and slice very thinly. Place in colander over sink and salt evenly. Let sit and allow to drain.

~ Add fennel, lemon zest and orange zest to canning jar and pressed mixture down with the back of a clean spoon. Add star anise.

~ In a small pan, bring lemon juice, orange juice, vinegar and honey/sugar just barely to a boil to dissolve sugars. Pour mixture over fennel in jar. Seal jar and let steep at room temperature for a couple days. Then eat or store in fridge for up to a couple weeks.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier 

My wonderful husband had a birthday (he’s very good at getting older;) and his favorite cake is carrot cake. I started looking for a killer carrot cake recipe only to find that just reading the ingredients made my stomach hurt. I don’t really bake and I always find it alarming just how obnoxiously bad for you these treats are. I’m a big fan of the ignorant bliss in ordering cakes someone else made! So, in light of that I started plotting a carrot cake alternative and, after all, what’s better than breakfast/dessert for dinner?! He came home to these handsome, rich little devils on his birthday and, I must say, we were both genuinely surprised at how decadent and satisfying they were! They are definitely in the top 5 best gourmet pancakes I’ve had, which is saying a lot with some of the breakfast spots we frequent that specialize in gourmet pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t health food but it’s a heck of a lot less bad for you than their cake counterpart and I must say, I like these more.

Go on, getcha some breakfast for dinner!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013


  • 2 cups carrots, finely shredded
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1- 1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • coconut oil, just enough for cooking


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons good quality maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground ginger

~ Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk, vanilla and sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to mix. Stir only enough as needed and no more. Let sit for a few minutes.

~ In another bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger. Blend together with hand mixer until smooth.

~ Heat some coconut oil in a skillet. One hot add about 1/4 cup of batter and cook for a couple of minutes on each side.

~ Plate and top pancakes with a generous amount of topping. I sprinkled some brown sugar on the topping to get the little design.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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