Happy holidays everyone!!! We have so much to celebrate around here and so many celebrations going on! We just had the most incredible baby shower on the planet thrown by my wonderful friends Secia and Emily. You’ve seen some of Secia’s food skills on this blog many times before (as well as her face/body on occasion!) and today’s post features a caramel apple pie to DIE for beautifully made by the talented Emily. I’m so lucky to have these special women in my life. Though I’ve never posted a photo of myself on this blog here’s a big ‘ol pregnant photo of me and my super pumped baby daddy as well as a snap of Emily’s beautiful babe stacked on top of her future friend. So fun! Oh and we had baby doll corn hole which is exactly what it sounds like, chucking baby dolls across the yard. I highly recommend this for ANY reason, it was so hysterical!!

US-shower

stacked-babes

 Ahhhh:) Okay, okay onto the promised caramel apple pie. Believe me, I understand, apple pie is serious business and this one is THE business. Pouring the caramel through the lattice makes the top crust like crispy caramelized sugar. Totally brilliant and gorgeous! Seriously, this pie is just the most beautiful and impressive look pie on the planet so bring this to your holiday party and be a straight up baller;)

apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

  • 1 recipe of your favorite 9 inch double pie crust, one for bottom crust and one for lattice (or buy that baby from the store)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 8 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced evenly

~ Preheat oven to 425 degrees

~ Melt butter in heavy bottom sauce pan and stir in flour until a bit of a paste forms. Stir in sugars, spices and water and bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer until the mixture caramelizes and reduces slightly. Try you best not to take the whole pot of crazy delicious caramel to the face (maybe the fact that it’s scalding hot will help, sadly it didn’t for me!)

~ Place crust in bottom of pie pan and fill it with the apples. Make sure there are enough apples to mound slightly. Cover with the lattice and pinch the crust edges. Slowly and carefully pour the caramel mixture evenly through the lattice.

~ Bake 15 minutes at 425 then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-45 minutes until apples are soft.

ENJOY!!!

apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier apple pie, caramel, baking, recipe, dessert, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

Sooooo I’ve been pretty M.I.A. recently with quite a surge of craziness in work and life (the good stuff) but I’m back now and ready to eat and cook and make beautiful things just for the sake of making them, no paychecks attached (tho I do love a good paycheck;)

As you’ve heard me say a time or two, I don’t like baking. Flour makes me crazy, which hasn’t been much of a problem since I’ve been gluten-free for a couple years. I simply found that gluten really upsets my stomach, like A LOT, so I cut it out despite my love for crusty breads. Fast forward a bit and I read that true traditional sourdoughs with a long fermentation period can often be tolerated by people who would normally be intestinally torn up by bread. This bread is a long, overnight fermentation and no-knead in the style made famous by Jim Lahey.

I was dubious and didn’t want to get my hopes up BUT I was also getting pretty desperate because, a bit of news from the Cartier house, I’m pregnant with a little girl (our first! yay!) and the first trimester “quesies” had me really missing things like bread! When I feel sick, I just want toast. Toast, toast and more toast! Not to mention it’s an easy “meal” that anyone can make you when you’re trying to calm your (adorable?) baby belly. I call this sickly sensation “swamp belly” as it felt like miserable, bubbling guts. Our ultrasound at the time showed the baby looking like a little gummi bear so I affectionately dubbed her the “sour gummi” when she made me horribly sick. Now in my second trimester, she’s no longer sour but the experience did make me try this bread making method which totally WORKED!!! I know everyone is different, but this bread gives me no digestive problems whatsoever. If I try sourdoughs out at restaurants or from the store they still make me really miserable (couldn’t be easy right?), so it’s lucky that this is a pretty simple, passive recipe so that I can have bread on hand daily.

I make several loaves, slice them up, throw them in freezer ziplock bags and freeze only taking slices out when I want them. You’ll have to toast those frozen slices but they toast up  beautifully! This recipe makes a bit of a flatter loaf with a nice crust and a chewy, flavorful inside. I’m SOOOO happy to have bread back in my life:D

If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you!

bread, no knead, sourdough, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

  •  3 cups flour (scoop and sweep method)
  • 1/2 cup fed sourdough starter
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water (filtered or bottled, tap water is chlorinated which kills the bacteria in the sourdough)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

~ Mix the starter in the bowl with the warm water. Add flour and salt and mix until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough will be shaggy but not crumbly. Work the dough as little as possible.

~ Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean towel. Leave in a warm place to rise overnight (12-18 hours). This long rise replaces kneading and also allows the bacteria to sour the dough and improve the bread’s digestibility.

~ The next day, dust a work surface and the dough very generously with more flour, folding the sides in to form a loaf. Dust your towel with cornmeal and place the loaf seam side down onto the towel. Dust the top of the loaf with more cornmeal and fold the towel loosely around the dough. Allow to rise until doubled, about 3-4 hours.

~ A half hour before the 2nd rise is complete, preheat the over to 425 degrees WITH the cast iron dutch oven inside (including the lid). This allows the cast iron to completely get up to temperature.

~ Carefully place the dough seam side up into the dutch oven, this dough will be a bit slack so work gingerly. Replace lid and bake for 25 minutes. Remove lid and bake for 13-15 minutes more until the top is nicely browned and crusty.

~ Remove and let cool completely before cutting. You can slice and freeze loaves in advance, taking individual slices out and toasting them as you want them.

bread, no knead, sourdough, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

Wooooo weeeeeee it’s summer fo sho! Time for light and/or frozen desserts. I wouldn’t have ever fancied myself a meringue person , but this recipe has totally changed my mind. Pavlovas are brilliantly airy and sweet. I tried a few recipes following them to the letter and, frustratingly, end up with flat little pancake meringues (grimace). I looked like a meringue bomb had exploded all over me and had nothing to show for it, this is why baking makes me nuts. So, given my lack of success with an actual recipe, I decided to wing it a bit. What could it hurt?! I was already a mess! The results were truly delectable and super easy. I was able to easily make extra batches and they turned out predictably lovely each time. That’s what we like!

The aged lavender balsamic is a bit on the syrup side of the thickness spectrum. You can also make a balsamic reduction steeped in dried lavender flowers and simply strain the flowers out and let cool before use. This is a lovely, tangy and earthy contrast to the sweetness of the meringue and peaches. The cool, fresh whipped cream pairs beautifully with the crisp outer shell of meringue and chewy center and balances the caramelized rich sweetness of the peaches.

I had some great friends over to help me not eat all this sugar myself and it was a big hit! Not a spec was left behind:)

pavlova, peaches, meringue, recipe, dessert,  recipe, food photographer, crystal cartier

pavlova, peaches, meringue, recipe, dessert,  recipe, food photographer, crystal cartier

makes 2   6″ pavlovas

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated on microplane
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pint whipping cream, beaten into whipped whipped cream
  • 4 ripe peaces, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoon good maple syrup
  • lavender infused aged (or a reduction) balsamic vinegar, optional but a lovely tangy contrast

~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees

~ Line a baking sheet with parchment and use a bowl to trace 2 6” diameter circles onto the parchment. Flip the parchment over so the circles are on the underside (so as not to get marker in your meringue).

~ In a large bowl, beat egg white and salt on medium speed with an electric hand mixer until stiff but not dry.

~Increase speed to high and slowly add sugar in very small increments, blending thoroughly each time. Add the cornstarch, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat for another minute or so to combine.

~ Divide meringue in half on the two circles on the parchment. Shape meringue nests with the back of a spoon making a slight depression in the middle of each nest for whipped cream and fruit.

~ Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven an immediately decrease heat to 200 degrees. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Then turn off oven and leave baking sheet in oven allow meringues to completely cool.

MAPLE ROASTED PEACHES

~ Heat butter/ coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat until melted, add sliced peaches and sauté until soft. Turn up heat a bit, add maple syrup and sauté until the peaches caramelize a bit and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

~ Top each meringue with a generous scoop of fresh whipped cream and roasted peaches. Drizzle lightly with the lavender aged balsamic. 

ENJOY!!!

 

 

 

This week I had an incredible craving for a rich and hearty tortilla soup that was still healthy and nutrient dense. A big batch of soup is so awesome because it provides leftovers for quick lunches and dinners for the rest of the week. This recipe makes for A LOT of easy, quick and healthy meals for when I end up “down the rabbit hole” of work and lose track of time until my stomach is furiously angry. We all do it, this is the cure for that mean hunger! Love it. This particular tortilla soup recipe uses baked corn tortillas and fresh crisp veggies to deliver a sublime mexican soup experience with just the right amount of heat. It’s a thicker tortilla soup, more like a stew, and it is so delicious. Be sure to adjust the hot peppers to your personal tastes;)

tortilla soup, chicken, dinner, mexican food, recipe, food photographer, los angeles, Crystal Cartier

  • 4 corn tortillas OR  coarsely crushed corn tortilla chips
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, smashed
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 1+ Tablespoon chipotle purée, optional
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 cups ( 1 can) fresh sweet corn kernals
  • 1 cup whole white hominy (half a large can)
  • 1 cup white hominy pureed in food processor or blender, can use some of the chicken stock to facilitate blending
  • 3 anaheim chiles AND/OR 1-2 small jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
  • 2 chicken breast, cooked and diced OR 1 rotisserie chicken ripped and shredded
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • grated white cheddar cheese
  • avocado, sliced

~Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut corn tortillas into strips and bake at 400 degrees for 2 minutes until crunchy.

~ Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes until fragrant and softened. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

~ Add corn, whole hominy, pureed hominy, chiles (add incrementally to reach desired spiciness), black beans, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, and chicken. Simmer for 20+ minutes until soup thickens to desired consistency.

~ Salt and pepper to taste.

~Ladle soup into bowl and top with cheese, tortilla strips, green onions, cilantro and avocado.

ENJOY!

tortilla soup, chicken, dinner, mexican food, recipe, food photographer, los angeles, Crystal Cartier

This is just a little preview of one of my favorite shots that I photographed with food stylist Liesl Maggiore and art director Scott Hyers for this month’s Vegetarian Times, on shelves now! We had a fun day and it shows in the shots, can’t beat that! It’s always inspiring to brainstorm and conceptualize ideas with a talented team, you never know what kind of gorgeous imagery will come of it! And who doesn’t need a gut tune-up after the holidays?!?!

Don’t you just love a classic, moody food still life? Droooooool…

food still life, vegetarian times, food spread, classic photography, food photography, food photographer, crystal cartier

 There’s also a wonderful article on indoor herbs that we shot. Nothing like fresh herbs to perk up winter meals!

herbs, indoor, potted herbs, vegetarian times, food photographer, crystal cartier

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.

ENJOY!!!

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


We had the pleasure of doing a shoot with The Cheesecake Dude and, boy, was it a sinfully delicious day. As we tweaked and rotated these sweet little cheesecake cupcakes our sticky fingers were a tasty snack (gross but awesome;). These mini treats are the perfect portion control with rich topping that pack a flavor punch. Seen above are salty caramel, strawberry and blueberry varieties. Aren’t they cute?!

I must say that the blueberry was my personal favorite. It’s a flavor and texture dance party in your mouth when the rich creamy cheesecake collide with bursting glazed fresh blueberries. I felt like these little guys were just begging to hang out with some vintage flatware. Ha!

Have a delicious week!

 food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I love blueberries and I love cheesecake so, as a dynamic duo, I’m sold! We recently had the pleasure of shooting an extra-thick-crust blueberry cheesecake with The Cheesecake Dude. Yum. Getcha some!

Visually speaking, the wood grain and rustic style of the propping really created a nice contrast to the glistening, richly colored blueberry topping. The Dude made the crust extra thick because it seems to be everyone’s favorite part. I’m not much of a crust gal myself, but I must say this is some damn tasty, crunchy crust. It was a fun day and the memory of those blueberries makes me wish I could bite the photo!

How do you wonderful readers make/prefer your cheesecake? Toppings, ricotta, chocolate? Let’s hear it!

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

One part voyeurism two parts balls-to-the-wall visual hunt, flea markets aka “vintage antique markets” are an all out sensory explosion. The sounds of haggling ring through the air commingling with the gasps and squeals of marketers who’ve finally found that one piece they’ve been hunting for. In my case, my gasps and squeals are due to the 40 pound bags of plates and bowls I’ve been carrying on my shoulders through my 5 hour shopping spree! Despite the bruising my shoulders may suffer, a good flea market is a living, pulsing event and one of the only places I can reliably find rustic, vintage, well worn props. Where else can you find a vendor selling only retro Tupperware containers of all shapes, sizes, and functions!? Love it! Here’s a little peak (iphone happy snappy shots) at some of my fave grabs of the day. More to come as they make their way to the shoot table!

Where do you find your best pieces of inspiration?

Flea Market prop shopping

flooded with memories of yesteryear's school lunches

this might find a home on the wall before the shoot table!

cockadoo what a day, the sun is shining brightly!

long beach flea market

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