Yeah, you heard right. I said Piña Colada Grilled Caramelized Pineapple!!! I mean life doesn’t get better or easier than this. This recipe is ridiculous. We’ve been poolside beating the oppressive L.A. heat and this little ditty is the perfect ending to any and every impromptu bbq. I mean, the grill’s already hot so it seems a shame NOT to make it, right?

Although…I do make this in a skillet on the stove sometimes and the caramelization is to die for! Try it both ways and pick your own delicious poison;)

Pineapple skin cut from the pineapple

Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

  • 1 whole pineapple
  • 1/4 cup dark rum, like Meyers
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (optional but insanely delicious)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4+ cup dark brown sugar, to taste
  • unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted stirring frequently in a dry pan on low heat until nicely browned
  • coconut oil for brush grill racks

~ Cut the thick skin and eyes from the pineapple. Slice into thick rings then core with either a cookie cutter or paring knife.

~ Whisk together all ingredients except the toasted coconut (and oil for brushing) in a shallow baking dish and marinate pineapple rings for an hour.

~On a preheat grill to medium-high heat. Brush grill racks with coconut oil to prevent sticking. OR preheat an oiled skillet over medium heat.

~ Grill/sear pineapple until you see grill marks and/or caramelization and the pineapple is heated through (about 5 minutes per side).

~ You can reserve the marinade and serve it with the rings if you like. Then sprinkle each ring generously with the toasted coconut.


Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

Grilled pineapple rings caramelized with piña colada glaze

So I know the thought of having leftover ribs is a bit of a joke, but once in a while we throw a big party and over do it a bit in the ribs department. Sometimes even stretchy pants aren’t enough to make it happen! When that situation arises, I turn to soup! No big deal, I thought as I google searched baby back rib soup. Well, I found diddly on the vast world wide web on what to do with my rib leftovers so I went to the kitchen to see what kinds of random goodies I had for this experimental soup.

This is the delicious baby back ribs recipe that I used to make these ribs. We don’t slather our ribs with bbq sauce until we grill them so this recipe would be great for leftover ribs that have been dry rubbed and baked but not brushed with sauce. Also, this soup is insanely good with leftover cut kernels from the grilled dirty corn recipe. Then it’s truly a barbecue soup! The quantity of the ingredients is up to you. I liked loads of squash and corn but alter the proportions based on your tastes and amount of meat.

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  • a few racks baby back ribs – meat pulled off the bone and shredded with fingers
  • 1/2- whole butternut squash or 2-3 sweet potatoes – made into ribbons with a peeler
  • grilled “dirty” corn kernels
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock or enough to cover all the ingredients
  • paprika – generous but to taste (I never know how much I use because I just keep adding more!)
  • cumin – to taste
  • 2-3 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1 TB+ smashed garlic
  • dried thyme
  • rosemary infused olive oil

~ In a stock pot or dutch oven heat oil and add garlic, onion, and squash ribbons. Saute until they soften a bit then add thyme and bay leaf.

~ Add some cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper to the pan, add rib meat and corn and stir in the chicken broth.

~ Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer until squash is cooked (less than 20 minutes if ribbons).

~ Add more paprika and cumin to taste. Salt and pepper. Serve.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

We’re grilling masters these days taking full advantage of outside cooking 1) because it’s soooo good and 2) because the last thing we want to do is turn on the oven and heat up the house in this weather! After all, grilled corn is greater than boiled corn any day! This recipe is dubbed “dirty” because it looks like it fell on the ground and we just picked it up and threw it back on the coals. PS- we didn’t do that;) The dirtiness comes from herbs, salts, and char from grilling inside the husk. Delish! You cook the corn in husk for half of the time then pull back the husk, butter the cob and sprinkle generously with herbs and salt (and paprika if you like!) to make that corn fantastically filthy!

Get some friends together, start up the grill and get messy!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

  • corn on the cob in husk
  • butter (or olive oil)
  • sea salt – medium coarseness
  • thyme
  • marjoram
  • black pepper
  • paprika (optional)

~ Soak full ears in husk under water in the sink for 15 minutes. This helps steam the kernels a bit and, I think, prevents the husks from catching fire.

~ Place cobs in husk on heated grill. Cook for 5 minutes or so on each side, turning once.

~ Peel back husk, wipe off any silks, brush with butter and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram and paprika (optional).

~ Place the cob with husks peeled directly on the grill and let cook for a few minutes on both sides until some kernels start to brown and caramelize a bit.

ENJOY the dirtiest corn on the block!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

Suuummmer tiiime and the grillin’ is eaaaaasy… Oh yeah it is when you have a fail safe super simple baby back ribs recipe! This is my husband’s lovely creation which he sort of tweaked and evolved over the years with help from friends and family (not to mention many bbqs all in the name of taste testing;). I think the beast is mastered at this point and I thought it high time to share the fruits of his labor with you lovely folks so here goes. These ribs are so tender that they LITERALLY right off the bone which made styling, shooting, and even just cutting them a challenge. So tender and succulent!

First things first, that icky membrane on the underside of the ribs must be removed. Some stores like Costco remove the membrane before packaging but you should still check for little remaining bits of membrane. This is a great video on how to remove that pesky thing. Enjoy the sultry tunes and insanely entertaining voice over. Yes, sometimes it does take more than one pull to get it all off;)

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012


  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  •  1 teaspoon orange peel powder or 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (use a microplane to fine grate)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 4 pounds baby back ribs
  • your favorite barbecue sauce

~ Cut each whole  rack in half and tear off aluminum foil sheets big enough to enclose each  halved.  Peel membrane off the back of the rib with a butter knife and a paper towel as instructed in this video– apply a dry rub to both sides.

~ Mix up dry rub and apply liberally massaging into meat.

~ Enclose each segment separately and tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate for 8 hour or overnight.

~ Put ribs still tightly enclosed in foil on a baking sheet (they drip like crazy) and bake at 300 degrees for 2-1/2 hour.

~ After baking you can either refrigerate until ready to grill or put them right on the grill. Once ready to grill, slather with your favorite BBQ sauce and grill at a medium heat for about 5-10 min per side or until sauce is a little bubbly and they are charred they way you like. Don’t leave them on for too long or they’ll dry out.

***And just one little detail shot to tantalize you with the fall off the bone tender deliciousness of these ribs. Mmmmmm go on, getcha some;)

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier


Nothing celebrates the coming of warmer weather like a Corona with a freshly made steak fajita. Ahhhhhhh! Gosh it’s good to be a food photographer. Put on those flip flops and celebrate spring with this variation of the classic fajita. We’re lucky enough to have an abundance of mexican markets teeming with authentic ingredients to inspire new dishes. Give this recipe a try and let us know how you dress up your fajitas!

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

  • olive oil for sauteing
  • 1 lb skirt steak
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced lengthwise with the grain
  • 2-3 bell peppers sliced lengthwise into strips
  • grilled corn cut from cob
  • sliced crimini mushrooms
  • queso fresco, crumbled
  • corn tortillas, lightly grilled or heated on stove
  • cilantro
  • diced mint leaves (optional)
  • Salt
  • guajes and/or guajes guacamole (optional)


  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 fresh Jalapeño pepper, seeded and finally chopped
  • handful of fresh cilantro

~ Mix marinade ingredients is zippered bag, add steak and shake until completely coated. Let sit for at least an hour.

~ Heat skillet on medium-high heat, add olive oil and cook steak to desired doneness (a typical flank steak is medium rare with 4  minutes on each side)

~ While the meat rests, flash saute veggies and mushrooms in oil olive at high heat stirring occasionally after the first minute. I like my veggies crunchy so I cook them very briefly, about 3 minutes.

~ Slice the steak against the grain at an angles to achieve thin slices.

~ Assemble steak, veggies, cilantro and mint on warmed/grilled tortilla, sprinkle with queso fresco crumbles and squeeze with fresh lime juice. You can also add guacamole or sour cream.

* To “grill” your tortillas indoors like the photo below simply place tortilla on the burner of a gas stove with the flame set very low for 30 seconds on each side. You can also warm them in the microwave between a paper towel for 20 seconds.


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


***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.


Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

This is a fantastic example of how gorgeous a hunk of meat can truly be. This baby is loaded with textures to make you drool: gritty with crunch, glistening with just the right amount of delicious grease, crisp with fresh firm veggies and well done bacon. An exquisite piece of carnivore heaven styled au naturale (totally edible, no funny business) by food stylist Sienna DeGovia. Don’t get me wrong, I think pushing visual boundaries is a beautiful thing, but I must say I’m a big fan of food imagery that is natural and exists in some semblance of reality (albeit a slightly improved reality;). I love me some crumb-age (don’t bother trying to look that up, def not a real word) and some drips or slight melting to evoke the delectable impermanence of real food. Sometimes it’s hard to salivate at the most pristine image of perfectly un-melted fake ice cream. Though working with real food as a food photographer can be more challenging in some situations, in the end I find it more rewarding. You’ll have to excuse my love of parentheses (I feel like it makes for a more personal conversation;)

Nothing like a beefy day in the kitchen to get the studio pups all wild-eyed and feral!

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. What gets you all revved up and drooling? Melty, gooey sweets? Savory, crispy bites? Let’s hear it!

Honestly, this is simply a big ‘ole beef burger with everything you see here:

  • LARGE beef patty
  • Toasted/grilled onion roll
  • Crunchy thickly slice Applewood bacon
  • Sliced fresh onion and tomato
  • BBQ sauce tops this one off nicely

If you want to avoid the inevitable kitchen mess from frying (you can’t see it but my hand is totally raised) pick up a bag of the frozen Panko (Japanese bread crumb) breaded onion rings and toss them in the oven with some chopped fresh herbs. We included loads of garden herbs like oregano and rosemary as well as some coarsely ground fresh black pepper to make a simple packaged food extra tasty and attractive! Get ready to eat yourself into a satisfying food coma!


food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Just one more post on the beloved peach before summer is over, though the weather is only beginning to heat up here in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley (famous for brutal Indian summers). Anyway, PEACHES!!! Grilled and candied with notes of garden herbs, these peachy treats are quite unbelievable and delightfully simple.

This healthy, juicy, sweet dessert was grilled and “scented” with thyme and, believe it or not, chive blossoms from the garden. This may seem an off-putting flavor combo, and truth be told I was experimenting for beauty’s sake, but it was an absurdly delicious success. When I had my first bite, the subtle undertones of the herbs created a complex and delicate balance of sweet, tangy, and savory. Score one for pretty AND tasty;) Though they are great straight from the grill, I went one step further and candied them in a pan on the stove with some honey (of course you could also use sugar). This cooks them a bit more and results in wonderful caramelization which pairs beautifully with the tartness of plain greek yogurt or the creamy sweetness of ice cream. Double yum.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate the sweet summer peach?

low angle grilled peaches Crystal Cartier food photographer los angeles

overhead grilled peaches Crystal Cartier Photography food photographer los angeles

carmelized peaches in pan Crystal Cartier food photographer los angeles


burnt sugars in pan Crystal Cartier food photographer los angeleslove the “missing pieces” feel of this shot ^


candied peaches with yogurt Crystal Cartier los angeles food photographer

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier


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