I have to be honest with this one, I had never brined a chicken before and hadn’t though much of the whole process. It sounded a bit messy and required some forethought all of which I wasn’t too keen on. Then the fateful day finally came when I gave it a good old college try and WOW!!! Since that day I’ve made it over and over again. Neither my husband nor I really care much for chicken though we tend to eat it more than any other animal. When he took the first bite of this bird his eyes flew wide open. It was a revelation to my non-brining self;) Those of you who are brining pros may be underwhelmed by this post, but I think the rest of you will be pretty glad you tried it! This recipe is an adaptation of a William Sonoma one.

The best part is that the leftover chicken, roasted veggies, and wine jus make for an exceptional soup the next day. Today I’ll share the recipe for the chicken and next week will follow with the delightful “leftover” roasted chicken soup recipe.

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2013 Copyright

  • 1/2 cup fine sea salt
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1 chicken, about 5 1/2 lb, giblets removed and legs trussed
  • 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons dried thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • a bunch thyme sprigs
  • a bunch rosemary sprigs
  • 1  large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb carrots, coarsely chopped

~Dissolve the salt in the warm water in a glass bowl large enough to hold the chicken. Add the cold water and stir. Rinse  chicken, then submerge it breast side down in the brine. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.

~Preheat an oven to 400°F.

~Remove the chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub with the butter and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Place onions and carrots around the bird. Toss the thyme and rosemary sprigs in the cavity and around as well.

~Place the chicken breast side up in a covered dutch oven. Roast for 25 minutes. Flip the chicken breast side down and roast for 30 minutes more. Flip the breast side up again and roast uncovered for about 40 minutes more until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees. Pour the juices from the chicken cavity back into the dutch oven and transfer the chicken to a carving board. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

~To make the wine jus, skim off any bits of skin and fat from the surface.  Add the wine and boil until reduced by half. Add the stock and boil until the liquid further reduced by half.

Serve carved chicken with the hot wine jus.

***Save all leftover wine jus, chicken and veggies in the fridge to use in this chicken and wild rice soup recipe.

ENJOY!

The bird variation below was roasted with mini apples, pearl onions, blue potatoes and various root vegetables. The combinations are endlessly delicious!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2013 Copyright

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

What a year 2012 was! This holiday season we were chock full of festivities as we hosted Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and New Year’s Eve. With all the celebrating, it was a great time to test out a bunch of recipe ideas. This recipe was a winner (admittedly among a stinker attempt or two) and who couldn’t use a few more really impressive looking appetizer recipes up their sleeve. When you think of gorgeous, delicate appetizers I’d wager that the humble potato doesn’t come to mind. Dowdy and unassuming, the potato can be easily overlooked, but with a little slicing and herbs it is easily transformed.

I recommend a mandolin for slicing the potatoes so the slices are fairly uniform in thickness and cook evenly. Trust me, I think mandolins are scary as hell and a couple years ago even cut the tip of my thumb off trying to use one on a butternut squash! Seriously. Super duper gross. This recipe was the first time I’ve touched that menacing little torture tool since it took a hunk of my flesh. I’m glad I did because I’m pretty sure it’d have taken me a lifetime to thinly slice all of those potatoes! So here’s to the humble potato and overcoming kitchen fears in the new year! HA!

  • 1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes – each slightly larger than a golf ball
  • coarse sea salt and ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves (or finely chopped fresh thyme)
  • 2 diced green onions or 1 diced shallot
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

~Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 6 cup muffin tin or a large baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

~Thinly slice potatoes, preferably with a mandolin to ensure uniform thickness. Place a few slices in each cup and top with cheese, onion, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Continue layering potatoes and seasoning every few slices, until stacks reach top of baking dish.

~Pour roughly 1 tablespoon heavy cream over each. Cover and bake until potatoes are golden brown and tender, about 40 minutes, removing cover half way through baking to get them nice and crispy on the edges. Gently scoop them out and serve immediately.

ENJOY!!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier COPYRIGHT 2012

 

 

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My-oh-my did I underestimate this simple, thrown together idea! I guess it just seemed too easy to be that good but I stand corrected. Make these. Period. Don’t even think about it just go in the kitchen and whip up a batch! Then try not to eat them all in one sitting. Go on, I double dog dare you!!! I even pretended to save some for later, putting half of the batch in a little ziplock bag. My charade was shattered pretty dang quick when I was busted gobbling down my “saved for later” stash by the handful. Oh well, could be worse for you, right? 😉

This version of candied pecans is light and crunchy, unlike it’s thickly sugar-coated cousins. It has a great balance of sweet and savory and the maple syrup lends a richness to the flavor that sugar never could. All the while you can still really taste the nuttiness underneath it all, a perfect balance. A teeny tiny pinch of cayenne or some smoky pepper heat might be a nice addition to this recipe as well.

AND they’re pretty to boot! I got a little carried away because I enjoyed shooting them so much. Look at that gorgeous glisten;) haha!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (I think it would work with coconut oil too for vegans)
  • large pinch sea salt
  • small pinch pepper
  • 1/4 cup high quality pure maple syrup
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

~Melt butter, add salt, pepper and maple syrup.

~Remove from heat, add pecans and herbs and toss well to coat.

~Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until fragrant, stirring halfway through.

ENJOY!!!

Variation: PICANTE SPICE NUTS

  • 2 cups almonds or walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/4 cup good quality maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon ground vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • few pinches sea salt

~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

~Melt butter, add salt, spices and maple syrup.

~Remove from heat, add pecans and toss well to coat.

~Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until fragrant, stirring halfway through.

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I’m a bit of a tea whore. Sometimes also a tea snob. I drink about a gallon of the good stuff a day, lovely. So when I find clever ways to infuse some of that earthy, subtle flavor of tea into a recipe I get all silly happy about it. In this recipe, chamomile tea imparts a soft earthy apple flavor to homemade whipped cream, turning a regular old shortcake into something just a bit more extraordinary. You could also add some dried lavender flowers (which I have) to the cream for a more floral experience. I’m, admittedly, not so much into baking but there comes a time when ya just gotta roll up those sleeves and make a flour-y mess of the kitchen in the name of tasty summer sweetness. I use this epicurious recipe for buttermilk shortcakes because I simply have never had better and I’m not looking to reinvent a perfectly good wheel! You could also try frozen biscuits to cut down on the effort.

So grab those last strawberries of the season and get slicing!

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  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1+ Tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (if desired, I leave this out)
  • 1 pound ripe strawberries, sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoon raw sugar

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon chilled buttermilk

~ Steep chamomile flowers and sugar in the cream for 1 hour or more. Keep refrigerated. When fully infused, strain cream through fine sieve and press flowers to squeeze out all remaining cream.

~ Whip cream with a hand held mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Be careful not too over-whip and make butter!

~ As per epicurious, Preheat oven to 375°F. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add buttermilk, tossing with fork until large moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Divide into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into 3-inch round. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing evenly. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool.

~ Combine sliced strawberries, raw sugar, and the juice of 1 lemon in a bowl and toss to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes, this is when the magic happens;)

~ Split shortcakes with a fork and fill with berry mixture and whipped cream.

ENJOY!!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

 

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

Hey everyone! How’s the heat of summer treating ya? Yup it’s hot and the air is heavy so it’s time for some cool, light food to offset the steamy weather. This is a slight adaptation of a Whole Living recipe and is a great side dish for a fish or chicken meal and also makes a great lunch on it’s own. It only takes a few minutes to make and is super healthy so there’s no excuse not to eat well on the go. Not to mention it’s a great way to use up zucchini if your garden is overflowing like mine. Squashes are truly the biggest givers of the garden, and while you’ll never hear me complain, there comes a time when you need to get creative to use it all up. Pretty soon my neighbors will stop answering their doors when I knock because their counters are already chock full of all of my zucchini! Ha!

How do you use up your squashes? Please don’t forget to share your favorite recipes with us!

Enjoy!

Zucchini Pasta Salad Crystal Cartier Photography

  • 2 zucchinis sliced lengthwise into thin ribbons (I find a good peeler and some pressure works best!)
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced paper thin
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw nuts like pecan (optional)
  • rosemary infused olive oil for drizzling
  • sea salt
  • chopped fresh basil and/or parsley
  • spritz of lemon or balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • grated aged raw goat cheese like Mitica Naked Goat

~ Combine garlic, nuts, herbs, tomatoes, and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and let stand for 15-20 minutes. Add zucchini and toss. Spritz with fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if desired. Top with goat cheese.

Happy crunching!

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

farro cherry blueberry salad Crystal Cartier

If you’ve never had spelt berries, boy are you in for a treat! I love spelt berries because they have a great chewy bite and add amazing texture to just about any dish you throw them in. This recipe is a celebration of summer fruits and the fresh farmer’s market cherries and blueberries pop with juicy sweetness contrasting the chewy, nutty subtle sweetness of the spelt berries. Make it, eat it, and enjoy some delicious berry on berry action;) Not to mention it’s simply gorgeous and super healthy! I’ve made this dish with dried tart cherries before but thought I’d give fresh cherries a try. Combined with the acidity of lemon juice and the fresh taste of feta it’s a great summer meal or side dish for your next barbecue.

You can find spelt berries in the bulk bin at health grocery stores or online. Trust me, you’ll be glad you got them. You can also sub wheat berries for the spelt.

  • 1 cup uncooked spelt (or wheat) berries
  • 2 cups sweet red cherries, pitted and quartered
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 scallion chopped
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 sprig mint, finely chopped
  • crumbled feta OR fresh shaved parmesan
  • fresh squeezed lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

~Cook spelt berries in a pan of boiling water 3 inches above spelt. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until tender. Drain.

~ In a large bowl, combine cooked spelt berries, walnuts, scallion, salt, pepper, parsley and mint and toss. Add cherries and blueberries and toss gently. Drizzle enough olive oil to lightly coat and add lemon juice. Toss to coat. Top with shaved parmesan or crumbled feta.

ENJOY!

Blueberries Crystal Cartier Photogaphy

farro cherry blueberry salad Crystal Cartier

 

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Hi guys!

I don’t know about you, but as the days get longer I find myself working later and later. All that sunshine keeps me going until dusk! Unfortunately that means it’s pretty late by the time I wind down and think about dinner. It’s a busy life and we all need a few basic recipes as start points for a quick, easy, and moderately healthy dinner and this pasta recipe is one of my “tried and trues”. Sometimes I throw in some halved cherry tomatoes or sauteed squash, or broccoli….you get the idea;) It’s easy and filling without being too heavy for summer. Not to mention it’s a great vehicle for random garden veggies and any herbs you have floating around!

Personally I love this dish for its use of spring peas. Yum!

Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

  • 2-3 strips uncured bacon, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh spring peas
  • 1 pound pasta (I recommend fresh tortellini, spinach stuffed tortellini sing in this dish!)
  • 1 package crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • smashed garlic
  • rosemary infused extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • shaved parmesan
  • salt and pepper

~ Cook pasta per package directions and strain.

~ In a large sauce pan, boil water and blanch spring peas for 2-3 minutes. Strain.

~ Cook chopped bacon until crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate of paper towels.

~ Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan, add garlic and saute sliced mushrooms.

~ In a large bowl, toss pasta with cooked peas, mushrooms, chopped basil, bacon, and parmesan. Drizzle with rosemary infused olive oil and toss again. Salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

Copyright Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

 

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)

MARINADE:

  • 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.

ENJOY!

Copyrighted Crystal Cartier 2012 all rights reserved

 food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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

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