Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bread rolls and beer


I used beer instead of water in the dough for these rolls but the thing is the beer here from the supermarket is limited to a maximum of 3.5% alcohol so it doesn't taste that beery, it looks like real beer but the taste is a bit on the watery side if you want to learn more about alcohol in Sweden...this from Wiki:
Sweden has a government alcohol monopoly called Systembolaget for sale of all beverages stronger than 3.5% by volume. Minimum purchase age at Systembolaget is 20 years, but 18 at restaurants and bars with proper permission.
Beer is legally divided into three classes. Class I (maximum 2.25%), called lättöl ("light beer"), is sold without restrictions (although shops often set their own age restrictions). Class II (up to 3.5%), called folköl ("people's beer"), is sold in regular stores, but with the minimum purchase age of 18. Class III, starköl ("strong beer", over 3.5%) is sold only in Systembolaget stores.
Here is some Guiness at 3.5% and another supermarket beer, I like the bit where it says "same great taste as the pub" never-the-less the rolls tasted great!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Spring Equinox


 Like every year at this time on a clear moonlit night they gathered around the stones and waited...

...and like every year nothing happened! sorry chaps it's just a photo!
Today it's the Spring Equinox at least according to Julius Caesar when he created his calendar back in 45 BC. In loose terms (according to some) it's when the day and night are of equal length although today, here in Sweden however it means another rainy day as far as I have seen.
But we do have some Daffodils in the garden threatening to come out and the shrubbery is also looking about ready to green up. So this weekend will be the first official gardening weekend and no doubt the neighbour hood will be alive with the buzz of electric garden tools and the chug-chug-phut of poorly maintained mowers. Happy spring!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

In the style of a classic


Photo credit Bill Gekas
When I first saw this image I thought wow, when I looked on the photographer's web page I said wow again.

Bill Gekas is an award winning and self taught, fine-art portrait photographer. He was born and lives in Melbourne, Australia.
He took a series of pictures of his daughter influenced by the style of classic paintings and whilst they aren't always exact copies of other pictures I think he has absolutely nailed the style, tone and lighting. His lighting setups are often very simple with relatively modest equipment but the results as you can see are just great and unsurprisingly he has won many awards for his work.  
See more of this brilliant series on his site here






Saturday, February 22, 2014

The truth about croissants



I am very good at eating croissants, I made those above this morning well last night and this morning actually. I have made quite a few in my time as well, my first real job after I left catering college was in the pastry kitchen of London's Mayfair hotel, one of my scheduled shifts started at 05.30am and we had to have the first couple of trays of croissants ready by 07.00am we made hundreds, exactly how many depended on how busy the hotel was.
The dough was always made the evening before usually by someone else so you were always relying on their skill to make it just right you had to trust them, although we followed a recipe there was a certain amount of know-how as well, the dough had to have the right consistency a bit more or a bit less milk, the time of year was a factor too, less yeast in the summer and a bit more in the winter and then the timing, not too much mixing on the machine but enough. Proving time as well, not too long but long enough, how do you know? You know because you do it every day and you were taught by someone who did it every day before you came along, you poked the dough and knew it was ready, right consistency.


The right stuff


We used good quality ingredients, the same brand all the time so we could rely on them as well, you get to know your ingredients too. The butter had to be bashed with a rolling pin to make it soft, how soft? you just knew. If someone got it wrong the night before with the dough it was you who suffered the consequences in the morning, it happened (thankfully very rarely)

Making croissants at home is not the easiest thing to do, why? because you don't do it every day and with all of the variables in there, time, consistency, temperature, ingredients etc etc but it's not impossible.
The recipe or method is not that complicated they are to be found in most good pastry books but you have to approach it with the right frame of mind and don't be put off if the first time they don't come out of the oven perfect, just try again, those around you will certainly encourage you to try again and again because the smell of them and enjoying a croissant you have made yourself, well it does take some beating.    

Friday, February 21, 2014

More on dark food

Some of you may remember this nerdy informative post from a while ago regarding dark field and bright field lighting well it turns out that this in theory I suppose is similar in principle and a quick glance at my recent food shots reveals that the majority of them with a mainly dark background could in fact be labeled as "dark food" what does that say about me?
I promise I will not mention this again...


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comparing apples to apples and the difference between dark and light

Sounds heavy eh? bear with me...

Here's the apples to apples bit, two shots I made yesterday of the same subject from two different angles, different lens's as well. Who can guess how the lighting set up was, in other words what kind of light did I use and how many and where were they placed?


 
And now the dark and light, I was looking at notable blogs and came across this one which had great photography in fact it won the Saveur best food blog 2013 in the photography category, called vkreesphotography.com it is a food blog by Vanessa Rees who is in Brooklyn USA and what particularly caught my eye was two of the sections in her portfolio called dark food and light food, on closer inspection it turns out it's the overall colour key of the image so more dark in the picture especially background is dark food, and lighter background equals light food right?
I have included two screenshot examples from her excellent portfolio below to illustrate the point.

Photo credit: VK REES PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo credit: VK REES PHOTOGRAPHY
Check out her blog and photography portfolio here vkreesphotography.com

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunny but cold

That's how the weather man would describe today's weather, it was as we say "fresh" on the beach this morning and the sea is still frozen out as far as the eye can see.
Good day for staying in, Maggie has taken to the newest creations from Hawkes' Hounds (more on that here) and now hides amongst them when I get a camera out.


The subject of my still-life project today was these rather lovely wooden table boards, not sure what the official name is here but they are used as sideplates and the spade-like spoony looking things are used to spread butter, really nicely made and from not far from us along the coast in Trelleborg the manufacturer is a chap called Bengt Åkesson

I used a technique to light this picture which simulates dappled sunlight which is something we are particularly looking forward to around these parts!


...and finally

If you arrived here looking for my www.nickhawkesphotography.com site I have put that site hosted by livebooks on hold for the moment and re-directed the URL to here. 
Still plenty of pictures to see on my Flickr page too.