Spiced Eggnog

Spiced Eggnog with Whipped CreamBuy 397

Our evenings are getting mighty cold up here in the mountains which means it’s time for eggnog! I actually used to not like this sweet, custardy drink but I discovered recently that that was only because I had never had the homemade version. The difference between store-bought and home-cooked eggnog is enormous and it’s really delicious if you make it yourself. It’s also very quick and easy to prepare so I highly recommend you leave the tasteless stuff at the store and cook up your own. Enjoy!

Spiced Eggnog
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (plus more for garnish)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup rum
  • whipped cream (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Heat the milk to a low simmer in a saucepan.
  2. While the milk is heating up, whisk sugar, spice and egg yolks until they are lighter in color and texture than they were when you started.
  3. Take about ¼ cup of the hot milk and quickly whisk it into the sugar/egg mix.
  4. Repeat previous step two more times.
  5. Transfer the milk/egg mix into the saucepan.
  6. Stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, bring the custard to a low simmer and keep simmering until it is thick enough to just coat the back of the spoon.
  7. Let the custard cool completely.
  8. Stir in the cream and the rum.
  9. Serve cold, with whipped cream and pumpkin spice sprinkled on top.

Food Photography and Styling: In the name of efficiency I reused the set I had up for my spiced hot chocolate a while ago. I placed my wooden spice box in the back along with a nutmeg, a cinnamon stick and some sprinkled pumpkin spice to tell the viewer that these spices are part of the drink. To keep the whipped cream from looking too bright I sprinkled some pumpkin spice over it.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

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This entry was posted in drinks.

Prop Talk – Packing Paper

Hi there! It’s time for another installment of Prop Talk! To see all past Prop Talk posts just click the link in the menu at the top.

Today’s post is about a great-looking and very cheap alternative to plates: packing paper. I love to use brown or white packing paper in my photos, I find it lends a great rustic and casual feel to the shot. You can cut or tear the paper into the perfect size, you can crumple it up to make it look used, and you can put grease stains on it to give the shot extra appetite appeal. You can even partially wrap food in it and tie it up with a string. It’s very versatile and often works much better than a rigid plate.

Below are a few examples of how I’ve used packing paper in food photos on this blog.

Raspberry Habanero Jam Glazed Chicken Burger
From post Raspberry Habanero Jam-Glazed Chicken Burger

Turkey Cranberry Panini
From post Turkey Cranberry Grilled Sandwich with Orange Tarragon Mustard.

Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Cookies
From post Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Cookies

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Cranberry Thyme Dip

Creamy Cranberry Thyme Dip AppetizerBuy 418

It’s cranberry season! I love cranberries, I think they taste great and have a beautiful color. (Apparently they are also very healthy, which is nice, although that is not something I’m usually very concerned with as you probably have noticed). I’ve got a number of cranberry recipes in the making and to warm up I’ll start with the dried version of the fruit in this dip. It’s deliciously sweet, sour, salty and herby all at the  same time.

Cranberry Thyme Dip
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup whipped cream cheese
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme or 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dehydrated toasted onion
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped dried cranberries
Instructions:
  1. Grind all dry spices in a mortar with a pestle until you have a fine powder.
  2. Whisk cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, thyme, salt and onion together until creamy.
  3. Fold in the cranberries.
  4. Serve with baguette or crackers.

Food Photography and Styling: This dip gave me the chance to use for the first time this little purple dish from Sur La Table that I’ve had in my prop closets for more than a year. I tried to use it several times but its color just never really worked with anything. As soon as I thought of adding cranberries to this dip I knew the bowl would be perfect! Just another good reminder to never throw out any props, no matter how useless they may seem. :)

The trickiest bit about this photo was the styling of the uniformly white dip. I sprinkled some chopped cranberries and some thyme leaves over it to break up the white surface, to add some color and to create a focal point. I placed the bowl and the crackers on one piece of brown packaging paper to visually group these items together and to ground them to the surface. Without the paper the dip and crackers looked disconnected and lost on the table. I liked the background mostly empty and only placed one small antique salt shaker (which was very similar in color to the surface) in it.

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Roasted Vegetables with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetables Tarragon VinaigretteBuy 412

Roasted vegetables are delicious but I’m sometimes at a loss as to what to serve them with so I’ve come up with a series of intensely flavorful dipping sauces that perfectly complement the subdued taste of roasted veggies. Today’s sauce is a mustard/tarragon vinaigrette that has a bit of sour, a bit of licorice, a bit of heat and a bit of creaminess to it. It’s a nice contrast to the winter varieties that I picked here, some butternut squash, some shallots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and carrots. Enjoy!

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Roasted Vegetables with Tarragon Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
For the vegetables:
  • 10 baby potatoes, quartered
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • 10 Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 carrots, quartered and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup 1- to 2-inch cubes butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon homemade seasoning salt (get the recipe here)
For the vinaigrette:
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions:
For the vegetables:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Whisk canola oil and seasoning salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the vegetables and toss to coat.
  4. Spread the vegetables on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast the vegetables until tender (35 to 40 minutes).
For the vinaigrette:
  1. Whisk all ingredients together.
  2. Either drizzle the vinaigrette over the vegetables or dip the vegetables in the vinaigrette.

 

Food Photography and Styling: I was in the mood for something other than wood and chose my zinc-coated metal tray for this shot. The blue/gray color of this surface went well with the orange carrots and squash and the texture in the metal made the photo look interesting without the need for many additional props. I sprinkled some tarragon leaves in the composition and shot from overhead to show off the different shapes of all the vegetables.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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