Pumpkin Spice Desserts for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Spice Desserts

Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope you all have a wonderful time wherever you are. In case you’re still looking for dessert ideas, here are a few from previous Spice Train posts:

Spiced Eggnog

Graham Crackers

Spice Cookies

Hazelnut Pumpkin Spice Trifles

Spiced Irish Coffee

Pumpkin Spice Ganache

Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Cookies

Maple Nut Scones

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

Spiced Hot Chocolate

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Hummus with Sumac

Hummus with SumacBuy 436

Here’s my version of good old hummus, one of the easiest and tastiest side dishes/appetizers there is. I personally like hummus to be rough, not silky smooth, so I skip all smoothening techniques and ingredients, which means that I don’t peel my garbanzo beans and I also don’t use tahini. I just throw in a bit of parsley and garlic and add citrus flavor partially with lemon juice and partially with sumac (which also looks very pretty). Bon Appetit!

Hummus with Sumac
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer/Side Dish
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • one 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
  • ⅓ cup parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt
  • sumac
Instructions:
  1. Add garlic, garbanzo beans, parsley, lemon juice and oil to a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Season with salt and sprinkle with sumac.

Food Photography and Styling: I just bought this little hammered copper bowl from Sur la Table a few weeks ago and thought it would be a good fit for hummus. The round metal dish I put underneath it was a good match for it with respect to size and texture but its color is actually colder and darker than it looks in this photo (it’s the same dish I used in the Homemade Chili Powder post). It clashed with the color of the rusty table surface and the copper bowl so I made it warmer and brighter using my good friend Photoshop. (I just went up with the white balance by about 10 points and masked that adjustment in). I lit the set straight from the back (as you can see by the shadow in front of the bowl) with one of my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobes with a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm).

 

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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Nutmeg Sweet Potato Stacks

Nutmeg Thyme Sweet Potato StacksBuy 439

The other day Pinterest acquainted me with the concept of a potato stack. I was immediately intrigued by the visual appeal of these arrangements and had to try making some myself. A potato stack consists of super-thin (you need a mandoline for this) potato slices brushed with oil and seasonings and baked inside the cups of a muffin pan until soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. For the recipe here I chose sweet potatoes and flavored them with freshly grated nutmeg, fresh thyme and some salt. If you’re tired of the more traditional holiday sweet potato side dishes this is a very pretty alternative.

Nutmeg Sweet Potato Stacks
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel the sweet potato and slice into very thin discs using a mandoline.
  3. In a bowl, mix oil, nutmeg, thyme and salt.
  4. Brush the cups of a muffin pan with oil.
  5. Stack the potato slices on top of one another into the muffin pan, lightly brushing every second slice with the oil mix.
  6. Bake the stacks until lightly browned on the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.

Food Photography and Styling: I had trouble thinking of any larger context to show these stacks in so I decided to go very close and let the food speak for itself. The thyme sprigs helped create a focal point and their color complemented the bright orange well. I laid my curved fork on the plate next to them to keep the plate from looking too naked and also to help guide the viewer’s eye into the frame. I again lit the set straight from the side with one of my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobes and a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm).

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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Prop Talk – Beer

It’s prop talk time! (For those of you who are new to this blog: once a month I write a post about some of my favorite food photography props. You can see all previous prop talk installments by clicking the Prop Talk! tab in the menu at the top).

Today’s post is about beer. Beer is a wonderful prop. It can also be a subject, of course, but I’ve only ever photographed it as a prop, meaning as a supporting character in the background, not as the star of the photo. What I love about beer is the action and immediacy that it adds to an image. When you see beer with a nice topping of foam you know someone must have just been there to pour it. That tiny cue breathes life into an image in a way that few other props manage to accomplish (one exception to that is steam, which I will talk about next month).

Beer isn’t easy to handle though. For once, you have to be ready because the foam disappears quickly. I always have my shutter remote control in one hand, a freshly opened beer bottle in the other and start to snap away as soon as I pour. It usually takes a few tries to get it the way I want it so I always keep a large empty glass next to the set to pour “used” beer into.

Another crucial aspect is the color of the beer. Some beers are so pale they look thin and almost colorless in a photo. To avoid that I use fairly dark beers (New Castle Brown Ale is my favorite). If you want to give the shot extra action appeal you can fill only part of the glass to make it look as if someone had just drunk half of it. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to drink too much “used” beer while still in the process of shooting, it will impact your photographic performance. :)

Below are a few examples of how I’ve used beer as a prop:

BBQ Ribs
Buy 147
 
Chicken Salad Sandwich
Buy 352
 
Chipotle Shredded Pork with Raspberry Habanero Jam
Buy 298
 

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