Thai Burger with Ginger Mint Cilantro Slaw

Thai Burger with Ginger Mint Cilantro Slaw

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This here is the burger version of my ginger garlic lime cilantro meatballs that I posted a few months ago. It’s the same recipe only shaped into burger patties rather than meatballs and served with a delicious Asian-inspired slaw made with ginger, garlic, mint and cilantro. It’s packed with great and intense flavor. Enjoy!

Thai Burger with Ginger Mint Cilantro Slaw
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
For the slaw:
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 chili pepper, thinly sliced (seeds and ribs removed)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • lime juice
  • salt
For the burgers:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 3½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg
  • burger buns
  • cilantro
Instructions:
For the slaw:
  1. Mix all ingredients except lime juice and salt together, then season with lime juice and salt.
For the burgers:
  1. Mix milk and lime juice together in a bowl, cut the sandwich bread into ½-inch cubes and soak them in the milk mix for 10 minutes.
  2. Mush the bread cubes up a bit with a fork.
  3. Mix the beef into the mushed up bread cubes.
  4. Mix cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and egg into the beef/bread mix.
  5. Form 4 burger patties and fry them with a little bit of vegetable oil until they are crispy and brown on the outside and cooked on the inside.
  6. Stack fresh cilantro, burger patties and slaw on a burger bun and serve.

Food Photography and Styling: Since the predominant colors of the food (and the Guinness) were brown I chose my blue wood surface as a background to contrast them. The surface that the food is sitting on is again my dark wood tray turned upside down. I drank a sip of the beer to keep it from looking too untouched and to make it look as if someone were actually sitting at the table, ready to eat the burger. As usual, I lit this photo from the side with my strobe.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Thai Curry with Chicken

Thai Curry with Chicken

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

It’s curry time again! I love curries and eat them A LOT. This here is a yellow variety with chicken, coconut milk, red bell pepper and lots of intense flavor. It’s very easy to make and, even better, requires mainly pantry ingredients. Enjoy!

Thai Curry with Chicken
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients:
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • ¼ of a 2-cup chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder (see notes)
  • 2 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • one 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • one 8-ounce can pineapple chunks (without the juice)
  • lime juice
  • chopped peanuts
  • chopped green onion
  • chopped cilantro
Instructions:
  1. Peel the onion and chop into ~ 1-inch chunks.
  2. Put onion into a pot along with 1 cup of water and boil without a lid until almost all water has evaporated.
  3. Puree the onion in a food processor along with the quarter chicken bouillon cube. Set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven until shimmering.
  5. Add mustard, cumin and coriander seeds to the oil and fry on low heat for 2 – 3 minutes (the seeds need to sizzle but be careful not to burn them).
  6. Carefully add the onion puree (be careful, this will probably splatter!).
  7. Turn the heat up to medium-low or medium and fry the onion for 15 minutes.
  8. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry and stir until you have a homogeneous mix.
  9. Add the chicken pieces and fry for about 2 minutes.
  10. Add tomato paste, coconut milk and soy sauce and mix well.
  11. Add bell pepper and pineapple, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle with lime juice to taste and add peanuts, green onion and cilantro as garnish.
Notes:
I used medium yellow curry powder from the Savory Spice Shop.

Food Photography and Styling: Like many curries this one is a bit of a shapeless mush so to make it look interesting I made sure to show a lot of surface texture and place the bowl in dark and mysterious light. What inspired me to light the set like that was a scene in a music video I had seen recently. If you want to check it out it’s the part of Mikky Ekko around the 1:58 – 2:03-minute mark in this video. I really liked that light and wanted to create a similar look and atmosphere. As usual, I used my strobe for that. The surface that this bowl is sitting on is again my dark rustic wood tray turned upside down and the backdrop is a placemat that I just held up with my hand behind the set.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Stir Fry with Steak

I love beef stir fries but I’ve always found it really hard to cook the meat such that it’s crusty on the outside but still rare, tender and juicy on the inside. This recipe solves that problem once and for all, and in a very simple way: you stir fry only the vegetables and cook the steak separately.

A delicious noodle stir fry with a perfectly rare and juicy tenderloin steak.

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Here’s how it goes: take a nice tenderloin steak, sear it well all around in a very hot cast iron pan, then finish it in a 350-degree oven to the desired doneness. Meanwhile cook soba noodles, then stir fry snow peas, baby bok choy and red bell pepper with a little bit of vegetable oil in a very hot pan. Once the vegetables start to soften a bit, add my trusty stir fry sauce. Once the steak is done, slice it up, then serve it with the stir fry and voila, you’ve got yourself a flavorful meal with juicy and perfectly cooked beef.

Stir Fry with Steak
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
For the steak:
  • 1 large or 2 small tenderloin steaks
For the stir fry sauce:
  • Get the ingredients here.
For the stir fry:
  • 3 ounces soba noodles, uncooked
  • 2 heads of baby bok choy, chopped up into 1 - 2-inch pieces
  • ~20 snow peas
  • ½ red bell pepper
Instructions:
For the steak:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a cast iron pan until shimmering.
  3. On high heat, sear the steak well on all sides, then move it with the pan into the oven and cook to desired doneness.
For the stir fry sauce:
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
For the stir fry:
  1. Cook the soba noodles according to instructions. Drain, then set aside.
  2. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil on high heat until shimmering.
  3. Add the vegetables and cook on high heat until they start to soften.
  4. Add the stir fry sauce into the hot pan with the vegetables and cook until thick and translucent.
  5. Serve noodles with vegetables and sauce and sliced up steak.

Food Photography and Styling: I’ve had this beautiful blue antique wood surface for quite a while but this is the first time I used it as a background rather than a surface. It’s a little loud but I think it fit well here, I certainly liked the blue in combination with the pink of the steak. The surface that this bowl is sitting on is my dark rustic wood tray turned upside down.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Ribs with Espresso Barbecue Sauce

An easy recipe for delicious pork ribs with espresso barbecue sauce.

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

I’ll get to these ribs in a moment but I first want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to everyone who has bought the book! The response to it has blown me away and it makes me so very happy that you guys find it so helpful!

Now, to the ribs. You know how much I like espresso so when I saw a recipe for espresso barbecue sauce in Food & Wine I naturally had to try it. It was spectacular. Very intense flavors, sweet, sour, just a hint of spice and a deep earthiness from the espresso. I loved everything about it. You’ll see that Food & Wine’s recipe says to refrigerate the sauce overnight but to be honest I didn’t do that, I used it right away and it was delicious! :)

Ribs with Espresso Barbecue Sauce
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Ingredients:
For the barbecue sauce (makes 1 1//2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups minced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 serrano chili, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup freshly brewed espresso
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
For the ribs:
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 rack pork ribs
Instructions:
For the barbecue sauce:
  1. Head on over to Food & Wine for instructions.
For the ribs:
  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Mix ground mustard seeds, paprika, garlic, salt and sugar together in a bowl, then rub on the ribs.
  3. Lay ribs on a baking sheet lined with two layers of aluminum foil.
  4. Lay two layers of aluminum foil on top and seal the edges tightly.
  5. Bake in the oven for 3½ hours.

Food Photography and Styling: I liked the intense, deep red color of the barbecue sauce and thought it worked really well with my trusty blue/gray metal tray. Since the sauce is the star of this recipe I put a jar of it in the composition and made sure to position it such that it was attention-grabbing. I spooned the sauce on the ribs and placed the messy spoon in the photo as well for good measure. I lit this photo from the back with my strobe and reflected a bit of light back onto the ribs with a small piece (~3″ by 3″) of silver foil.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/10, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

BLT Sandwich with Espresso Aioli

I’m a very enthusiastic fan of espresso so when I saw the words “espresso aioli” casually fly by when flipping through Saveur magazine I stopped in my tracks, ripped out the page and immediately ran into the kitchen to make it.

BLT Sandwich with Espresso Aioli Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Now, after reading a recipe I generally have at least a vague idea of what the food will taste like but not this time. I could absolutely not imagine the flavor of espresso aioli and I’m guessing you can’t either, so let me explain. The texture of this aioli is very creamy and velvety. It has a deep, earthy taste as well as a bitterness that is surprisingly pleasant. The espresso comes through strongly but only toward the end. It certainly tasted interesting and I liked it a lot.

I drizzled the aioli onto a bacon, lettuce and tomato bagel here and it worked perfectly in that but feel free to substitute your bread of choice. Let me know what you think if you try it! :)

BLT Sandwich with Espresso Aioli
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • half a shot of espresso (1½ tablespoons)
  • bread
  • tomato
  • bacon (baked until crispy)
  • lettuce
Instructions:
  1. Head on over to Saveur for instructions as to how to make the aioli.
  2. Assemble bread, lettuce, tomato and bacon into a sandwich and drizzle the aioli over the bacon.

Food Photography and Styling: This aioli is somewhat runny so I assembled the bagel without it first, put it in the set and fine-tuned the lighting and the propping. When that was all ready I drizzled the aioli on and was lucky that it ran and pooled a little bit but then stayed put. In retrospect I really don’t like the fact that you can see the bacon only on one side of the bagel and that it’s completely covered in aioli on the other. It would have been better if I had stuffed another little piece in on the camera-left side. Alas, I didn’t notice that when I was shooting and of course now it’s too late… I sprinkled some crumbs onto the wood box that I used as a surface to make the scene look realistic and placed a knife next to the sandwich to imply that someone had just cut the bagel in half with it. As I very often do, I lit this photo from the side with my strobe.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/8, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Coffee-Rubbed Ribs

I’ve seen coffee being used as a savory ingredient all over the place lately and after finally trying it myself I can see why! It adds a deep earthy flavor that is delicious and unique. For these fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, I mixed up a dry rub of finely ground coffee, ancho chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder and salt. It turned out great and the flavors complemented each other perfectly. You can dunk these ribs into your favorite BBQ sauce if you want to but they are just as good by themselves!

Easy and delicious fall-off-the-bone coffee-rubbed ribs.To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Coffee-Rubbed Ribs
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 rack pork ribs
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Mix salt, coffee, ancho chili powder, brown sugar and garlic powder together in a bowl.
  3. Rub the mix evenly onto the ribs.
  4. Lay the ribs on a baking sheet lined with two layers of aluminum foil.
  5. Lay two layers of aluminum foil on top and seal the edges tightly.
  6. Bake in the oven for 3½ hours.

Food Photography and Styling:  I lit this photo with natural light and documented exactly how I did that in my eBook, which you can check out here: Food Photography Behind the Scenes – Bright Food, Dark Shadows!

Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

An easy recipe for delicious cinnamon meatballs with marinara sauce.

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This recipe features my new favorite flavor combo: beef, garlic, tomato and cinnamon. Those four are an absolutely perfect match. What I did here was adapt America’s Test Kitchen’s meatball recipe, changed a few things around and – most importantly – added the cinnamon. It came out wonderfully, I hope you give it a try!

As for the food photography and styling, I am going to tell and show you exactly how I took this (and other) shots in my upcoming eBook titled Food Photography Behind the Scenes – Bright Food, Dark Shadows! Stay tuned!! :)

Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Cuisine: Main
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, cut into cubes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • ½ cup red wine
  • one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (plus more for garnish)
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Mix sour cream and milk together and soak the bread cubes in the mix for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add beef, parsley, egg, garlic, salt and cinnamon to the bread and mix well.
  3. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven.
  4. Form the meat into balls.
  5. Working in batches, fry the balls in the oil until brown on all sides.
  6. Take the meatballs out of the pot and set aside.
  7. Add the onions to the pot you fried the meatballs in and cook for a minute.
  8. Add the wine, cook for another minute.
  9. Add tomatoes and oregano, then add the meatballs back into the sauce.
  10. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, without a lid, for about 20 minutes.
  11. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F (if using parmesan).
  12. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Sprinkle the cheese on and bake until it is melted.
  14. Sprinkle with more parsley for garnish.

 

 

Pork Ribs with Spicy Chili Adobo Sauce

Pork ribs are one of my favorite meat dishes but my enthusiasm for them has always been curbed by the disappointing taste of the various store-bought BBQ sauces that are usually served along with them. So I finally decided to come up with a sauce for ribs myself and I have to say I love it! This chili adobo sauce is nicely spicy (if you want it a little more mellow, just add less of the ground chipotle pepper), a little sweet, a little sour and a little fruity. It complements the melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone ribs perfectly and is very easy to make. Enjoy!

Melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs with a homemade spicy chili adobo sauce. To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Pork Ribs with Spicy Chili Adobo Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
For the ribs:
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 rack pork ribs
For the sauce:
  • ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, mined or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground red chipotle pepper**
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
Instructions:
For the ribs:
  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Mix ground mustard seeds, paprika, garlic, salt and sugar together in a bowl, then rub on the ribs.
  3. Lay ribs on a baking sheet lined with two layers of aluminum foil.
  4. Lay two layers of aluminum foil on top and seal the edges tightly.
  5. Bake in the oven for 3½ hours.
For the sauce:
  1. Heat the oil in a pan.
  2. Add the onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for a minute.
  4. Add chili and chipotle powder and cook for one minute.
  5. Stir in crushed tomatoes, sugar, cider vinegar and soy sauce.
  6. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with the ribs.

Food Photography and Styling: I wanted to be sure to show the sauce prominently in this photo because it’s an important (if not actually the most important) part of this recipe. To do that I chose to shoot from an overhead perspective and that made the ribs a bit challenging. Showing just a chunk of four or five ribs in one piece looked too uniform and boring, so I cut individual ribs from the rack and showed some of them from the top, some from the bottom and some from the side to create a little variety. To tell the viewer that this recipe is spicy I placed dried peppers in the composition as well and luckily their color worked nicely with the rest of the set. I lit the scene from the side with my strobe and blocked the light in the top and bottom parts of the frame to create a spotlight on the ribs.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/11, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.