Landing.Tastings-9

Tahoe Food Photographer | Jimmy’s Restaurant in The Landings Resort and Spa

Last week I had the pleasure of joining my friend and Tahoe South guru Georgette Riley for dinner at Jimmy’s Restaurant at the recently opened The Landing Resort and Spa.   I was particularly excited about this venture for a number of reasons: first off, we had a small sampling of tastings that blew our mind the week before at Girls’ Drinking Club and secondly, because I’m super excited to be shooting a wedding there in June organized by the best wedding planner in Northern CA and one of the most hysterical fabulous women I’ve ever met, Tamara J Events.

Tahoe South just hosted it’s first ever official Restaurant Week.  A number of local Tahoe South establishments ran specials all week long to entice folks out of their warm homes into the cold to take part.  In addition to Jimmy’s, Boyfriend and I ate at Basecamp Pizza where they were offering an $8 personal sized pizza of any of their gourmet favorites!   We love Basecamp for their service, staff and food and jumped at a chance for an extra special deal.

Jimmy’s is one of the first restaurant’s to open in Tahoe that I’m particularly excited about.  The Chef’s father is Greek and her blend of “Californian Greek” is on par and takes me right back to one of the best trips of my life.   At Jimmy’s, you can almost forget that you’re dining in Tahoe.  For a brief second, you are transported to a cosmopolitan city where food is locally sourced from local farmers and ranchers and everything is made fresh and impeccably presented.

I can’t even begin to count how many times I ate fried feta in Greece but Jimmy’s Kataifi (shredded Phyllo dough) Wrapped Feta was spot on.  We had the pleasure of tasting a number of plates of their extensive and varied menu, but the Seared Ahi and the Roasted Beets and Apple Salad also really stood out as exceptional dishes for me.

You should head over to the Tahoe South Blog to read Georgette’s write up on our evening and check out all my photos from the night!

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Dinner Tonight: Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

I am not a creative cook.  I do not generally throw things together in a pot at my whim and fancy like my boyfriend does; I am a recipe follower.  I look to magazines, blogs and cookbooks for inspiration.  Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and Food and Wine are general staples in my mailbox.  Recipes from Smitten Kitchen, Eat, Live, Run and Thug Kitchen are frequently saved to my Chef Tap for reference at the grocery store.  When I was in college, I taught myself how to cook by reading and using recipes out of Cooking Light and 14 years later, not much has changed.

This recipe came from a new love of mine: Sunset Magazine.  Sunset Magazine is like a giant advertisement for a Pinterest worthy life where you have a house with huge windows and bay doors that open to a gorgeous patio overlooking a massive garden complete with chickens and go on glorious vacations all over the west coast and stay in hotels that I would never ever pay for.  This recipe for Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos caught my eye though as something rich and fancy but weeknight worthy due to very little prep work.  It was delicious and, as they said, decadent and quite wonderful.  It’s definitely guest worthy but wouldn’t travel well so it’s best served at home and not at a pot-luck.  Thanks to the shrimp inside, one pepper each totally filled us up and the roasted red pepper and fire roasted tomatoes give the sauce such a nice smoky flavor.

Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

(recipe from Sunset Magazine)

Ingredients

  • 1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 medium poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil $
  • 1 onion, chopped $
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeño chile, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed with a pan
  • 1 pound medium (36 to 42 per lb.) peeled, deveined shrimp, halved lengthwise $$
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature $
  • 1 cup shredded jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco* (Mexican-style fresh cheese)
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Whirl red peppers, tomatoes, and 1/2 tsp. salt together in a food processor until puréed. Pour into a wide 4-qt. shallow baking dish or 6 shallow 1-cup baking dishes. Set aside.
  2. Set poblanos over flames on a gas range (or set on a baking sheet and broil). Cook, turning often, until starting to turn black in spots, 8 minutes total. Let cool.
  3. Slit poblanos with one long cut down the center and a small perpendicular cut near the stem and remove seeds, leaving pepper and stem intact.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, and coriander. Cook until softened, 4 minutes. Add shrimp and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Cook until shrimp starts to turn pink, 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Stir cream and jack cheeses into shrimp mixture. Spoon into poblanos, dividing evenly. Set chiles in dish with sauce. Bake until filling is oozing and hot, 40 minutes. Top with queso fresco and cilantro.
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Winterhill Olive Oil | Tahoe Product Photography

I discovered recently that I am not particularly into architectural and real estate photography.

I also discovered, however, that I love product photography.

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I was elated when the owner of Winterhill Farms approached me to do some product photography for them, partially because I discovered how wonderful product photography is in the process but also because I selfishly lust over their products.

Winterhill Farms specializes in the best certified extra virgin olive oils in the area and they are divine.  They are luscious and delicate, with a robust olive oil taste and come infused with things like garlic, jalapeno, basil or lemon if you so choose.

They are unbelievable.  Trust me.  

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Commercial product photography is pretty awesome for a variety of reasons, the best of which is that I can drink wine while I shoot in the comfort of my own home.  I set up a small studio in my office with three lights, a folding table, a huge 4 foot wide, 10 foot long piece of white cardboard that I convinced some visual merchandising reps for Bounty at our local Staples Store to give me instead of throwing in the trash (seriously), and a piece of plexiglass.  This was yet another experience where I discovered how valuable my expensive film degree at UT where I  learned lighting was.

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 In addition to olive oils, Winterhill Farms offers artisanal balsamic vinegars, chutneys, local jams and jellies, honeys, relish, and best of all, dark chocolates and truffles infused with orange or habanero (my favorite)!  If you are local to the northern CA area, Winterhill Farms offers hosted Olive Oil Parties as a delicious way to gather and taste their products.  Their olive oils can be purchased in Tahoe at my favorite place to drink Apres Wine Co and the Farmers Market at the American Legion every Tuesday (8 AM-2 PM) in the summer.

If you aren’t in Tahoe, you can order their products via mail order on their website, or in the Northern CA area, pick up Winterhill Olive Oil at my favorite vineyard, Holly’s Hill, of which I am both a wine club member and an emphatic and insistent fan, or at their storefront at 321 Main St in Placerville.

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  I have nothing but respect, admiration and love for people who are passionate about their product.  I have been a fan of Winterhill Olive Oil long before my professional relationship with them began and I will forever sing their accolades now that I have worked for them.  I strongly recommend you order their products; you will not regret it!

You can follow Winterhill Olive Oil on facebook via this link.

Read a great article about Winterhill on page 41 of Living Magazine.

Dreu Murin, Wake Up Tahoe, Hard Rock Cafe Tahoe, Hard Rock Cafe Burger Challenge, Tahoe South, Reno Tahoe Event Photography, Reno Tahoe Event Photographers

Hard Rock Cafe Burger Challenge

Last week I was asked to assist my buddy Dreu Murin with a local event.

I whipped up a flyer really fast and was promised free wine for showing up and helping.  You know I don’t have to be asked twice when there is wine involved.

There wasn’t much required of me at the event itself other than drinking wine with the rest of the Girls Drinking Club so I snapped a few photos.  There was a super talented balloon artist on site, as evidenced below.  The winning burger was created by Tahoe local Brian Jefferies.  The always lovely and impeccably put together Adra Fenstermaker took 2nd.

Hard Rock Montage, Reno Tahoe Event Photography, Reno Tahoe Events, Tahoe South, Tahoe South Photographers, South Lake Tahoe Event Photography

Summer Grill Time

It’s been one of the warmer, drier springs that I’ve ever experienced in Tahoe and as a result, it already feels like summer is in full swing here.  To maximize the great weather, we’ve been grilling a ton to really enjoy the late warm nights.  I just ordered a big picnic table on Amazon so we can eat dinner in the backyard because there is nothing better than a bottle of wine in the backyard after work as the sun goes down, all while dinner is on the grill, especially if I spent the entire sun filled day inside a retail store.   I need to get down to Holly’s Hill one of these days soon and buy a case of their Grenache Rosé, which accompanies BBQs and summer so perfectly you’ll think you’re on vacation, for at least as long as the bottle lasts you, which in my case is not very long.

What have we been grilling?  Awesomeness.  That’s what.

Our New Obsessions

Grilled Romaine, Reno Tahoe Food Photography

Grilled Romaine

1.  You might think that a head of romaine is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard of putting on a grill, but I dare you to accuse it of ridiculousness after you’ve tried it yourself.   Recently, my friend Haley found an awesome website with a recipe for grilled romaine and it took me back to Nonna’s in Dallas, where we had a grilled romaine salad the night before the Dallas Marathon that knocked our socks off.  2 minutes on the grill and romaine is taken to a whole new level: warm, charred and unbelievably delicious.  It may be the easiest salad you’ve ever made.  Recipe via Thug Kitchen.

Grilled bread, grilled flatbread, reno tahoe food photography

Grilled whole wheat flatbread.

2.  Grilled flatbread: possibly better than grilled romaine.  We are constantly making homemade bread but rarely want to turn our oven on in Tahoe in the summer.  My new solution to this conundrum is to roll it out and grill it up.  The other night we grilled lemon and dill marinated chicken, a homemade tzatziki sauce, Greek salad and grilled bread.  You should be jealous.  Also, if you don’t already own this book, you should probably go ahead and get it.

Weeknight Dinners

Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

It’s been awhile since I talked about food.

Whenever I’m in charge of a weeknight dinner, 9/10 times I gravitate towards noodles of some sort.  They are, most importantly, my favorite form of gluten, in addition to being generally fast, easy and fresh.  Thankfully Food and Wine recently had an entire issue devoted to Mario Batali recipes.  Heaven!

The recipe actually called for an amazing looking noodle called malfaldine, which is a thin lasagna.  I couldn’t find any at our local grocery store so I opted for fusilli lunghi.  I think the malfaldine would have been better but these were still fun and a great texture combined with the long strips of broccolini.  I also tripled the garlic.  I firmly believe that no matter who wrote the recipe, they were wrong.  Even Mario Batali.  There should always be more garlic.

Recipe via Food & Wine.

Superbowl Sunday

I’m not sure if you were on Twitter during the Superbowl blackout, but it was hysterical.

Way more hysterical and entertaining than the game itself.

Superbowl Sunday Taco Feast.

I’m not really a fan of pro football, but I am a fan of good food, friends and get-togethers.

We ate amazing fish tacos and things wrapped in bacon and decorated our faces and yelled a lot.

It was good times.

M took my camera hostage (she loves it) so we have a ton of photos from the festivities.  If so inclined, you can check them out here.

Cambodian Lemongrass Pineapple Stir Fry Sauce

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We are coming to the end of our gift of World Foods sauces, which is a little bitter sweet. For one, it means that I can rotate my last-minute-everything-left-in-the-crisper-drawer-diners to include Italian mash-ups with olive oil, whole wheat pasta and plenty of romano cheese, which is always in my fridge but on the other hand, they were a really fantastic way to throw together a delicious, healthy and fast meal at night.

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For our last main dish, I did what I’ve been doing all along: pick a protein, add some veggies, toss with sauce and serve over rice and noodles. It may not be glamorous or “cooking” per say, but it’s a quick and satisfying meal that literally anyone can handle. For those of you who prefer sweeter tastes to spicy, the Cambodian Pineapple Lemon Grass Stir Fry Sauce will be a perfect pairing for you.  It was a bit on the sweet side for both Boyfriend and I, who prefer things with a kick.  I put in half a jalapeno, but it wasn’t enough to temper the overbearing sweetness.  A large douse of soy sauce fixed that though!  We served it over left over jasmine rice and although it wasn’t our favorite sauce of the bunch, our plates were still cleared through in minutes!

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Our stir fry was chock full of veggies that needed to be used: zucchini and yellow squash, yellow bell pepper, a jalapeno and two large handfuls of spinach. I topped each serving with some diced basil to finish it off.

Read about my experiences with all the World Foods Sauces here:
Jungle Curry with Tofu
Galangal Lemon Grass Stir Fry Sauce
Rendang Curry Sauce
Pad Thai Noodle Sauce
Xin Zhou Noodle Sauce
Green Curry Sauce

Check out what my other California Fusion Taste Team Members are up to:

Darlene at My Burning Kitchen
Alex at Ma, What’s for Dinner
Mary at This Tasty Life

Follow the World Fusion Taste Team updates on Twitter @fusiontasteteam.
Follow on Pinterest at WorldFoods.
Follow on Facebook at WorldFoods Fusion of Flavours.

We have one sauce left, a World Foods Dipping Sauce that I have visions of accompanying a plate of coconut fried shrimp or marinated and fried tofu sticks. This is one we may reserve for a party appetizer or event at the house. I’d like to thank World Foods for generously providing me with a hamper full of products to sample. It was an exercise in both creative writing and cooking for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately, I don’t think their products are available anywhere in Tahoe but I’m crossing my fingers I can find them in the Whole Foods in Reno. Check here to find them at a location near you.

Jungle Curry with Tofu

Fusion Taste Team, World Foods

When my friend Anne visited for dinner she left behind a beautiful head of purple cauliflower. I’m coming to the end of my World Foods sauces and for this night’s dinner I chose to adapt a recipe I found in Cooking Light. You can use any produce you want in place of my choices, but I wanted a reason to use that gorgeous colorful cauliflower.

World Foods, Fusion Taste Team, Stir Fry, Curry, Cauliflower

Jungle Curry with Tofu

adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 c uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 12 oz package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tbs peanut oil, divided
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and trimmed of leaves
  • 1 small eggplant cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
  • 2 tbs World Foods Thai Red Curry Sauce
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 3 tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp grated lime rind
  • 1 c thinly sliced fresh basil
  • lime wedges

1.  Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

2.  Heat large non stick skillet or wok over medium high heat.  Add 1 tbs peanut oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add tofu, saute until crispy and browned, stirring occasionally.

3.  Remove tofu from pan and keep warm.  Return pan to medium high heat and add remaining 1 tbs peanut oil; swirl to coat.  Add eggplant, cauliflower, and bell pepper.  Saute 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add jalapeno and garlic, saute and additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

4.  Return tofu to pan.  Add curry paste; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.  Add broth, soy sauce, sugar and rind; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft.

5.  Place 1/2 c rice in each of bowls, top with about tofu and veggie mixture and 1/4 a cup of basil.  Garnish with lime wedges.

Jungle Curry, Tofu, World Foods, Fusion Taste Team, Thai Red Curry Paste, Cauliflower, Stir Fry

World Foods Galangal Lemon Grass Stir Fry Sauce

Fusion Taste Team

When I moved away to college and settled into my first apartment, I discovered the world of Central Market, which offered apple varieties I didn’t know existed and amazing grains I’d never heard of in bulk. I spent years teaching myself how to cook, pouring through Cooking Light Magazine and tearing recipes out of it’s pages month after month. I grew up in a household that didn’t know what Olive Oil was used for and most of our dinners involved the words “fried” and “chicken.” And yes, there is a perfectly good reason that it’s called Chicken Fried Steak. If you don’t understand it, you must not be from the south.

Now, I may still love my grandmother’s mac and cheese, but these days, my palette revolves very little around Crisco and butter and more so around fresh vegetables, fruits and lean protein. I don’t believe in diets, but I do believe in eating well and eating what my body craves. I may crave a chocolate chip cookie here and there but mostly I crave fresh produce. This explains why every time I leave the country I think I’m getting scurvy.

I wish that I could call myself an inventive chef. The opposite of this is true. While I can cook and throw together dinners based on recipes that I’ve followed and again and again and again, what I cannot do is invent them. So while some of the Fusion Taste Team members are getting super inventive with their jars of World Foods sauces, what I love most about the sauces is that I don’t have to follow a recipe and that I can just throw things into a stir fry pan, add the sauce, and enjoy.

These sauces are 100% for the home cook that isn’t a chef. For the person who needs to follow recipes for the simplest things. For my co-worker, Briana, who never cooks. These are SO perfect for that person. They are also perfect for those nights you don’t know what to make and you don’t have the energy for something elaborate. They are handy. They are delicious. I am a fan.

Last night, my friend Anne came over and she was craving healthy. In a matter of 20 minutes, from start to finish, I had a veggie filled stir fry on the table.

World Foods, Fusion Taste Team, Stir Fry

Choose your protein, or skip it all together. Last night we used firm tofu, fried up crispy in peanut oil. Add your veggies. Whatever is leftover in the fridge will work. Pick a starch: rice noodles, udon noodles, soba noodles, rice! Your pantry is your guide! We always have a selection of Japanese noodles on hand because stir fry is such an easy weeknight staple dinner.

World Foods, Fusion Taste Team, Stir Fry

Last night, I added the World Foods Thai Galangal Lemon Grass Sauce to finish off the stir fry. Galangal is in the ginger family, but tastes more peppery and our dish had a bit of a kick, though I had a hard time telling if it was a kick from the jalapeno I sauteed into the veggies or from the sauce itself. Galangal is frequently mixed with lime in Thai cooking and you can find it’s presence in the ever popular Tom Yum soup.

World Foods, Fusion Taste Team, Stir Fry, Asian Sauce

Overall, I would say this is my second favorite World Foods Sauce, after the Rendang Curry Sauce. I’m also proud that I was patient enough to get the tofu super crispy, just like boyfriend makes it.

World Foods, Fusion Taste Team, Tofu, Stir Fry

You can win your own World Foods Thai Curry Sauce. We have 180 jars of sauce from World Foods to give away to readers from each state’s Fusion Taste Team. That’s roughly enough jars for five of my readers to win!

Fusion Taste Team, Contest, Curry Sauce, World Foods

If you want a chance to win an awesome jar of super fast sauce, head to the World Foods Facebook page and enter the sweepstakes.

You’ll need the password CAFTT to indicate that you are a reader of a member of the CA team in order to enter and you have until November 30th at 3:59 PT to do so.