Category Archives: food photography

Ethio-paean

The friendly folks at the family-owned Merkato Grocery and Cafe, an Ethiopian spot in Murphy, Texas, seem keenly aware of the adage that you eat with your eyes first.  Proof: their Vegetarian Sampler!

20170715_192154Three kinds of lentil dishes, collard greens, beets, a potato/carrot stew, green beans, and cabbage sit atop a fluffy injera, a pancake made from fermented teff batter. And the basket holds even more injera, all rolled up and ready to eat.

The injera’s soft, porous texture makes it perfect for scooping up the various heaps of serious yum. Plus, its similarity to the Indian dosa puts it in the category of comfort food for me.

 

Made for each other

Samosas and chai
I absolutely love this appetizer-beverage combo and wonder which genius first thought to serve them together.

Ah, life is good...

Ah, life is good…

The samosas pictured here contain a spicy potato filling inside a flour (maida) shell fried golden crisp. Many variations exist on this popular snack and party pleaser.

Spice Bazaar, an Indian grocery store in Frisco, Texas, sells samosas that beat the, how shall I say it, stuffing out of the local competition. What sets them apart is a light exterior dusting of black salt (kala namak). The filling? Authentic as it gets. Perfectly cooked and seasoned potatoes and green peas with a hint of crushed whole coriander seeds (aakha dhaniya).

Chai, straight up, is black tea with milk and sugar.

When it comes to black tea, it’s PG Tips all the way. This British favorite holds a permanent place in my pantry because it makes a beautiful amber brew and tastes amazing. That said, any plain black tea has potential. Milk, a good bit of sugar, and a flavor spike from your choice of extras—fresh ginger, cardamom, or chai masala—make for a tasty cup.

Anytime is tea time. Chai brings people together. Guess you could call it a social medium. A daily ritual in my family when I was growing up was afternoon tea around 3. We all looked forward to tea time, with my mother brewing the most perfect pick-me-up for us all. In college, a cafe break with friends meant a respite from long study sessions.

“Come over for chai!” If you hear these words, you can safely assume that the person extending the invitation really likes you. Take them up on the offer and you could find yourself sipping ambrosia, chit-chatting, and enjoying a savory snack or two. Lightly sweetened tea rusks and Marie biscuits are likely to make an appearance. If you see samosas on the table, you’ve hit the jackpot!

Chai and samosas! Like Laurel and Hardy, you could have one without the other, but they are so good together!

Loaf, actually

Never thought I’d bake bread at home. It seemed too technical for someone who uses her oven to reheat pizza and roast cauliflowers, too iffy. But I gave it a go last week. Thanks, entirely, to that wonderful thing called the internet!

My first loaf

I followed this excellent King Arthur Flour recipe for classic 100% whole wheat bread. Here is KAF’s wonderful step-by-step blog post with photographs. I followed the blog post closely, but did the kneading by hand. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of honey, molasses, or maple syrup. Thanks to this entry in The Cook’s Thesaurus, I learned that I could “substitute 1 cup sugar for every 3/4 cup of maple syrup, then increase the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons per cup of sugar.” Which I did.

Hey, wholesome! Crumb to me now.

The recipe says to “slice when completely cool.” Completely cool. Really? When you’ve baked bread for the first time and are dying to see how it turned out, is it humanly possible to wait that long? I waited 20 minutes after the loaf came out of the oven, 10 of which were spent taking pictures. For a first attempt at a yeast bread, I was thrilled at the outcome. A good-looking, great-tasting loaf. Substantial, but not too dense. Easy to slice.

Tastes great plain or brushed with butter. A dab of strawberry jam.