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homemade port and fennel pollen salami

If I was to get all swanky on ya, I would call this salami “finocchiona salami”, however whenever I use some authentic name I seem to get emails from twerps telling me that it isn’t in fact XYZ because of this this and this. So I am not going to.

To be a true finocchiona it should have both fennel pollen and fennel seed in. I doubt the port should be in there either. No doubt it also has to be made by a certain old man named Giovanni who lives in a hut in the back of Tuscany somewhere. You can only contact him by a secret bird call, and he will only make finocchiona salami when he has the exact breed of pig required and at the right time of year so that the one certain kind of natural mold will settle on said salami, which of course gives it is characteristic taste.

I am guessing only part of that is true..

Click to read more about making salami at home

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wrightfood photography manual – digital version!

OK folks, gonna make this one short and sweet. Lots and lots of people have asked for a digital version of the Wrightfood Food Photography manual that I have started selling last week to raise money for Japan.

The original hardback book is available through blurb for $44.44. With the profit that Blurb takes, this leaves $10 for Japan. I make nothing on this sale.

The digital version of this book is available through Tradebit, in both PDF and ePUB formats for $20 I know Tradebit might look a bit hokey, but it is a great German company that do secure digital content downloads and offer the most competitive pricing. Both the PDF format and ePUB format will give $14/sale to Japan – again I make nothing.

I personally would choose the PDF version. The formatting is much nicer, and the images are larger. ePUB has a lot of formatting restrictions, and image size restrictions that does hamper a book like this a bit. The content is still the same – I just think the PDF version is prettier to look at.

So, go buy it! Here is the info on the book again, if you cannot be arsed to look back at the last post:

I wrote a short book on food photography. It covers everything you need to know to get yourself taking great food photos in your house. Examples of how to use scrims, bounce cards, natural light, artificial light. Everything to get you going.

I wanted it to be more than that though. So, what I did was include a bunch of examples. On one full page you see the food photo I took and on the page next to it you get a detailed description of the setup, along with an illustration I did showing exactly how the scene was setup. Where the light was coming from. Where the bounces are. Where the camera is – AND WHY.

There are examples for both natural and artificial light. I talk about lenses, cameras, tripods all that good stuff. I even give advice on composition, scene setup and all that stuff.

By the time you finish this short book, I want you to be able to take really great shots of your awesome food at home. No studio stuff, just a camera and some light, and a few doodads that you can buy at an art supply store.

Sales update: so far the hardback book has sold 75 copies. That means $750 has been raised for Japan. That is awesome. You guys are brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I am hoping the digital versions of this book will help push this number much higher!

And one final thing.. I know that with this digital version it is easy to pirate and copy it for your friends. Since this book is entirely for charity, you frankly are a total scum bag if you think this is acceptable. It has nothing to do with how much work I put in to the thing, it has everything to do about raising money for people who desperately need our help.

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wrightfood photography manual – help japan!

About three months ago Danika turned to me and suggested we do more for charity. That is something that you can never just say “meh..” to. So we got thinking. She is a very accomplished artist so we are planning on selling some of her works for charity. We also thought about setting up a large community vegetable garden to supply vegetables and fruits to lower income families, however that is a wee bit adventurous for both our time and wallets right now.

She then said “why don’t you make a book about food photography and sell it”. That was that. For the last two months in the evenings after work you would find me typing away, making illustrations and designing page layouts.

The book is done. It took longer than expected. Apparently that is how it goes with these things.

Read the rest of this entry »

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celery root remoulade

Some things are so classic, so perfectly right as they are that it seems like a total disgrace to “reinvent” them. There is a reason some dishes have been around for a long time, on and off restaurant menu’s, but always there. There is a tricky knife edge here though. You can fall one way in to classic stardom of a recipe – something so good, so simple that it should never be changed. A quick shake on the edge however and things can fall drastically apart. The dish can be flat, boring, dated.

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Meat curing safety

Some of you might know that I am one of the judges for the rather large, rather viral #charcutpalooza challenge. I am in great company there I have to say, and the challenges are shaping up to be very interesting. Michael Ruhlman does a great job in his Charcuterie book to go in to some detail about the safety side of things when curing meat, but I figured I would add my thoughts on the whole safety side of things too.

When I started meat curing at home many years ago I promised my wife two things – If I thought it might dicey, I wouldn’t eat it. I would read up as much as possible on the safety of curing meats, the process and so on, so that I can guarantee my work is safe.

If done properly, with good technique, attention to detail, and the right environment curing meat is safe. Very safe. It has been done for centuries. People in the past have died from it so we don’t have to. Sounds harsh, but it is true. No need to make the mistakes that others less fortunate have. With that in mind, here is a list of safety facts that I have gathered along the way, to make sure what I do doesn’t make myself, or even worse other people sick.

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Food and Light Workshop 2011

Well folks, this is quite an honor to announce this. Every year there is a very special food photography workshop in Boulder Colorado setup by the lovely Jen Yu and Todd Porter and Diane Cu. You might know them better by their blogs – Jen Yu is UseRealButter and Todd and Diane from WhiteonRiceCouple. I am sure they need no introductions from me.

These three are easily some of my favorite food photographers of this time. Each of them a well honed professional in food photography, having shot for publications, cookbooks, websites, restaurants, and I whole lot more. Just when you wanted to hate them for being so bloody talented – there is more. They are some of the most genuine, warmhearted people you will ever come across. Perhaps the greatest thing of all (especially for everyone else) is that they LOVE to teach, and they do it really darn well.

Click to read more about this fantastic food photography workshop

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Home made blood sausage

This blood sausage sort of just happened. It wasn’t long ago when I was flicking through the River Cottage Cookbook I happened to see a blood sausage recipe or three. My first thought was “wow, I haven’t had blood sausage in ages”. My second was “yep, there was a reason for that”.

As with almost everything not all blood sausage is created equal. I remember eating some in motorway (freeway to the Yanks) greasy spoons that should never be served.. especially considering that people are then often locked in their cars with no quick access to a bathroom 30 minutes down the road..

Click to see more photos and to get this morcilla recipe

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Roast baby turnips, guanciale, fines herbs

The poor old turnip gets a bad rap. It always seems to get out classed by other winter root vegetables (back off rutabaga’s..) and never quite ever gets seen as the star of the show. Half of the problem I think for us Brit’s was its association with Baldrick (NOTHING is ever going to be cool if associated with Baldrick) from the incredibly funny Blackadder TV series. From there it was just downhill for this sweet tasting white globe. I personally prefer the smaller, or “baby” turnips. I think they are sweeter, and more delicate. Just like me.

Click to see and read more and to get this turnip recipe

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Lamb prosciutto is done!

Well folks, this stuff has been hanging a while now. It seems to have done really quite well. It even survived the great International disaster of 2010 – “the humidifier is out of water for 3 days catastrophe” which I am sure you read about in a variety of international newspapers…

About two months ago I broke down a lamb leg in to three boneless pieces, and salted them along with various herbs. Becky came over and we rolled and tied each piece up much like you do a pancetta. These were considerably harder to tie than a pancetta however given a rather uneven shape. They were then left to hang in my curing chamber, where they sat for a month, getting moldy and drying out. Because of the international disaster mentioned above, they didn’t cure as evenly as first hoped, and in fact I think one is maybe for the trash, however two came out really pretty darn well.

Click to read how to make lamb prosciutto

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food photography post production – VIDEO POST!

Post production often seems like a dirty little secret. I know some photographers that don’t like to talk about it. Others swear it is the devils work, and only for those photographers that cannot take good shots.

I call bullshit to that last statement.

Post Production should be considered any work you do to a photograph after you take it. Some call it “Photoshopping”, but that is rather package specific, and often implies some gross adjustment or head/body replacements that we all love to do to those photos of friends.. It isn’t the devil’s work. It isn’t for photographers that cannot take good shots. It isn’t only for people that don’t know how to setup lighting properly.

Pretty much every photograph you see today has gone through some post production work. Some might be very slight, others might be very severe (thinking about those before/after shots of Madonna that went round the web a while back..). Back when I worked in the film industry, every shot went through post production – and that had many stages to it including color grading and so on. It is the same with photography.

Click to read more about how to develop digital photographs, and see the post production video!

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lamb prosciutto

I love lamb. Absolutely love it. I will take a lamb chop over a steak any day of the week and don’t even get me started talking about legs of lamb. Oh, wait. Gonna have to, since this is a post all about curing them.

Click to see more about this lam curing experiment! (inc. photo setup info!)

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Home Cured Lonzino (pork loin)

This blog is fast becoming a mix of salted dried meat and vegetarian recipes by the looks of what I have posted recently – and frankly I am rather enjoying it!

This is the latest in my meat curing expedition, and whilst I have most likely only eaten 15 slices of it, I would consider it a favorite. Lonzino is a section of pork loin that has been cured then air dried. A very simple whole muscle cure that has a wonderful tenderness to it, with clean pronounced flavors, possibly thanks to the low amount of fat in each slice. It is pretty much the pork version of bresaola – the cured air dried beef eye of round that seems popular these days (especially with me!!)

click to find out more about this charcuterie, and see the lonzino recipe

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chickpea, chanterelle, local black truffle

There are some dishes, quite a lot of dishes in fact, that I cook and never think twice about blogging the recipe for. In my mind they are too simple, too “everyday” and have no cured meat element to them!

Sod that I thought one day however. This is how I like to eat. Simple food, quality ingredients, honest cooking. If there can be a shed load of butter involved, than this makes it all the more reason to talk about it, no?

My favorite way of appeasing the hungry vegetarian in our household (Danika) is to cook up a variety of small plates most nights, depending on what is in the fridge or the garden. Typically I will muster together four little dishes, generally including some kind of green salad, and for me just add in some fish or meat. I am finding this vegetarian thing of her’s super fun. Whether I will in the dead of winter will be another matter, but right now it is enjoyable, creative and fun.

Click to get this chickpea recipe and read more

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Artificial Light Food Photography

Artificial Light Food Photography tips

Raise your hand if you have a problem taking food photography in the winter?

If you could see me now, I would have my hand raised (with an alocholic bevy in it too, most likely). Heck, I would most likely be pouring one out for all the fallen photos I have tried to take in the winter, but have had sucky lighting.

The problem is this, unless doing a photography job, I shoot most of my stuff in the evening. In the summer, this works out OK – it stays light here pretty late. Sometimes you will find me taking shots at lunchtime on the weekends too, but busy weekends (hello toddler) mean this often doesn’t happen. Even if this does work out through the winter months, typically it can be too dark to get those really lovely light filled shots we are all seeking these days.

It can work out good. Natural winter light can be really majestic. It can have an almost dreamy, distant quality to it. Course, it can also be gone in a flash too. That is why From about this time to march I tend to have to rely on artificial light to take my food photography.

Click to see my advice and setup for shooting in artificial light

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Bresaola

home cured bresaola recipe

Bresaola is the salumi that got me started in to meat curing at home a couple of years ago now. Some of you might remember the story of rat cage and the thing eventually ending up in the trash. Since then I have got far more obsessive (some might say that isn’t possible), and a little more scientific with my meat curing. I have cured a lot of meat over the last couple of years, but somehow keep coming back to this simple air dried beef charcuterie.

click to see how to make this classic charcuterie and more food photos

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