The thing is, food blog photography is completely different from professional food photography. Most of the time, we're working in low-light situations where we neither have the time nor the ability to set up lighting rigs or even an off-camera flash, for that matter. Over the years, we've figured out the best ways to get presentable photos out of just about every situation food blogging will put you in. We've compiled the most important tips here.
'Serious Eats Guides' on Serious Eats
I can't stand it when I reach for a nice big balloon whisk and start beating away only to find out that the wires are too stiff to get decent whipping action and that I might as well be trying to make my meringue with a fork. For me, the ideal whisk needs to combine a few features. Let me break them down.
Great for breaking down chickens, perfect for snipping twine or taking the tips off of squirt bottles and wooden skewers, essential for cleaning crabs or cracking lobsters, a good, solid set of shears is a kitchen powerhouse. Ideal for use when a knife is either too cumbersome or too dangerous, shears are most often pulled out for messy tasks, when your hands are liable to get slippery.
At first glance, the shape of the classic paring knife seems to make sense. A great big curved chef's knife is for cutting, hacking, and chopping large things, so to cut, hack, and chop small things, I'd want to use a small version of a chef's knife, right? The thing is, I don't use a paring knife for cutting, hacking, and chopping. I use it for peeling, brunoise-ing, thin slicing, and generally performing the type of precision knife work that a large chef's knife is simply too thick and bulky for. There's a fundamental difference between the type of tasks performed by a chef's knife and a paring knife. With this in mind, I went shopping for a paring knife with a new set of criteria.
Just like a good kitchen knife, for a good steak knife to make the cut, it's gotta be sharp, comfortable, well-balanced, and sturdy. But that's where the similarity ends. Steak knives differ from kitchen knives in two important ways. First, a steak knife must look good; you'll be using it at your table, after all. Second, a steak knife is used on a plate, not a cutting board; this means the world in selecting the proper edge for your knife. With those parameters in mind, let's explore our options.
To get a good, crisp, well-charred undercarriage on a pizza, you need to have some means of transferring it to a blazing-hot surface (like a pizza stone or a grill) without any intervening pan. The best way to do this is with a peel—the long handled tool with a flat paddle on the end that pizzaioli use to deposit and retrieve pies from hot ovens. Most professionals use extremely long peels with heavy-duty, rounded metal heads to poke their pies at a safe distance from the mouths of their 1,000°F wood-burning, fire-belching ovens. But what about the rest of us?
One of my favorite knives is my heavy-duty, two-pound, full-tang, 8-inch-bladed behemoth of a cleaver that I got for $15 at a recently closed restaurant supply store in Boston's Chinatown. I use it nearly daily for taking apart chickens, hacking through animal bones, mincing beef or pork for hand-chopped burgers or dumplings, cleaving hearty vegetables, and trying to look really badass in the mirror (it's not so good at that particular function). But what if you don't have a $15 awesome-o cleaver in your arsenal already? What options are out there for you?
Short of being born a woman in Italy and waiting for your daughter to have a child, nothing makes you feel like an Italian grandmother more than slowly and deliberately stirring a lazily simmering pot of ragú with a wooden spoon.
While it's possible to grind meat in a food processor, or even to chop it by hand, a dedicated meat grinder is your best option if you plan on grinding meat on a regular basis. Here's a basic guide on how to select, use, and maintain your grinder.
Having just adopted a French bulldog named Dumpling, I'm quickly finding out that taking care of a puppy is very similar to taking care of a good cast iron pan, and in some ways, almost as satisfying. They both require a little work, a little patience, and a whole lot of loyalty. The main difference is that in return for my investment, my cast iron pan gives me golden-brown fried chicken, sizzling bacon, corn bread, apple pies, charred hash, perfectly seared steaks, bubbly pizzas, and, yes, crisp dumplings. Dumpling the puppy, on the other hand, gives me mostly licks, chews, and a whole lot of poop. You do the math.
A good wok is one of the most versatile pans in the kitchen. Beyond being the best choice for a stir fry, it's also the ideal vessel for deep-frying, steaming, and indoor smoking. But as with most things, not all woks are created equal. They come in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, metals, and handle arrangements. Fortunately for all of us, the best woks also happen to be on the inexpensive end of the scale. Here are some things to consider when you buy one.
This week we start dipping into the realm of countertop appliances, and as far as usefulness goes, the food processor elbows for the top slot right along side the stand mixer. The thing about food processors is, they ain't cheap. What could be worse than shelling out three figures for an appliance that either doesn't do its job, or is so cumbersome to use that it ends up as just another place to practice your dusting?
Here are the last five items you need to round out your hand tool collection. If you've read through the first and second guides and have got all the items on the list, you've officially got a well-stocked kitchen. That's assuming you've got pots, pans, tools, and all those other fun things we'll be covering in the future.
In the second installment of our guide to essential kitchen hand tools, we cover a few more of the basics.
Every cook has to start somewhere, and the cheapest place to start is with your small tools. These are the hand tools that should be constantly by the side of your stove top, ready to stir, whisk, flip, or pick up any food item at moment's notice. As the list is long, we're dividing it into three parts. These first 7 are the most essential.
Sure, maybe early man got away with a fire and a stick, but any budding kitchen sleuth, or even a good home cook knows that the right equipment can make life in the kitchen a whole lot easier. So here we go, in no particular order: The Food Lab's Top 10 Favorite Pieces of Kitchen Gear.
Hoagies, heroes, subs, wedges, po'boys, grinders. The list goes on. Whatever you call your hometown hero, we're here to talk about America's best hot and cold versions. The long list of monikers should at least give you a hint of the importance and history of this most beloved and humble sandwich.