Baked Eggs and Ham with Spinach | Edmonton Food Photographer and Stylist

The Dirty Fork Blog - By Heather Muse

Growing up in the country on an acreage meant growing up with lots of animals around. We always had a dog and a cat, pigeons (yes, I am one of the only people I know that don’t find pigeons disgusting…), bunnies, the odd abandoned baby bird that we found and nurtured, and of course, chickens. Having chicken meant lots of farm fresh eggs, which meant that we ate eggs a lot. Eggs for breakfast, eggs for dinner, and sometimes eggs for lunch (my mom makes the best egg salad!) Luckily I never got sick of them (unlike cinnamon spread which I still won’t eat).

One of my earliest memories of having chickens involves an ordinary white chicken named Flory. Flory was the sweetest chicken, she would follow me and my sister around like a dog, and didn’t mind us petting her or picking her up. To us, this was great! Another pet that didn’t mind us mothering it! The greatest thing about Flory was how she came to live with us. My dad was headed to the dump one day, and on the side of a highway, quite alone, was Flory. He took her home and we always said that my dad rescued her from a night with the coyotes, sure that she would have never made it until morning. Ever after I have loved chickens, and now own eight beautiful brown chickens who provide us with eggs for my kids to gather every morning. Thankfully all my kids like to eat the eggs too!

The Dirty Fork Blog - By Heather Muse

Sometimes it’s fun to make something other than the standard scrambled eggs that we like around here, and these baked eggs are just the thing. They would make a great addition to brunch, or even a delicious dinner! Feel free to add any vegetables you’d like; an easy way to use up produce in your fridge. Eggs, especially free range, are a great source of protein, minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.

The Dirty Fork Blog - By Heather Muse

Baked Eggs and Ham with Spinach
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw baby spinach
  • 4 slices of ham
  • fresh thyme to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line 2 small baking dishes or remekins with ham slices.
  3. Saute spinach in a pan on your stove with the coconut oil, just 5 minutes or until slightly wilted. Divide spinach and spread on top of ham. Crack eggs on top of spinach and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bake for 15 mins, until whites are set, and yolks are partially set.
  5. Serve immediately.

 

Boterkoek

Sometimes for the sake of tradition and heritage, we have to eat things that aren’t all that healthy. Okay, maybe we don’t have to, but I would have a hard time giving up the Dutch treat “Boter koek” (pronounced “Bow-ter-kook”). Unfortunately, translating it into the English language makes it “Butter Biscuit”, or “Butter Cake”, which sounds really bad for you. And guess what, there is quite a lot of butter… and sugar… and some other things that aren’t healthy for you. But the taste of almond, the chew-i-ness, the way it pairs so perfectly with a cup of coffee, it’s hard for anyone with a Dutch background to pass over when handed a plate of baking.

So, maybe for a treat once in a while, it’s okay? We’ll leave it at that. :) I’ll share my favourite simple recipe so you can enjoy this treat too!

Boterkoek or Butter Biscuit Dutch Recipe by The Dirty Fork

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Boter Koek
(Makes enough for 2 – 8″ pie plates)

1 1/3 cups of butter

2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten, 2 Tbsp reserved
4 tsp. pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cream butter and sugar and beaten eggs, reserving 2 Tbsp of the beaten eggs.Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Pat in 2 greased 8″ round pie plates. Brush tops with remaining eggs.

Bake at 325 F for about 45 minutes, or until tops are nicely browned. Cool, and cut into wedges.

Mango and Chicken Salad with Maple and Mustard Dressing

Chicken and Mango Salad with Mustard and Maple Dressing | thedirtyfork.ca

+++ RECIPE +++

Mango Chicken Salad with Maple and Mustard Dressing

Serves 2

3 cups mixed greens
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed or sliced
1 mango, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tsp sunflower seeds

Dressing:

2 Tbsp prepared mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Place 1.5 cups of greens on each plate. Top with a chicken breast, mango chunks, and 1 tsp sunflower seeds for each plate.

Mix together mustard, olive oil, maple syrup, and pepper with a fork. Spoon over salad and serve.

deconstructed salad

honey maple dressing

Food is for Sharing | In the Head of a Food Photographer


I’m starting a series called “In the Head of a Food Photographer”. I’ll be writing posts periodically about why I do the things I do when shooting, sharing bits and pieces of what’s in my head when creating and styling a shoot.

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One of the best things about food is the way it can bring people together. Sharing a plate and a glass of wine at your favourite restaurant. Chatting with an old friend over coffee. Charcuterie at a small intimate gathering. Saturday morning breakfast with the family. Food has a powerful way of opening senses, helping to build relationships, and making people content and happy.

In my photos there is almost always room for two or more to come and dig into the food I’m featuring, to share an hour of time together and build their relationship with food as a catalyst. I either have more than one plate or bowl, or often more than one spoon or fork.  It’s an invitation for you, the viewer, to grab your spouse, your friend, your entire family, and come and celebrate your relationship while eating and drinking the amazing food in front of you.

Because I have a sweet tooth, I find one of the best ways to share food is with dessert. This recipe I’m sharing today is just two ingredients… you can hardly call it a recipe, but it dresses up yogurt to be a fancier dessert, and kids and adults both love this light and not-too-bad-for-you dessert. You can serve it at a party ready-made in little glass bowls, or as a quick after dinner dessert when your kids keep asking you “What’s for dessert?” again.

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+++ RECIPE +++

Vanilla Yogurt with Apricot Topping

1 Container of Greek Vanilla Yogurt
1 Jar of Apricot Jam

Spoon a few scoops of the yogurt into little bowls or jars. Top with a little apricot jam and serve. This can be made ahead and refrigerated for a gathering.

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Raspberry Jam

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Speaking of childhood memories (see last post), raspberries were definitely a huge part of growing up for me. Having the largest patch in the neighbourhood, we were always picking buckets and buckets of them from late July to mid August. Many of them went into the freezer, the rest were turned into rich raspberry jam, to be eaten all year round on toast. The smell of jam cooking sends me right back to being nine again, and stealing little spoonfuls of the sticky, hot foam my mom just skimmed off the boiling jam.

Now I still go back to my parent’s house a couple of times in the summer to pick raspberries and take them home to make my own jam or freeze for smoothies and muffins. I have plans to build my own raspberry patch one day from shoots from my parent’s garden, but there is nothing like a well established patch for picking.

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Grandma’s Raspberry Jam

4 cups of squashed raspberries
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1 package of fruit pectin (I use Certo)

Fill a large canner half way with water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer. Wash jars, bands, and lids in hot soapy water, rinse clean. Place in the canner and let simmer while making jam.

Measure 4 cups of the squashed raspberries into another large pot. Add sugar and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Save foam in a bowl to eat directly after finishing on toast. :)

Remove jars, bands, and lids from the hot water and ladle the jam into the jars. Place lids on jars and screw the bands on gently, but tightly. Place in the hot water in the canner, making sure all jars are submerged. Bring to a boil and process for 8-10 minutes. Remove and place on tea towel to cool. Check seals after they’ve cooled to make sure the seals are down. If the lid pops back up, keep those jars in the fridge.

raspjam

Roasted Butter Nut Squash Soup (Gluten and Dairy Free)

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Growing up on an acreage, my parents always had a large vegetable garden. And by large, I really mean huge. Imagine rows and rows of raspberries, green beans, carrots, lettuce, corn, peas, strawberries, swiss chard, spinach, and beets. As kids we always loved to go pick the fresh carrots, wipe them “clean” on the grass and eat them right there in the garden, or pick a handful of sweet, warm raspberries that also didn’t make it out of the garden. I have many memories of weeding that garden, picking buckets full of beans, and filling the wheelbarrow up with carrots.

The garden was so large that there was always a little bit of unused space, probably a little drier than the rest of the garden, where my mom always tossed a few zucchini seeds. Maybe two or three. And these little seeds never failed to grow into massive vines with an amazing amount of zucchinis on them. These weren’t ordinary zucchinis… they were freakishly large, 1.5-2 feet long and 6-8 inches wide. As an adult later on, as I started doing my own  grocery shopping, I couldn’t find the zucchinis in the store. The grocer pointed out to me that yes, those tiny little green things were indeed zucchinis. I was sure they were mislabelled, and felt a little ripped off paying so much for something so tiny that in my childhood was almost classified as a weed.

It took me a long time to realize that zucchinis were actually in the squash family, and not some odd vegetable in their own category. This opened up my world to other squashes, like spaghetti squash and butternut squash. Who knew that these funny looking things could actually taste amazing? This recipe I’m sharing is one I made up on my own, in an effort to cut more dairy and gluten out of my diet. It’s great for a dark winter evening, or really anytime you feel you need some comfort food.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil
2 cans of coconut milk, any kind, except full fat
1 can of water
1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. curry powder
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut squash in half, lengthwise, scoop out seeds and discard, and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-60 minutes, until the inside, or “meat” of the squash is tender.

While squash is cooking, heat oil in a pan, and saute the onions until clear and starting to brown a little. Remove from heat.

Scoop out squash with a spoon and place in a blender. Add the onions, coconut milk, water, salt, nutmeg, and curry powder. Blend until smooth. Place in a soup pan, and heat until hot, just before boiling. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and serve. Feeds about 4 people, or two very hungry people who don’t want to share. :)

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Making Hummus Look Good

 

Let’s face it. Hummus is one of the most unattractive foods you’ve ever seen. It’s beige. It has a weird texture. It sort of looks like baby throw up. Now that I’ve got you sufficiently grossed out, I was recently presented with the challenge of making hummus look good. Because a kick-ass recipe of hummus tastes good. And it can look good too with the right presentation.

hummusblog

Let’s start with putting it on a beautiful walnut charcuterie board by OnOurTable, surround it with some of the amazing ingredients used to make and eat it with, and top it with some red pepper flakes for texture. Add in a beautiful English-sterling-silver-boned-handled-spreader-knife and you’ve got a great combination, and proof that hummus can look delicious in a photograph.

hummusblog3

+++ RECIPE +++

Roasted Garlic and Lime Hummus

16 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place unpeeled garlic on a cookie sheet and roast in oven for 1/2 hour. Remove and let cool until you can handle it. Peel garlic and scoop out the roasted garlic. Place in a food processor or Magic Bullet.

Add chickpeas, salt, lime juice, and olive oil to the food processor or Magic Bullet. Pulse everything until smooth.

Keep in fridge for up to 1 week, garnish with red pepper flakes just before serving.

Apple Cheesecake


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I’ve been on the hunt for more props lately (one can never have too many). Sometimes that means heading out to the local thrift stores or scouring Ebay and Etsy, and sometimes it means stumbling across something amazing in Target’s sale section. Like $7.00 for a solid marble cake stand. Yes, I just said solid marble. And I just said $7.00. Of course I needed to bake something right away to try out this awesome steal of a deal. Something apple-y… and cinnamon-y…

I love baking with apples. Something about their soft sweetness when combined with cinnamon that makes real comfort food. And what could be better than apples in a cheesecake? This recipe combines cream cheese with mascarpone cheese to make a delicate and not-too-sweet cheesecake filling. Passed down to me from my mom, this recipe is a favourite in our family.

+++ RECIPE +++

Apple Cheesecake

Crust:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Filling:

4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

2 cooking apples, sliced with skin on
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F

Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and flour. Press into 10″ springform pan, going up the sides about 1 inch.

Cream mascarpone and cream cheese together, add sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour over crust.

Core and slice apples. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss apple slices to coat. Arrange on cheese mixture.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until apples are soft and edges are browned. Cool before cutting and serving.

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