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Beast © Dina Avila (2 of 6)

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All Photos © Dina Avila 2013

I cannot express how honored I am to have my work included in such a phenomenally beautiful magazine. If you’re not familiar with Art Culinaire, it’s an oversized, hard-bound magazine packed with gorgeous food photos, talented chefs and exquisitely written articles. Hit your local specialty bookshop and you should find it on the magazine shelf. My spread includes three of Portland’s most talented (and well-known) chefs and their wares: Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, Justin Woodward of Castagna and Gabe Rucker of Le Pigeon.

I hope to have a recipe post for you very soon. Adam and I just moved (as in I unpacked my computer about 30 minutes ago) to a larger space with lots of beautiful light. Looking forward to getting my props organized and making some photos for you. In the meantime, enjoy the first batch of some of my favorites, as well as a few outtakes, from Art Culinaire, Volume 108. Part two and three will be posted in the next day or two.

Cheers!

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Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Spiced Cauliflower Soup © Dina Avila

© Dina Avila 2013

I picked up a copy of Donna Hay’s Winter Issue a few weeks looking for inspiration, and boy did I find it. Simple soup recipe after simple soup recipe. As the temperature dips here in Portland, I suspect you’ll see a line of soups and stews on the blog in the coming months inspired by this gorgeous magazine from Oz.

This cream-based soup is a breeze to throw together. I, of course, took some liberties, adding a bulb of fresh fennel to the pot, beefing up the spice ratio and I substituted hemp milk for the cream. My tummy just doesn’t like warmed milk. Feel free to use cream instead.

Cheers!

Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Inspired by Donna Hay Magazine

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 leek, trimmed and sliced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1-1 1/4 lb head cauliflower, chopped. Reserve a couple of handfuls for topping the soup.

1/2 pound Yukon Gold, or other, potatoes

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup hemp milk

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Spiced Cauliflower:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic, chopped

Reserved cauliflower

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

In medium saucepan or soup pot, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat.

Add the leeks and fennel and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes until softened and golden.

Stir in the garlic, cauliflower and potato and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Pour in the stock, hemp milk, three generous pinches of sea salt and a several turns of black pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid on stirring occasionally.

Use either a blender or an immersion blender to purée soup until creamy.

Spiced Cauliflower

Warm butter and oil in a small skillet.

Add the garlic, cauliflower, cumin, coriander and a pinch or two of salt.

Saute for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the cauliflower is golden and being to crisp.

Sprinkle the spiced cauliflower over the soup.

Serve soup warm with a rustic, crusty bread.

Elle a Table Japan

Luce @ Dina Avila

Luce

Luce @ Dina Avila

Chef/Owner John Taboada and Stylist about Town Anne Parker at Luce

Luce @ Dina Avila

Luce

Beam and Anchor @ Dina Avila

Gorgeous Wares at Beam & Anchor

Anne Parker @ Dina Avila

Spread with Beam & Anchor Wares at Anne Parker’s Home

Broder @ Dina Avila

Broder

Broder @ Dina Avila

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Broder @ Dina Avila

GM Joe Conklin at Broder

Sweedeedee @ Dina Avila

Sweedeedee

Lincoln @ Dina Avila

Lincoln

Lincoln @ Dina Avila

Lincoln

All Images © Dina Avila

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Adam and I are house and kitty sitting in the country. Three cats (one is ours), a big house, a view of a hilly pasture where horses run, great herons stoically stand, and where we watch hawks and kestrels hunting and playing in the wind. There’s a beautiful garden here that I’ve bonded with while watering her, and several very territorial hummingbirds constantly buzzing around the backyard feeders or chattering to each other high up in the treetops. Hummingbirds are noisy little beasts. I’ve been chased by a queen bumble bee. Twice. Buzzed by a Paper Wasp or two, and watched a female kestrel watch me watching her through binoculars. And on more than one occasion have almost run though giant webs, hosted by giant garden spiders. There is a jungle of tomato plants, behind the raised bed of flowers vibrating with bees and hummingbirds, where I harvest seemingly hundreds of cherry tomatoes bursting from the vine daily.

This summer is nearly over with the autumnal equinox barely a week away. This morning is quiet as a Sunday morning in the country should be. Cool, grey and damp. The clouds seem ready to burst with rain. It feels like the perfect morning to catch up on and update my blog. I thought I’d share some of the published photos of a shoot I did this past June for Elle a Table Japan. You may be able to find this magazine in a Japantown, if you live near one, or a shop that sells international magazines. Otherwise, it may be difficult to find. Of course, the text is almost all in Japanese, except for the occasional subtext or article title in English, but the magazine is so visually stunning that it’s worth it to pick it up to simply look at the photos.

The shoot spanned over five days and involved a team from Japan (Hi Taka and Yumi!), Travel Portland, me and fellow photographer about town, Dave Reamer. Two teams, five day, nearly 30 locations. It was bliss. I made new friends, shot Portland like crazy, ate amazing food, and simply had a blast. This issue is the first of three to be published in Japan. A series on “Why You Want to Go to Portland “. Cool, right?  I’ll be sure to share more images as the the next two issues are published.

Cheers!

Rosemary Plum Tart

Rosemary Plum Tart © Dina Avila

© Dina Avila 2013

Take one look at this tart and you can see that I’m craving fall. Dark, warm colors, hints of rosemary. We’ve been having an endless summer here in Portland, and while the city is alive with folks geeked out to the gills in vitamin D giddiness, I’m ready for cooler weather. Long sleeves, the smell of damp earth and bowls of warm, root-laden soup.

A couple of weeks ago a colleague and fellow food photographer about town, David Reamer, sent me an email inviting me to collaborate on a side project he has called Catching the Ox. Basically, we pick a subject somehow related to food, ours being stone fruit, and shoot it as we see fit.  Enter this tart. It is incredibly easy to make and will absolutely knock your socks off. I took it to a BBQ and had strangers stop me in the kitchen praising this tart. This is the tart that impresses your friends and makes you new ones. No kidding. I’m almost considering not sharing the recipe with you and keeping it as my secret tart recipe.

I kid :)

Rosemary Plum Tart

Adapted from Epicurious

The two changes I made in this recipe was the addition of fresh rosemary,
and a generous hand with the lemon juice and zest.
Oh, and I halved the recipe and used black plums instead of Italian.

Ingredients:

For the pastry dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut in to chunks and placed in the freezer

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Zest from one lemon

2 egg yolks

For the filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

2 lbs black plums halved, pitted and sliced

Juice from one lemon

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Instructions:

For the dough:

Combine all of the dough ingredients, except for the yolks, in your food processor and pulse until the mix becomes a coarse meal. Pulse in the egg yolks and process until the dough begins to clump into a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and cut into two portions.

Using the heel of your hand , smear each portion forward to distribute the fat.

Bring the two portions together in to a ball.

Depending on the type of tart pan you’re using, line a tart pan with parchment paper up the sides with corners sticking out (see photo), butter and lightly flour it.

Using lightly floured fingers, press the ball of dough into the tart pan and spread evenly on the bottom and up the sides. You want it to be about 1/4 inch thick and go up the sides of the pan about 1/8 of an inch.

Place the tart in the fridge and chill for about 30 minutes.

For the filling:

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch.

Gently stir in the plums, lemon juice and fresh rosemary.

Set aside, for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Warm your oven to 425.

Place the plum halves, skin side down, in the tart pan in circular rosette pattern.

Tuck in any remaining plum bits into any gaps you see.

Pour the juice from the bowl evenly over the plums.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375, cover the tart loosely with foil and bake for another 40 minutes until the juices are gently bubbling and the plums are tender when poked with a knife.

Brush the juices over the plums and cool the tart completely on a rack before removing from the pan. If you used parchment paper, you can just pull up on the corners of the paper (gently!) that are sticking out of the pan.

Serve at room temp with an optional dollop of creme fraiche.

Environmental Portraits © Dina Avila

Drake © Dina Avila

Environmental Portraits © Dina Avila

Beth © Dina Avila

Environmental Portraits © Dina Avila

Matt © Dina Avila

Dave © Dina Avila

Dave © Dina Avila

Environmental Portraits © Dina Avila

Julie © Dina Avila

Environmental Portraits © Dina Avila

Nathan © Dina Avila

Environmental Portraits © Dina Avila

Andre © Dina Avila

About four years ago, I started a portrait project. I photographed people I knew, or worked with at the time, in their world. A glimpse of their life through the lens. Through my eyes. I shot several of these portraits, and then life moved forward, I allowed the project to lose steam and I, frankly, forgot about it (although, it was always tapping on the back of my mind). This sort of documentary style photography is what I cut my teeth on. Raw looks into someone’s world, stripped of all color, observations from the camera, is part of my lifeblood. It’s why I picked up a camera 18 years ago. I shoot a lot of portraits, some family, many for Eater and other food-related purpose, and although I always shoot from my perspective…with my vibe, as it were, it’s been a long time since I worked on a project like this. I can feel that lifeblood start to simmer and think it’s time to start this project again.

So this, in essence, is call out for subjects. Anyone in?

Florence © Dina Avila

Florence 2003 © Dina Avila

(From my college senior project documenting life in an underprivileged nursing home in Austin, TX)

La Cucina Italiana

La Cucina Italiana © Dina Avila

©dinaavila (1 of 3)

©dinaavila (2 of 3)

©dinaavila (3 of 3)

©dinaavila (1 of 3)La Cucina Italiana © Dina Avila

La Cucina Italiana © Dina Avila

La Cucina Italiana © Dina Avila

Her name is Jackson Pollock :)

La Cucina Italiana © Dina Avila

All images © Dina Avila 2013

If you subscribe to La Cucina Italiana, next month (October issue) you’ll find a big ol’ juicy spread I shot for them. Last October, I had the honor of photographing an annual fall dinner Chef Cathy Whims (of Portland’s Nostrana) throws for the farmers who supply many of her ingredients. Among the farmers were the folks of Ayer’s Creek Farm; an idyllic organic farm, that I photographed this summer, who supplies Cathy with polenta made from their corn. This farm, oh lord, is it gorgeous. It’s a gloriously beautiful drive about an hour’s west of Portland on, yep, Farmington Road. Windows rolled down, Amos Lee on the stereo, I almost wept overwhelmed by the beauty of Oregon’s farm country. I thought I’d share some of the published photos, as well as some of my favorite outtakes from the farm.

Cheers!

 

Blueberry Hazelnut Clafoutis © Dina Avila

Blueberry Hazelnut Clafoutis © Dina Avila

All images © Dina Avila 2013

It’s the middle of summer and that means blueberries! I had every intention of making this recipe by the book, but when I saw blueberries at the market, I just couldn’t resist. This is a riff on David Tanis’ Cherry Almond Clafoutis out of his gorgeous book, A Platter of Figs. I was drawn to this recipe for its aesthetic. The visual (and beautiful photograph in the book) of succulent, bright red cherries peeking out from an eggy custard felt like summer to me. As you can see, it’s just as summery with blueberries, if not a little messy and rustic in my version :)

You’ll find this recipe to be breezy. Whip it together whenever you find yourself with an abundance of fruit any time of year. I’m already looking forward to an autumnal/winter clafoutis with apples or pears…or pomegrantes!

I hope you all are having a lovely summer and are staying cool! My first issue with Elle a Table Japan will be published next month and I cannot wait to share those images with you!

Cheers!

Blueberry Hazelnut Clafoutis

Adapted from A Platter of Figs by David Tanis

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

Flour for dusting

2 pounds fresh blueberries

1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts

6 large eggs

2 cups brown sugar, packed

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar

Method:

Warm your oven to 375.

Butter and flour your crocks or a large 10-12 inch cast iron skillet.

Place the blueberries at the bottom of the pan. They don’t need to be in a single layer.

Scatter the hazelnuts over the blueberries.

With a whisk or hand beater, beat the eggs, brown sugar and flour until smooth.

Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract.

Pour the batter over the fruit – it will be runny.

Bake for about 40 minutes until the custard is firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If you use a deeper dish, like the crocks, then you’ll need to bake for a hair longer. I extended the baking at 5 minute intervals until the toothpick came out clean.

Cool to room temperature, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

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