Food Photography

Product Review: Caveman Cookies by Alex Boake

Those of you who follow me over on my Facebook Page know that I'm always cruising for cool packaging and food design. I post the best of what I find so I can share the awesomeness with you! Not everything is Real Food friendly, but if the design is great, then I post it anyway. I don't discriminate when I am just ogling the packaging. Now, the other day I stumbled upon a product that had wicked packaging AND friendly ingredients. It was a little company that was producing what they call Caveman Cookies, which are gluten-free and made from all natural ingredients. When I found out that they shipped to Canada, I decided I'd try them out and do a review.  Their mascot is super cute, too! I'm not sure what his bottom half actually looks like, but he's pretty fuzzy up top, so I just connected the dots. ; P

They have four flavours: Original, Tropical, Rainforest and Alpine. Original is made with honey, almond flour, walnuts, raisins, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Tropical is made with almond flour, honey, unsulfured coconut, macadamia nuts, and ginger. Rainforest is made with honey, almond meal, brazil nut meal, chopped almonds, dried cherries, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Alpine is made from honey, hazelnut flour, almond flour, and carob.

I was surprised that each cookie comes individually wrapped, but it does make it really convenient to grab and go, or toss one into a lunch for a snack. They are chewy cookies, and they are quite sweet. I suspect that some might find them overly sweet, but they are small enough that it's not overwhelming at all. The chew that I mentioned is great, and overall they have an interesting texture. My top flavour picks are the Alpine and the Original. I wasn't a huge fan of Rainforest, the balance of the flavours was off for me. Tropical was solid, but I wouldn't pick it first if offered a selection.

Overall I found the Caveman Cookies to be a very tasty treat! I could see them being a great supplement for kid lunches, for busy parents who don't have time to bake all the time, and might need something in a pinch. The individual wrapping makes them seem like a 'regular snack' as well, although the ingredients are anything but your average off-the-shelf junk. I'd definitely recommend both the Alpine and the Original!

They just so happen to be having a Valentine's sale on right now! Save 20% on your order with the code "Valentine". Check 'em out!

Chocosol Chocolate Giveaway! Sustainable, Fair Trade, Soy-free by Alex Boake

My love affair with Chocosol Traders began at the Evergreen Brickworks Farmers' Market one Saturday morning this past summer. First thing that grabbed my attention was their eye-catching skull adorned packaging. The second thing was their bike powered blender, whipping up frothy drinking chocolate. I left the market with a little cup of that delicious chocolate drink and things haven't been the same since!

After that fateful day I began noticing them at many of the other Farmers' Markets that I attend, and of course I decided to try out some of their chocolate bars. Let me tell you, they are delicious! All the ingredients are organic, and locally sourced wherever possible. The cacao is horizontally and fair traded. The beans are stone ground and the bars are made without gluten, soy, nuts or dairy products. Can you say perfection, or what? Being stone ground the texture isn't as fine as say a Lindt bar, but that's part of the charm.

"Our artisan chocolate is made right here in Toronto using organic, forest garden, shade-grown cacao, sourced directly from indigenous communities in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico. Our horizontal trade relationships go beyond the exchange of commodities and bring symbolic products, whose story is as important as the product itself. Our relationships are based on reciprocity, friendship, respect and mutual learning."

Now that's a tasty initiative! Being so locally-focused, they sell only in a handful of retail locations in Toronto, directly at Farmers' Markets, and from their Cacao Loft where all the magic happens. I had the chance to go there and take a chocolate making class. It was wicked cool! They showed us all the aspects of their process, including their composting project in the basement. All their compostable cups and organic waste from the markets and their operation becomes food for their earthworms. The soil is sent to their local suppliers who grow some of their ingredients.

Chocosol is so inspirational and the people who run it are incredibly nice and delightful. In a chocolate-fueled art-frenzy this poster was born as a tribute. I must admit that I am very proud of it!

 I wish I could share their chocolate with everyone, but alas I can't possibly do that. However, I do want to make more people aware of their efforts and their products, so I am holding this giveaway!

CHOCOSOL CHOCOLATE GIVEAWAY

Prize Pack 1 (Approximate Retail Value $50):

  • Hemp Gold 6 Square Bar
  • Raw Vanilla 6 Square Bar
  • 5 Chili Bullet 6 Square Bar
  • Darkness 6 Square Bar
  • Luscious Coconut 12 Square Bar
  • 1 Mini Print of my Chocosol Traders Poster

If this contest reaches 40 entrants, a second prize pack will be unlocked!

How to Enter Two of these steps are required, and they will score you ONE entry to the giveaway. The rest are optional, but they will score you additional bonus entries. Comment once, and once only, with all of the things you have done to enter. You can get up to 4 entries total.

Required to Enter

Bonus Entries

Again, comment on this post to enter, and please try post only once with all the steps you did to enter. This giveaway will close Sunday January 13th, 2013 at midnight. Open to residents of Canada and the USA. The winner will be contacted by email so that the chocolate can be shipped to them. This is not a sponsored contest, the chocolate was all purchased by me, and I have torturously resisted eating it. ; ) Good luck everyone!

They don't have an online store, but I did ask, and they said that it would be possible to email them directly for a shipping quote. 

Smoky Bacon Deviled Eggs and Homemade Mayo by Alex Boake

Ah, it's officially summer! This is great news for fans of fun outdoor activities like picnics. I'm a big fan of picnics.  You get to enjoy the sunshine, hang out with friends, and eat fresh and delicious food. Now, if there's one food that I really associate with picnics, it's Deviled Eggs. If people ask me to come to their outdoor-eating-fest there's this unspoken expectation that I will be bringing my famous Deviled Eggs. This year I'm really upping my game with these Smoky Bacon Deviled Eggs made with my own Homemade Mayonnaise. They're complex, and smoky and creamy and...well, how can you argue with Bacon?

Homemade Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Organic Egg
  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Light Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Avocado Oil

Directions In a food processor, combine the Egg, Vinegar, Honey, Mustard and Salt. Give them a whirr to combine them well. In a measuring container with a pour spout, mix the Avocado and Olive Oils. These Oils both have a very mild taste, and won't shine through too heavily in the finished Mayonnaise. Turn on the food processor and very very slowly drizzle the Oil mixture to combine. It is important to add it in as gradually as possible so that the mixture emulsifies and becomes thickened. Basically, if you can barely see the stream of Oil as you pour it in, then you're on the right track! Once thickened, transfer to a jar and refrigerate for up to a week.

Smoky Bacon Deviled Eggs Makes 24, great for parties!

Ingredients

  • 12 Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Homemade Mayo
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Hot Smoked Paprika
  • 1/8 tsp Chili Powder
  • 4 Strips of Crispy Bacon, diced finely
  • 2 Strips of Crispy Bacon, cut into 24 larger pieces, to garnish

Directions If you don't have cooked Bacon on hand, cook up 6 pieces to use in this recipe. Make sure they're nice and crispy. Hard boil 1 dozen Eggs. My preferred method is to put the Eggs in a large pot, with an inch or two of water covering them. Add a little salt to the water. Bring to a rolling boil, and then allow to boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, and let them sit on the stove, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water. After that, transfer them to the fridge to allow them to cool. I recommend doing this the night before your picnic.

Now comes the fun task of peeling the Hard Boiled Eggs. If your Eggs are really really fresh, you may have a hard time with this, as bits of the white will want to come away with the peel. Hopefully all goes well and you're able to peel them all cleanly! Cut each one in half, removing the Yolk and transferring it to a mixing bowl. Lay out the empty halves like little boats on a serving tray, awaiting the filling.

With the Egg yolks, add the Mayonnaise, Paprika, Chili Pepper, Salt and finely diced Bacon. Mash them together using the back of a fork until relatively smooth and well combined. If you want to get really fancy, you can transfer the mix into a piping bag, and pipe them back into the Egg boats. Usually I just use a small spoon, and plop the delicious filling into the Eggs. Either way, once it's evenly divided and all used up, top each one with a small piece of Crispy Bacon!

There you have it, a fancy appetizer that will get you invited back to all the hottest picnics, year after year.

Rhubarb Custard with Maple Pecan Crumble by Alex Boake

I love Rhubarb. It's so tart and unique. I am lucky enough to have a Dad who brings me fresh Rhubarb from the countryside. If I send him a text saying, "SOS, I need rhubarb tonight!", he shows up at the end of the day with a bunch of Rhubarb. Yes, I am incredibly blessed! The other day all these Rhubarb recipes were popping up all over my Google Reader, and I wanted IN on that sweet and tart ACTION.

Rhubarb Custard with Maple Pecan Crumble Serves 4

Custard Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Chopped Rhubarb
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 4 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • 3 Large Eggs, Beaten
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Crumble Ingredients

  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans
  • 2 Tbsp Softened Butter
  • 1 tsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp of Nutmeg

 

  • 1 Cup Organic Whipping Cream to serve

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine the chopped Rhubarb and 1/4 cup of Water.  Cook over medium-high heat until the Rhubarb softens and breaks down, about 15 minutes. Add the Honey. Using an immersion blender, puree the Rhubarb until it's smooth. Allow to cool slightly on the counter.

In another medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, gently cook the beaten Eggs, stirring constantly. Cook them until they thicken, but don't heat them so much as to turn them into scrambled eggs. Once thickened, add in the Rhubarb puree, Nutmeg and the Vanilla. Stir well to combine and heat through.

Divide the Custard between 4 oven-safe ramekins.

Preheat oven to 350. Next, prepare the topping. In a small bowl combine the chopped Pecans, Butter, Maple Syrup and Nutmeg. Stir well, and then gently place a dollop atop each serving of Custard. Pop them into the oven, and bake for about 15 minutes, until the Pecans are golden and the topping is bubbly. Remove from the oven, and once they cool slightly, pop them in the fridge.

Pour out 1 Cup of Whipping Cream into a bowl, and then whip until stiff peaks form. Serve the Custard thoroughly chilled, and garnished with a nice topping of Whipped Cream. Enjoy!

Grilled Salad Photoshoot by Alex Boake

Let me confess that things have been extremely busy lately! I've been cooking a lot, of course, but the time for illustrating has been short. Fear not, I have some deliciousness coming your way very soon...but for now let me tempt you with a new iteration of previous recipe. I recently acquired a DSLR when my super cool photographer boyfriend, Mike Kowalek, upgraded his camera to the Nikon D800. Yes, I am now in possession of a very sweet Nikon D7000. Now, I'm not switching teams to the ways of the photographer, don't be too concerned. I still live and breathe illustration. But let me show you some photographs of one of my sexiest salads...The Grilled Salad with Herbes de Province!

Drooling yet? The recipe is linked above, so if the illustration didn't convince you to make this dish, perhaps these photographs will! Yum.