KC's East Texas Chicken Dumpling

Muy famosa a la hora de comer!  A cuban saying, Very famous at eating time! 

And apparently this is what happens often at the DeFranco residence.  Friends seem to like eating time at the DeFranco's and by what I've heard, they don't like to leave!   ;-)  

Part of this is husband Chris' charming and witty personality, but the real attraction is Mrs. DeFranco's cooking. So this is why we give our second Kitchen Goddess award to K.C. DeFranco!  One of the family favorites is the chicken dumpling from east Texas. Simply delicious!

View the full image in the SMD Gallery.



Melva Hess' Baked Eggs With Grand Marnier!

Melva Hess is mother of four, one of them is Casey Hess, rock star, lead singer for Descender.  He told us about his mom's cooking and their family gatherings. The rest is visual culinary history!  Check it out under the Shoot My Dish Gallery.




Most Cubans would say that tostones are made with green plantains only.  Cubans and spaniards call them platanos machos verdes or pintones.   I like them just a bit less green.  It makes them just a bit sweeter.  This plantain is not the yellow (johnson) bananas you find in your produce department, although most latin grocers carry the large plantains nowadays.  This large green plantain is almost always either fried or boiled, that I know of.  Tostones are first cut into thick one inch slices, placed in a bowl of salted water for about half an hour.  Remove from water, pat them dry and fry until golden.  Pull out of the frier, place them on a brown grocery bag , fold half the paper bag over the fried plantain and flatten it with a small but heavy skillet, a rolling pin, or a large drinking glass.  You can also obtain a tostoneria, a wooden utensil specifically designed for making tostones. As you are flattening them you can place them back into the frier and refry them until crispy golden.  Remove them from the frier and place them on a dish with paper towel underneath to absorb some of the oil.   It is best to salt them immediately so that the salt sticks to the surface before they cool down.  To make tostones just a bit more healthy ;-)  or at least tastier, try finding organic plantains, pink salt, and fry in canola oil.

This shot was done in the studio, with simulated window light camera right.  An HMI daylight bulb placed behind a 6' X 6' diffusion scrim.  I use this lighting a lot, to simulate a single window on location or at home. Our local gringo food stylist Scott Hartzler made the the tostones and found the banana leaves.  Scott makes the tostones as good as any Cuban!  Not bad for a good ole boy from Texas!


Berry Compote

A four berry compote we use as a topping for flap jacks on Sunday mornings. Left overs are made into a jelly or preserves for studio breakfasts. My wife only uses organic berries, organic dark amber maple syrup, and a little butter. Illuminated by window light coming from behind the bowl of berries.



Manzanas al Horno

While our fabulous food stylist Erin Quon was prepping the pork for our shot, she was baking the apples as a garnish.  I happened to be in the kitchen harassing her, not sexually btw, and saw the art that came out of the oven. 

Direct light bulb from above.  No fill, no cards.  Just the spontaneous moment.

Ok, well, maybe a little fill from my shirt....


Manny Rodriguez, aka "bubbles"

My clients know that when we are shooting liquids, whether it's water, milk, or wine, we must capture some bubbles! It makes it look freshly poured.  It is so important to me that one client in particular thinks that I'm a little obsessed with the bubbles. Hence the moniker.  I prefer to be called "love bubbles" but that's another story.

This image was captured with my camera phone on the set of a Neiman's photo shoot. White marble backg'd, continuous available light kind of from behind and around the glass.  Not much attention to the lighting, sorry, had to capture the bubble before it was gone.

This one's for you Meagan!


Vanessa's Hot Chocolate.

Nessa's hot chocolate is the best.  She makes it from scratch using a luscious blend of organic chocolates, half and half, and her home made whipped cream.  I took the picture half way through my second serving. Window light from the left was the main light.  There's a smaller window behind the cup letting in some blue daylight, and some of the room's incandescent. Vanessa and my two daughters around the table.  YummiNess all around me.



 No, not Ginger the exotic dancer.  But just as good for your circulation!

My wife makes this green juice almost every morning at the studio and sometimes at home.  We call it Nessy's Green Elixir.  More on that recipe another day, another post.  But she adds a huge chunk of ginger root and this picture is from one of those mornings. She was juicing the green stuff first while I was admiring her ginger, and taking pictures of course.  No lighting setup, no adding or taking anything away, just what was there and the available light in our kitchen which was basically overhead lamps that hang high above the island. I usually shadow the light with what ever is around me, like a plate or a dish, a towel or just my hand , while I hold the the camera with the other hand, allowing some of the light to fall on the subject.  Spontaneous lighting!  Some times it's not about "adding" light but "subtracting" light.  This picture is one of my recent favs, and will end up in my food portfolio.

Everyone loves this green juice, makes everyone healthy, happy, and provides great energy for our shoot.  The guys in the studio say: "Green juice make me strong like bull!"  

Perfect way to start the day. 

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