How to Prep a Double Crust Pie

How to prep a double crust pie… look at it! It looks just like the ones my grandmother used to bake. Erin Jeanne McDowell, the Fearless Baker, shows you how to prep that dough, so you can make one, too. We made this pair of pie videos in the week prior to Thanksgiving. Although, there is a whole season of pie-appropriate holidays to come. I’m definitely going to see if I can make one to match Erin’s.

How to Prep a Single Crust Pie

If you have ever wondered how to prep a single crust pie, here is a very clear demonstration. Erin Jeanne McDowell, the Fearless Baker herself, and I made a video showing you how to do it. This video shows the step between making your dough and filling and baking your pie. This shows the very crucial rolling out, trimming, and crimping of a single crust pie.

Look at all that butter! No matter how many times I work with Erin (and I have worked with her a lot, both when I hire her to make food for my photoshoots, or when she hired me to photograph her baking cookbook) I am always surprised by the butter in the dough. One day I will get it right, and stop over-mixing mine. One day.

The Fearless Baker Cookbook

The Fearless Baker Cookbook was published yesterday. My friend and colleague, Erin McDowell, wrote it and I photographed it for her last summer. Erin wrote a beautiful story about the process for Food52, complete with lots of behind-the-scenes pictures I took for her. Check it out for a sample of her terrific writing. And here are some photos of recipes you will find in the book. As Erin writes: 200 recipes, 1000 photos later, The Fearless Baker is born…

Fearless Baker cookbook frozen cakeFearless Baker cookbook cake standFearless Baker cookbook bakingFearless Baker cookbook pieFearless Baker cookbook cake bakingFearless Baker cookbook sugarFearless Baker cookbook danishFearless Baker cookbook pieFearless Baker cookbook Erin McDowell

Tulsi Tincture Video

This summer I spent the better part of July on the west coast of Canada. It was a work trip combined with a family trip. One of the projects I worked on was this short video, which demonstrates how to make a fresh tulsi tincture.

Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is a sacred plant in India. It has been used for thousands of years for detox, to help alleviate stress, and to increase stamina. My sister uses tulsi in her Ayurvedic practice.  My brother grows the herb in his greenhouse at the Earth Lab on Hornby Island. I photograph food stories. We put our passions together and this is one of the projects we created.

Editorial Style Product Photography for PepsiCo

I got a call to do some editorial style product photography for PepsiCo. The shoot was to be at their Research & Development headquarters in Vallhalla, NY. This is the center of the world, as far as PepsiCo goes. I am situated in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley, and so much seems to be right down the road from me. These images will be used to promote two new products from PepsiCo: Pepsi Fire and LemonLemon. Food styling was by Laura Kinsey, with prop styling by Kristine Trevino.

Editorial Style Product Photography for PepsiCo

PepsiCo LemonLemon beverage photography

PepsiCo LemonLemon cocktail photography

PepsiCo LemonLemon editorial product photography

PepsiCo LemonLemon product photography

Canoe Hill Restaurant in the Hudson Valley

I recently visited the Canoe Hill Restaurant on assignment for Hudson Valley Magazine. The restaurant is owned by Michael DelGrosso and his wife, Lauren Lancaster. They are Hudson Valley transplants, via Brooklyn, where Michael helped create the aesthetic of many of Manhattan’s and Brooklyn’s most beautiful restaurants. I only wish he would bring his eye to Woodstock. I would be a regular.

Canoe Hill Restaurant bar

cherries at bar

homemade butter on toast

lemons in bowl canoe hill restaurant

whole fish on plate

canoe hill restaurant interior

Joe Beef Cookbook

I am in Montreal this week, photographing a cookbook for Joe Beef. This got me thinking to the year I spent photographing their first cookbook. It was before I had my daughter, and that makes it seem like such a long time ago. Although, she is only 5 years old, and in the scheme of things that is no time at all. I am so excited to be here. This is the 2nd week of a at least a few I will spend with the team on this book. I so look forward to what Fred, Dave, Meredith, Marco, Ari, and the rest of the team (their family has also grown since I was last here) will show me.

Below are some shots I did for their first cookbook.

joe beef smoker photo

joe beef montreal joe beef restaurant joe beef kitchen jennifer may joe beef montreal jennifer may photo

Baking Videos for Social Media

This winter, I spent some time with Erin McDowell, filming baking videos. These videos will roll out as social media spots in advance of her upcoming cookbook, The Fearless Baker. Erin is an incredible baker, and also a food stylist. I work with her often on shoots for my clients, and last summer she asked me to photograph her own cookbook. We ended up shooting every single recipe, which is unusual. But if you know Erin, you know she is not only fearless, but has boundless enthusiasm and energy. The book will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this October. Until then, here area a few videos showing the techniques you will find in those pages.

Butcher Shop Meat Photography

I was recently asked to do some butcher shop meat photography. The Applestone Meat Company wanted pretty much all of their cuts of meat documented. The challenge was to come up with an attractive way to photograph this glorious meat in its raw form. We wanted appetite appeal, and that can be a tough ask from a raw piece of meat. We brainstormed. They suggested white. I suggested marble. We decided to show the raw meat in the very early stages of cooking. The higher end cuts were dressed up in only salt and pepper. Some of the other cuts were given marinades and dry spice rubs.

This butcher shop also produces a lot of sausages – andouille, bratwurst, hot Italian, chorizo, Parmesan and broccoli rabe and many more… well over a dozen different blends. We wanted to show these, but we didn’t want to show them raw with raw ingredients around them. So, we cooked the sausages in a way that reflected their particular characters. One of the butchers at the shop happens to be a trained chef. He and the Applestone team came up with recipes, and he cooked them for the camera.

Look for these images rolling out on the Applestone Meat Company’s website and social media channels in the near future.

Butcher Shop Meat Photography NYC

Butcher Shop Meat Photography NYC

Butcher Shop Meat Photography sausage

Butcher Shop Meat Photography Jennifer May

Baking Cookbook

I am in the midst of shooting a baking cookbook for Erin McDowell. Erin is a food stylist I work with often. We collaborate on other people’s cookbooks, and she styles food for me when I shoot campaigns for Broccoli Rabe. She cuts no corners! We are currently camped out in a rented house in Woodstock, NY, and by the end of ten days, we will have photographed almost every recipe in her book. Hashtags are #thefearlessbaker and #campcookbook if you want to follow along on Instagram. We are on day 4, and already we have an entire gallery of beautiful images. Here are a couple of outtakes.

nyc food photographer baking cookbook jennifer may
Beignets

Restaurant Photography

I have been photographing restaurants the past couple of weeks. The NYC EDITION, on Madison Avenue, is an Ian Schrager designed concept, in partnership with the Marriott. I spent three days behind-the-scenes at a VIP event, photographing food & decor. As a New Yorker, I know I’m not supposed to be thrilled by celebrity sightings, but I can’t help myself. It is a little bit thrilling to ride elevators with actors. (Although I did not let them know it.) It was also the week of the Met Gala, so the building was teeming with known personalities.

NYC Edition Hotel dessert

NYC Edition Hotel wait staff

hotel waitstaff

Up in the Hudson Valley, I spent a day with a chef in the construction site that will be a West Coast themed restaurant, Redwood. The owner sent me a beautiful mood board, and a note saying her granite counter-tops were not yet installed, and also the locally hand-crafted ceramics she hoped to have ready for our shoot were delayed. So, I packed a sheet of marble into the trunk of my car, and a few beautiful hand-made plates by another local potter with a similar style, and off I went.

eggs benedict Jennifer May food photography

peach melba

tuna poke food restaurant photography

shishito peppers Jennifer May photo

In Rhinebeck, I visited the newly renovated dining room at Terrapin. We had a fun day, shooting a bunch of food for their website… a flaming meringue cake, entrées, and apps. The new dining room is filled with gorgeous tables built from reclaimed barn wood, by a local company, Wabi Sabi Wood. I would say I can’t wait to go back, but did go back, two days later, for Mother’s Day. We sat at the bar, drank beer, and felt right at home.

flaming cake at terrapin

steak at terrapin

restaurant photography Jennifer May

 

The Food52 Piglet Award

Food52 Piglet Award logoLast night, the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook took home the Food52 Piglet Award for 2016. It’s a huge honor to all involved. The judging happens through a bracket system, in which pairs of books compete against each other. Eventually, only two are left. Andrew Zimmern, of Bizarre Foods, made the final ruling. Yotam Ottoleghni helped it through an earlier round. Reading Ottoleghni’s review just about made my year. (Anybody who glances at this blog will know I am a huge fan of his recipes.)

The book was written by Jessamyn Rodriquez and Julia Turshen, and it tells the story of a bakery that is also a non-profit social enterprise. The women who apply to train at the Hot Bread Kitchen come from all over the world. They are taught artisan baking and business skills, to help them become successful culinary professionals.

Hot Bread Kitchen dough

Challah process NYC Food Photographer

stollen piglet 2016 winner

monkey bread piglet 2016

The bakers also share knowledge of specialty breads from their home countries. Things like Persian Nan-e Barbari, Moroccan Msmen, and Ethiopian Injera are baked and sold by the bakery. Between all of this hands-on knowledge, and the writing expertise of Rodriquez and Turshen, it’s no wonder reviewers and judges have been describing the book as a transformative baking tool.

Hot Bread Kitchen portrait

Tacos toppings

Injera Ethiopian

I spent two weeks photographing the bakery, bread, and the mostly-women bakers for this book. I worked with food stylist Erin McDowell, and prop stylist Barb Fritz. It took me about a year to work off the bread-pounds I gained from all of my snacking. And now I just want to bake more. One thing I know for sure: there is nothing so delicious as a buttery, flaky Msmen, hot from the griddle.

bakery at Hot Bread Kitchen
The retail space & cafe at Harlem’s Hot Bread Kitchen Bakery
Hot Bread Kitchen location
The Hot Bread Kitchen bakery & retail space is located under a busy commuter train in Harlem.

Food52 Piglet Award

Applestone Meat Company

This morning I woke to the sound of chirping birds outside my window. The chirps made me think of spring. Spring made me think of summer. Summer made me think of picnics, grilling, and camping. And then I thought of this shoot I did recently for the Applestone Meat Company, showcasing their meats in all of those settings. This was all from beneath a heavy quilt in my bed, mostly with my eyes closed. The reality of the day is that the trees are bare, and the roads are icy. But the birds are returning, and it was a beautiful waking dream.

Applestone Meat Company breakfast setting food photography Jennifer May

Applestone Meat Company grilling picnic Jennifer May photo

Cookbooks 2015

Three cookbooks I photographed over the past year have October 2015 release dates. They are all published by Clarkson Potter, and I love each of them for different reasons. Very soon, the Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook launches. This is an amazing non-profit bakery in Harlem that teaches low-income, foreign-born women the craft of artisan bread baking. These women learn a profession, business skills, and English. It was inspiring to spend the time I did with them. And I always chuckle when I think about waiting for the train above the bakery to rumble by, when my camera was set for slow exposures, in fading light.

Hot Bread Kitchen cookbooks 2015
Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2015)

Earlier this month, Michael Symon‘s 5 in 5: Seasonal was published. This is the third book I have photographed for Chef Symon, and working with him is always a high point of my year. Chef Symon loves what he does, and he has a great team around him. It is a true pleasure and a joy to collaborate with him, and I’m eagerly awaiting getting my hands on this book. His fast, flavorful recipes are just the thing for my daily schedule.

Michael Symon 5 in 5 Seasonal cookbooks 2015
Michael Symon 5 in 5: Seasonal cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2015)

Another of my favorite authors is publishing her second cookbook this month. Alana Chernila and I have worked together on both of her books, and it has been such a pleasure meeting at her home in the Berkshires through the seasons. We photograph her children, her family, her friends, and her in the kitchen. Whenever I spend time with Alana, I can’t wait to get home and cook for the people I love.

Alana Chernila Homemade Kitchen cookbooks 2015
Alana Chernila Homemade Kitchen cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2015)

Metropolitan Opera New Menu

Just before the July 4th long weekend, I did a couple of photo shoots at the Metropolitan Opera. One shoot was to update their restaurant’s website with new menu items. I am posting two dishes that speak to me. The salad on the left is the reason why I own a mandolin slicer. I love those thin circles of radish, beet and cucumber. This salad inspires me, and I will be riffing on it in future salads. The dish on the right is a spring pea risotto with red-veined sorrel and fiddle-heads. Photographing these dishes beneath the 30-foot Chagall painting was definitely memorable.

food at the met opera

Brisket Take 2

A family member ran the Boston Marathon, and we prepared a feast for him the next day. We had smoked brisket, potatoes au gratin, kale salad, and pickled beets. We encourage our toddler to help in the kitchen as often as possible, and here she is patting down the spice rub.

brisket rub
Toddler uses hands to pat down a dry rub of paprika, granulated onion & garlic, brown sugar onto a brisket

Broccoli rabe pesto, starting seeds & the first lakeside grill of the season

This past week I shot a campaign for Andy Boy’s broccoli rabe. That’s right, an advertising campaign for a vegetable. It’s one of my favorite green vegetables, they are one of the best clients a food photographer could have, and we work hard and have a good time. I came home with bunches of the beautiful stuff, and set to work making broccoli rabe pesto, right from their recipe page. I was going to bring some to our first lakeside cookout of the season, but we ate the batch I made (although there is lots more in the freezer). It’s one step more complicated than traditional basil pesto, because you parboil the rabe, but then you reserve that green water and boil your pasta in it, and I love that.

Back at home, the week was filled with starting spring seeds – rabe seeds! a gift from Barb Fritz, a prop stylist I work with a lot – and flowers for the pollinators. Then we grilled, and found a tadpole at the lake.

broccoli rabe pesto
Ingredients for broccoli rabe pesto
broccoli rabe
The heady smell of fresh rabe (aka rapini) has me dreaming of Italy, and of ancient Rome
broccoli rabe pesto
Blanching rabe; reserved green water for boiling pasta; finished pesto; a pear tree in bud; starting seeds for the garden

bbq at a lake

children look for tadpoles
Finding the first tadpole of the season
Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May