Category Archives: Food photography

Post-Christmas treats

Christmas has gone by so quickly that I can hardly believe it was even here in the first place. This year, it was very relaxing and we enjoyed a nice break with each other and our friends. On the second day of Christmas, I made cinnamon rolls – one of my favourite desserts. I came across a delicious recipe on These cinnamon rolls are the perfect addition to any meal as a dessert or a wholesome breakfast.  The best part is that they are very easy to make, and you can save some by freezing the dough and using it at a later time.  Click here for step-by-step freezing/thawing instructions. Bon appétit!

Harvest Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup milk (heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs room temperature and beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)*
3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast

Add all ingredients in the bread machine or mixer, and mix until an elastic dough results.  
Cover and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size (after rising, rolls should be touching each other and the sides of the pan).
After dough has risen, roll and stretch the dough into approximately a 15 x 24-inch rectangle. Brush the cinnamon filling over the top of the dough with a spatula or a pastry brush.

Sprinkle Cinnamon Filling over the butter on the prepared dough. Starting with long edge, roll up dough; pinch seams to seal.

With a knife, lightly mark roll into 1 1/2-inch section. Use a sharp knife or slide a 12-inch piece of dental floss or heavy thread underneath. By bringing the ends of the floss up and criss-crossing them at the top of each mark, you can cut through the roll by pulling the strings in opposite directions. Place cut side up in prepared baking pan, flattening them only slightly. T
he unbaked cinnamon rolls should not touch each other before rising and baking.

Cinnamon Filling

1/2 cup butter, melted or softened
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Soften the butter; set aside. In a bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon; stir in chopped nuts (optional).

Cream cheese frosting
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract or oil (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract or oil until well mixed and creamy. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use and then bring to room temperature before spreading.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Spread frosting over the cinnamon rolls while still warm. Best served warm, but room temperature is also great!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for approximately 20 to 25  minutes or until they are a light golden brown.


Anniversary and first (baked) cheesecake

We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on November 3rd, and wanted to surprise my husband with a different type of dessert this year! We’re both fans of baked desserts/pastries, but this time around,  I wanted to prepare something creamy yet not too heavy.  Since I love cream cheese and always wanted to make a cheesecake from scratch, without having to spend half a day in the kitchen, I’ve  started searching for a recipe online.

I came across Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake recipe that has been apparently tried out by many fellow bloggers/bakers during Jenny‘s Daring Baking Challenge. Different people tried different variations, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, and use fresh berries if possible.

So, I decided to give it a go, made some slight changes (used Light creamcheese and reduced the number of eggs to 2).  The result was a delicious, creamy and light cake! My husband loved it, and my co-workers couldn’t agree more (I brought some to work today).  If you’re looking for a delicious and simple cheesecake recipe, I highly recommend this…

Bon appétit et bonne anniversaire Chery!

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake adapted from here. See recipe below.

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I used an equal amount of crushed bran cookies)

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 bricks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature (I used 2 bricks and 8 oz. Philadelphia Light)

1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs (I used 2)
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Biking in the city and a healthy snack!

I simply love summer weekends in the city and, although I haven’t traveled anywhere recently, I feel like Toronto has so much to offer that you just can’t get bored.  This weekend, we went biking to a nearby park, Betty Sutherland Trail, a scenic path alongside the Don River.

We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the ride was pretty good (approx. 7 km) and took lots of pictures along the way.  I recommend this place if you’re biking, rollerblading,  going for a walk or looking for a great picnic place in the city.

When we returned home, we were of course starving…but luckily these wholesome muffins were waiting for us. This is one of my favourite recipe, delicious, easy to make and relatively healthy. Bon appétit!

Raspberry lemon muffins adapted from

1 lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup non fat buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Chocolate frozen yogurt…too good to be true

Once you discover Greek yogurt, you can’t really go back to the regular yogurt.  Greek yogurt has a very thick and creamy texture. According to, the principle difference in creating Greek yogurt is that after the milk is heated and cultured, it is allowed to sit in muslin or cheesecloth bags, so that the whey filters out of the yogurt. In Canada, Liberté is one of the few brands that produces Greek yogurt and luckily it is fat-free. Since I’ve purchased my ice-cream maker, I’ve tried a few recipes, mostly fruit-based frozen yogurt. They tasted OK but nothing out of this world. I even checked the recipe book that comes with the ice-cream maker, but most of them rely on eggs, milk and/or whipped cream which are way too heavy for me. A couple of months ago, I discovered a great recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini and never looked back. Now, I’m making this once a week…it’s heavenly and really addictive. It is great on a hot afternoon which has been the norm in Toronto since the beginning of the summer.

I’ve actually adapted the recipe a bit, used less sugar (approx. 60 grams or half), substituted crème fraiche with 5% table cream and used 500 grams yogurt as opposed to the 300 grams called for in the recipe. It still tasted amazing…I can’t rave enough about this recipe. You seriously need to try it…Bon appétit!

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini

100 grams good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
100 grams  cream (heavy, table cream, I used the lower-fat version 5%)
60 grams sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
a good pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
500 grams plain Greek yogurt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler,  a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. In the meantime, place the cream in a medium mixing-bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until no lump remains.

When the chocolate is melted, whisk it into the cream. Whisk the sugar mixture into the chocolate cream. Add the vanilla and yogurt, and whisk until well blended.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour, until chilled (you can skip this step if your ingredients are chilled). Whisk again, and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Sweet Cottage Cheese Pastries “Branzoaice”

Growing up in Transylvania (Romania), weekends used to be dedicated to baking and of course eating. My mom used to bake all the time, all kinds of cakes and pastries. My sister and I were addicted to anything sweet and were always willing to offer a hand to speed up the process :). Sometimes, I can just think of a certain dessert and feel that I’m in my mom’s kitchen, eating and laughing with my family. And the smell is surreal…It’s amazing how our brain can bring back memories that feel so alive and tangible.

This Victoria Day long weekend, I’ve decided to make “Branzoaice”, a Romanian pastry made with farmer’s cottage cheese and raisins. “Branzoaice” comes from “branza” which means “cheese”, so the literal translation is something like “made from cottage cheese”. Traditionally, they’re eaten during Pies’ Saturday (Sambata Placintelor), the last Saturday before the Easter Fast. In any case, they make a great dessert/brunch idea. Simply irresistible…Bon appetit!

For the dough:
500 g all-purpose flour
1 egg
200 ml milk – at room temperature
75 g butter (melted)
1 t pure vanilla extract
4 T sugar
2 t yeast (I used quick rise)
lemon zest from 1 lemon

Step 1: Mix ingredients together  (except butter) in a bread machine or mixer. At the end, add in the melted butter and mix well. Add more milk if the dough feels too dry. Let it rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

For the filling:
250 g sweet cottage cheese (farmer/pressed style)
1 egg
5 T sugar (or more to taste)
handful of raisins

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, add more sugar if necessary.

Step 3: Preheat the oven at 360F. Transfer the dough on a well floured board or countertop. Spread the dough in 2 cm thick layers. Cut 10-12 cm squares. Fill each square with a bit of filling and fold it; brush over beaten egg. Transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise for another 15 minutes or so. Place in the oven and bake for approx. 40 minutes or until golden.

DIY Frozen Yogurt & Cups

Now that the good weather is finally here to stay, I’m definitely going to take more pictures and try to blog more often.  While I was looking for ideas for my next ‘photoshoot’, I came across Amy’s blog, a graphic designer turned professional  style blogger living in Australia. More specifically, I was looking for some ideas or hints on buying/creating your own ice cream cups.  She’s very talented, I like her stylish ideas and fresh approach to interior design and DIY projects. You can also download free stationery printables for parties, entertainment and home. I ended up downloading the ‘argyle’ and ‘striped’ designs, bought  some white paper cups, sticked them on top and BAM!

I wanted to do a cute photoshoot highlighting my latest addiction, homemade frozen yogurt. I’ve recently bought an ice-cream maker and have been trying a few recipes. Surprisingly, they taste very good, are a lot healthier because you can control the amount of fat/sugar, plus they’re fresh!

Here is the latest recipe that I made.

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt

You need:
500 gr. Greek yogurt (I used Liberte)
A handful of mixed berries (preferably frozen)
2-3 T honey or agave syrup
1 t vanilla extract

What to do:
Mix ingredients in a blender, then churn the mixture into your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approx. 25 minutes). Refrigerate longer if desired. Bon appetit!

Food Photography

I love good food, especially desserts. I started taking pictures of desserts that I made a couple of years ago. Nothing fancy and planned, on the spot with my Cool Pix point-and-shoot camera. A few months ago, my friend Eni told me that she had signed up for a professional photography course. Through her blog , I started discovering a variety of  photography sites and came across some gorgeous food photography/styling blogs like Tartelette, Cannelle et vanille, Lifestyle blog etc.  I couldn’t take my eyes of their photos. I was in awe with their crystal clear images, their stylish compositions and scrumptious food. I wanted so bad for my photos to look half as good as theirs that I began reading online about the art of food photography. I was both fascinated and surprised at how much time and effort you need to put into your photos before you can get decent results. I was committed to trying it too…

On my birthday, my husband surprised me with a brand new DSLR Canon EOS Rebel XSi and a tripod. I was sooooo happy. So far, I’ve studied the manual and took a few nice shots (I think) . Now, I have one more reason to wake up in the morning: natural light for my photos, plus the excitement that goes with preparing my shots, composition and of course, my camera.