Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New, Happy Addictions -- Truffle Fries with Parmesan Cheese and Parsley

I think my pictures are getting better. Still not good enough for FoodGawker--my new short-term photography goal, hah--and with some new equipment I'm getting around that whole pesky I-only-cook-at-night-so-my-pictures-come-out-like-crap issue. So look! Pretty pictures! But the food photography side of blogging isn't JUST about the food, strangely enough, it's also about the picture as a whole. This is why I'm finding food styling is so important. And, this is what I tend to struggle with most. So I've now become obsessed with not only teaching myself basic food photography, but also food styling. Or, at least, acquiring as many props and such as humanely possible. This past month I have bought the following items:
  • 10 colorful plates, none of them matching
  • 5 bowls, again, none of them matching
  • 5 white plates of various sizes
  • 3 round place mats
  • 2 mason jars
  • 1 rubber rimmed jar
  • 6 ramekins (bright red, they're pretty!)
  • 3 pretty patterned cupcake liners
  • 1 springform pan (moreso because I found one for $5 and I've been wanting one)
  • 3 tripods of varying sizes (they came as a set on Amazon, one is too flimsy to use)
  • 1 light tent with 2 lights (they're kind of weak for how huge the tent is... I need to invest in stronger ones methinks)
  • 2 food styling/food photography books (From Plate to Pixel and Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots)
  • 1 food blogging book (Will Write For Food)

I still need (want):
  • Decorative forks, spoons, and knives
  • A few pretty serving platters
  • PLACE MATS. I cannot for the life of me find affordable, pretty place mats that I don't have to spend over $10 a set for. Ideally, I need to find single place mats that are under $2. I think tag sales will be my best bet...
  • Napkins. Same problem as above. Why are NAPKINS so dang pricey?
  • Pretty mugs/teacups
  • Props of other sorts--vases, fake fruit?, this is where I'm rusty, hah.

I also discovered that Marshall's and TJMaxx are DANGEROUS places. I'm grateful there is no HomeGoods nearby or my money would be ENTIRELY gone. They just have such PRETTY stuff. I went into both places looking for items for the bachlorette party I'm throwing on Saturday and I ended up leaving with my arms full of 1/4 bachlorette and 3/4 cooking stuff. And it's a tight money week for me too (student loans are the most epic of bitches). Oy! Also I had to stop myself from loading up my cart in the "Gourmet Foods" aisle too. Huge containers of olive oil under $10, agave nectar for $2, truffle salt for $8, Saffron for $7! And a whole variety of spices that I just wanted to take home with me.

Folks, I think my shopping problem has graduated from shoes to kitchen/dining room things--though there were no less than four pairs of shoes I had to reason myself out of buying too. This would be fine if I had my own apartment but I do not, so all of these lovely cooking items are living in a drawer in my closet.

But, as I've been saying, this blog is one of my favorite things. I'm loving how I can translate my growing love of food into the written word, and that I'm learning new things every day and teaching myself basic photography. I missed college because I hate feeling stagnant, I hate not learning and sitting still for too long. And if this blog never results in a memoir or cookbook or even enough ad revenue to make back a fraction of what all those various things cost--it's still worth it. I'm proud of the work I'm doing here and it gives me a way to share my passion with the world. At worst, I have a great place where I've documented a few years of my life and cooking adventures. And that sounds pretty dang good to me :)

Anyway. And now, for these fries.

They are absolutely fantastic. Thank the truffle oil, and the fact that red potatoes and fresh Parmesan cheese were just meant to be lovers.

In my experimenting in the kitchen I often find myself creating sadly soggy baked fries. I'm not sure what the magic combo was here that made these fries absolutely perfect--the correct balance of crispy outside, soft inside--but it further strengthens my notion that truffle oil is MAGICAL.

I made these with my truffle-enhanced burgers and they were a serious hit. In fact, since they finished before the burgers were ready I began munching on them and ended up devouring most of the batch and had to make a second mini one for pictures. THEY ARE THAT GOOD. You've been warned.

Truffle Fries with Parm and Parsley
  • 4 red potatoes, sliced to fry proportions
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1tsp truffle oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tbs freshly grated parm cheese
  • sprinkle of salt, pepper, and parsley, to taste

-Mix all ingredients except potatoes in a large bowl. Add potatoes and toss to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for about a half hour, until crispy.

-Serve with these burgers for extra awesomeness


  1. Great post! I'm always thinking about the new bowls and platters and napkins I wish I had now that I photograph my food. I pretty much don't have an inch of cabinet space left at this point :)

  2. I find that my best photos happen during the summer when I have natural light. Foodgawker rarely accepts my photos so don't be too hard on yourself!

    1. Yeah, natural light is best, I am just never able to cook when there's still light outside, haha. And that does make me feel better, since I look up to you as one of my bloggy idols :)

      It's just a fun goal to have, I know photography quality shouldn't be elitist, but after all the rejections I know I'm going to do a happy-happy-joy-joy dance when I'm finally accepted.

  3. Your photos are looking amazinggggg! Also-YUMM!

  4. The fries are so decadent and delicious looking! I think your lighting is fine! I love shopping for props! Do you have a place called The Christmas Tree Shop? They have lots of cheap kitchen stuff and tons of place mats for under 2. I just a bought a whole bunch for 29 cents each - a steal! Even if you have to drive an hour or so to get to one it's worth it. My Mom and I used to do that but a new store just opened 5 minutes away from us. Very dangerous for my bank account. You can google them I think they have a store look up. Sorry I wrote a book!

    1. Haha yes! We do! It's been suggested to me before, but I've yet to check it out. Usually I go there with my mom and she takes HOURS so it's not a place I frequent on my own... but I should!

  5. I LOVE that these are both baked and smothered in truffle oil. Yum.

    Woot woot on all the food prop purchasing! Instead of place mats, I tend to use swatches of cloth. They're way cheaper than mats and come in some pretty patterns!

    1. Yeah! I've thought of this, but a lot of fabric stores around here require you purchase at least a yard, which I know would just mostly go to waste. I need to find some locally owned fabric stores that you can buy the end pieces at...

  6. These look delicious.

    Photography is definitely my down fall and I really need to work on it. It's usually pitch black outside when I take my pictures. Once we move I'm hoping to set up a little studio in a back bedroom. I want need to get myself some books as well!

    1. I am DEVOURING Plate to Pixel. I highly recommend it!

  7. A. I told you plate to pixel was a life saver!!!
    B. I get ALL of my placemats at christmas tree shops. They're usually $1-2, so I buy a few and if I spill on one of them, it's not a big deal.
    C. Your pictures are getting so much better! Yay for forcing ourselves to be better photographers!!! :D
    D. I need truffle oil. How about I send you some biscoff and you send me truffle oil?

    1. Haha these pictures were taken before I even got it in the mail! I tend to bake like 5 thing at once, photograph each, then keep blog posts at the ready for slow cooking weeks such as this one. This was also taken with my friend's light tent and light... soo yeah I need a stronger light for sure.

      2 jars of biscoff = 1 tiny jar of truffle oil. It's at Whole Foods, I'm sure you can find some! I had to drive 40 minutes to Whole Foods to get mine, haha.

  8. OMG....anything with truffle is amazing but these look seriously good!

  9. I keep doing the same thing - spending all of my money on food props! I love those little plates (and the fries on top, of course)!

  10. Beautiful pictures and delicious fries!

  11. I love buying food props. I'm glad you've been having so much fun. I've used all kinds of things for "placemats" or tablecloths, including some patterned skirts. Dollar stores are great for those kind of things, or thrift stores. Your pictures are really coming along and I think you should be proud of how they look now.

  12. That is pretty much heaven to me right there. My favorite way to eat fries is splattered with truffle oil and sprinkled with truffled sea salt. Pure bliss. I'm down with adding the parm and parsley, too though...that's what I do with my popcorn, as well. The burger sounds fab as well.

    As far as food photography goes, it's something I'd really love to study as well. I used to try submitting to the photo sites, but I am never accepted. I think I've had a total of three things accepted at one and none accepted at foodgawker. I eventually said F-it and stopped trying... ha. As long as I like them, I suppose (yeah, totally an excuse)...

  13. I have a list of props I would like to add to my collection as well.

    These fries sound amazing... and easy too! I figured there was lots of frying involved.

  14. I'm not a big fan of garlic fries, buuuuut you mkae them look irresitible. =)

  15. Mmmm chips! They look light and fluffy and crunchy at the same time.

  16. I was giggling about the prop conundrum. I have one tall bookcase and one floor to ceiling storage rack which are both stuffed full. My big downfall is Crate&Barrel. In place of placemats you could crumple up some plain brown packing paper or tissue paper and smooth it out. It makes an interesting surface. Its's cheap. Scrapbooking stores sell single sheets of paper with interesting designs. Now about these fries... I have to make these as soon as possible! Truffle oil, garlic and parm. I'm swooning.