In Category: ‘Blog’

On the first day of winter this year, we made our very favorite winter dish, in honor of Judy Rodgers, the chef at San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe who passed away early this month. Judy was a fantastic chef and cookbook author and we were so sorry to hear of her death. We’re fortunate to have been to her restaurant in San Francisco several times and our copy of  “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook”, published in 2002, is in tatters from use. This Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken is a real winner. It’s a dry 24 hour salt-brined small bird cooked in a high-heat oven served atop a crunchy bread salad with greens, currants and pine nuts. Matthew has made this dish so many times he can do it with eyes closed. Please note that we like to add cauliflower to the mix–it’s optional.

 

 

Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken 07 L The Worlds Best Roast Chicken  A Salute to Judy Rodgers

Zuni Cafe Chicken © Jumping Rocks Photography

 

Zuni Layout The Worlds Best Roast Chicken  A Salute to Judy Rodgers

Bread Salad before it goes in the oven and chicken resting before carving © Jumping Rocks

Zuni Cafe Chicken

Adapted from Judy Rodgers by Eric Asimov of The New York Times with further adaptions by Matthew Lovette

TOTAL TIME
60 to 90 minutes, plus 1 to 2 days for dry brining 

INGREDIENTS

  • One small chicken, 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 pounds
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Two cups cauliflower, optional

PREPARATION

1.
Season the chicken 1 to 3 days before serving (for 3 1/4- to 3 1/2-pound chickens, at least 2 days): Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry (a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown).
2.
Slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets, then use a fingertip to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Push an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.
3.
Using about 3/4 teaspoon sea salt per pound of chicken and pepper to taste, season the chicken liberally all over with salt and the pepper. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity and on the backbone. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.
4.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 475 degrees. Depending on your oven and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the heat to as high as 500 degrees or as low as 450 degrees during roasting to brown the chicken properly.
5.
Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle. Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.
6.
Place in the center of the oven and watch for it to start sizzling and browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over (drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking). At this point, toss in two cups of cauliflower florets that have been tossed in Olive Oil and salt. 
Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to re-crisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to 1 hour.
7.
Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Pour the clear fat from the pan, leaving the drippings. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl. Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings. As the chicken rests, tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape.
8.
Cut the chicken into pieces and pour the pan drippings over the chicken.
YIELD 2 or more servings

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, they’re right! The facade of The Victorian Inn in Los Alamos (just an hour north of Santa Barbara) screams “quintessential Victorian Bed and Breakfast”. But step inside, and that whole idea vanishes instantly. “The Vick” (as it’s known to its fans) is about as far from Victorian as you can get. It is completely–and dramatically–themed inside, from top to bottom. We recently had the pleasure of photographing each of the six themed suites and it was fun, interesting and…wonderfully bizarre! Who can say they have photographed a full-size gypsy wagon INSIDE a guestroom, which, incidentally, is also the bed you sleep in? If sleeping in a Roman chariot is more your style, request the Roman Suite. It’s all about fantasy here–from Ancient Egypt to a Parisian Artist’ loft, you can live out your fantasy at The Vick.

 

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Stately and traditional facade…but this is NOT your typical B&B!

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A 1956 Cadillac is your bed in the 50′s room, complete with a private drive in movie screen and authentic sound system.

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In The Egyptian Room, the whole ceiling is tented, creating a golden glow… the bed and windows provide an air of ancient grandeur.



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The French Suite recreates a Parisian artist’s loft with a dramatic vaulted ceiling, a painting in progress and views over Paris rooftops.

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In the Gypsy room, you sleep in a Gypsy Wagon! This ain’t The Holiday Inn Express!

 

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Matthew risking his life for art in the French Suite’s “lofted” bed.

One of our favorite things about late summer is great tomatoes, and especially the heirloom varieties that are packed with flavor and sweetness. Last week we were shooting at Swiss Woods Bed and Breakfast Inn in Lititz, PA in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country. Innkeeper Deb Mosimann  is famous for the breakfast she serves at Swiss Woods; it’s always homemade, fresh and utilizes the incredible local ingredients of Lancaster Country. On this visit, we photographed  “Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes”…it’s not a complicated dish, but PERFECT this time of year and it’s appropriate for breakfast OR dinner. Oh–it’s also beautiful!

Deb is also a broad. That is, she’s a member of the of the influential food-blogging collective known as Eight Broads in the Kitchen. They have hundreds of great recipes online–check them out.

 

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Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes from Swiss Woods  Photo © Jumping Rocks Photography

Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes from Swiss Woods

2

pints

heirloom cherry tomatoes, red and yellow

1/2

cup

panko bread crumbs

1/4

cup

coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

cracked black pepper

sea salt

1/4

cup

chopped herbs, any combination of basil, parsley, and chives

2

Tbsp

oil to drizzle

1.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise

2.

In a bowl, toss with the panko, Parmesan, herbs, cracked pepper and salt

3.

Spoon in 6 ramekins

4.

Drizzle with Oil

5.

Bake at 375F until a slight brown shows on some of the tomatoes, about 15 min

6.

Serve hot

Servings: 6

Oven Temperature: 375°F

The mountaintop locale of The Swag Inn near Waynesville, NC is studded with the waterfalls and water features you’d expect in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But now, after a long hike in the adjacent park, you can enjoy your OWN waterfall, in one of their many private en-suite outdoor showers. We’ve just returned from our 6th trip shooting for The Swag, and every time we return they have added ANOTHER outdoor shower. We love the trend! There is something  both primeval and very romantic about the whole experience of an outdoor shower. We decided to highlight some of our favorite showers we’ve shot over the years. At the end of this post, we have supplied a little “behind the scenes” information on how we got these shots, i.e. how we lit them. It can be a little tricky!

Want to see more pictures of The Swag? Check our special page on The Swag on our Projects page.

Swag 2011 FamilyRoom 03 X3 A Different Kind of Waterfall in The Smokies: The Outdoor Showers at The Swag Inn

Ferns and other plants shower with you in this outdoor shower in The Family Room Guest Suite

 

Swag Rooms Ridgeview 01 XL A Different Kind of Waterfall in The Smokies: The Outdoor Showers at The Swag Inn

The Ridgeview Suite’s shower has a killer view over The Smoky Mountains. We stayed in this room and got to “test” this shower.

 

swag08 Cabin%20%281%29 XL A Different Kind of Waterfall in The Smokies: The Outdoor Showers at The Swag Inn

The Cabin Suite’s outdoor shower has a view of the full-scale stone fireplace, for those chilly Smoky Mountain Nights

 

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In the Hideaway Room you get a different shower view–dense forest

 

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The private porch off Gail’s Room has both a giant copper soaking tub and an outdoor shower…all with fabulous mountain views

 

Swag Rooms Ridgeview 03 X3 A Different Kind of Waterfall in The Smokies: The Outdoor Showers at The Swag Inn

Some of The Swag’s outdoor showers are bathed in sun, while others are ensconced in woodland shade

 

How did we get these shots??

If you’ve ever tried to photograph a shower with the water running, you’ll notice the water usually “disappears” in the actual photo, and with it goes much of the appeal of the photo. In order to SEE that water (hey that’s the point of a shower, right?) we often have to come up with some pretty funky lighting plans, like strapping flashes to trees, affixing portable strobes to ceilings or as you see below, hanging off a balcony. In this shot, it was too high for a light-stand or a ladder to enable lighting the porch, so we had to resort to doing a little Photoshop trick: Matthew held a gridded strobe which was pointed directly at the water while Mark took the photo. Then Matthew was removed in the final image. Also, believe it or not, this was shot in broad daylight, but the porch was so heavily shaded it was pretty dark. Our solution was to give it an early evening effect by lighting the inside of the room using flashes and warm colored gels to evoke an evening mood.

 

Swag Rooms Loft 01 XL A Different Kind of Waterfall in The Smokies: The Outdoor Showers at The Swag Inn

The outdoor shower in The Loft Suite is in deep shade. It was a trick to light this one!


 

MG 7989 153 1024x682 A Different Kind of Waterfall in The Smokies: The Outdoor Showers at The Swag Inn

Matthew lighting the water and shower area with a strobe, covered with a grid-spot attachment. Or is he just playing Twister??

We’ve been in this crazy business for 8 years, and every now and then we discover a new inn we’ve never heard of—and we think HOW is this inn not universally known??? We recently had this experience shooting the spectacular Inn at Abeja in Walla Walla, Washington. In our pre-production meeting with the owners and innkeepers, they kept repeating “it’s all about the details here”. We hear that all the time…and frankly it’s become a bit of a cliche. At Abeja, though, it rings true. The inn is full of one-of-a-kind textures, surfaces, architectural elements, whimsical features, and sensitive touches. Everything at this beautifully-restored farm is steeped in love, care and thoughtfulness. Innkeepers and owners Ken and Ginger Harrison, partner Molly Galt and chef/innkeeper Mary Besbris are a great team; they offer hospitality and food to match this premium property and its gorgeous setting in the beautiful Palouse Hills of Walla Walla Wine Country. By the way, did I mention they also run an incredible winery with some of the best Cabernet were ever tasted?

i Fcc3pjz X2 Its All in the Details: The Inn at Abeja

The vineyards and magical rolling hills that surround the property

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The winery at Abeja, their vineyard and the hills around Walla Walla

 

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The Locust Suite at Abeja. The ceilings are never an afterthought at Abeja

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The Locust Suite Bedroom

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The exterior of the large barn which contains The Hayloft Suite. Inside the cupola is a sitting room.

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The dramatic interior of the cupola in the Hayloft Suite

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A couple enjoying one of the terraces overlooking their perfect herb garden

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Locally-sourced morel mushrooms that Chef Mary uses in breakfast dishes

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More wonderful ingredients that make breakfast truly special

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Individual strawberry-rhubarb tarts were on the menu when we visited. Amazing!

##

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Who else has a wood-burning pizza oven outside their kitchen? Chef Mary uses the oven for inspired breakfast inventions, like this flatbread

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We’ve seen a lot of fruit over the years. Love these mini-melon balls and the presentation.

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Flowers grown right on the property fill a beautifully composed and themed arrangement on the dining room table. Its all about the details!

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Abeja offers in-room breakfast, naturally…the presentation is wonderfully farm-themed and beautiful

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The old chicken coop, reborn as the Chicken Coop Suite, has chicken-wire embedded in the glass. This is the stuff that makes this place so cool–thoughtful surprises at every turn

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A very early morning (early, like 5:00am! ) garden scene with wonderful fragrances and a singing bird…perfect moments like these abound here

 

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A couple outside the Bunkhouse Cottage at sunset with a visit from Abeja’s resident cat