mad props one

remember this project we mentioned a few weeks ago? well, here's another shot from our collaboration with prop stylist Sarah Cave - antique strainers. you can read a detailed explanation of the concept here and a description of the first instalment of what we're calling mad props here in the Big Leo den. such a unique and inspiring project to work on together and we're really in love with the results. enjoy & check back soon for the next image in our series!



here's a quick summer cocktail for you to try this weekend and for the rest of those warm evenings we have left as summer fades to fall. it's a guest recipe from our good jenae in boston - she said the inspiration was the need for a refreshing summer libation after discovering chinotto at a little italian market around the corner. chinotto adds a bitter citrus flavor similar to campari (which is delicious like this!) and is popular in certain regions of italy. this cocktail would definitely be nice on a beach under a colorful umbrella somewhere on the coast of italy! we found a few other cocktail inspirations wandering around the isles here - always one of our favorite places to get lost when we're in town. enjoy!

A Bitter End
makes one

1 1/2 oz vodka
3 oz san pellegrino limonata or sparkling lemonade
1/2 oz chinotto
orange wedge
mix all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with a squeeze of orange.


zucchini muffins

isn't the squash lovely at the greenmarket lately? we recently had lots of leftover zucchini from a shoot and i realized that it's been ages since i baked with zucchini. both of our moms used to make great zucchini bread and we grew up loving it but for this recipe i reached for a book off our much neglected cookbook shelf. this recipes is adapted from apples for jam, a beautiful book full of simple comforting recipes and chapters that are organized by color. we've made a few things that are delicious so far but just love flipping through the pages for inspiring stories and images.

we are taking a little vacation - happy to be in sunny CA & hot AZ with lots of morning walks on the beach, breakfasts here and fish tacos here. we'll try to post some of our eating adventures and travel pics from the road so stay tuned.

Zucchini Muffins
makes 12

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 small lemon
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
3 zucchini, coarsely grated
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned & coarsely chopped
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. in a small bowl, beat sugar, olive oil and vanilla until smooth. add lemon zest and stir to combine. add eggs, one at a time and whisk until pale yellow and thick. in a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. gradually fold together wet ingredients into the dry just until combined. mix in zucchini and hazelnuts and stir. fill a greased muffin tin with batter and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. if making a loaf, bake for 55-60 minutes. enjoy!



so every once in a while you need to do something different, something out of the box. in this business, there can be a lot of the same, the same colors, layouts, thoughts and props. don't get us wrong, we love each and every job, and they are all totally different, but sometimes, as in all of life, things start to feel a little the same. that all said, something needed to happen, and quick. we put a team together and started to brainstorm. what came out was a eye opening, adrenaline pounding, fun project that made us rethink what we do in a whole new way. with a little thought from the amazing prop stylist sarah cave, we were off and running. we shot an eight pic series of prop first photos. what we mean by that is sarah, carrie and i went to prop houses all over nyc and searched for the props first and thought of the food and layout second. we searched for the props that get no love, the ones that sit on the back of the shelf, the ugly duckling that needed to see the light of day. we then worked the food with the props and let the layout and the light work its way around that. what we got was an organic feel from a premeditated idea. we will soon have a promo that we will share with a few of the images, but first here is a taste of a shot inspired by coffee and a few props that grabbed our attention on our search. we hope you enjoy, and we will keep you posted on the rest.


cuban black beans

we had a fun weekend celebrating with fellow photographers & stylists at the big leo bbq on saturday - got to chat with some amazing artists like jim bastardo and bjorn wallander while eating great food, enjoying delicious cocktails and a even whole pig roasted by photographer hector sanchez. we contributed our gin & ginger cocktail as well as these amazing cuban black beans. julia diaz is a family friend who graciously passed on this recipe and has convinced me that dried beans really are better than the ones we get from a can. don't get me wrong, i still use canned beans in recipes, but for this one it is absolutely worth the effort to soak dried beans over night. these perfect with some fresh tortillas and a little queso fresco or scrambled eggs and sliced avocado - a delicious addition to any meal!

Julia's Black Beans

1 lb dried black beans
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
4 tbs red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
in a large pot, soak beans overnight with quartered green bell pepper. transfer beans to the stove in the soaking water and simmer for 45 minutes. heat olive oil in a saute pan and cook garlic, onion and bell pepper until softened, about 8 minutes. add 1 cup drained beans and mash together. add to pot with oregano, cumin and bay leaves and simmer about 1 hour or until beans are tender. add vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.


link love

happy weekend! we are excited to sleep, shop at the green market, catch up on blogs, drink lots of coffee and get outside to enjoy the sun. we've had a few busy but wonderfully creative weeks working with some amazing people. can't wait to share a beautiful project we shot with our friend prop stylist sarah cave. shooting all week with the talented photographer frances janisch and prop stylist paul lowe - having way too much fun to call it work! check out this yummy cocktail recipe paul posted on his blog sweet paul. you can also see some of the styling i did in the recent issue of Fine Cooking on the big leo den here.

went to an amazing show featuring ben sollee, daniel martin moore and yim yames to raise awareness for appalacian voices - check out the website to learn more about the cause.

have you seen this beautiful collaboration between jenifer altman & martha mcquade? don't wait too long to order a set.

have a wonderful week everyone and we'll try to post something edible soon!