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WINTER 2014 15




All About



Premiere Issue

Winter 2014 15

table of contents All About Salt


1...2...3...Brine! Making pickles at home doesn’t have to be a chore. A simple formula will give you great results, no canning involved!



Salt Crusted Fish

An ancient dish that is easy to prepare and will wow even the most cynical of your foodie friends.

From the Editor................................................... 5 Salt, Glorious Salt!............................................. 6 All photography by Jonathan Gayman. And a lot of the food styling. And prop styling. Additional food styling by Carrie Province Layout and design by Pak Creative www.pakcreative.com

Cooking on Salt Blocks


Impart exciting and subtle flavors to your favorite dishes by cooking and serving on salt blocks.

DEPARTMENTS The Sweet Spot........................................................ 8 Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt and Black Walnuts

Last Call........................................................................ 20 The Salty Dog Cocktail

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fro m the Ed ito r I LEARNED TO COOK BEFORE THE INTERNET. I LEARNED to cook before Pinterest. I learned to cook in a time when the term “food blog” wasn’t a thing. I grew up in a house filled with more cookbooks than you can count, and my mother’s back issues of Gourmet Magazine were piled on every surface. Despite this, when I moved out and had to fend for myself, I reached for cookbooks with the words “easy” and “fast” in the titles. These inexpensive and cheaply produced cookbooks were filled with bland, unimaginative recipes. The recipes were definitely fast, and in some cases easy, and occasionally edible … but in this world you get what you pay for. If they had pictures at all, they were terrible illustrations that definitely didn’t whet your appetite. They provided instructions on how to “cook” at home, but they didn’t inspire me to be creative, and to do more with food.

photographer’s business, much like salt is a key element to the food that we eat. You see what I did there? Salt is the focus of this premier issue of The Insatiable Lens. Salt makes the difference between good food and bad food. Too little and your food is drab and boring. Too much, and your food is just down right inedible. But once you figure out how to properly season your food … magic starts to happen. And I’m not just talking about “add salt and pepper to taste” (although that is important). I’m talking about cooking a whole fish completely encased in salt (see page 12). I’m talking about cooking your food on a salt block that is 600 million years old (see page 16). And I’m talking about adding salt to cocktails and desserts - let me just tell you how awesome salt + chocolate is (see page 8).

Salt makes the difference between good food and bad food.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized a few key truths about food. First, while it is possible to make delicious food quickly and simply, “fast & easy” are rarely terms you want in a cookbook. Second, no matter how simple or complicated your recipe is … if your food looks good when you’re done, it is going to taste better. This is why we don’t eat in the dark … seeing our food is just as important as smelling and tasting it. This is why food and beverage photography is so important. Which brings me to the reason we are here in the first place: Shameless self- promotion of my food and beverage photography business! It’s true. I put together this whole publication just to show off my photography skills and hopefully get you to hire me for your next project. As I’m sure you know, self-promotion is a key element to any

The Insatiable Lens is not just about food and cooking though. It’s also about my passion for food and beverage photography. My goal is to share a few recipes, a little knowledge, and of course whet your appetite with beautiful photography. Enjoy!

Jonathan Gayman Photographer & Editor in Chief Jonathan Gayman is an editorial and commercial food and beverage photographer based in the Midwest. He is a regular contributor to epicurean publications and his work has appeared in advertising and marketing materials for clients located all over the U.S. When he’s not on the road for location shoots, you can find him working at his studio in downtown St. Louis.

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Salt, Glorious Salt! In this premiere issue of The Insatiable Lens, we’re talking about the basic ingredient in nearly every dish: salt. How much do you really know about sodium chloride?

2 1

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Iodized salt was introduced in the 1920s to help improve iodine deficient diets in the region around the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, while iodine deficiencies decreased, cases of hyperthyroidism spiked! Doh!


4 Black Hawaiian Sea Salt ed charcoal, gets its color from activat a reddish while Alaea Sea Salt has l called color from a natural minera h additives Alae (volcanic red clay). Bottraditional to ors lend distinctive flav Hawaiian dishes.

al e mic che thin th, a s s wi r i e a s cau ule the ss, ood molecse into itterne f o s t b a salt llow rele ing ing hich a easily ppress ion to files. d d A ion w ore u ro ns t rs, s ime or p m reac od to g flavo ding d all flav fo ncin d ad a an enh



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The Insatiable Lens

6 Salt is important in bread making too. In addition to adding flavor to otherwise flat tasting bread, salt helps to tighten the gluten structure (which helps give the bread more volume) and salt also helps control fermentation by retarding the activity of the yeast!


Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt and Black Walnuts Nothing goes better with chocolate than salt. And black walnuts. Use a nice chunky sea salt to top these delicious whole wheat cookies, and don’t be tempted to add more black walnuts than the recipe calls for...a little goes a long way with black walnuts! R ECIPE FILE INGREDIENTS 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 1/4 cup old fashioned oats 3/4 tsp kosher salt 3/4 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 tbs of Grand Marnier 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped 1/4 cup chopped black walnuts good sea salt


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Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together (a mixer makes this easy but you can do it by hand) then add in the egg, vanilla, and Grand Marnier and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients and stir by hand until it just comes together. Gently fold in the chocolate, walnuts and Grand Marnier just until combined.

Use a 1/3 cup pastry scoop to make 6 rough balls of dough. Place dough balls on your prepared sheet pan, leaving several inches of space between each ball. The cookies will flatten out to more than twice their size. Press down gently to flatten the top of each ball, then sprinkle each cookie with sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes – rotating the sheet half way through until the cookies are golden brown, crisp on the edges, and a little soft in the middle. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet. These cookies are best the day you bake them, but you can also store in an airtight container for a couple days. n

2. Make your brine The brine is the most important part of your pickle and usually consists of a mixture of salt, vinegar, spices, and sugar. Combine the elements of your brine together in a pan and bring to a boil, and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a bit.

1. Prep your pickles Carefully clean and prepare the vegetables or fruit (or eggs) that you’d like to pickle. When possible try to purchase un-waxed produce. If you can’t find un-waxed, just blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds and scrub off the wax. You can leave them whole or chop or slice into a size of your choice.

I AM A BIG FAN OF MAKING MY OWN PICKLES, AND MY CUPBOARDS are packed with all kinds of random vegetables that I’ve preserved indefinitely. Pickled cabbage? Check. Pickled asparagus? Check. Pickled eggs? Check. When I have the time (and depending on the type of pickles I’m making), I do it the way grandma did, canning my pickles in a boiling water bath so that they are shelf-stable. This, however, can be a time-consuming and grueling process, so I often opt for the quicker route: refrigerator pickles. Refrigerator pickles are super quick and easy to do. In fact, it is just three simple steps:

ome h t a kles c ore. i h p c g a n Maki ve to be quick u o y a n’t h l give l i s e w o a l d ormu esults, f e l p NO A sim and easy r lved. o v in g in n n ca

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Ready in two hours!

PICKLED EGGS WITH BEETS 4 small red beets, scrubbed, roasted, peeled and quartered. 1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges 4 hard-cooked large eggs, peeled 6 dill sprigs Brine 1 cup raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar 1 cup water 3 garlic cloves, crushed 3 tablespoons sugar 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Ready in one week!

HABANERO DILL PICKLES 8-10 pickling-sized Cucumbers 3-5 habanero peppers Brine 3 tsp pickling salt 3-4 stalks fresh dill 1 cup white vinegar


Ready in two weeks!

PRESERVED LEMONS 4 wax free lemons (scored deeply in several places) Brine 2/3 cup sugar 7 tablespoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 clove

Ready in two days!

FIRECRACKER CARROTS 1 pound mini carrots Brine 1 1/4 cups water 1 cup sugar 2 cups cider vinegar 2 teaspoons onion powder 1 teaspoon mustard seeds 3 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon chili flakes 2-4 dried chilies

Most pickles will be ready in a couple hours or a few days and will live happily in your fridge for several weeks. Experiment with different combinations and spices. One of my favorites is a fiery hot pickle with habaneros! Not for the faint of heart! n

3. Make your pickles Pack your pickles into a clean, non-reactive jar that can be sealed tightly. Regular old mason jars work great. Carefully pour your brine over the pickles and fill to the top, making sure all of your pickles are submerged. Allow the mixture to cool, then put in the fridge.


d e t s u r C

An ancient dish that is easy to prepare and will wow even the most cynical of your foodie friends. WHEN I AM COOKING THERE ARE TWO things that I always try to accomplish in addition to making something that tastes amazing: simple preparation (I’m a busy guy after all) and a great presentation (because I’m a food photographer, duh). Both of these characteristics are married together in one beautiful dish that is sure to impress your guests: Salt Crusted Fish.


as it

t’s no t salty a looks s !

At one time, salt was so valuable it was used as currency. Although it is disputed, some scholars say that the word salary comes from the fact that Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt. This could be why some trace the origins of salt baked fish as far back as the Phoenician Empire which was built on the salt trade – which could be true because only those with an abundance of salt could have afforded to cook this way. Luckily for us, salt is cheap and abundant, which is good because you need about three pounds of it for this recipe. Whatever the origins though, this is clearly a timetested recipe that in my experience has given me incredible results every time. The hardest thing about cooking moist and flavorful fish is keeping it from drying out. The salt-mixture that you press over the entire surface of the fish hardens into a kiln-like Wint er 2014 15

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casing in the oven which locks moisture in. This trapped moisture gently steams the fish to perfect done ness. Start with a whole fish making sure not to remove the scales or the skin. This method works with virtually any kind of fish (trout is another favorite in addition to the snapper I use in this recipe). I find that a fish with scales is more moist than a scaled fish, but it can be a little harder to clean once it is cooked, so you can have your fish monger remove the scales if you want. Then, all you have to do is pack the body cavity with citrus and aromatics and you’re ready to add the salt casing, no additional seasoning required. Experiment with different citrus and herbs for variations. Why do you have to use kosher salt? Why not just use table salt? Kosher salt and table salt are essentially exactly the same scientifically speaking (although most table salt has anti-clumping additives). However, kosher salt has a larger flakier texture than regular old table salt, and is essential in this recipe. The larger texture will

...you may ask, doesn't three pounds of salt make for an incredibly salty dish? Surprisingly the answer is no. give your salt mixture a consistency more like dry snow which will pack evenly and firmly over your fish. Table salt is too fine and you’ll have a lot of trouble making that firm, snow-like mixture. Additionally, fine-grained table salt is much harder to keep from getting into your fish when you are removing the crust, which can lead to over seasoning. But wait, you may ask, doesn’t three pounds of salt make for an incredibly salty dish? Surprisingly the answer is no. Once you carefully crack open the salt casing and remove the skin and bones, you are left with a perfectly seasoned and wonderfully moist and flaky fish – just make sure to get rid of all of the excess salt before removing the skin and bones. I use a soft, food grade brush to clean off any of the salt that doesn’t pull away when I remove the crust.


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Toss a few extra slices of citrus and some herbs onto your deliciously moist fish and bring it straight to the table, no additional presentation required. If you’re not comfortable removing the skin and bones with an audience however, you can also do those tasks in the kitchen and plate the cleaned filets on a clean serving tray, perhaps with a nice green salad. n

R ECIPE FILE INGREDIENTS 2 whole fish, cleaned (bass, snapper, etc) – 1 1/4 lbs each 1 3lb box of kosher salt 8 egg whites 1 lemon, thinly sliced 1 bunch of fresh rosemary Directions Pre-heat your oven to 400ºF. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Fill the body cavity of each fish with a layer of lemon slices and a handful of rosemary Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (an electric mixer makes this very easy, but you can do it by hand if you want a workout). Fold the entire box of salt into the egg whites and gently mix until all of the salt is slightly moist and the egg whites are evenly distributed. Your salt mixture will resemble lightly packable snow. Spread a thin layer of the salt mixture onto the parchment paper on your sheet pan, covering enough space to accommodate both fish laying side by side. Place the fish on top of this layer of salt, nose to tail. Using your hands, gently pack the remaining salt over the fish, packing it firmly to cover the entire surface of both fish (if you run out of salt and the tails are peeking out, that’s ok). Bake for 25-30 minutes until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the fish reads 135ºF (you can push a thermometer through the salt crust). Remove the fish from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes. Smack the salt crust gently with a wooden spoon, then carefully pry off the crust. Be gentle so you don’t gouge the delicate fish underneath. You can use a soft brush to remove any excess salt that remains. Carefully lift off the skin, remove the bones, and serve!

BLOCK COOKING Food Styling by Carrie Province

REMEMBER HOW I WAS TALKING ABOUT ancient cooking techniques with the Salt Crusted Fish (page 12)? Let’s take that time machine back a little bit further where we find a tool which is a little bit older than that … by about 600 million years. That’s when the warming of the planet evaporated giant seas, leaving behind massive fields of salt.

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CHARCUTERIE FROM SALUME BEDDU (www.salumebeddu.com) in St. Louis served on a chilled salt block plate.

Over the millennia, tectonic pressure and heat forged this salt into a handy and impressive cooking tool that we can use today in our modern kitchens (and impress our guests while we’re at it). Solid blocks of salt are great conductors of heat and cold,

When you apply heat to your salt block it will lose it's natural beauty... I like to cook on one salt block and then serve the food on another. and when properly handled they can be used not only to prepare food, but to do so in a beautiful and pleasing way. When you cook or serve on a salt block, they impart a little bit of their natural flavor into your food. The flavors of the salt will subtly change depending on the type of food that comes into contact with them, giving each dish a unique and interesting taste. Cooking on a salt block does not come without it’s hazards. Heating a salt block must be done slowly and deliberately (or your block may crack or even explode). And you may want to invest in several different blocks if you plan on using them to cook and to serve. When you apply heat to your salt block it will lose it’s natural beauty, growing paler and less translucent. I like to cook on one salt block and then serve the food on another. To find out all of the ins and outs of cooking with a salt block, check out Mark Bitterman’s wonderful little cookbook Salt Block Cooking (hardcover $24.99) and you can also check out his company The Meadow (www.atthemeadow.com) to find a wide variety of salt blocks for sale. n Wint er 2014 15

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The Salty Dog Cocktail

I AM AN UNASHAMED DOG PERSON. AFTER adopting a rescue mutt from a local shelter, I went from being the guy who merely tolerated other people’s pets, to the guy who turns off the tv if there is any hint of violence to animals. And because of this canine-love I was pleased to find this perfect not-so-sweet and salty cocktail to finish out the salt issue of The Insatiable Lens: The Salty Dog Cocktail While using fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice will give you a fresher taste, it will also be a little more dry and sour (which I happen to like). The salt on the rim will open up the flavors though and it is really tasty. However, if you want something sweeter, try it with store-bought juice or add a spoonful of simple syrup. The best thing about this drink (which is similar to the non-salted Greyhound) is that you can design your version of this cocktail around your favorite fur baby. Replace the gin with vodka for a Salted Siberian Husky, or tequila for a Salted Chihuahua. And while you can use regular kosher salt to rim your glass, why not kick it up a notch with some flavored salts which you can make yourself. Simply stash some of your favorite dried herbs in a small container of salt for a few weeks until the salt takes on the flavor. My favorite combination of this cocktail includes gin, pink grapefruit juice, and rosemary salt. Yum. n


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R ECIPE FILE INGREDIENTS 2oz gin 4oz pink grapefruit juice Rosemary (or plain) salt for the rim Rosemary (for garnish) Directions Prepare a martini glass by moistening the rim with a little grapefruit juice, then dipping the rim into the sea salt. Pro tip: rim your glasses with salt in advance and let the juice dry. This will help keep the salt adhered to the glass when you serve. Fill a shaker with ice, then add the gin and the grapefruit juice. Shake vigorously until frosty cold. Strain cocktail into the glass and garnish with a small rosemary branch. Makes one cocktail.

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Profile for Jonathan Gayman Photography

The Insatiable Lens - Premiere Issue  

The Insatiable Lens is a magazine celebrating food and beverage photography by Jonathan Gayman Photography. It features delicious photograph...

The Insatiable Lens - Premiere Issue  

The Insatiable Lens is a magazine celebrating food and beverage photography by Jonathan Gayman Photography. It features delicious photograph...