Forum columnist celebrates 400 weeks of beautiful food
In today's "Home with the Lost Italian," Sarah Nasello shares three of her favorite photos from over the years and explains why they stood out.
Today marks my 400th column with The Forum.
As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes, and this endeavor would not bring me nearly as much joy without the artistic collaboration of some of our area’s finest photographers. There are three gentlemen who have been my partners since the beginning, nearly eight years ago: Dave Wallis, David Samson and Mike Vosburg.
These men have inspired and shaped my food styling and photography, and every week they arrived ready to shoot, with a commitment to produce images mouthwatering enough to entice you to read the article and make the recipe.
Since the shutdown began, I have been producing my own images each week — and my esteem for these men, and their talent, has risen even higher. This week, I am paying tribute to Dave, David and Mike with my all-time favorite images from each of them, along with the recipes, which happen to be perfect summer fare.
These are the images I have hanging on the walls in my home office, shot so perfectly that the food and drinks look like you could reach out and grab them right off the page. These are the pictures that continue to inspire me to keep writing about and celebrating food each week.
I miss working with these talented photographers and am so grateful for our many years of collaboration and friendship. Thank you, Dave, David and Mike!
Dave Wallis: Fresh Berry Galettes
It is hard to believe that it has been almost three years since Dave Wallis retired. A consummate professional and food photography enthusiast, Dave brought an unrivaled passion to our photo shoots. Dave’s creativity was matched only by his pursuit of perfection, as you can see in his beautiful image of my Fresh Berry Galettes .
Dave’s image perfectly captures the rich, buttery pastry filled with bubbling hot fruit and juices pooling all around. When I think of mouthwatering images, this is the one that comes to mind, every time.
Fresh Berry Birthday Galettes
Makes: 8 galettes
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and chilled
¼ to ½ cup ice water
2 to 3 packs fresh berries
Egg wash ingredients:
1 to 2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chill cut butter in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.
In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar and salt together until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times until the mixture appears coarsely ground. Add the water slowly through the feed tube, starting with ¼ cup, and then by the tablespoon, until the dough just holds together when pinched between 2 fingers.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form into a ball. Divide the ball in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before using.
To form the galettes, divide each disk into quarters, gently patting each into rounds. Roll each small disk out to a circle approximately 6-7 inches in diameter and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of sugar in the center of each pastry circle and top with fresh berries, leaving about 1-2 inches of pastry border. Sprinkle more sugar on top of the berries, according to their tartness.
Gently fold the sides of the pastry up and inward, pinching together accordion style. Brush the crust of each galette with egg wash and sprinkle with more sugar if desired. Before baking, chill galettes in refrigerator for 20 minutes to set up.
Bake in 425 degrees oven for 20 to 25 minutes until crust is golden brown and berry juices are just starting to bubble. Remove from oven and transfer galettes onto a cooling rack. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, as they will be hot and this will allow the juices to firm up. Serve with a dollop of ice cream, or as a breakfast pastry.
To store: Store galettes wrapped tightly in tin foil or in a metal/tin container for up to 2 days, at room temperature or in refrigerator.
To freeze galettes: Place baking sheet with unbaked galettes in freezer for an hour; then, individually wrap each galette in plastic, transfer to a freezer bag or airtight container, label with date and freeze for up to 1 month. For even baking, thaw slightly (about 15 minutes) and increase baking time by 3 to 5 minutes if needed.
To freeze pastry dough: Wrap each pastry disk in plastic, transfer to a freezer bag, label with date and freeze for up to 2 months.
- In addition to fresh berries, you could also use sliced pears, apples, peaches and/or cherries as filling.
- To achieve the best crust, use very cold butter and water and avoid mixing or handling the dough too much.
- Taste the berries or fruit for tartness before adding sugar, then add according to taste.
- Do not store baked galettes in plastic, which will soften the pastry crust.
David Samson: Honey Lavender Lemonade
Beverages can be challenging to photograph well, as I discovered while shooting the Aperol Spritz cocktails featured here last week . But David Samson was not fazed a bit when he shot this gorgeous image of my Honey Lavender Lemonade .
David’s photo radiated summer refreshment and was so attractive that it even enticed my son, Gio (no fan of lemons), to try — and love — this lemonade.
Sarah’s Honey Lavender Lemonade
Serves: 8 to 10
6 cups cold water
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
1 to 1 ½ cups honey lavender syrup
Lemon slices, to garnish
2 to 3 cups ice cubes
In a large pitcher, use a large spoon to stir the water with the lemon juice and 1 cup of the honey lavender syrup until fully combined. Taste and add more syrup (or sugar) for a sweeter lemonade, as desired.
Add the ice and stir again. Garnish pitcher with sliced lemon rounds and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Honey Lavender Syrup
Makes: about 2 cups
1 cup water
¼ cup dried lavender buds
1 ¼ cup honey
In a medium saucepot, bring the water and lavender buds to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a medium-low simmer and add the honey, stirring until fully incorporated. Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, then remove from burner and steep at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a container and discard the lavender buds. The syrup may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks, or frozen for several months. Use the syrup to make lemonade, sweeten beverages, jazz up ice cream or brighten up fresh fruit.
Mike Vosburg: Weak-in-the-Knees Grilled Salmon Tacos with Avocado, Corn and Cucumber Salsa
Mike Vosburg’s photo of these grilled salmon tacos is one of my all-time favorite top-down images.
Featuring two tacos in the center, stuffed with salmon and a creamy avocado salsa, Mike also managed to sneak in bits of other ingredients, lurking just around the edges, almost like a promise that this recipe is so delicious your guests will be begging for seconds — which was exactly what I wanted.
Weak-in-the-Knees Grilled Salmon Tacos with Avocado, Corn & Cucumber Salsa
Makes: 6 to 8 tacos
2 to 3 fillets of fresh, boneless salmon (about 1.5 pounds), skinned
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for grill
Freshly ground black pepper
1 packet of taco seasoning
Corn or flour tortillas, warmed or lightly fried in oil
Avocado, Corn and Cucumber Salsa (see recipe)
2 cups red cabbage, shredded (plain or marinated in 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil)
Preheat grill to high heat; preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Brush the top of each salmon fillet with olive oil, then sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Starting with about a teaspoon per fillet and adding more as desired, dust the seasoning over the top of each fillet, using your hands to spread it until evenly coated.
Grill, top side down, for 3 to 4 minutes, without lifting it, until rich, golden brown marks are set. To create a crisscross pattern, turn each fillet at a 45-degree angle and continue grilling for 3 minutes.
Remove the fillets and transfer to a baking dish. Fill dish with a quarter inch of water and bake in a 400-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until the center of each fillet is flaky and opaque in color. Remove from oven and cool slightly. May be served immediately or refrigerated for several days.
To assemble the tacos, break the grilled salmon into bite-sized chunks and place a generous portion in the center of each tortilla. Top with the avocado salsa and garnish with red cabbage. May be served warm or at room temperature.
Avocado, Corn and Cucumber Salsa
Makes: about 2 cups
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced into half-inch pieces
1 mini, seedless cucumber, peel on, diced into quarter-inch pieces
1/3 cup red onion, small diced
Kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn, grilled or raw
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Place avocado, cucumber, red onion, sweet corn, cilantro, jalapeno and garlic in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil; lightly toss to combine. Taste and add more lime juice and olive oil if needed, then add salt and pepper as desired.
Best when served immediately. If refrigerating, place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent discoloration.
Recipe Time Capsule:
This week in...
- 2019: Legendary Granola Clusters
- 2018: Rose Poached Plums and Apricots
- 2017: Soy Basted Pork Chops
- 2016: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa
- 2015: Grilled Vegetable Chopped Salad
- 2014: Beef Balmoral
- 2013: Basil Pesto Pasta Salad
Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.
“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at email@example.com.