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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Picture-Perfect Dishes

Social media is full of food photographs. I am very guilty of this. My Facebook and Instagram are full of images of dishes I have cooked or eaten. Since I am getting ready to start taking pictures for my cookbook, I wondered what are some good dishes that make great photos?

Today, I am sharing with you three dishes that definitely fits this category, Crawfish Étouffée, Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Rolls and Vanilla Creme Brûlée. Yes, I have taken pictures of these dishes. If you like to take photos, I have included some tips for better picture taking.

I often wonder who was the first to post their food on social media. I think that my mother was way before her time. She loved to travel and take lots of pictures. Among those photos were snapshots of the food that she had eaten. At the time, friends and family could not understand why she did this. Her explanation was so when she looked at her pictures, she would also remember what she had eaten. If she were to do this today, no one would think twice about it. Now on to the recipes.

This dish will be featured on the cover of my new cookbook. I wanted a cliché Louisiana dish on front. It does not get more cliché that Crawfish Étouffée. I always thought that you needed an expensive camera for quality photos. I used my phone to take the picture, then did some adjusting with an app. I could not believe how great it came out.

Crawfish Étouffée

3/4 cup butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 pound crawfish tails

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 cup seafood stock

6 green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Salt, pepper and Creole seasoning to taste

Cooked rice

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute. Str in the flour until well blended. Gradually stir in the tomato sauce and stock, then add the crawfish tails and bring to a simmer. Add the green onions and parsley and season with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes over low heat, until the crawfish is cooked but not tough. Serve over hot rice.

I have a photo of this recipe on my blog. I was looking for something to do with wrappers that I had left over from making Boudin Egg Rolls. For the picture, I cut them on a bias (angle) and stacked them on top of each other. They are not your everyday burger.

Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup onions, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

Creole seasoning to taste

8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated

6 ounces bacon jam or 1/2 cup real bacon bits

Egg roll wrappers

Over medium heat, brown ground meat, onions and garlic. Drain well. Season with Creole seasoning. While still warm, mix in cheese and bacon. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Preheat deep fryer to 375℉. Place 2-3 tablespoons in egg roll wrapper and roll up. Do not prepare egg roll more than 30 minutes before you fry them. Fry them until they are golden brown, remembering to turn them to ensure both sides of the egg roll cook. Drain on paper towels and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

While this dish looks great in a picture, I think it makes a better video. I enjoy pulling out my torch to finish off this dessert. The flames caramelizing the sugar makes a great display. If you can, do this in front of your guest.

Vanilla Creme Brûlée

1 cup sugar, plus extra for top.

1 quart heavy cream

1 small vanilla bean, split

9 large egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325℉.

In a saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, cream and vanilla bean, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Lightly beat the egg yolks. While mixing, slowly add the warm cream to the egg yolks. Pour into 6 8-ounce ramekins and place them in a water bath. (Water should be only halfway up the ramekin). Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Check the doneness by shaking the ramekins, which should not be loose in the center. Before serving, sprinkle sugar on top of dessert and caramelize the sugar with a torch or broiler.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and take plenty of photos. Email me some. I would love to see your results.

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