It’s been exactly one year since my Norwegian food stylist colleague Marianne picked me up in her car and we drove out to my summer-house for 1,5 day of intense pie baking, styling and shooting. Marianne had contacted me via instagram a month or so earlier, asking if I wanted to team up with her and create a recipe series for Norwegian food magazines. She was sitting in her apartment in Oslo, brainstorming ideas and looking for opportunities to collaborate in this otherwise rather solitary profession. And I was working part-time with Cashew Kitchen, looking to extend my network and explore all the different ways one can work with food styling and food photography. So in a way we caught each other just at the right time!
Creating recipes for magazines was something I was curious about. At the time I had no experience of putting together a series of recipes for that purpose. There’s such a different mindset that goes into it, than if you create recipes for a blog. Here I can photograph a whole series of images of the same recipe. Show the process and all the different components in separate photos. But for magazine you usually only have one shot per recipe. There you both have to consider the page layout and the possibility of text somewhere on the photo, and the pedagogical aspect of the recipe. Make sure you show all the key ingredients and how the food is meant to be served/arranged/cut etc.
You’re also working way ahead of season. It was April when we shot our recipe series, but it was meant for the autumn issue. So even though we could technically find everything at the supermarket, the plums were rock hard and not as ripe and sweet as we wished, and there was no possibility of any outdoor shots. Luckily the recipes was based on common stuff like root veggies, tomatoes and cheese this time. But if we would shoot, say, a rhubarb recipe in mid December, we would run into trouble :’D
Anyway, when Marianne arrived at the train station to pick me up in her car, we connected instantly. She was chatty and funny and easygoing and probably dead-tired from the long drive from Oslo, though I couldn’t tell. It was the first time we met, so obviously we had a million topics to cover over the coming 36 hours. Her trunk was packed with props, and my suitcase as well. We arrived to my summer-house just before dinner, and while she prepared pie dough for the next day, I cooked for us. Meanwhile, she told me everything about her work, her husband, dancing lindy hop and the book she was creating. And I talked about living in an open relationship and how Cashew Kitchen started and everything in between. 2 hours later, we pretty much new all the significant parts of each others lives.
During that evening, there wasn’t much else to do than prep for the morning. If we started early, we would have about 9 hours to bake and shoot 6 pie recipes, then clean up, pack and leave the house again in the evening. Not a tight schedule at all… I was feeling a teeny bit stressed about it, but for Marianne this was just another day in the life of a food stylist. Or well, perhaps not the part about going to a stranger’s cabin and talk about love while drinking champagne, but anyway. Side note: in the last email she wrote me, she was on a mission to make caramel sauce fly… That’s the kind of food styling we’re talking about.
In the morning, after a solid breakfast and after prepping a big pot of coffee for the coming hours, I got to work with picking out props from Marianne’s amazing collection, while she rolled up her sleeves for some serious pie baking. The recipes were all hers, the styling we did together and the photography was my task. I got all professional and set up my tripod and computer and connected my camera to tethered capture so we could see the result on my computer screen right away. When I shoot at home I normally think this is too fussy, but when on a tight shooting schedule it was so convenient, as we could see right away when we “nailed it”.
Also, having the photos ready in my computer meant there was even time for me to edit them in between tasks. That way we had a clear image of the finished result from the start, and could re-photograph or adjust if we needed it. There was simply no time to fuck up a shoot and redo it another day.
I learnt so much from observing how Marianne works with styling. For my blog photos, I don’t style that much. But if you take a look in a food magazine, the styling is often much more elaborate and less “everyday” kinda looking. Marianne had so many great tricks to share (the “ghost in the background” idea from my email food styling course actually comes from her). She has an incredible eye for details (just look at the tiny droplet of honey in the pear tarts below!) and movement in pictures. And I’m sure she found it interesting to see styling and storytelling from a blogger’s perspective as well, working more with process shots (like these apple pie ones) and simplicity.
If you’re curious, you can check out more of Marianne’s work on her website!
In between shots we sat down on the landing step on the porch, sipping coffee and eating leftovers. Alternating between deep talks and a lot of laughs. I’ve always connected really well with outgoing, slightly witty people. It seems to be a good match for my reflective and calm energy. These kind of people, like Marianne, have a tendency to bring out the silliness and lightheartedness in me. It’s something I know I have in me but that I sometimes have troubles accessing, which makes it all the more meaningful to meet someone who can unlock those qualities in oneself.
The last recipe we shot was the tomato & goat cheese pies. When everything was set up and I was just about to snap the first pic, the late afternoon sun positioned itself in a way that it shone straight through our set and produced the most gorgeous, dreamy glow in the picture. Imagine our happy tired faces at that moment, finishing a tough day of working with a shot like that! We bent down to have a look at the preview on my computer screen and unanimously shouted “Nailed it!” (or “Där satt den!” like we say in Swedish).
The recipe series was sold to the Norwegian magazine Maison mat og vin, and published in the October/November issue last year. With Marianne’s permission, I’m gonna share her recipes for Pile High Apple Pie and Roasted Root Vegetable Galette with Feta Cheese. This galette was my favorite one! The addition of cream cheese and lemon zest in the dough was simply killer <3 But, that recipe is coming in a later blog post, for the sake of search optimization and easy access in my recipe archive. For now, let’s focus on a classic, grandma style apple pie. Slow food at its best!
Pile High Apple Pie is a classic, slow grandma recipe. Get started in good time and enjoy the therapeutic action of slicing apples and smelling the wonderful spices spreading through the house. Give yourself a well deserved rest on the landing step with a cup of coffee while waiting for the pie to bake. Then invite your favorite people over and serve generous slices of this messy pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Recipe by Marianne Pfeffer Gjengedal. Republished with permission.
Pile High Apple Pie
460 g plain flour
1 + 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
2 tsp sugar
340 g ice-cold butter
about 1/2 cup (1,2 dl) cold water
4 + 1/2 lbs (2 kg) apples, preferably of different kinds
1 lemon, juice
60 g plain flour
225 g sugar
1 + 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
3 tbsp cold butter
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
a little sugar
Combine all dry ingredients for the crust in a food processor. Cut the butter in pieces and add to the food processor. Let pulse until crumbly. Add the water gradually while pulsing, until the dough is starting to come together, but before it gets sticky. The less water you need for the dough to come together, the better. That makes for a flaky pie crust.
Flip the dough onto your working surface and form a ball. Divide into two pieces, one a bit bigger than the other. Form into balls, flat them out and wrap in plastic foil. Let rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
Heat oven to 225’C / 440’F.
Sprinkle some flour on your working surface and unpack the smaller piece of dough (the bigger one can stay in the fridge for now). Make sure you have flour underneath the dough so it doesn’t stick. Roll out to about 14 inches in diameter (38 cm). Grease a deep pie dish (about 9 inch / 23 cm wide) and place the pie crust on top. Press the dough carefully into the dish and trim the edges until you have about 1 inch (3 cm) hanging outside the dish. Cover the dish with plastic foil and place in the fridge.
Peel the apples and remove kernels. Slice semi-thin. Place in a large bowl and add lemon juice. Stir carefully to combine. Add flour, sugar and spices and combine with your hands. Set aside.
Roll out the second, larger dough to about 18 inches wide (45 cm). Take out the pie dish from the fridge and remove the plastic foil. Add apples and juice to the dish. Build it up to a high pile.
Whisk the egg yolk with 1 tsp water and brush the edges of the pie crust.
Distribute the butter over the apples and place the pie lid on top. Trim the edges of the top dough so it is the same size as the bottom one. Pinch the two dough pieces together. Brush the entire lid with egg yolk and sprinkle over sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut 5-7 little slits in the lid, to let the moisture out while baking.
Place in the oven and lower heat to 175’C / 345’F. Bake for 1 hour – 1 1/2 hour, until the apples are soft, the crust is golden and bubbly golden juice appear around the edges. Let cool completely before serving, so the apples have time to set. There’s a good reason why all grandma’s let their pies rest on the window sill before serving ;-) Heating up the pie later before serving is however no problem.
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All photographs in this post is Cashew Kitchen originals. The recipe was created by Marianne Pfeffer Gjengedal, and the styling for all the photos we did together. Feel free to go wild on pinning, but remember all content is copyright protected. Always link back here and credit Cashew Kitchen when sharing. Thanks!6