SOWA food photography + styling Workshop overview plus a bunch of recipes

unnamedJune 14th was a beautiful Sunday morning. It was kind of morning that made you want to take your dog out for a long walk- crisp, clear, sunny, with no humidity but a light breeze. It was the kind of morning that invited you to spread a picnic blanket out on a field and sip on wine and gaze at the clouds. At 8am, our attendees began to trickle in, clutching cups of coffee, because who gets up at 8am on Sunday?? However, they arrived, smiling and enthusiastic, a group of wonderful foodies who wanted to learn about food photography. I’m not going to lie – Meg and I were nervous. At least, I was definitely a bundle of nerves. My hands were still stained a bit pink from handling beets, and I tried to hide that as I smiled at the attendees. It turned out we didn’t have to be nervous at all – this group was GREAT. How did we get so lucky that our first group turned out to be so perfect?? I’m really excited to share this day with you all. I was so happy and honored to teach photography and styling, but honestly? I feel like I learned so much from this experience as well. I absolutely loved meeting everyone – there’s something really special and heart warming about meeting other like-minded individuals (aka, people who would actually go into excited squeaks over good food, discussions about props, and enjoying a meal together).
SOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dI’ll also be sharing recipes for half the menu here – specifically, stone-fruit salad with hibiscus syrup, elderflower strawberry galette, citrus marinated beets with burrito and pistachios, and rosé sangria with cherries, strawberries, lemon, and basil. You can find the rest of the menu at Bread + Barrow. If you’re interested in future events, shoot me an email at bettysliu07 [at] gmail, and I’ll put you on the emailing list so you’ll be the first to know. We will be doing more events this fall. Also, feel free to follow me on instagram, as I always post updates there as well :). SOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dOur attendees were surprised with this welcome basket, filled with goodies from our generous sponsors: bee-sweetened chocolate bars from Apotheker’s Kitchen, local honey from Russell’s Orchard Farm, honey dipper sticks hand crafted by Michael’s Woodcraft, and stone fruit and flowers from the market. Mallory from Hush Lettering (who is amazing, by the way), also beautifully illustrated personalized name cards for each attendee. She also wrote the menu on the chalkboard :).
SOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dIt was so delightful to meet all our attendees: Zoe, Jessica, Caryn, Michelle, Leah, Kristina, Jennie, Katie, and Elaine. Since we’re all local, we should definitely get together again sometime :).

scrumptious doughnuts by Blackbird Doughnuts
a stone fruit salad with hibiscus syrup and mint
drip coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, and honeysuckle milk iced tea.

SOWA Workshop | le jus dWe started out with an introductory course on photography, down to the basics. How do you use your camera to its fullest potential? What is ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, and how did it affect exposure? It was a good mix of bloggers with varying knowledge of cameras. And best of all? They asked questions. Lots of questions. Then we did some hands-on shooting and styling with wonderful cheese by Formaggio Kitchen and black walnut boards by Michael’s Woodcraft. Meg is a master stylist. Just see for yourself.
SOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dAfter talking about this scene, we moved on to photograph doughnuts, donated by Blackbird Doughnuts, displayed on Jeremy from Ogusky Ceramic‘s beautiful board. It’s actually for cheese and charcuterie… but I couldn’t resist. Blackbird Doughnuts is a recently opened doughnut shop right in the South End. I pass it often when I’m walking around the neighborhood, and I admit it’s very had to walk by without picking up one or two treats to bring home! I was so excited to connect with the ladies there and work with them!
SOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dYou’ll notice that this is titled SOWA Food photography and styling workshop. Let me explain. SOWA Sunday is a famous market event in Boston, held right in the South End. There is a vintage market, open year round, a congregation of local food trucks, a delightful farmer’s market, and an arts and crafts fair. Every Sunday. Even better, it’s all dog friendly. I go almost every Sunday to pick up fresh produce, sample all the craft foods there, and just bring Annie for a fun walk. Vendors at the vintage market know her and give her treats. Produce stands at the farmer’s market try to feed her kale. Others give her carrot juice, which she hates and refuses to try. If you’re in Boston on a Sunday, I highly recommend paying the South End a visit. After our styling and photography demonstration, we took a trip out to SOWA. It was a beautiful day. We talked about shooting outdoors – how NOT to blow out the sky. On beautiful sunny days with a bright blue sky, you don’t want to clip the highlights and end up with a photo of white, washed out nothing. We picked up some ingredients we used in the lunch menu as a styling prop and then headed to the vintage market to talk about prop sourcing. We scored some great props. Personally, I obtained a vintage ice cream scooper, these cool octagonal black mugs, and two rustic servers. I’m excited. And here is our lovely group, right in front of Farm & Fable on Shawmut. SOWA Workshop | le jus d

Lunch was served while some one-on-one photography lessons occurred. We gave our attendees an opportunity to style a scene, essentially from a blank slate. It’s one thing to watching someone photographing and styling, but its a completely different experience to do it yourself. Styling, in particular, is extremely personal. Photography is important, no doubt, but once you get the technical side down what differentiates you is your styling. The props, the light setup (styling the environment), how you compose. We focused on photography for the most part during this one day workshop, as it’s important to have the basics down, but I’m already dreaming up lessons for “the next step” – more styling and post processing.

Farmer’s Market Luncheon
spicy strawberry gazpacho soup
pecan summer salad
citrus marinated beets with burrata and pistachios
farmer’s market quiche
elderflower strawberry galette with rosemary buttermilk crust
Scoopsie’s strawberry marscapone ice cream sandwiched between Apotheker’s triple pepper chocolate cookies

SOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus dworkshop | le jus dSOWA Workshop | le jus d

I honestly didn’t know how to start this post. It’s been a week and a half since my first day workshop with Meg at Bread + Barrow, and I’m still feeling warm and fuzzy from meeting all the wonderful attendees and remembering that connection. I’m smiling hugely as I’m typing this because it was such a lovely, warm experience. Not just the one day – it started when we first started talking with Abby at Farm & Fable about doing something like this. Of course, we had some nerves about people signing up, but then we sold out within a couple of hours with requests for more dates!!!!! I was pretty flabbergasted and so humbled that some people would want to learn from us. Seeking sponsors for our event was a new experience for us – I felt like an awkward duckling, fumbling my way through emails and phone calls, trying to explain our workshop without spilling all the unnecessary details through my excitement. Our sponsors were the best. I met so many local craftsman and makers, and just learning about what they do and how they got started was truly an inspiration. I was also unsure how I would like teaching. I love it!!!! I immediately started jotting down notes for lesson plans, originally stuffing way too much information in a couple of hours, really. So I focused on the basic, technical stuff for this time. I’m still dreaming up more lessons – and fear not, Meg and I have some really great plans for this fall!!!!!!!

A HUGE thanks to our sponsors: We could not have done it without you all. We had the best time chatting with each and every one of you. Thank you so much!!!

Apotheker’s Kitchen
honey-sweetened chocolate bars for attendees and dessert
Blackbird Doughnuts
assorted doughnuts for breakfast
The Everyday Napkin
linen for each attendee
Formaggio Kitchen
cheese plate + gruyere / goat cheese for quiche
Hush Lettering
name cards + menu calligraphy
Michael’s Woodcraft
honey dipper spoons for attendees + wooden boards
Ogusky Ceramics
tea cups +soup bowls
Russell Orchards Farm
local honey for each attendee
Scoopsies Ice Cream
roasted strawberry marscapone ice cream for dessert

And a special shoutout to Kathryn of Bash Studio, who was instrumental in making our event run smoothly. Whenever we needed something, she was right there, somehow anticipating our requests and delivering without a hitch. We could not have done it without her (plus, she’s just a super nice, awesome person). We’d also like to thank Abby of Farm & Fable, for lending us her beautiful space and kitchen and her dinnerware.

Again, if you’re interested in future events by Meg and me, just send over an email at bettysliu07 [at], and I’ll put you on the list so you’ll be the first to know!

I’ve provided the 3-4 serving sizes here, which I tripled for our workshop

Stone Fruit Salad + Hibiscus Syrup

ripe stone fruit – apricots, plums, peaches, cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 lemon + zest
1 tbsp dried hibiscus

1| In a small saucepan, whisk sugar, water, lemon juice, and zest together and simmer over medium heat. Continue stirring until sugar dissolves
2| Add in dried hibiscus and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover for 15-20 minutes to infuse
3| Pit fruit and chop into desired sizes.
4| Mix and drizzle with syrup. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve chilled.

Citrus Marinated Beets with Burrata, Arugula, and Pistachios
with help from here and here. I always make more citrus marinade than necessary – you can save it for other salads or just dump the beets in so more will be submerged:)

2 lb roasted beets
1-2 cups arugula, as desired
fresh burrata to top
3 oranges
pisatchios for topping (optional)
3-4 scallions, chopped roughly

3 tbsp fresh orange juice
3 tbsp honey
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegart
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp orange zest

1| Cook beets to your preference. I roasted/steamed them: Preheat oven to 350. Pour a baking pan with 1/8 inch water. Prick beets all over with a fork and place in pan. Seal entire pan with foil and bake until fork tender. If the beets are really large, I sometimes even cut it in half and then bake them. It will take about 45 minutes, depending on the size of your beets. If you’re using different colors, separate them and cook separately!
2| Whisk everything in the dressing together except olive oil. Stream in olive oil and whisk. Add salt if necessary.
3| Remove beets from oven and let cool. Rub off skin with a paper towel. Cut into thin slices and then quarter them.
4| Toss in marinade and let sit in the fridge overnight. Again, if you are using separate colors, marinade them in separate containers, dividing the dressing between the two.
5| When ready to serve, toss beets with marinade so that there is a light coating and divide into a big bowl.
6| Melt some butter in a skillet. Add scallions and let cook without stirring, until a bit charred. Then flip and charr again. There will be a super fragrant smell coming from the cooked scallions.
7| Toss beets with arugula and fresh scallions, adding more dressing to your preference. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Top with pistachios, fresh burrata, and some orange segments (optional).

Elderflower Strawberry Galette with Buttermilk Rosemary Crust

Single Crust
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 stick butter, pre-chopped into 1 cm cubes and placed in freezer
1/2 cup cold buttermilk (this is more than is needed)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
egg wash: 1 egg whisked with splash of water

1.5 cups strawberry, hulled and sliced thinly
4 tbsp sugar
zest of a lemon
1 tbsp flour
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp elderflower syrup

1| Pie Crust: Prepare all ingredients. Mix together flour, salt, rosemary and sugar.
2| Take butter out of the freezer and using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers, work quickly and cut butter into dry ingredients. You should end up with pea sized chunks, which is completely fine!
4| Using one tablespoon at a time, mix buttermilk into butter/flour mixture, until just combined. Do not overmix or knead. Add the mixture gradually – you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. The resulting dough should be damp but not moist.
5| Shape into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

6| Remove dough from fridge. On a sheet of floured parchment paper, roll out dough.
7| Mix strawberries with sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon zest, and elderflower syrup. Spread strawberries on dough, leaving 1″ around the edges. When you transfer strawberries to the dough, make sure you give it a good shake so that much of the liquid is left behind.
8| Fold edge over fruit and crimp all around.
9| Place parchment paper with the galette on baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle generously with demarara or coarse sugar.
10| Bake at 425F for 20 minutes. Then bake at 375F for another 20-30 minutes, until bubbling.

Rosé Sangria with Cherry, Strawberry, Lemon, and Basil
with sangria I tend not to worry too much about the measurements. Just throw in fresh fruit, rosé, grand mariner, and bubbly water.

1 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced in half
1 bottle rosé wine
1/3 cup (or more) grand marnier)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup chilled bubbly water or club soda
handful of fresh basil
1 lemon, sliced thinly

1| Dissolve sugar in grand mariner until dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients and let marinate in the fridge overnight, or at least 6 hours. Serve over ice!

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  • Looks like a fabulous workshop and everyone had so much fun! Betty, I hope you have one in California one day! I would love to attend!ReplyCancel

  • Looks like you had a wonderful day with wonderful people!! How exciting to read about your workshop and the pictures are gorgeous <3ReplyCancel

  • Oh my, this looks like so much fun!!! Wishing I didn’t live all the way on the opposite end of the country…
    That elderflower galette is about to have me running to the grocery store for some strawberries! YUM.ReplyCancel

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