One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make good, healthy food. Homemade almond milk is one of my necessities and I make it consistently every four days to use in my daily banana, nut and seed smoothie. One cup of raw almonds soaked overnight will yield four cups of milk that you can use in cereal, smoothies or anything else. I do have to admit it’s not the best for coffee because of the consistency but I use it for everything else. Almonds are very healthy and full of antioxidants. The milk has minimal calories per serving, a lot less than regular milk, and if you have sensitivities to casein or lactose it’s the perfect alternative.
It’s easy to make and therapeutic, especially when you squeeze all of the milk out of the almonds through the mesh nut bag. It can help get any bottled up aggression out for sure and it’s fun to do! I decided I was going to do a little photography to capture the moment, below.
All you need is a blender and a nut bag really. Soak one cup of raw almonds in water overnight, drain and rinse, blend with four cups of water and strain in a pitcher through cheesecloth or a nut bag. I used cheesecloth and a funnel for a long time which can get messy and frustrating. The nut bag is definitely the way to go. You can find these bags online or in any health food store. I’ve seen them at co-op markets in New Hampshire, Maine and New York so they are surely available where you are.
Homemade almond milk
There are a lot of smoothie recipes out there but I’ve been making this particular one for years and have perfected it. It’s banana based and uses all raw nuts and seeds with a few special ingredients added in. Undeniably delicious and addicting. Here is my version.
I was recently interviewed on White Mountains TV in New Hampshire and here is the video of it. They haven’t had a food photographer on the show before so they thought it would be a fun and different perspective. Hey, who doesn’t like to talk about food, right?! This area in the White Mountains is huge for weddings so there are a lot of wedding and portrait photographers here but not many that are professional food photographers. The host Rob Clark was very animated and asked some great questions about the product photography and restaurant photography that I’ve been working on. We started off talking about my shoot in Sicily for a luxury olive oil company and estate called Mandranova and showed some images of the villa, the olive harvest and the food that will be in the book they are publishing this year. Since I do a lot of bottle photography in my studio we touched on that as well and I was able to show some samples of my work and explain the importance of lighting and how it can make a dish look appetizing or not so appetizing. It was broadcast in standard definition so the images were not crystal clear but hope anyone interested would check out my website. I now work out of New York and New Hampshire and am working on capturing some business from Maine. There are so many restaurants and foodies in Portland, Maine so I spend quite a bit of time there as of late. Thanks for watching and check out more of my work and passions on my website at www.lesliebrienzaphotography.com.
Industry Magazine’s new issue featured my images of a recent photo shoot at East Wind Snack Shop in Brooklyn. Love that magazine and Amanda McCoy wrote such a nice piece on Chef Chris and his incredible Chinese snack shop. Such a great place to get dumplings and other delicious Chinese food. Chef Chris is brilliant and his restaurant is always packed. The article is here with all of my images.
Last month, I was commissioned by Mandranova, a luxury villa and olive oil company in Sicily, to photograph the olive harvest, the estate and the recipes for their forthcoming book. This book will celebrate and coincide with their tenth anniversary and will include many of the authentic Sicilian recipes they prepare for the guests like Cannoli, Timballo di anelletti, and Pasta con le sarde a mare. These are some of the images from the harvest to the finished product. More of my work, including food and wine images, can be seen on my website. Thank you for letting me share this short photo essay with you. If you have any food, product or lifestyle projects please contact me below or visit my website at www.lesliebrienzaphotography.com
The method of collecting and gathering the olives on nets in Sicily
A worker gathering a handful of Nocellara olives during the harvest
From tree to mill as quickly as the baskets can be filled. Always a tractor standing by to guarantee the freshest oil possible
A peaceful and contemplative scene in the mill. My job was to capture moments like this and the way of life in Sicily
Always enjoyed photographing in the production facility especially when I could hold a small cup under this fresh and warm stream of olive oil
They also produce a blend. This is the new bottle from the 2015 harvest. Bottle photography is one of my specialties and all the magic happens in my studio
Four olive varieties are grown on the property, Nocellara, Giarraffa, Biancolilla and Cerasuola. All native to Sicily. This is one of the styled bottle shots of the Giarraffa I shot in my studio
One of my absolute favorite things about summer is the local farmer’s markets and the abundance of the freshest fruits and vegetables available. Not only are they beautiful specimens to photograph, it’s no secret that the freshness of ingredients can make or break a meal. Summer squash is high on my list to cook with and to photograph but is so underrated. It must be because we are overwhelmed by the amount of varieties that are available and how fast squash grows. Because it’s so readily available it just doesn’t seem special, but it really is. It’s one of those vegetables that can take over a garden in no time and we end up giving it away to everyone we know because we just don’t know what to do with it all. Here is a recipe I created where you can use a good amount of it for a nice dinner or double the recipe, and use a lot of it for a party or leftovers for several days. When summer squash is oven roasted it has a very delicate flavor and does not overpower a dish, it actually marries nicely with other subtle ingredients. Always use the freshest ingredients possible and the highest quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic you can find. Your guests will thank you. If you’d like to see more of my work feel free to visit my website.
Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Ricotta Salata. Photo by Leslie Brienza
Spaghetti with Roasted Summer Squash, Tomatoes and Ricotta Salata
Since Easter is my favorite holiday I was inspired to create, style and photograph something beautiful and delicious as a personal project. This is a simple chocolate cake recipe that is layered with mascarpone, an Italian cheese made from cream, and candy coated milk chocolate Easter eggs. This will make a lovely dessert for an Easter brunch or dinner. It is unbelievably good and you are guaranteed to make a lot of new friends with this one. Enjoy!
Chocolate Easter Cakes with Honey Mascarpone. Photo by Leslie Brienza