Monday, February 20, 2012

Pepper Jack, Scallion and Cilantro Drop Biscuits - A Food Photography Challenge

Food Photography Challenge 2 - A vegetable photographed raw and cooked,  side by side in a collage.

Food Photography... if someone had asked me two years ago if I would find myself spending hours in a kitchen with my lens pointed at a biscuit as I casually dropped perfectly chopped scallions around it I would have laughed.  Yesterday my kids did just that, they laughed.  So much for my "serious studio", which happens to be my kitchen table where the natural light hits just as we arrive home from school this time of year.

The second challenge in my newly joined Food Photography and Styling group earned deep respect from me as I struggled for the optimum images of Food Two Ways, raw and cooked, side by side in a collage.  While I didn't have much trouble with the raw versions, the cooked versions in the collages didn't have as much success.  Blasting my way through mushrooms (not so pretty cooked - but I now have a delightful Mushroom Crepe recipe to share), Sweet Potatoes (my mushy potato photo didn't make the cut) and beets (gorgeous raw images, but I don't really have a good recipe... anyone?), it was my Dad who made the choice easy for me.

Dropping off a bunch of scallions, freshly picked from his garden with the dirt still clinging to the fragrant beauties, I had my vegetable.  Only hours old, I couldn't help but pop the onions in front of my camera lens and begin shooting away.  While other veggies had taken numerous images to gain an acceptable shot, these fresh from the garden specimens were captured in less than 10 clicks of the shutter.

On to the cooked version I struggled once again to find the perfect recipe.  Grilled?  Absolutely.  A few placed on top of Pork Tacos lent a delicious grilled scallion pop to the dish, but not a particularly nice photo.  Scallions in a Summer Corn Chowder?  Again... positively delicious, however being mixed into the chowder itself didn't really show the scallion, and besides, it's not really summer.

A last minute decision for a side of bread proved to be my decision maker.  Our old favorite, Cheddar Scallion Biscuits, was enhanced with the addition of cilantro and the use of a spicy pepper jack cheese in place of the cheddar (more of a "this is what we had on hand" rather than any sort of extraordinary creativity...).  Only minutes from idea to batter, the biscuits cook up quickly and disappear just as quickly when placed on the table.

Popped into my collage the biscuits again made me smile.  Not being particularly familiar with collages, I found even more to think about when shooting the images.  Usually I use square photos for my posts, but the collage had me instead using half of a square image, requiring more of a "tall", shot to fill the frame... challenging for this photographer (and amusing for this photographer's kids).

For more stunning side by side images from our amazing Food Photography group, browse through our blog circle starting with Laurie Vengoecha, a San Diego and Riverside County Food Photographer as well as the brains behind our photography challenge group.  Our group currently includes 12 talented photographers from across these beautiful United States and I'm truly honored and excited to be a part of the Food Photography and Styling Project.

Pepper Jack, Scallion and Cilantro Drop Biscuits
adapted form Epicurious

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 oz Pepper Jack Cheese, coarsely grated (3/4 cups)
4 scallions, finely chopped
2-4 Tbs cilantro, finely chopped
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese, scallions and cilantro. Add buttermilk and gently stir until just combined.

Drop dough in mounds about 2 inches apart onto large baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat (or simply sprayed with cooking spray).  Bake in the middle of the oven until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, keeping an eye on the biscuits towards the end of baking and removing when biscuits are golden brown.
For shaped biscuits, dump dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat to a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness.  Using a biscuit cutter (or a small cup or can) cut the dough into rounds and place onto a prepared baking.
Serve biscuits warm with butter.

Note:  My biscuits seemed to cook on the fast side, check often!
Biscuits are best the day they are made and fresh from the oven, but they are still good the second day reheated for a few minutes in a toaster oven, or I've been told by my husband, right from the zippy bag...


  1. Biscuits! I would never have thought of that as an "after" veggie shot. How creative! I grow scallions in my garden in the summer and always have too many. I'll have to remember this recipe!

  2. What beautiful photographs - you are doing so well! And those biscuits look amazing and would be perfect with a nice warming bowl of soup! I'm definitely going to give these a go! : )

  3. Both photos are amazing. I love the roots and dirt clinging to the scallions. The biscuits are also gorgeous on a photography AND savory level. Fantastic idea to use the pepper jack, in my book.

    Honestly, I think the push for everyone to get their photos accepted on those food porn sites have done photography a disservice. I think the middle picture of the scallions with radishes (?) behind them is stunning. If it was cropped it would be much less so.

  4. Great photos this month. I love the scallions fresh out of the ground, dirt and all. The biscuits look delicious.

  5. gorgeous photos and i'd love to try the cilantro addition!

  6. Love the dirt on the scallions and those biscuits look YUMMY! Definitely copying down this recipe. Nicely done!

  7. Isn't it funny how blogging changes things!? My kid soften asked me if I've photographed something yet or if something in the fridge is fair game to eat because they know it could be meant to be used as a prop first! Great job with your challenge!

  8. Love those gorgeous scallions straight from the garden! Just gorgeous images & super inspirational.

  9. I'm coming over Kim when all your dance production trips are done. And I want a big bowl of soup and these pepper jack scallion biscuits!! They look SOOOO yummy! You did an amazing job my friend.. so glad your in our group.. have a wonderful week! xoxo

  10. What's not to love about biscuits with pepper jack, cilantro and scallions?!
    Love it!
    Beets were one of the veggies I played with you-you'll have to peek on the blog next week to see how those turned out ;)
    I love how the perfect veg for you arrived serendipitously!

  11. Your images are FAB Kim! Love your choices and subsequent recipe. I never would have thought of biscuits and they look so good!!!! Awesome job and blog post. :)

  12. Yesterday when I was anxiously going through the circle on my phone while I was out at an appointment, I feel fairly certain the people in line in front of me turned out to check me out because I audibly gasped when I saw your image!!!

    The dirt just MAKES it. And that is a sentence I never imagined would come out of my mouth.

    I love the composition and lighting of both images. Those biscuits look incredible!!! Cannot WAIT to try them out! You rocked this challenge out and your hilarious telling of the story was wonderful as well!

  13. Kim- I am loving this project of yours. Both photos look ahhhmazing. And those biscuits are calling to my heart. I use to love the ones at Red Lobster and yours look like a modern, fun version. Hope to see you soon. :)

  14. I love the just out of the garden shot! So awesome. The biscuits look good too!

  15. Oh I love these biscuits. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Kim, I so admire you taking on this photography group. What amazing shots. I'm like you and do it all on the kitchen table and it's always in a hurry so can just imagine you here. What amazing shots you've taken. Impressive work. Love the biscuits but the scallions are definitely a hit as well.

  17. beautiful photos! and i want to eat a biscuit right now :)

  18. I am so in awe at tour photography, I wish i could come even close! Looks wonderful and the biscuits sound great, too.

  19. Very impressive photographs. I love those scallions straight from the garden. Your biscuits are also a hit they look perfect.

  20. So cool that you've joined that group. And I like the cooked version very much!

  21. Your photos are beautiful. It is very cool that you joined a group. I am sure it will help with all of your photography practice and study. Your recipe sounds delicious.

  22. I love the close up of the scallion bunch. It's wonderful. I say you did a beautiful job on your photography challenge this month. And the biscuits sound nummy too.


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