Celebrity Chef Launches Photo App for Taking Better Food Pics

Chris Albrecht wrote . . . . . . . . .

Posting pics of your meals on Instagram is de rigeur for the modern-day eater. However, there is still a huge gulf between what you snap and share versus the gorgeous photos done by the pros.

To help minimize that gap between foodie and photog, famed cook and cookbook author Nigella Lawson announced Foodim, a new photo app to help the average (sloppy?) Joe take better pictures of their meals. From a post Lawson’s website:

. . . . . . I’ve been working for some time with my longtime cameraman to develop a food photography app with a built-in filter designed to optimise food and a back-of-shot blur dependent on the angle of the phone (as well as a draw-to-blur feature) to give depth of field. And I’m very excited to say that FOODIM is now available (just on iOS for now – but hopefully on Android soon) in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. And it’s free! . . . . . .

The followings are some of the features listed on the download page:

Caption your photos, add your recipes, notes or location as wished, and share with your friends and followers.

Browse to see what everyone’s cooking and eating, get inspired, and connect with a welcoming community.


  • Foodim’s auto-applied filter helps you point, shoot and share beautiful food images in an instant
  • Advanced editing tools – add depth of field with draw-to-blur, contrast, colour temperature and more
  • Add notes, your recipes or location – share your discoveries, restaurants and passion for food
  • Save photos as drafts (so you can edit and post them after you’ve eaten)

So Foodim is more than just a photo app, it’s also creating a mini-social network dedicated to food photography. Given the popularity of food photography and the cesspool that more general social network comments have become, this is a shrewd move by Lawson. If she can build a substantial enough audience on her app, she’ll also have an engaged audience to enjoy Lawson’s own pictures of food, which could in turn inspire people to buy her books.

Source: The Spoon

Chinese-style Stir-fried Noodle with Seafood and Vegetables


60 grams dried scallops (conpoy)
400 grams fresh egg noodles
3 squid, with a body length of about 18 cm
150 grams snow peas
4 fresh water chestnuts
about 50 grams Chinese celery
4-6 spring onions
2 fresh bamboo shoots, about 550 grams in total, or about 225 grams of peeled fresh bamboo shoots
15 grams oyster sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp finely ground white pepper
4 tsp cornstarch


  1. Briefly rinse the dried scallops under running water, then put them in a bowl, add 3/4 cup of boiling water and leave to soak until fully hydrated.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the noodles. Use chopsticks to pull apart the noodles, separating them into strands. Cook until al dente, then drain.
  3. Heat an 18 cm skillet over a medium flame, then pour in oil to a depth of about 2 cm. Put a quarter of the noodles into the skillet, spreading them out so they are evenly distributed in the pan in a loose, flat cake.
  4. Cook the noodles over a medium-low flame until crisp and lightly browned on one side, pressing with a metal spatula to compress them slightly. If needed, drizzle in more oil around the perimeter of the pan, tilting the skillet so it flows under the noodles. Flip the noodle cake over and fry the other side, adding oil as needed. Slide the noodle cake onto a plate. Cook the remaining noodles the same way, dividing them so there are four noodle cakes altogether.
  5. Clean the squid. Pull the tentacles straight out of the body, which will remove most of the innards. Pull the quill and remaining innards out of the body, then rinse it inside and out with running water. Cut the body into 5 mm-wide rings. Cut the tentacles from the face and beak. Dry the squid rings and tentacles with paper towels.
  6. Peel the shrimp and cut off the heads. (Reserve the shells and heads for shrimp stock or shrimp oil.) Cut a slit down the back of the shrimp and remove and discard the vein.
  7. Strain the conpoy through a fine sieve placed over a measuring cup and press on the scallops to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve the soaking liquid. Pull the conpoy into thin shreds. You should have about 1/3 cup of soaking liquid. If there’s not enough, add some water. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar and pepper to the soaking liquid and stir until dissolved.
  8. Cut the snow peas on the diagonal into 1 cm-wide pieces. Peel the water chestnuts and rinse them thoroughly, then slice about 3 mm thick. Cut the Chinese celery and spring onions into 3 cm lengths. If using whole bamboo shoots, remove the thick husk to expose the flesh, then cut off and discard the tough, woody base. Slice the bamboo about 3 mm thick, then cut into pieces about 1 cm wide.
  9. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the bamboo shoots and simmer for several minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain the bamboo shoots.
  10. Mix the cornstarch with 3 tbsp of water.
  11. Heat a wok over a high flame and pour in 1 tbsp oil. When the oil is hot, add the bamboo shoots and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  12. Add the snow peas and celery and stir-fry for about a minute, then mix in the spring onion and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the ingredients from the wok.
  13. Place the wok back over a high flame and add 1 tbsp oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and stir-fry until they curl up and turn pink.
  14. Return the cooked vegetables back to the wok, then stir in the shredded conpoy and the soaking liquid/sauces mixture. Bring to a simmer then stir in the squid. Taste for seasonings and correct, if needed.
  15. Push the solid ingredients to the side of the wok. Stir the corn­starch/water mixture well, then drizzle it into the simmering liquid, mixing constantly. Add just enough cornstarch/water to thicken the liquid into a sauce that lightly coats the ingredients. You might not need all the cornstarch.
  16. If you want a more casual style of serving, pull apart the pan-fried noodle cakes. Add the noodles to the wok, mix to combine the ingredients – which distri­butes the flavours more evenly – then scoop the mixture onto plates.
  17. For a nicer presentation, use the noodles as a flat “nest” and top it with the stir-fried ingredients. Serve immediately.

Source: SCMP

What’s for Lunch?

Set lunch at Someya, a casual dining restaurant in Shinjuku, Japan

The Menu

  • Oden
  • Asatoshi Rice
  • Deep-fried Breaded Tuna with Salad
  • Pickled Carrot
  • Dessert – Honey Glazed Yam

The cost of the lunch is 1,000 yen (tax included).

Why Truffles Are So Expensive?

George Petras wrote . . . . . . . . .

Truffles — the non-chocolate kind, sorry — are edible fungi, like mushrooms. Unlike mushrooms, they grow underground near tree roots and the best truffles are wildly, insanely, wait-how-much? expensive, sometimes as much as thousands of dollars per pound.

Truffles are costly because they’re hard to find, frustrating to grow, and impossible to store for any length of time. They generally range from strawberry- to apple-sized, though larger ones have been discovered.

Though multiple species are found worldwide, prestige truffles come from specific areas, much like wine from celebrated regions of Europe and California.

Black truffles from France and white truffles from Italy are the two most highly valued. Even though they resemble evil spores from a 1960s Outer Limits episode, truffles are prized delicacies in gastronomy, the art of cooking and eating good food.

Some U.S entrepreneurs are cultivating truffles to become part of an industry estimated to grow to nearly $6 billion globally over the next two decades.

Truffle farms face formidable agricultural challenges, since truffles thrive only in a narrow band of weather conditions. Black truffles, for example, need mild winters, no frost, warm (not hot) summers, and dry winters, according to modernfarmer.com.

Grow a good truffle, however, and you’ll be rewarded by food fanatics clamoring for a seat at your table.

Ask aficionados to describe truffles and you’ll get baskets of adjectives: garlicky, mushroomy, earthy, pungent, musky, gamey. That’s because the truffle’s flavor comes not from its taste, but its aroma. Writers wax poetic about it:

“Presently, we were aware of an odour gradually coming towards us, something musky, fiery, savoury, mysterious, — a hot drowsy smell, that lulls the senses, and yet enflames them — the truffles were coming.”

— William Makepeace Thackeray, Memorials of Gormandizing, 1841

Truffles get their peculiar odor from a multitude of chemicals. In white truffles, bis(methylthio)methane is the key compound, according to the American Chemical Society. In black truffles, dimethyl sulfide and 2-Methylbutanal are found.

In addition to those scent molecules, truffles have pheromones, chemical substances that affect animals and insect behavior. They have androstenol, a steroidal pheromone found in humans, and androstenone, which boars produce for mating.

Modern research suggests truffles affect people because of the human pheromone. Others have commented on the phenomenon:

“The truffle is not a positive aphrodisiac, but on occasion it can make women more loving and men more lovable.”

— Alexandre Dumas, Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, 1871

The smell is also why pigs were originally used to sniff out truffles — they were drawn to the boar pheromone. Specially trained dogs are employed these days, since they don’t gobble up truffles as pigs do.

Unfortunately the unique odor starts to fade as soon as the truffle is dug up. Truffles don’t last longer than 7 to 10 days.

Truffles can be cooked, but are usually cleaned by hand and grated or sliced paper-thin atop warm food, which absorbs the truffle’s aroma. Other cooks put truffles in closed containers with food to impart a truffle flavor. You don’t need much since a little goes a long way.

In lieu of actual truffles, some people use less expensive truffle oil, which is “cooking oil, such as olive or sunflower oil, that has been infused with the aroma of white or black truffles,” according to Bon Appétit magazine.

It can be difficult to find truffle oil that includes real truffles. It’s out there, but most of it is cooking oil scented with chemicals found in truffles (but not truffles themselves).

You shouldn’t cook with truffle oil since heat tends to alter it, advises RecipeGeek. It’s considered a finishing oil, best when sprinkled sparingly over prepared food like eggs, cooked vegetables, pasta or potatoes. Even french fries are subjected to the treatment.

Truffle oil has its passionate defenders and detractors. Anthony Bourdain, the late celebrity chef, was unsparingly critical:

“Truffle oil. It’s horrible. It’s not even food. It’s really on a par with — about as edible as Astroglide, and made from the same stuff.”

Source: USA Today

Watch video (1:50 minutes):

Dogs help to farm truffles in Sonoma County, California . . . . .

Attention, Seniors: Drink More Water and Head Off Disease

Not drinking enough water is a common but under-recognized problem among American seniors that puts their health at risk, researchers say.

“So many health issues are related to inadequate hydration,” including urinary tract and respiratory infections, frequent falls and other problems, said study author Janet Mentes. She’s a professor of nursing at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

One problem in determining seniors’ hydration levels is a lack of a gold standard of assessment. In this study, the researchers investigated whether a method called salivary osmolality could be used to check hydration levels in older adults.

Salivary osmolality compares the ratio of water to certain chemicals that occur naturally in saliva. It can be measured using a simple, noninvasive device called an osmometer.

The study of 53 people, aged 65 or older, in Los Angeles found that, overall, seniors had higher osmolality (that is, greater dehydration) than younger adults. Seniors’ dehydration was higher in the morning than the afternoon, and it was a bigger problem for those with limited mobility, the findings showed.

Interviews with participants pointed to a major reason for higher osmolality in the morning: Many avoid drinking water so they won’t have to urinate during the night.

The study was recently published online in the journal SAGE Open Nursing.

“Many seniors are underhydrated for a period of time, and when they are exposed to a virus or bacteria they are more likely to develop an infection, such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia or other respiratory diseases,” Mentes said in a UCLA news release.

“And they will be treated for the infection, but the underlying underhydration will not be recognized,” she added. “Thus, an opportunity to educate the individual about adequate fluid intake is missed.”

Up to 40 percent of older people who live in the community may be chronically underhydrated, the researchers said.

Dehydration accounted for a 5 percent increase in preventable emergency department visits between 2008 and 2012, and adults older than 65 have the highest hospital admission rates for dehydration, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Source: HealthDay

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