It was swoon at first sight when our eyes fell upon 2016 Saveur Blog Award nominee Up Close & Tasty. Creator Regan Baroni’s dark, moody food images capture the ooey gooey, drizzly and crumbly cooking process so beautifully we can almost smell and taste her dishes. And while she is a photographer by trade, and clearly a talented one at that, we have to say her food styling skills are equally as impressive — her dishes look realistic, rustic and aspirational at once. Here the Chicago-based blogger discusses how she able to navigate her way from the world of advertising to food and photography, talks about her culinary quirks and predilections, and shares the recipe for her raspberry and pear mini tarts.
NAME: Regan Baroni
PHILOSOPHY ON FOOD? Everything in moderation…except oysters.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE RECIPE YOU’RE SHARING WITH US? I bought way too many raspberries for a different recipe and I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I decided to make Raspberry and Pear Mini Tarts.
COOKING MAKES ME FEEL… At home.
BRIEFLY, HOW YOU CAME TO DO WHAT YOU DO: Food photography surprised me in my life. I have always had an appreciation for good food, but I started seeing it differently when I was learning to cook. I would take pictures with my smartphone camera and lighting from my apartment window. It sounds so simple, but that’s how I discovered my love for food photography. After my family surprised me with my first DSLR, I started cooking, styling and shooting every single weekend while balancing my day job in advertising. Eventually, I built up my photography business enough to quit and do it full time. I had no idea that my weekend hobby would turn into a career-changing passion, but it did and I couldn’t be happier.
ESSENTIAL KITCHEN TOOL? A good chef’s knife and a cute apron.
THREE INGREDIENTS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT? Olive oil, lemon, garlic…and butter. That’s four, but I couldn’t leave out butter.
QUIRKY FOOD HABITS? I love to organize our fridge every week. I’ll take everything out and wipe down the shelves and arrange things so I can see what we have and don’t have. It makes me happy to have a clean, organized fridge. Much to my husband’s dismay, I do not practice this habit with our closet.
BIGGEST SINGLE INFLUENCE ON YOUR COOKING STYLE? I love Barefoot Contessa‘s cooking style — she’s always cool, calm and collected in the kitchen.
SOUNDTRACK IN YOUR KITCHEN? When I’m cooking and shooting, I usually cycle through a variety of SiriusXM stations, including
’80s on 8, ’90s on 9, Seriously Sinatra, Margaritaville, Real Jazz, Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam, Chill, Classic Rewind…
MIDNIGHT SNACK? Ha, I’m never awake at midnight, but if I were, it would be my mom’s salsa.
BEST SOURCE FOR FOOD AND RECIPE INSPIRATION? Traveling always inspires new recipes and flavors for me. And, when I’m not traveling, I love looking through cookbooks, magazines and Pinterest.
I CAN NEVER RESIST… Oysters on the half shell…especially Kumamotos.
THE RECIPE OR MEAL YOU ARE KNOWN FOR? My mom’s salsa. I know, it’s not my recipe, but whenever I ask if I can bring anything to someone’s house, people say, “Bring your mom’s salsa.”
MOST SWOON-WORTHY RESTAURANT? This is the toughest question ever. The first one that came to mind: Hartwood, Tulum, Mexico.
THEY SAY YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT — WHAT ARE YOU? A margherita pizza. It’s such a classic and the flavors never let me down.
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY TIP YOU’VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY? Keep it real. The crumbs, drips and gooey drops are a beautiful part of the story.
INSPIRING RECENT TRAVEL DESTINATION? Copper Harbor, Michigan
Raspberry & Pear Mini Tarts
Up Close & Tasty
3 medium pears, peeled and thinly sliced 1⁄2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries Note: I used fresh raspberries.
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1⁄3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Optional: I bought 2 boxes of pre-made pie crust at the market (1 box has two crusts), but you can make your own if you’d like.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Press the pre-made crusts into the bottom and up the sides of a 6 mini tart pans.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the pears, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon zest and lightly stir to combine.
4. Gently fold in the raspberries.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared crusts and spread evenly.
6. Place the mini tart pans on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Note: Placing the tarts on the baking sheet helps catch any dripping juices so you don’t have to clean your oven afterwards.
7. Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest and macadamia nuts.
8. Remove mini tarts from oven and sprinkle over the top of the filling.
9. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbly.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.