A Thought For Food » where ideas are brought to simmer

Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For FoodBerry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For FoodBerry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food

It took me a while to fall in love with quinoa. It was a recipe I prepared a few years ago from a cookbook that taught me the proper way to season it and, since then, I’ve been hooked. The trick, I’ve learned, is to make a dressing that is incorporated into the cooked quinoa. If you just drizzle it with oil and citrus and a sprinkle of salt, it won’t distribute the flavor and, instead, you’ll be left with sections that are intensely seasoned and others that are lacking it.

This salad is definitely not lacking flavor. I found myself building off each element. I started with the dressing, which is primarily a mixture of fresh herbs (mint, basil and parsley) and lime juice. There’s a bit of minced ginger in there, adding even more brightness to the dish. The berries and feta were the last to go in. At first I thought, “Berries and quinoa. Is that weird?” I threw some of the quinoa mixture into a separate bowl, topped it with some blueberries and raspberries and feta. First bite. I knew. We had a winner. Even my father, who gave it a quizzical look when I passed the bowl to him, ate his serving. Always a sign that a recipe is a success.

Berry + Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Feta // A Thought For Food
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  • June 8, 2015 - 9:09 am

    Tieghan - What a pretty salad! I love the use of berries and it perfect for summer!ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2015 - 10:40 am

    Deborah - What a gorgeous salad! I love the combination of the berries and grains.ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2015 - 1:39 pm

    Melissa Falk - This looks great. I was in need of more quinoa recipes.ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2015 - 2:51 pm

    Diane (Created by Diane) - I just love everything about this and I bet it’s delicious. I think I need to make this today for lunch!ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2015 - 4:51 pm

    Sharon @ What The Fork Food Blog - This salad looks so fresh and delicious! I’ve never had red quinoa before, does it taste any different?ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2015 - 6:54 pm

    Liren - Brian, I don’t think quinoa and berries is weird at all – in fact, as you know, this salad has all the elements I love! A big bowl of this is, for me, the perfect lunch! I love that we’re on the same wavelength today!ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2015 - 6:59 pm

    Denise - Perfect summer salad – I love the addition of raspberries instead of the traditional salad strawberries. Ginger makes me want it even more!ReplyCancel

  • June 9, 2015 - 5:48 am

    Andrew Frishman - Looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • June 10, 2015 - 10:23 am

    de_dietrich - This looks delicious! Must be great for summer :)ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2015 - 9:05 am

    Joanne - I’ve recently been getting more into quinoa, and definitely pairing it with big flavor ingredients like berries is the way to go! Such a lovely salad!ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2015 - 10:15 am

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - I just recently made that same discovery with quinoa, about incorporating a tasty dressing. Now I crave it all the time. Gorgeous salad, Brian. Love the feta with the pretty bursts of berries.ReplyCancel

  • June 12, 2015 - 10:05 am

    The Goods - Mountain Mama Cooks - […] this quinoa salad. Bonus points for how gorgeous it […]ReplyCancel

  • June 15, 2015 - 1:26 pm

    Paula - bell'alimento - So perfect for summer Brian! Pinned.ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2015 - 7:58 am

    Laura - Even though I aim for high vibes, I was a little “meh” on quinoa at first as well. I think I just had a few too many brushes with some seriously mediocre salads. It tends to do better when it’s minimally adorned, just as you say. Love the unexpected combination here, Brian. Perfect for summer get-togethers.ReplyCancel

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

I used to take my camera all over the place, lugging a DSLR and a 50mm to every restaurant. I’d try to remain inconspicuous as I grabbed shots of the dining room and each plate that was brought to the table. I’m sure I wasn’t as subtle as I thought I was being.

Things have changed a lot over these last three years. Smart phones have effected my experience as a photographer. It’s allowed me to not only develop my photographic style, but it’s given me the chance to hone my skills. Since my last post on smart phone photography, the quality of the cameras has gotten exceedingly better. I never thought I’d get to the point where I’d look at a picture on my computer and think, “Did I take that on my phone or my camera?” Everything is crisp and clean, with very little grain. It’s a very exciting time in the world of photography and, today, I want to go over a few points about what I think about when I’m making photographs with my iPhone. In the below examples, you may see a slight difference in the quality. The majority were taken with an iPhone 6+ but others are older and were photographed using an iPhone 5s.

You can view my earlier post here: PART 1

1. Tell a story

There’s always a story to be told. What that story is and how it’s told is up to the photographer. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it is I want to say in a picture. Rarely is it a closeup of a finished dish. I like to pull back and reveal something else in the scene or show action. Food is so much more than a pretty plate. It’s about how it’s prepared, who is preparing it, how it’s being served, where it’s being served, how it’s consumed (You get the point). Sometimes that’s much more compelling than a beauty shot.

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.netSmart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

2. Location

I think showing where you’re dining – the vibe of the restaurant, the movement of the dining room, the decor – is just as visually interesting as the food. Look around and you’ll find a lot to capture, from the table setting to the excitement of the open kitchen to the sign hanging outside the front door.

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.netSmart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.netSmart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.netSmart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

3. Ingredients

It’s not uncommon for me to return from the market, unload the bags, and get to work setting up scenes of chopped up fruit and vegetables, dressed fish, or plates of cheese and sliced bread. Unadulterated (uncooked) ingredients are a joy to play with because there are endless ways to capture them. A container of kumquats pop on a dark, rustic surface, while some bunches of fresh herbs pairs perfectly when placed atop a sheet of parchment. It gets the creative juices flowing when you start with these images that, a way to warm you up before you get to the final dish.

Smart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.netSmart Phone Food Photography Tips by Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food - www.athoughtforfood.netView full post »

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  • June 1, 2015 - 9:52 am

    NAomi - I’m the same way-I almost never take my camera. I’m pretty only going to use my phone – way less intrusive! Love the tips, Brian!ReplyCancel

  • June 1, 2015 - 11:47 am

    Kim - Today's Creative Life - I LOVE taking photos with my iphone! There are so many great editing tools now that help make them look more professional!ReplyCancel

  • June 1, 2015 - 5:16 pm

    Heidi @foodiecrush - I’ve totally converted too, but I am still trying to get out with my dslr once in a while to spend quality time in taking photos and not just snaps. Great examples of how well it can be done.ReplyCancel

  • June 2, 2015 - 8:55 am

    Angie | Big Bear's Wife - I’ve been using my phone a lot more lately, especially when I travel! It’s so much easier than lugging around my big camera!ReplyCancel

  • June 2, 2015 - 9:08 pm

    Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living - Love how you step back from the food to capture the setting, mood and story. So often, I just focus on the final plate, but there’s so much more to the story that can be shared. Great post.ReplyCancel

  • June 2, 2015 - 10:47 pm

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - Your photos always pull me in, Brian, and make we want to know more, taste more, explore more. Great post.ReplyCancel

  • June 3, 2015 - 7:37 pm

    HelloSociety Content Creation 101 Series: Food | HelloSociety Blog - […] are a powerful tool and are perfect to use for making Instagram posts and Vines. Check out this article on A Food for Thought sharing why taking photos with a smartphone can be awesome, with tips […]ReplyCancel

  • June 4, 2015 - 8:03 am

    Joanne - Love this! Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform…and I could definitely get better at my phone photography!ReplyCancel

  • June 6, 2015 - 8:39 am

    Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is - […] post on iphone photography tips. […]ReplyCancel

  • June 8, 2015 - 6:57 pm

    Liren - Your images – whether iPhone or big boy camera – are proof that it is the photographer and not the camera. I used to feel guilty when I wouldn’t bring my big camera, and how freeing it is to just leave it at home! Really wonderful tips, Brian :) I’m going to keep this in mind when we take the kids on vacation in a few weeks.ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2015 - 7:55 am

    Laura - I love these tips–especially the note on telling stories. And your IG account is one of my faves for sure. I never take my DSLR anywhere anymore. Is that bad?! The pace at which mobile photography has moved in the last couple years really is so exciting.ReplyCancel

  • June 28, 2015 - 10:41 pm

    weekly gems | Beagle and Bear - […] Fabulous post about food photography with a smartphone. […]ReplyCancel

Smokey Shrimp Burgers with Fried Oysters | A Thought For Food

It’s hard not to feel a little left out this time of year. You get invited to a barbecue and you know that there will be very little for you to eat. Potato salad is a wonderful thing, but it’s not going to soak up the bottle of rosé you’ll consume over the course of the afternoon. And, look, I totally get it. Burgers and hot dogs and chicken are cheap and easy to throw together. Some grilled veggies will make their way into the mix to give the vegetarians their fix. But most people are nervous about serving fish to a crowd. How do you prepare it? Will people eat it? Is it going to weird folks out?

I think most will get behind any kind of burger. On a hot summer day, who doesn’t want to chow down on a big, messy sandwich while swigging from an ice cold beer? Which brings me to my point: seafood burgers are just as wonderful as the beef variety. Take, for instance, this shrimp burger. The patty is a combination of shrimp, grated apple and onion, some salt and pepper, and, for smokiness, a couple teaspoons of Chipotle Tabasco.

One might say I went a little overboard with the fried oysters, avocado, and mayo. But, really, when it comes to burgers, can you really go too far? No. The answer is no. Always.

Smokey Shrimp Burgers with Fried Oysters | A Thought For Food

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Tabasco. Over the course of the year, I will be creating recipes featuring the Tabasco Family of Flavors and this is the first of those posts. All opinions expressed on my site are my own.

You can check out my recap from my trip to visiting Tabasco here.

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  • May 18, 2015 - 7:46 am

    Beth - How can anyone say no to a burger?! YUM!ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 8:13 am

    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life - These look absolutely amazing…definitely up our alley! Can’t wait to try them! Pinned them so I can add them to the menu plan!ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 8:37 am

    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl - I would pay big money for this gorgeous burger!!ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 9:38 am

    Heidi @foodiecrush - I’d have to agree, you really can’t go too far with a burger. Chipotle Tabasco is a serious flavor maker. Looks stunning.ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 2:44 pm

    Ryan Smith | A Polished Palate - Loving the looks of that burger! The recipe sounds delicious!ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 3:26 pm

    brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - This looks heavenly. Heavenly!! I can only imagine how wonderful the chipotle Tabasco is in this shrimp burger!ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 4:46 pm

    Patricia @ Grab a Plate - This burger has definitely caught my attention – yum! Looks fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 10:53 pm

    Kristen - Holy cow, Brian – this burger is amazing! I love every single component!ReplyCancel

  • May 19, 2015 - 3:55 pm

    Kim - Today's Creative Life - This sounds delicious! I love smoked shrimp and I love oysters!ReplyCancel

  • May 20, 2015 - 6:16 pm

    todd wagner - I agree, seafood burgers are SO underrated!! I can’t wait to see what else you do with tabasco – I kinda have an addiction to the stuff :)ReplyCancel

  • May 21, 2015 - 3:56 pm

    Paula - bell'alimento - Holy cow Brian, those look ah-mazing.ReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2015 - 7:55 am

    Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is - […] shrimp burger with fried oysters. […]ReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2015 - 8:44 am

    Tieghan - First this burger is insane!! Love the textures and flavors!! Second, the new site look so great!! Congrats!! :)ReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2015 - 4:19 pm

    Liren - Brian, you would have ALL the meat eaters happily ditch their beef burgers to line up for this at any barbecue! The layers of flavor and crunch are just irresistible!ReplyCancel

  • May 31, 2015 - 3:00 pm

    Nik@ABrownTable - I loved your photos from the trip to the Tabasco company, it looked like a lot of fun. Shrimp and oysters, it’s like a fancy Po’boy of sorts, love it. On a side note, your new portfolio is such an inspiration :)ReplyCancel

  • June 2, 2015 - 9:29 pm

    Meredith - You absolutely did not go overboard with the fried oysters! Tim says he’s got a bottle of Sancerre with your name on it!ReplyCancel

  • June 11, 2015 - 8:42 am

    Unical - This is absolutely amazing!ReplyCancel

  • June 16, 2015 - 11:39 pm

    Denise - I keep thinking I need to learn to make shrimp burgers as we cut back on meat. This recipe has just reconfirmed that I need to try it out asap! Sounds amazing, and I love all the texture richness of the recipe.ReplyCancel

  • June 29, 2015 - 8:54 am

    Watermelon Shrub Spritzer » A Thought For Food - […] You can check out my recap from my trip to visiting Tabasco here and my recipe for Smokey Shrimp Burgers here. […]ReplyCancel