I was never really into photography, nor was I any good at it, before I started this blog. I had a DSLR camera (the cheapest and most basic one), but I didn't know how to use it apart from point and click. I knew nothing about photo editing or lighting or anything. Zero. Zip. Seriously, I knew nothing.
My boyfriend Mat is an incredible photographer. He taught me how to use my camera and introduced me to Lightroom and basically taught me how to take somewhat decent photographs. He actually gave me his tripod and extremely nice Canon D90 camera and bought me a studio light as well. The photos on my about page? All taken by him! Not to mention that he has given me 75% of the pastry books I have in my collection.
Not only is my boyfriend an amazingly talented photographer, but he's also a musician, actor, and film maker. I've shared a few of his beautiful songs on this blog before because holy shit - he writes and sings really incredible songs! When we first met and started dating, he wrote a song for me. I was sitting on the corner of the bed and he was sitting in a chair in front of me, and he played the most beautiful song I've ever heard. I couldn't believe that someone had written something that crazy good, let alone that it was inspired by me. He has written many more songs since then, but Now That You're Gone is still my favourite one of his. That song means a lot to both of us and I think that comes through in the song.
But, like most artists, his day job isn't artistic-related. You can't just walk up and apply to be a multi-talented artist, producing things when the inspiration hits you. It's not that easy. But creating art is not easily done when you work a full-time job. But you have bills to pay. You struggle just to make enough time for creating something, anything, before the next work day rolls around. It's near impossible.
Last week, my boyfriend quit his job as a waiter, a job that he's had for years, and is now pursuing photography, music, and film full-time. It's a huge leap of faith for anyone to do, just quit your job and put your trust in your own talent to keep you going. I'm incredibly proud of him for taking this leap and following his dreams. It'll be tough and a hell of a lot of hard work, but he has the passion, determination, and skill to do it.
He has set up his own website where you can check out his work. Seeing as he's only put up the website a few days ago, he only has his photography on there now but very soon, he'll be posting some songs - covers and originals. You guys can also support him by following his instagram and his twitter!
I really appreciate the support that I've received with my creative endeavours on this blog and I know that you guys are supportive, welcoming, and encouraging through the sweet comments that you leave here. I think that Mat could use some of that same support for his creative endeavours, even if it's just looking at his photos. I've posted a few of my favourite ones of his here, just to give you guys a taste of how crazy good he really is.
Maple Hazelnut Pot de Crème with Cinnamon Lace Tuiles
100 g hazelnuts
50 g sugar
25 g water
Maple Hazelnut Pot de Crème
Recipe adapted from Frozen Desserts
323 g heavy cream
50 g maple sugar
68 g egg yolks
20 g praline paste
Cinnamon Lace Tuiles
23 g all-purpose flour
1 g ground cinnamon
1 g salt
38 g unsalted butter
33 g sugar
58 g light corn syrup
For the praline paste, preheat your oven to 350 F. Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and spread your hazelnuts on the sheet in an even layer. Roast the nuts for about 5 to 6 minutes, until they are fragrant and the skins are dark brown. Remove from the oven, let them cool, and rub the skins off using your fingers or a kitchen towel.
Before you add them to the caramel, warm them in the oven quickly so they are warm to the touch but not roasted further. You want to add warm nuts to the caramel to prevent the caramel from seizing.
Prepare a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet and set it aside close to the stove.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the water over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Gently swirl the pot if you need to, but try to disturb it as little as possible. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and caramelize the sugar, then add the warm hazelnuts and quickly stir to cover the nuts with caramel, then spread on the silicone baking mat in an even layer. Let them cool completely.
Using a blender or food processor, grind up the caramelized nuts to a paste. Try to get it as fine as possible without breaking your blender/food processor. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Lower the oven to 300 F. Place 5 ramekins or jars in a high sided baking/roasting pan. Boil at least 1L of water in a kettle.
For the pot de crème, combine the heavy cream and half the maple sugar (25 g) in a saucepan. Whisk in the praline paste. Bring to just a boil over medium heat.
Combine the egg yolks, salt, and remaining 25 g of maple sugar in a small bowl. Whisk until slightly paler in colour.
Slowly temper the cream into the yolks by whisking a small ladleful of cream into the yolks. Slowly add the rest of the cream, whisking vigourously. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher and skim off any foam.
Pour into your ramekins or jars. Pour the boiling water into the baking/roasting pan so the water comes one-third of the way up the sides. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the custard is set.
Remove from the oven, remove from the water bath, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Increase the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat.
For the tuiles, combine the flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, turn off the heat and add the dry ingredients.
If you want shards of tuile like I have, spoon about one teaspoon of batter onto the silpat, spacing each one about two inches apart. They will spread into each other as they bake. If you want individual tuiles, space each one at least three inches apart.
Bake for 6 to 7 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven. You can shape your tuiles while they are still warm by wrapping them around a glass or rolling pin. I let them cool on the silpat and then broke them into shards for the look that I wanted.
Serve with crème chantilly and a shard of tuile.