Chicago Food and Travel Photographer

Food Photography: Steamed Mussels and Cappellini Pasta

I love seafood - and mussels are no exception. My wife and I recently visited Mariano’s Fresh Market to check out the latest local craze in grocery shopping in Chicago; it did not disappoint. The seafood bar had a variety of selections and we decided to buy a bag of fresh mussels. We’ve never cooked mussels at home but was recently inspired by an amazing mussels dish at Acadia restaurant in Chicago and decided to give it a try. The hardest part is cleaning them, but it’s worth the work! Mussels

Campone’s Steamed Mussels Recipe: 1 bag of mussels (about 2 pounds) 1/3 chopped white onion (or 4 shallots) Extra virgin olive oil 6 cloves garlic, minced Red chili pepper flakes Chopped flat italian parsley 1 cup white wine (something you would drink; I like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay) Salt and pepper Juice of 1 lemon

Directions: Soak mussels in water for 15 minutes to remove any sand. Drain and clean the mussels, scrubbing them with a vegetable brush under cold water. Pull off the “beards”. Discard any that are not tightly closed or any with broken shells. In a deep saute pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for a minute without burning the garlic. Add a pinch of red chili pepper flakes and stir. Add a good pinch of chopped parsley, the wine and salt and pepper. Stir and bring to boil. Add the mussels, stir, cover with lid and let cook for 8-10 minutes until mussel shells have opened. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon into pan. Pour mussels with sauce into large bowl. Serve immediately with some crusty sourdough bread to sop up the juice, and of course, a chilled glass of white wine. Cheers!

Being Italian has certainly rubbed off on my wife. One of her favorite dishes to cook on a whim is pasta. Regardless of what we have in the refrigerator or pantry she can always find enough ingredients to make a simple, delicious pasta dish. Here is one of our favorites: Cappellini Pasta with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Basil. I love the colors of fresh tomatoes. I used a bright, colorful background to bring out the colors of the dish. A simple white bowl really shows off the dish well and is a nice contrast with the bright colors.

Grape Tomatoes

Cappellini Pasta


Cappellini Pasta

Campone’s Cappellini Pasta with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Basil Recipe:

Two boxes fresh grape or cherry tomatoes (use both red and yellow for color), rinsed 10 large white button mushrooms, thickly sliced Extra virgin olive oil 6 cloves garlic, minced Red chili pepper flakes Juice of 1/2 lemon Salt and pepper Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved Fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade

Directions: In a saute pan, heat olive oil and add sliced mushrooms. Stir only occasionally to let brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Once browned turn off heat and set aside. Cook cappellini pasta al dente. Heat olive oil in a separate large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and cover with lid for a few minutes. Stir and cook another few minutes, until a few tomatoes start to brown and open. Add the sautéed mushrooms, garlic, pinch of red chili pepper flakes and salt and pepper, stir and cook for about a minute to let garlic soften. Add al dente cappellini pasta straight from the pot to the saute pan. Add juice of 1/2 lemon for a fresh kick. Toss together and serve in large bowl, topped with shaved parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil. Mangia, mangia!

Food Photography: Caprese Salad and Cilantro Garlic Shrimp

I am excited to have recently discovered the world of food photography. I have always enjoyed food and consider myself a “foodie”, which is not hard to do living in Chicago. There are endless restaurants to try, new restaurants popping up weekly, food and wine festivals, and world renowned chefs from Chicago are getting more press than ever. In the spirit of feeding my passions for photography and food and my wife's passion for cooking, I have immersed myself into several food photography sessions to capture some of my favorite subjects (of course enjoying them after the shooting is done). Here is some of my latest work. Being of Italian heritage, I love simple ingredients that also bring complexity and depth. Tomatoes straight from the vine, chunks of aged parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil leaves go well together - both on a dish and in front of a camera. After a few shots of the ingredients themselves we made a simple caprese salad:

Tomatoes, Cheese and Basil


Caprese Salad

Campone’s Caprese Salad Recipe: 2 tomatoes from the vine 2 medium balls fresh mozzarella Fresh basil leaves Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices. Layer tomatoes and mozzarella alternately on plate. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roll basil leaves and slice into thin strips. Sprinkle basil onto salad. For an extra kick, drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Next, a delicious, easy appetizer (perhaps also a blend of my Italian and my wife’s Mexican heritages!)...Cilantro Garlic Shrimp.

Cilantro Garlic Shrimp

Cilantro Garlic Shrimp Campone’s Cilantro Garlic Shrimp Recipe: 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined 4 cloves garlic, chopped Extra virgin olive oil Red chili pepper flakes Fresh lemon juice Cilantro (may substitute Italian parsley) Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in saute pan on medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic and pinch of red chili pepper flakes to oil and stir for 20 to 30 seconds, making sure it does not burn. Add shrimp to pan and let cook for 2 minutes. Flip and cook another 1 minute or until all shrimp are pink and cooked through. Squeeze juice of one lemon into pan. Stir. Turn off heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and top with chopped cilantro. Toss and serve immediately.