Posts tagged food
How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Hello everyone and happy September! I hope you all had a wonderful summer full of lots of fun memories. Every year my husbands family has a huge baking weekend to make Christmas cookies, (which isn’t until December obviously), but we have started to make our own vanilla sugar months in advance to ensure it is well infused for our favorite vanilla crescent cookies. (My husbands family background is Czech so I am sure there are a few of your out there who make Vanilkové Rohlíčky over the holidays!). Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

So it is time, and we have made a big batch of vanilla sugar for the holidays. We also whipped up a batch of chai infused sugar and lavender sugar to add to our favorite baked goods over the coming months. They make for wonderful DIY gifts if that is your thing. Those foodies in your life are sure to appreciative!

Each recipe makes a cup of sugar, and you can either make a big batch now and store it for a couple of months then divide into little jars for gifts closer to the gift giving season. Or add straight into the jars you intend to give. (Which ever you have space for storing I guess!). Any of the recipes can be divided up once the flavors have been added. If you intend to split up the vanilla sugar, just divide the bean up into 3 parts and add the seeds and pod to the sugar. I would stick to 3 small jars for each bean so as to get maximum infusion!

You can totally eat the lavender buds, but I would remove the chai spices before adding the sugar to any treats. I like to keep the chai spices mostly whole so they are easy to remove before using. You can however use a mortar and pestle to break the spices up if you wish. Time to start collecting jars!

Chai Sugar Ingredients 1 cinnamon stick ¼ teaspoon whole cloves 4 teaspoons cardamom pods 4 whole star anise 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Chai Sugar Gently crush or break the cinnamon stick into half. Add the cinnamon pieces, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and ginger to the sugar. Stir and store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Remove spices before adding to your favorite cookie recipe.

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Lavender Sugar Ingredients 1 tablespoon culinary lavender 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Lavender Sugar Add the lavender to the sugar and stir through. Put into an airtight jar and shake. Store for a couple of weeks up to a couple of months. For finer sugar and lavender buds, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to your favorite cookie recipe for a floral palate.

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Vanilla Sugar Ingredients 1 vanilla bean 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Vanilla Sugar Slice the vanilla bean lengthways and remove the seeds. Stir the seeds through the sugar. Store in an airtight jar with the vanilla pod for a few weeks or until ready to use. For finer sugar, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to any baking recipe or holiday cookies (or your coffee or tea!).

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

What’s your favorite infused sugar flavor? - Rachel

TIP FROM HOLLY: These also make for great party gifts for your guests to put near each plate on the table with a little tag with the guest's name on it - they can take it home and it serves as a seating card.

(Photography, Styling, Recipes and Text: Two Loves Studio)

10 Styling + Photography Tips For Decor + Food

Hi readers, I can't wait to share the words and photos in this post today because I've got the fabulous Leela Cyd stopping in to teach us her tips and tricks on styling and photographing decor and food at parties. Are you ready to hear her 10 tips? Take it away, Leela! 168_Spiced Strawberry Balsamic Lassi

Hi decor8 readers, Leela here. The most important thing hosting a fete, be it for 2 or 20 people, is to remember that it's just really all about the company you keep -- not the perfection of the food or styling, so relax a little, embrace imperfections and make time just to enjoy the conversation and connection. So here are my tips for styling a party and photographing food! For all of these and more ideas on styling, pulling together your table to already create beautiful food moments, plus 85 easy recipes that celebrate friendship and fun, please check out my book -- FOOD WITH FRIENDS.

036_Setting the TAble

For Your Decor/Tablescape:

1) Decide On a Palette. You can unify a bunch of mis-matched linens and plates if there is a tonal relationship. An easy way to do this is to pick whites or greys and go for a monochromatic look of different items. It really shows off the food this way. An alternate, opposite approach, is to not worry at all about a palette -- because if nothing goes together, everything goes together! This wonky look is quite adorable too.

2) Create Place Settings. This is kinda old-school but a fun way to add a bit of flair to the table -- you can choose a chocolate, special little treat or even tiny bouquet along with a note card with your friend's name scribbled across, and that guest feels extra special and gets to take home a little treat (if she doesn't immediately pop it her mouth!)

3) Use Found Objects as Center Pieces. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to have a chic table -- I often clip little blossoms from my neighborhood or gather driftwood from the beach. Wherever you are, take a look around you, what are the natural items you could bring into your table for a pretty table addition. Often it takes absolutely no money, just a little care in gathering some pretty sea glass, pine cones, shells, branches, etc to festoon your table.

4) Flowers add a lot of beauty. By purchasing one grocery store bouquet and breaking it into many small jars, you can create a festive mood. Trim the ends short and fill up several small bottles or jars with just 1 or a few blossoms in each. Add a few bits of greenery from the garden and the effect will create a fresh, floral feeling at your gathering (again, spending very little money!)

5) Style the Plate. Often, I like to use smaller plates in general, this keeps portions looking abundant and allows guests to refill a few times - prolonging the meal and the company. I think of a plate of food as a painting, making sure there are some large shapes in lovely colors -- such as grains dotted with cheese and herbs, a big salad moment with shaved carrots or radishes, then smaller dollops of dips and pickley things, finally garnishing the entirety with a scattering of small herbs, cracked pepper and a delicious, fruity olive oil. Messy is ok!


001_Think Pink Faloodas-1

Photographing Your Food and Party

6) Your food will only ever be as beautiful as your ingredients. Choose high quality, pretty foods to photograph -- this means shopping and preparing food that is as seasonal as possible. Think of the difference between jewel-like farm-stand strawberries and the gigantic, barely red strawberries sold at Costco.

7) Natural light is your best friend. When creating a food spread you'd like to shoot, consider a brunch or lunch party rather than the darkness of dinner. It will be so much more appealing to shoot with indirect window light than the ambient light bulb light that comes on as the sun goes down. 8) Breathe Life into a scene with a person. To really activate your image of food, show a person interacting in some way with the food -- it can be just a tiny suggestion of a person, or it can be clearly of hands engaging in the act of eating or cooking -- either way, it's a sure-fire bet to give that food a story and a 'moment in time' feeling, making the image more relatable and emotional.

9) Look at the food in terms of color, texture, shape and scale. Think like a painter and ask yourself, is there enough variety of plates and glasses (shapes), a good mix of textiles and napkins (texture), is there a pop of vibrancy from the food or another prop somewhere (color) and are there differences in size to keep the viewers' eyes moving around the composition (scale)?

10) Add other interest to the scene. I love to show crumbs, the saucy bits at the bottom of the bowl, a few bites taken out of food, the crumbling sides of a pot on the stove. It's these little actions that help the food look loose, enjoyed and real, instead of staged.

Rhubarb Rose Floats1U9C9242

0001_Green Pea Soup with Chive Blossoms, Yogurt and Nigella

Triple Coconut Lamingtons_1U9C9710


For more tips along with lovely food and recipes, purchase FOOD WITH FRIENDS today! Thank you so much Leela for these wonderful tips and photographs, we love your book here at decor8 and are currently reading it and in love! Thank you again and best wishes on your lovely work.

(Photography, Styling, Text: Leela Cyd.)

Delicious Avocado Toast Recipe

Hey there everyone, this is Rachel and it was so lovely meeting you last month with my first column here on decor8. It is hard to believe that it’s March already and autumn here in Australia. I’m sure at lot of you are super excited for Spring and reading all of the wonderful ways to decorate your space for the season, while I’m feeling a little sad about the fact that I missed summer! Why? Well... Due to family commitments, I’ve spent a large chunk of time in Canada recently and got to experience my first real Canadian winter in lieu of an Australian summer. It’s not all bad though if you are a glass half full kinda person like me. I got to see a lot of snow and my hubby Matt made sure I partook in winter activities like tobogganing, snowball fights, trekking across frozen lakes and ice fishing. It was such a novelty for me to feel like a kid who’s seeing snow for the first time. Now that I’m back home in Oz, I’m making the most of enjoying what I like to call ‘the best time of year’ – the start of Autumn. The weather is really just simply delightful, so before the month is out I will be indulging on the last bit of summer produce. Rachel Korinek for decor8

This month I wanted to share with you a little taste of Melbourne. Being a stunning food destination with a culture of eating out, both at restaurants and food festivals year round, there is an endless number of dishes that are synonymous with this great city. I’ve chosen something humble, attainable yet ever impressive: a Melbourne twist on avocado on toast.

Rachel Korinek for decor8

Rachel Korinek for decor8

The brunch café culture is strong in this city and Australian’s love their avocados, (or avos as we fondly refer to them, even on our commercials on TV with the tag line “av’ an avo today!”). So there is avo on toast in nearly every brunch destination you can imagine and they all speak uniquely to their diners. If you ask a Melbournian where the best avo on toast is in the city, there’ll all share a great detailed list with you of where and where not to go. What works and what doesn’t. Who has a new take and who seeks perfection in the simplistic.

My favorites have included incorporating it into hummus, with a side of candied bacon or oven roasted cauliflower with dukkah. Almost always accompanied with a poached egg. As a tribute to this great brunch recipe, I’ve chosen to share with you a combination of flavors: Edamame Avocado Hummus Toast with Pistachio Dukkah.

Rachel Korinek for decor8

These colors for sure will get you excited to enjoy the treasures of Spring and for those of us emerging out of summer, a one last ditch to savor the fruits of the season.

If you’ve got poached egg skills, why not serve with a side of runny egg goodness?

RECIPE Edamame Avocado Hummus Toast with Pistachio Dukkah

SHOP LIST Edamame Avocado Hummus 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 400g edamame, shelled and frozen 1 avocado, skin and seed removed 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup lime juice 2 tablespoons tahini Salt and pepper to taste Pistachio Dukkah 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped 1 tablespoon ground coriander 1 tablespoon ground cumin Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh crusty bread, sliced and lightly toasted 3-4 medium sliced radishes, thinly sliced Fresh green herbs to garnish, if desired

HOW TO Steam the edamame per instructions on the packet. Let cool slightly and gently run under cold water. Set aside. Meanwhile, to make the dukkah, add black sesame seeds, pistachio nuts, ground coriander and ground cumin to a bowl and mix. Season to taste and place in a little pinch bowl. Once the edamame has cooled; in a food processor, add olive oil, garlic, lime juice, edamame and avocado and blitz until combined. (Mixture should be thick and a little grainy). Add tahini and season to taste. Add a generous amount of hummus to slices of your favourite toasted bread, top with some finely sliced radishes, a pinch of dukkah and a snip of green herbs from your garden (if desired).

Rachel Korinek for decor8

Rachel Korinek for decor8

Rachel Korinek for decor8

I hope you love this and if you make it, please add a picture to Instagram and tag #twolovesstudio and #decor8eats so we see it and can like it and maybe follow you, too! I'll be back on April 6th with another recipe from my kitchen to yours. In the meantime, have fun with Holly and her other columnists! See you soon again! - Rachel.

(Photography, Styling, Recipe: Rachel Jane)

Yummy Gingerbread Snack Cake

Well hello decor8 readers! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rachel Korinek and I’m a professional food photographer from Melbourne, Australia. I run a blog called Two Loves Studio, a space where you can come hungry and leave inspired with a new perspective on your passions. I feel really excited and humbled to be able to share this column with you for 2016! I am sure many of you share my ‘two loves’, food and photography. Unknown-5

To kick start this year’s column I am sharing with you a Gingerbread Snack Cake, but first a little bit about me. I am a self-taught freelance food photographer currently living in Melbourne. I love the outdoors, hiking and camping in national parks, I’ve studied business and education and have been lucky enough to have travelled the world. I love Asian food and can’t get enough of dishes that call for homemade broths. Over the past few years of sharing my journey into food and photography on Two Loves Studio, I’ve made invaluable and unexpected friendships with other passionate creative and readers alike. I am eager to get to know all of you and my aim is to inspire you to live a life you love, what ever that may entail!

Being aware of the seasonal differences between hemispheres and that Australia is out of sync with the vast majority of the world’s population, my aim is to give you recipes that can span multiples seasons without missing out sharing my favorite creations that use much anticipated seasonal produce. Despite the seasons, good food enjoyed with loved ones is what is most important.

gingerbread2 gingerbreadsnackcake_1

I have just spent a month in Canada with my husband’s family for the holidays and made a point of heading to the grocery store to check out what was available during the winter for this column. I was totally surprised by the availability of summer produce that gets shipped up from the warmer countries around the Caribbean region. It is perhaps a little alarming at the amount of food that we ship around the globe to ensure we can always have produce that would normally be out of season. There is a big trend in Melbourne of supporting locally grown produce and sustainable businesses. Being a food photographer, this isn’t always possible, as you have to adhere to what a client needs for a recipe to be shot, but for my personal consumption of food – I try to shop local where I can.


Now onto the recipe. With the holidays and endless hours of prepping and cooking delicious food long behind us, I’m sure many of us are longing for an enjoyable yet simple recipe to share next time we get together with family and friends. This may also be a nice treat for your Easter table?

I am a total advocate for ginger. I am always pushing for it to be included in our dinner dishes, much to the debate of my husband Matt. “Mmmm, I don’t think that goes together” he’ll often say, (I won’t get into who’s right or wrong!). I feel like my ginger tolerance is like that of chilli. It builds up over time and I need more and more. Don’t however be alarmed by the amount of ginger in this recipe. You want to be able to taste it right? It is also totally fine to halve the amount of ground ginger if you’re not its number one fan.


Ginger is such a versatile ingredient. It can warm us up on cold days, yet refresh us on not ones, help us when our tummies are upset and when our body is suffering from inflammation and pain.


1/2 cup pain, all purpose flour 1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon allspice 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup boiling water 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced 110g butter, chopped 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup golden syrup or molasses 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional) 1 free range egg

Icing sugar to dust

DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm (9” x 9”) cake tin. In a small bowl, add baking soda and boiling water and stir. Once combined, add finely diced ginger. Set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, allspice, baking powder. Add salt and mix until combined. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add both syrups, vanilla, orange zest and baking soda mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Slowly add the flour /dry ingredients into the mixture and beat until fully combined. Add in the egg and continue to beat until the egg is incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden and the cake is bounces back at the touch. Remove and allow to cool.

With a sharp knife, trim the edges of the cake and slice evenly into small serving squares. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

NOTE: This cake is best served in small bit sized squares, and can make an impressive stack dusted with icing sugar. Accompanied with a cup of tea in one hand or a gin and tonic in the other.

This is NOT a sponsored post but we do want to thank West Elm for supplying the serve ware. The gorgeous colors of slate and gold go perfectly with the warm tones of the gingerbread. Shop list: Coloured Glaze Pinch Bowls, Coloured Glaze Prep Bowls, Raw Wood Boards, Scrape Serveware, Gold Flateware Set, Ikat Mini Lattice Napkin Set and Slate Placement.

See you next month, decor8 readers - Rachel.

(Photography, Styling and Text: Rachel, Two Loves Studio.)

Awesome Lemon Cake Recipe

Hi all! Would you like to make a unique sponge cake using lemon and thyme? It's Emma here all the way from Sydney. I am both thrilled and honored (in equal measures) that Holly has invited me to share with you some delicious recipes every month along with her other food writers - you can expect a food story each week on Wednesdays starting in February. My hope is that these recipes inspire you end up in the kitchen making and baking for your family and friends. Christmas just passed and I'm sure with all the entertaining that goes on around this time of year I bet you have eaten way too much! With lots of turkey, potatoes, stuffing a plenty, christmas pudding and sweets galore having been devoured, I have come up with a fresh and light sponge cake for your next gathering or family dessert. 16-01-10_Canon EOS 6D_12-57-33

Doesn't this look delicious?This Lemon & Thyme Syrup Cake is light, zesty and full of flavor and fresh - a lovely refreshing change after big heavy Christmas meals- you’ll love it! The thyme is so fragrant and works beautifully with the freshness of the lemon. I love serving this cake with an extra drizzle of syrup and greek yogurt, but thick cream or crème fraîche will be delicious too. Here's the shopping lists and how to...


CAKE: 2 eggs 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind (1 lemon approx) 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 1 cup greek low fat yogurt 1 1/4 cup caster sugar 2 cups self raising flour 2 tablespoons thyme leaves

16-01-10_Canon EOS 6D_12-38-30-2

LEMON SYRUP: 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind (2 lemons approx) 1/2 cup caster sugar 1/3 cup lemon juice

THYME SUGAR (optional) 2 table spoons thyme leaves 1/4 cup caster sugar Extra sprigs of thyme to decorate with

16-01-10_Canon EOS 6D_12-42-55

MAKE: Preheat oven to 180C. Plaice eggs, oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla essence, yogurt, sugar and thyme leaves in a bowl and whisk to combine. Sift in flour and fold in until batter is smooth. Pour into a 20cm greased cake tin and bake for 50 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Once baked place on a wire rack for ten mins before removing from the cake tin.

Whilst the cake is cooking, to make the syrup, combine sugar, lemon juice and two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes or until syrup has thickened and then stir in zest then remove from heat. Prick the sponge cake with a skewer all over the top and then pour half of the syrup over the cake so that it soaks into the sponge.

Whilst the cake is cooling, place the thyme and sugar in a pestle and mortar and pound until the thyme leaves have combined and released their oils. Sprinkle sugar over the top of the cake and decorate with some extra sprigs of thyme.

16-01-10_Canon EOS 6D_11-19-31


16-01-10_Canon EOS 6D_11-42-14

See you again soon with another recipe to make your tummy smile! - Emma. xo

(images/text: Emma Duckworth)

Trends: Creative Cooking + Food Trucks

A few years ago I spotted a micro "foodie" trend in Germany and today it's slowly starting to take off - food trucks! Today I have a book to share with you all about them and where you can find the best ones in the country. As an American, food trucks are as common to me as the corner coffee shop and went from trend to a staple in mainstream American culture many years ago. It never dawned on me when I moved to Germany that, outside of festivals and Christmas markets, food trucks run by creative cooks were not common at farmers' markets and rare sights in cities. The food trucks at events were (and largely still are) very typical serving beer, bratwurst, pommes and the typical German festival foods which are great but offer little to those longing for a culinary adventure. FoodTruck2

Germany is slowly but surely becoming a big foodie culture, especially among young people with the over 35 crowd also catching on. I'm starting to see food trucks pop up in my city and even the typical fests with the typical foods are slowly starting to change with new foods being offered that cater to vegans and others who are just looking to have their tastebuds tickled. That's why I was so excited when my contact at Prestel, a German book publisher, sent me a copy of their newest book called Food Trucks highlighting some of the best of Germany. I think they'll need to do several follow-ups very soon, because we have some great food trucks popping up in Hannover and I hope many more. These mobile kitchens offer a chance for locals to meet cooks, experience the process, meet people, explore different recipes and venture outside of the typical ingredients and the more traditional foods.


In Hannover, we have a food truck called Food Lovers with a couple who have grandchildren running it - she is Japanese and he is Jewish. Together, they fuse their two cultures into their recipes (I snapped a photo on IG here). Each week when I visit, they offer me something new they've just experimented with. Last week it was a new rice pilaf and the week before, a seaweed-flavored salad made only with carrots! Food trucks offer a wonderful way for cooks to do what they love without the overhead and the sheer time commitment of running a restaurant full-time. They also make for great test kitchens for exploring new recipes. Another food truck we have that I love is called Soup Sisters. In fact, their truck has become so popular that they have opened a brick-and-mortar cafe downtown with two more in the work.


On of the sad things about Hannover is our decision-makers over at city hall are not innovative or fresh and are seriously boring. They sink a lot of money into things that are standard and cater to their age group (50+) but little goes to the rest of us, and not into fresh new ideas. For instance, they make it very hard for food trucks to obtain licensing and have a bunch of guidelines that really hold back a lot of people from starting their own food truck business here. I hope that this changes because, as this book clearly shows, the food truck culture in other cities (especially Berlin where I will be traveling to next week with a blog post about my finds), is growing and will quickly leave Hannover in the dust yet there is so much potential in our city as our creative scene is starting to really expand and experiment with new things.







I really like the Food Trucks book because it shows some of the best food trucks currently in Germany with a bio of each along with plenty of mouth-watering photos. It's great to have a book like this in Germany because it sheds light on the food truck industry in general because so many people living here aren't really in tune with this culture of meals on wheels. I also like seeing the trucks bustling with people and conversation throughout the book, it makes me long to be a part of the atmosphere since I find it so inspirational to be around people who love what they are cooking and eating, and sharing meals together. One of my great passions is to come together with those I love to share food, wine and laughter in a relaxed casual environment sans attitude and overly decorated tabletops.

By the way, did you watch the film Chef? It's great, I highly suggest it!

If you would like a copy of this book, it's only available in German but it is available on or any good book store in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

(images: Book cover on table: Holly Becker, all others: Toby Binder, Henning Kreitel, Birgit von Bally, Richard Pflaume)