Welcome to Noel Barnhurst's blog. Noel is a food photographer based in the South Park neighborhood of San Francisco, California. He has photographed for a wide range of clients including Williams-Sonoma, Kashi, Haagen Dazs, Driscoll's berries, Sunset Magazine, and Burger King. Here you will find a plethora of recipes, tips, and news from a professional food photographer. Enjoy!

All photography is exclusively done by Noel Barnhurst. You can email me

© Noel Barnhurst

Hot Spiced Cider with Calvados


  • 6 cups apple cider or apple juice
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 30 whole cloves
  • 8 slices crystallized ginger, each about 1 inch in   diameter
  • 3/4 cup Calvados or other apple brandy


In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cider, cinnamon sticks, cloves and crystallized ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer gently for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

Ladle the cider into warmed mugs or cups, adding some of the spices to each serving. Stir 2 Tbs. Calvados into each mug and serve immediately.
Serves 6.

© Noel Barnhurst

Classic Pecan Pumpkin Butter Pie


For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 to 8 Tbs. ice water
For the filling:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups (about 1 1/3 jars) Muirhead pecan pumpkin butter
  • 2 cups evaporated milk


To make the dough, in a food processor, pulse together the flour, granulated sugar and salt until combined, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses. Add 6 Tbs. of the ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half and shape each into a disk. Wrap separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and place a cookie sheet on the rack. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 dough disk into a 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick. Brush off the excess flour. Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish and press the dough into the dish. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold under the excess dough and, using your thumb, decoratively flute the edges. Using a fork, gently poke holes in several places on the bottom of the crust. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes. Roll out the other dough disk and make decorative cutouts according to the package instructions for the piecrust cutters.

Line the piecrust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Place the pie dish on the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and weights and bake until the crust is light golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before filling the pie shell.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the filling, in a large bowl, gently whisk the eggs. Add the pecan pumpkin butter and evaporated milk and whisk until well combined. Pour the filling into the pie shell and decorate the pie as desired with decorative cutouts. Bake until the center of the pie is set, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. If the edges of the crust begin to brown too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 4 hours before serving. If making in advance, cover the cooled pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Serves 8 to 10.

Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

© Noel Barnhurst

October is here! As we say goodbye to September and say hello to fall, we also welcome in fall favorites like pumpkins and apple cider. Here are some fun facts about pumpkins!

  • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. These plants are native to Central America and Mexico, but now grow on six continents.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.
  • Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.
  • In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.”
  • Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.
  • The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 lb 8 oz and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, in October 2010.
  • Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.

Facts courtesy of History.com

© Noel Barnhurst

Vadouvan Chicken Wings Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup honey 
  • 3/4  oz. grated fresh ginger 
  • Zest of 6 limes 
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice 
  • 3 lb. chicken wings, tips removed 
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil 
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt 
  • 6 Tbs. vadouvan curry powder 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 


In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the honey until syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the ginger. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add the lime zest and lime juice and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain the glaze into a bowl. 

Rinse the chicken wings with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large bowl, add the oil and stir to coat evenly. In a small bowl, stir together the salt and vadouvan curry powder. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken wings and stir to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. 

When the chicken has 20 minutes left to marinate, prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Place a steel grill wide chef’s pan on the grill to preheat. 

Arrange the chicken wings in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Cover the grill and cook, turning the wings over and rearranging them in the pan every 5 minutes to ensure they cook evenly, until they are well browned and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. When the wings are done, drizzle on the glaze in 3 additions, tossing the wings after each addition. Transfer the wings to a large bowl, toss with the cilantro and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6. 

Recipe courtesy of Chef Michael Voltaggio

© Noel Barnhurst

How do you know what steak cut is right for you?

Two things to consider: grades and cuts. Grade is determined by the age of the animal and the marbling of the fat in the meat. In the US, grades are prime, choice, and select. Prime is at the top, select is at the bottom. Although marbled cuts do have more fat, they essentially also have more flavor than leaner cuts. Cuts can be broken down into three sections: rib, short loin, and sirloin. The least tender cut is the ribs, and the most tender cut is the tenderloin from the short loin cut. Chateaubriand, filet minon, and tournedos are all examples of tenderloin cut beef. Pictured above is a T-bone steak, also a cut from the short loin. 

Information courtesy of About

© Noel Barnhurst

Tangy Ginger Crab


1 live Dungeness crab (about 2 pounds)

About 1/2 cup Tangy Ginger Sauce, chilled


  1. In a large steamer, bring several cups of water to a boil. Place the crab in the steamer, cover, and steam until the crab has turned bright red and is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the crab and let rest until cool enough to handle.
  2. Insert your thumb or a knife point between the upper shell and the body, opposite the mouth. Pry off the shell, and then trim off the mouth and other inedible parts. Scrape the yellow-green liver (tomalley) out of the center of the body.
  3. Leaving the legs attached, cut the crab in half, down the middle, with a large knife. Then, cut each half into thirds so each piece has legs and body. Crack each section of leg by giving it a good whack with the knife. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
  4. Serve the crab on a platter with a small bowl of very cold Tangy Ginger Sauce. Serves 2 to 3. 

Tangy Ginger Sauce


  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup very finely minced peeled fresh ginger


  1. Heat the vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce together in a small pan just until the sugar has melted. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the ginger, stir well, and refrigerate until cold. The sauce will keep, tightly covered, for several days in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup.

Recipe courtesy of Modern Asian Flavors by Richard Wong

© Noel Barnhurst

Roasted Vegetables

Looking for an easy and comforting vegetable recipe? Roasted vegetables are the way to go, with this recipe you can roast a wide variety (or a single type, pictured above) of vegetables. 


  • Any and all vegetables desired.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine root vegetables.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
  4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.

© Noel Barnhurst

BBQ Ribs


  • 2 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 2 racks pork baby back ribs, about 5 1/2 lb. total

For the mop sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the twice-baked potatoes:

  • 6 russet potatoes
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed
  • 10 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In a bowl, stir together the paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, white pepper, brown sugar and mustard powder. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and rub them evenly on both sides with the spice mixture. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

To make the mop sauce, in a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water and salt. Set aside until ready to use. 

Preheat a wood pellet grill on the “smoke” setting to 290°F according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and wrap them individually in aluminum foil. Place the potatoes along the back side of the grill. Place the ribs, meaty side up, in the center of the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the potatoes and ribs are tender, about 3 hours; turn the potatoes over after 1 1/2 hours, and baste the ribs with the mop sauce every 5 minutes during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Transfer the ribs to a carving board and cover loosely with foil. 

Remove the foil from the potatoes and cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop the flesh into a bowl, leaving a shell 1/8 inch thick. Place the potato shells on a grill tray. Pass the potato flesh through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Add the butter, sour cream and milk and stir until the butter is melted. Add 8 oz. of the cheese and the 1/4 cup chives and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and black pepper. Divide the mixture evenly among the potato shells and sprinkle with the remaining 2 oz. cheese.

Place the grill tray on the grill, cover and cook until the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes. Garnish the potatoes with the 1 Tbs. chives. Cut the ribs between the bones and serve immediately with the twice-baked potatoes. Serves 6 to 8.

© Noel Barnhurst

Star Cake

Happy Fourth of July everybody! This post comes a day early for all of those bakers that are looking for a delicious holiday recipe, courtesy of Driscolls.


3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

3 cups Driscoll’s Blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons water
5 teaspoons cornstarch

12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), at room temperature
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 packages (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cups each) Driscoll’s Raspberries (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups each) Driscoll’s Blueberries (about 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease bottoms and sides of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Line bottoms of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Grease paper and dust each pan with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside. Combine buttermilk, lemon zest and vanilla in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, with mixer on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in several additions, starting and ending with flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

Spread batter into cake pans and bake 35 minutes or until golden and cake tester or toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Cool on wire racks 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks. Remove and discard parchment paper and let cake layers cool completely.

Bring blueberries, lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes or until blueberries have burst and mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Combine water and cornstarch in a small cup. Stir cornstarch mixture into blueberry mixture and return to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool completely (refrigerate if necessary).

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until blended. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix on low until combined.


Place one cake layer on a cake plate or stand. If cakes have rounded top, gently trim with serrated knife to make flat. Spread cooled blueberry filling on cake layer. Place other cake layer on filling, with flat side up and press down gently to secure. Frost top and sides of cake with frosting. Using blueberries, create large star on top of cake. Fill in remaining white space with raspberries. Line bottom rim of cake with blueberries, pressing gently into frosting to secure. If not serving cake immediately, refrigerate until ready.