smoked salmon capellini with lemon, dill & capers, & simple roast apricot & plum cheesecakes

 

Woah this is a bit of a blast from the past – these two recipes first appeared on the blog quite a few years ago now, but are still two of my favourites ever for an easy and delicious l’il V-Day dinner for two. The salmon pasta is a variation on one I have been making for many years,  it takes five minutes to make but still has a naughty decadent quality thanks to the rich, flaky hot smoked salmon, elegant, finely sliced smoked salmon, salty capers, zingy lemon and a touch of herby dill or fennel. The luscious dessert is like a cheesecake in a glass with sweet, juicy roasted plums and apricots tucked away in a smooth cream-cheesy filling, layered between a crumbling of nuts and gingernuts – a perfect pillowy combination of textures. Happy eating all you gorgeous lovers out there.

This Valentine’s Day I have a hot date (bahahahaha) at my first ever Spanish lesson – an evening class for beginners. It was going to be Italian as I am desperately hoping to make it to Italy later this year, but a lovely girlfriend was keen on Spanish – so right then, I’m swapping my prosciutto for chorizo and seeing if my brain is still functioning enough to learn a new language…we shall see, it could just be a mortifying wake-up call to the insidious effects of the aging process. Anyhoo, apart from that I’m nipping into the opening of the rooftop Aperol garden bar at Ostro tonight and packing my bags for Melbourne on Thursday night – I can’t wait to see my Pog! Daytime hours it’s back to business with Dish, Cuisine and Fairfax, and believe it or not, possible planning for cookbook number 2. Crikey, it’s like forgetting the labour soon after childbirth, I’ll keep you posted on that one!

 
Smoked Salmon Pasta:
Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 minutes
 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
½ small onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons dry white wine
100g sliced smoked salmon, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cream
200g capellini or spaghetti
150g hot smoked salmon, roughly flaked
finely grated zest of half a lemon
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill or fennel

Heat oil and butter n a large frying pan and bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Fry onion over a medium gentle heat for 8 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add white wine and cook for a minute then add sliced smoked salmon and cream, season with salt and pepper and cook gently for 5 minutes. The salmon will break up and the liquid will reduce during this time. Cook the pasta until only just al dente (according to packet instructions), drain reserving ¼ cup pasta water. Add drained pasta to the sauce with the reserved pasta water, and half of the hot smoked salmon, lemon zest, capers and dill. Cook stirring for one minute to heat through. Divide the pasta between two plates and top with remaining hot smoked salmon, lemon zest, capers and dill and a grinding of black pepper.

Plum Cheesecake Cups
Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 minutes
3 plums, apricots or a combination, halved, stones removed
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, Frangelico or Galliano
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yoghurt
100g cream cheese, at room temperature
4 gingernut biscuits
2 tablespoons toasted, skinned hazelnuts (or almonds or walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line an oven dish with baking paper. Place the fruit cut side down on the baking paper and roast 5-10 minutes, turn over and sprinkle with half of the sugar then roast another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool in the baking dish then slice each half in half (quarters). Whiz gingernuts in a small food processor to form crumbs, add hazelnut and pulse to break up and combine with the crumbs. Divide half of the crumb mixture between two serving glasses and top each with 4 fruit quarters. In a clean food processor whiz remaining sugar with Frangelico, sour cream and cream cheese until smooth. Spoon on top of fruit in glasses and refrigerate for an hour. Divide remaining plums between the glasses and sprinkle with remaining nut biscuit crumb to serve.

*Roasting time of the fruit will depend on how ripe they are to begin with – harder fruit will take longer
 

 

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This Sustainable Restaurant Concept Encourages Everyone To Do Their Part To Keep Waste Down

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Ryan Bosse designed this conceptual branding and packaging for Victory Garden Kitchen, a sustainable restaurant.

“Victory Garden Kitchen is a super sustainable restaurant and packaged food concept that draws inspiration from wartime initiatives and imagery to empower everyone to do their part in fighting unsustainable food practices.”

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Design: Ryan Bosse

Client: Wes Wang

Location: San Francisco

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Biji Coffee Gets a Colorful Look With Illustrations Inspired By The Origins of the Beans

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Apus Agency has created the packaging for the specialty coffee brand, Biji Coffee.

“Biji Coffee is a young, Russian company of coffee roasters, experts in specialty coffee beans, which are grown high in the mountains and are selected manually. The Biji team started with Indonesian coffee and spent 6 months in Indonesia, seeking out local farmers and the best coffee beans. Therefore Biji got an image of being a travelling company. In two years the company embraced almost all coffee belt regions: Africa, Arabia, Central and South America, Asia and got many requests from Russian coffeehouses for roasted high-mountain specialty coffee. To supply the demand of HoReCa, the company felt a need to create new packaging for use in the B2B sector.”

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“The main task from the client was to make the packaging cheap in production, so the company could keep up with a competitive price. Cheap packaging for expensive coffee? Why not!

To create the new packaging of hand-selected coffee beans from five coffee regions, the creative team has chosen the fauna world. It was a smart move – fauna can be a unifier of presented and forthcoming regions of coffee suppliers. Illustrations of animals were drawn manually to emphasize the hand selection of coffee beans.”

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“‘We kept in mind, that coffee beans are selected manually, so we made illustrations in a graphic form manually as well’ – says Creative Director of Apus Agency, Vitaly Afanasiev.

The colours used reflected the phases of  a coffee bean’s maturity. An intelligible and simple description displayed informal and friendly addresses to customers.

All the information was placed on stickers, which remained from the form of the Biji Coffee logo with the line under the crown. The use of stickers helped to cut the cost of the packaging.”

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“‘As the result, unique illustrations helped customers by easily differentiating the coffee beans by regions. A short intelligible description made it possible to be at ease with the coffee, even if you are not an expert, and the stickers cut the cost on packaging production decidedly’ – summarizes Vitaly Afanasiev.”

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Designed By: Apus Agency
Creative Director: Vitaly Afanasiev
Location: Russia

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Twinings Celebrates Their London Roots

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By: Bill McCool

Modernity can be a hard thing to embrace, especially if you’ve been in business since 1706.

Twinings, the UK’s most infamous tea-pusher, looked to BrandOpus for help designing a special London edition package for some of their beloved brews. While Twinings was a longtime client of the firm, they wanted to try something that was contemporary while simultaneously being firmly rooted to where it all got started for them.

“London is the place where it all began for Twinings,” BrandOpus’s Chief Creative Officer Paul Taylor says. “To celebrate everything they love about their home, our biggest goal was to really capture the true reflection of London as it is today. London is at the cutting-edge – it’s always changing and pushing forward while being rooted in its own history and authenticity.”

“Our first round of research was about what London is best known for and from there we came up with four themes,” Paul says.  “Architecture, fashion, transport, and theatre. Within those themes, we delved deeper into what London has to offer and created a tiered system for each subject, from really well-known locations to little discoveries and quirky off-the-beaten-path type material. We then took our findings and created some visual concepts around the themes.”

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The packages are chock-full of astounding London-centric details and architectural marvels. ”Much like London itself, each twist and turn reveals a hidden layer,” he says, “from the neon lights of Soho to a bustling Liverpool Street Station. The packs truly encapsulate the unique energy and buzz that allows London to be an eternal source of inspiration to so many. “

Of course, BrandOpus didn’t want to rely on a lot of the stereotypical images frequently associated with London – they wanted to create a feeling. “When people design for London they often evoke things like phone booths, double-decker buses, or Big Ben,” Paul says. “The Twinings London Edition pack creates a sense of atmosphere, making you feel like you are not just seeing London, but experiencing its energy. It’s not just the iconic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, it’s the awe-inspiring ceiling that conjures a sense of wonder and excitement when looking up. It’s the well-worn wooden benches of the globe theatre. Our design evokes what it’s like to be in London and actually experience everything it has to offer.

To house this intricately detailed package, BrandOpus created a special gift bag adorned with gold lettering targeted at both tourists and Londoners. “During the early concept stages,” Paul says, “we played around with different structures including boxes that opened like a book or one that unwrapped as if it were a map of London. However, London is a world-class shopping destination and we decided to make the packs a gift-worthy shopping experience. We toyed around with different structures that included tins and wrapping paper but in the end, we decided to turn the pack itself into the gift. When the pack is on the shelf, the ribbon is neatly tucked away, but when you pick it up it becomes a special Twinings shopping bag.”

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For a design 2 years in the making, it was well worth the wait as the package envisions the ultimate walking tour of London which doesn’t require firing up your fit bit to get your steps in. “Whether you live in London or are just visiting,” Paul adds, “London is challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Just like walking down the street, the package takes you on a visual journey and hints at the originality that makes London unlike any other city in the world.”


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Bill McCool

Bill McCool is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. Though new to the world of design, he has always been a storyteller by trade and he seeks to inspire and cultivate a sense of awe with the work and artists he profiles. When he’s not winning over his daughters with the art of the Dad joke, he is usually working on a pilot, watching the Phillies, or cooking an elaborate meal for his wife.

 

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These Aren’t Your Typical Frozen Dinners — Gourmade’s Saturated New Look

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Robot Food designed this beautifully saturated packaging for Gourmade, a new line of high-end frozen cuisine.

“New to the category, Gourmade’s range of premium frozen mains, sides and desserts come with a delicious new positioning, identity and packaging design from Robot Food.

Gourmade is a new ‘frozen from fresh’ ready meal brand about to take frozen foods into the 21st century. Brand owners, Jo and Glenn Devenish, had identified a need for frozen food of exceptional quality and greater variety, that offers guilt-free satisfying meals without the faff. After purchasing a small frozen ready meal company, they asked Leeds-based, strategic branding agency, Robot Food to create a new brand.”

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“Frozen has plenty going for it as a category. Viewed as wholesome with low waste appeal, consumer demand is there but the brands aren’t. The uninspiring reality of frozen aisles – dark and muted premium products, general brand sameness, condensation and frosty packaging – presented a golden opportunity to make a lasting impact and take the compromise out of frozen.

Of course, the main advantage of frozen is convenience, which ultimately inspired the team’s strategy of empowering people to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying life. From this, the team created the name ‘Gourmade’, developed the mission and strapline ‘Live more. Cook less’, and a designed a joyful brand identity packed with warmth, personality and homemade appeal.”

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“Brightly coloured packs shout loud and clear, and the friendly tone of voice chats about the benefits of locked-in goodness, great quality and how there’s more to life than slaving over a stove. Stylish pack architecture includes a new handwritten font, created by Robot Food, that looks as though you’ve cooked the food and hand-labelled it yourself. ‘Frozen from fresh’ labels on each pack are randomly placed like stickers for an extra home-cooked feel.

The team also created a bespoke pack format where the inspiration starts as soon as you pick up the box, with top flaps that lift to reveal delicious foodie photography and personalised serving suggestions from Jo Devenish herself. The results are set to bring new life to the frozen category, and a comms strategy and intuitive new e-commerce website are both currently in development, also by Robot Food.”

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“Launching now, the brand is attracting interest from independents through to retailers worldwide. So far, the range offers seven main meals, five sides and three desserts. Main meals include Mac, Cheese & Bacon, Beef Bourguignon and Fish Pie. Sides include Posh Peas and Potato Dauphinoise. Puddings include Salted Caramel Roulades and Raspberry Cheesecakes. Look out for Gourmade in Budgen’s, Simply Fresh and Spar, with more retailers in the UK and further afield soon to follow.

Jo Devenish, said, ‘Ours is really good quality food, lots of variety, as convenient as ever, and made with love. We wanted to communicate this on pack and change negative perceptions of frozen food, and Robot Food has delivered. We’re frankly amazed at the response we’re getting. Gourmade has fantastic shoppability and standout, and an irresistible personality that balances quality with charisma. We couldn’t be happier.’”

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“Simon Forster, Robot Food’s Founder and Exec. Creative Director, said, ‘In terms of personality and variety, existing ‘frozen’ brands were leaving consumers cold. Gourmade is a real game-changer and the bold, bright packs ARE the brand. It was great working with the Gourmade team to breathe new life back into the frozen aisles with something that tastes as good as it looks, and offers consumers such an inspiring range of great quality food.’”

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Designed By: Robot Food
Location: Leeds, UK

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This Chilean Rosé Is Pretty in Pink

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Designhorse designed this pretty in pink rosé that takes inspiration from the flora of Chile.

“Rosia is a rosé wine manufactured by Chilean Casas Patronales and is intended for the Swedish wine market. The wines takes its name from Chile’s national flower, Lapageria rosea and shares some of the same characteristics of the wine.”

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Designed By: Designhorse

Location: Oslo, Norway

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Sabra (Chickpea) Hearts You

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By: Bill McCool

When you have 60 percent market share in the world of hummus, do you really need to redesign your packaging?

Sabra says, yes, you do.

“Frankly, we know our packaging has a very strong presence and consumers recognize the brand,” Sabra’s Chief Marketing Officer Eugenio Perrier says. “On the other hand, while we have strong packaging, it’s been on the market for quite some time. We recognized there was an opportunity to give the packaging an update.”

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Sabra turned to Beardwood&Co. for the redesign. While they weren’t interested in upending the brand’s iconic and transparent packaging, they did want to make some clear and significant changes that would help Sabra be more effective in communicating their values.

Gone is the Sabra sun from the logo, replaced by a chickpea heart. They’ve restyled the label so that it’s now vertical, and they’ve updated the on-pack photography that accentuates those plant-based ingredients consumers are intimately familiar with already.

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“To me, the packaging is like a dress,” Eugenio says. “You want to put on a dress that is aligned with the times. You don’t want to put on a dress from the 70s or 80s because you want to make sure you are seen as contemporary and consistent with who you are.”

“Having updated packaging is a way to showcase you care,” he adds.

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“Sabra changed the way Americans eat,” Beardwood&Co. owner Julia Beardwood says. “The refreshed design preserves the essence of Sabra’s original look while more persuasively telling the story of what is within… fresh ingredients, bold flavors and a food famous for its ability to foster connections.”

“Great design doesn’t change what a brand is,” Eugenio says. “It helps reveal and communicate the best of what the brand wants to be, the best of what the brand is. It’s a process of continuous improvement.”


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Bill McCool

Bill McCool is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. Though new to the world of design, he has always been a storyteller by trade and he seeks to inspire and cultivate a sense of awe with the work and artists he profiles. When he’s not winning over his daughters with the art of the Dad joke, he is usually working on a pilot, watching the Phillies, or cooking an elaborate meal for his wife.

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96 Espresso Plays With Typography In Order To Create a Dynamic Packaging Solution

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Greek agency mousegraphics designed this modern packaging for 96 espresso. The design plays with typography in order to create a striking and dynamic design solution.

“The briefing: ‘We launched a new B2B brand of espresso coffee and we need to develop its identity in various applications.’

The target consumer: Greek and international coffee businesses”

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“The design: Researching the art of brewing espresso coffee, we found out a lot about the importance of the brewing temperature and its effect on taste and extraction. We decided to use the temperature of 96º C, which is considered ideal for a balanced result, as the base for the brand-identity. The Italian name, ‘novanta sei’, was developed into a memorable logo through a typography that a. highlights the formal beauty of the two digits (9 and 6) as they reflect one another in reverse and b. accentuates their playful ambiguity by breaking down their mirroring shapes. This served both, the organization of the packaging area and the development of the coffee cup application. The three coffee variations were distinguished by the discreet shades of letter coloring as well as by an easy-to-read scale for aroma, body and intensity positioned on the front surface. We opted for a somber, strong, dark overall effect animated by the image of coffee steam rising on each package.”

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Designed By: mousegraphics
Photography: Dimitris Poupalos
Location: Athens, Greece

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The High-End Quality of This Visual Clinic is Reflected in the Packaging

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Futura designed the branding and packaging for Ovation, an eye health clinic that prides itself on delivering high-quality care for their patients. With a black and white color scheme and white on white details, the overall look and feel is extremely high-end and contemporary.

“Ovation is a clinic that specializes in ocular health with two aspects: medical and cosmetic. We designed an identity that reflects the values of the brand: high-quality and professionalism.”

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“For the logo, we used two typographical fonts. The first, a sans serif with clean cuts, communicates values such as strength. The second, thanks to its serif terminations, transmits beauty and aesthetics.

 We also designed an icon combining two concepts; a nautilus shell, referring to the perfection of the golden figures: the exact proportion. In the lower part, the abstraction of water’s movement referring to the source of youth and beauty. In addition to this, we created a texture inspired by Op Art, this gives dynamism and vitality to the brand.”

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Designed By: Futura
Photography: Rodrigo Chapa
Location: Washington D.C., United States

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bubly is Going After that La Croix Paper

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By: Bill McCool

Last week, PepsiCo announced the launch of their new line of sparkling water, bubly. The zero-calorie beverage with no artificial flavors or sweeteners is poised to compete with the likes of industry leaders La Croix and Sparkling Ice.

The playful and humorous packaging comes with a greeting on every tab as well as a personal, punny message on every can (like, “I feel like I can be open around u”). bubly is available in 8 different flavors – limebubly, grapefruitbubly, strawberrybubly, lemonbubly, orangebubly, applebubly, mangobubly and cherrybubly – or as we like to call them, every flavor in the La Croix universe, just with a “bubly” tacked on to the end.

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In a press release, Todd Kaplan, VP of PepsiCo’s Water Portfolio, says “When we looked at the sparkling water category, we saw an opportunity to innovate from within by building a new brand and product from the ground up to meet consumer needs. We created bubly to provide consumers with a great-tasting, flavorful, unsweetened sparkling water in a fun, playful, and relevant manner that is unlike anything we’ve seen in the sparkling water category today.”

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PepsiCo has been looking to expand their water portfolio, even after last year’s launch of LIFEWTR, and are looking to reduce the amount of sugar in some of their offerings. “We want to make it easier for consumers to meet their health and wellness goals,” PepsiCo said in a statement to The Dieline. “So we’ve limited added sugars in most of our beverages, which also helps us meet our own goal for at least 2/3 of our global beverage portfolio volume to have 100 Calories or fewer from added sugars per 12-ounce serving by 2025. We are making progress on this by reformulating many of our existing drinks, by creating delicious new choices with fewer added sugars, and by adding new low- and zero-calorie teas, coffees, and waters—like bubly.”

Be on the lookout for bubly’s bold and colorful sparkling water as they’ll be available in stores nationwide this month.


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Bill McCool

Bill McCool is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. Though new to the world of design, he has always been a storyteller by trade and he seeks to inspire and cultivate a sense of awe with the work and artists he profiles. When he’s not winning over his daughters with the art of the Dad joke, he is usually working on a pilot, watching the Phillies, or cooking an elaborate meal for his wife.

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