Posted on by Cleverona Kitchen

Featured Food Blogger of the Week: Nicole Branan of and The Spice Train

Nicole Branan is the photographer, stylist and occasional recipe developer behind the site and previously blogged at Great flavor is important to her but she also cares a great deal about the visual appeal and presentation of the food she prepares.  You can often find her hunched over a plate rearranging lettuce leaves for the better part of an hour or giving a strand of spaghetti just the right twirl.  Nicole lives at lofty altitude in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband and their very active little cat.

1. Your website is amazing. You have incredible food photography skills. Why did you decide to close down your old food blog and start a new site?

That's a good question, there were actually several things that came together and prompted me to make the transition. For one, I had long wanted to tie my blogging efforts closer to my photography business and make photography (rather than recipes) the main focus. At the same time I was also getting worried about the sustainability of running a pure food blog. The thing is, I have ideas for great recipes every now and then but not always several times per week, every week, and I honestly started to see myself running out of material to post.

Because my new site is a photography portfolio I am able to take a much looser approach to what recipes I post because the audience of a photography site is not expecting an original recipe with every photo. That allows me to cook, photograph and then link to great recipes from others in addition to posting my own recipes. That approach has been a lot
of fun for me so far and I've discovered some true recipe gems in the process.

2. Do you still create new recipes? What inspires you to create new ones?

Yes, sometimes I still do. I'm often inspired by two separate recipes and combine my favorite features of each into a new recipe. One example is a strawberry tart I came up with the other day. It's got a pastry cream that combines the ingredients and technique used to make zabaglione with some of the features of a tiramisu.

strawberry tart

3. What occupies your time when you're not taking beautiful pictures or whipping up delicious food? 

I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful mountain town high up in the Colorado Rockies and I love to be outdoors. I go hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc. all the time. It's wonderful to be able to take in the beautiful scenery up here every single day.

4. Can you tell us five things that people don't know about you? 

  • I love almost all outdoor activities but there's one that I absolutely loathe and that's running. I do not run.
  • I'm originally from Germany but have lived in the U.S. for nearly two decades now.
  • I wanted to be a landscape photographer but just couldn't get myself out of bed at 2 a.m. (to be in position for sunrise) often enough.
  • I'm a chemist by education but ended up loving photography so much that I abandoned my previous career for it.
  • I'm an avid vegetable gardener and every year I try to make the most out of our short growing season up here in the mountains.

5. What are the three recipes that best represent your kitchen? 

My savory recipes are all about intense flavors from lots of spices and one of my favorites is this slow cooker indian chicken curry, I make it several times a month

slow cooker indian chicken curry

I love sweets as well and all my desserts are buttery, creamy and indulgent, including the strawberry pastry tart I mentioned earlier.  I'm also a big fan of using chocolate and booze! This orange linzer cookie with grand marnier chocolate ganache recipe is a good example.

orange linzer cookie with grand marnier chocolate ganache recipe

How to Reach Nicole Branan of and The Spice Train Website
The Spice Train Website