Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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Artichoke and Feta Tarts

I like a photography challenge, especially if it's food related.  I've participated in a few on Flickr in the past. I came across a monthly food styling and photography challenge by Jungle Frog Cooking via a Google+ contact and decided to participate in this month's challenge. Each month a recipe and photo are provided from Donna Hay Magazine and the challenge is to make the recipe and duplicate the photo. Minor alterations are ok but it should look similar to the photo used in the magazine. Sounds like fun right? You can get more details/rules for the contest on the Donna Hay Styling and Photography Challenge page.

Artichoke and Feta Tarts is the 7th challenge and it appears to be an easy one compared to some of the ones they've done in the past. The recipe was very simple.  It's always the easy recipes I seem to mess up.  I did read through all of the instructions before starting but didn't follow the instructions as carefully as I should have.

My first goof was putting the peas and tomatoes on the puff pastry before baking it.  I was thinking they would be baked too but I was wrong. Luckily I realized this mistake just before putting them in the oven so I was able to scrape off most of the tomatoes and peas but didn't get all of peas.  You'll notice a few brown wrinkled peas in the photo, sure I could have picked them off but I figured it would add to the photo and be a little different than the other submissions.

My second goof was on the temperature of the oven.  I saw 200 degrees in the recipe and so I set my oven to 200 degrees, baked the puff pastry for 14 minutes as suggested but it was not puffing up. at. all.  I checked the recipe again to make sure I got the temperature right and sure enough it said 200 degrees but wait what is that after 200?  Yeah that's a C meaning Celsius. Doh!  So I cranked up the heat to 400 and cooked it a while longer and it puffed up and was nice and golden brown and flakey like it should be. Whew!

I made some minor changes to the original recipe.  I used grape tomatoes rather than cherry tomatoes.  I left out the white balsamic vinegar and I used much less feta cheese than instructed.  250g is more than a small tub of crumbled feta and I only used about half of one.  I wasn't sure how 62g would even fit on one square of puff pastry. Cheese isn't really in my diet and neither is the puff  pasty so I did cheat a little for this little project.

I styled the tarts pretty closely to how they were styled in the original photo.  I used a two light setup on my dining room table.  I used Metz strobes on each side of the table, both set at 1/4 power.  One was shot through an umbrella and the other bounced into an umbrella and triggered them using Pocket Wizard Plus II's.  I put my tripod on the table and carefully weighed down two of the legs with diving ankle weights so it wouldn't tip over from the weight of the camera.  I used a step ladder to frame the shot in live view and triggered the shutter with a remote.

Camera Equipment: Olympus E-5 with 12-60mm lens
Settings: 30mm, F5.6, 1/60, ISO 200.
Setup Shot
Artichoke and Feta Tarts Recipe
Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

  • 1 sheet store bought puff pastry (thawed)
  • 250g feta (crumbled)
  • 4 artichoke hearts (marinated and halved)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 100g mixed cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 120g frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • olive oil (for drizzling)
  • white balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)
Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F). Cut the pastry into 4 squares and score a 1 cm border around each square. Place the square on a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper and top with feta and artichoke. Brush the pastry borers with the egg and bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden
Place the tomato, peas and mint in a medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic and toss to combine. Top the tarts with the tomatoe salad to serve.

Original Magazine Photo
Artichoke and Feta Tarts
My Version
Artichoke and Tomatoes Tomatoes and Peas


  1. That looks gorgeous Paula! Great that you could participate in this months challenge. I will remind myself to put the temperature down in Celsius as well as Fahrenheit. ;) I've made similar mistakes a few times myself too! I use a lot of American recipes and sometimes things like a 'stick' of butter can really mess me up. We don't have sticks and if you search online you get 10 different outcomes in weight. Driving my nuts. I always figure it's easier to use grams but then I'm used to it.. ;)
    I love the vibrant colors in your photo. Now that I think of it I probably used a lot less of the feta too. It seemed a bit excessive but I wrote down the original recipe.
    Thanks again for participating and love your behind the scenes shot and notes. Always helpful!

  2. I like yours better. There's more stuff on them! Though, it might be harder to eat in a "lady like" way, but who really cares about being ladylike anyways?

  3. hah yes they were a little messy. Just ate what was left on the plate like a salad. :)

  4. lovely click! actually i wouldnt have noticed the burnt peas if u hadnt mentioned it.. it looks perfect to me :)

  5. Yeah I think for me the hardest part was the europian measurment. It took me about half an hour just to prepare this simple recipe because i was constantly checking the ingredients and the directions.
    Love your setup, you are very professional :)
    Good luck!