Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Roasted Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri SauceThis is my second time making these potatoes and chimichurri sauce though it's the first time I've taken photos highlighting the potatoes.  The first time I made them was for the steak portion of the Donna Hay Challenge last month.  We had the choice of trying to duplicate the photo for steak or potatoes and had two months to work on them. Most people did one or the other but I decided to try both.

Finding the right props for the potato challenge was the most challenging part of creating this photo.  I went to several different thrift stores trying to find a square wire holder to use for the photo but did not have much luck.  I know other people had similar issues and some decided to not use a holder at all and I almost did that too.  We made a stop at the Goodwill in Monroe, WA and again couldn't find anything that came close but we did come across this rectangular container that we made some modifications to that actually turned out pretty well.  A few cuts and bends and we had something to work with.

The original photo, taken by Ben Dearnley and styled by Steve Pearce has two butter knives in it and I actually found some butter knives that had a similar design at a thrift store I went to a few weeks ago that I've been holding onto for this photo. I even took one of the knives with me to Portland and I think I may have left it in Portland because it was no where to be found so my photo unfortunately only has one of the knives.  The knife and spoon were also thrift store items.  My props shelves are going to grow fast doing all these challenges.  The only props I didn't have to buy were the salad bowl and the glasses which I had left over from my jam and candle making.

I didn't take this photo in the same place as the steak photo mainly because it was raining and the sidewalk was all wet.  I decided to take the photo in my laundry room which has a nice smooth cement floor which I thought worked out pretty well.  I didn't take a behind the scenes photo this time because I didn't use any off camera flash for this shot.  I used my flash on camera and pointed it at the left wall at about 1/4 power.   I probably could have turned it down even more and used a larger aperature to get a little more dof on the salad.  The cup in front is a bit of red wine vinegar which is an ingredient in the chimichurri sauce though I didn't actually use it. For one thing my red wine vinegar is several months expired and my candida diet only allows cider vinegar so that's what I used in the sauce.  The cider vinegar wouldn't have looked as good so luckily I had the old red wine vinegar otherwise I would have just opened a bottle of red wine for the shot.

To go along with the crispy roasted potatoes I made up a batch of pork and beef meatloaf using a recipe I found on Simply Recipes.  It's a little different than the meatloaf recipe I usually make.  This one has more vegetables and doesn't contain any milk.  I also substituted some garbonzo bean flour for bread crumbs. I need to find me some gluten free bread crumbs. The meatloaf seemed a little greasy to me but that might be in part because it got a little cold while I was taking pictures of the potatoes.  I have another loaf of it to eat as leftovers this week.
Chimichurri Sauce
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley (chopped)
1 tablespoon oregano (chopped)
2 teaspoons rosemary (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
cracked black pepper
place the parsley, oregano, rosemary, paprika, chilli flakes, garlic, bay leaf, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

Roasted Potatoes
1,5kg large sebago (starchy) potatoes
(peeled and chopped)
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
cracked black pepper
100g wild rocket (arugula) leaves (to serve)
Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F). Place the potato in a large saucepan of salted cold water over high heat and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes or until the potato is just tender. Drain, return the potato to the pan and cook for 1 minte to remove excess moisture. Shake the pan to fluff the potato. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 40-45 minutes or until crisp and golden. Serve the potatoes with the chimichurri sauce and rocket leaves.

Left: My version; Right: Original from Donna Hay Magazine
Roasted Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce

Monday, May 07, 2012

Steak Skewer Challenge

Steak SkewersThis will be my second month participating in the Donna Hay Styling and Photography Challenge, organized by Jungle Frog Cooking. In case you missed my post last month, the challenge is to follow a recipe in the Donna Hay magazine and duplicate the photo that goes along with it.

This month we had the choice between Salted Rump Steak and Potatoes.  This was a much more difficult photo to duplicate than last month.  So difficult that it was decided to extend the challenge for another month.  I chose to do the steak however I may also do the potatoes later this month.  Ben Dearnley photographed the pictures we were to duplicate. Both photos were beautifully styled by Steve Pearce. They have a very rustic feel with old rusty props.

I had never seen or heard of rump steak so I decided to pay a visit to a local butcher specializing in organic, natural grass fed meats.  He mentioned how tough a cut of meat rump steak was and recommended new york steak instead.  So I got 2 steaks, a little over half a pound each.  I have bought new york steaks at Whole Foods for my Xavier Steak and was impressed with how tender they were.  Unfortunately these steaks were pale in comparison.  Not so thick and they had a surprising amount of fat on them and they weren't as tender either.  I was a little disappointed considering how much I paid for them.  They also got quite cold since I did the photo shoot outside so that didn't help.

Even though I didn't do the potato photo, I did make the potatoes and chimichurri sauce since those were elements in the steak photo.  The potatoes turned out great. They were nice and crispy and I look forward to making them again.  The chimichurri sauce didn't have quite the same look as the photo since I substituted cider vinegar for the red wine vinegar so it wasn't nearly as red but it still tasted good.

I ended up buying a few props for the photo since I didn't really have anything that looked close to what was in the picture.  I paid a visit to a few Goodwill stores to find a knife to use.  None of them were nearly as dark and rusty as the one in the photo.  Mark Lea helped take care of that by rubbing a combination of muriatic acid, hydrogen peroxide and some blue steel making solution on the blade.  I also bought some new pizza stones because the one I have is too big and square and I couldn't find any used at Goodwill.  In order to get it to look used I rubbed some tomato sauce on it and put it in the oven until it got dark. It worked like a charm!  I also bought some metal skewers which I've been meaning to buy anyway. I've been using bamboo skewers and had planned to buy metal ones after finishing those off so now I don't have to.  I ordered them on Amazon and when they arrived they turned out to not be the right ones and had to return them because they just were not right for the shot.  They were quick to send me the correct ones in time for the shoot.

As for the making of the photo, I didn't spend nearly as much time as I would have liked on the lighting.  It was getting dark and was trying to rush so the food didn't get too cold but it did anyway.  I shot it out in my backyard on a not very clean cement patio to give it that old look.  I didn't even use an umbrella this time and simply put the flash on my camera and hand held a large white reflector to bounce the light onto the food.  If I could do it again I would definitely use an umbrella to get a softer shadow.