Monday, May 07, 2012

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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.


Cut Steak Searing Steak
Left: My version; Right: Original from Donna Hay Magazine  Donna Hay Steak Skewers steak-lrg-2-769x1024

Recipes from Donna Hay Magazine:

Salted rump steak
1kg rump steak (cut into large pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup rocksalt (300 gr)
cracked black pepper

Thread the steak onto metal skewers and rub with olive oil. Place on a baking tray and cover completely with the rock salt. Place in the fridge for 1 hour. Wipe with absorbent paper to remove the rock salt and sprinkle with pepper. Heat a char-grill pan or BBQ over high heat. Add the skewers and cook for 7 minutes each side for medium rare or until cooked to your liking. Serve with the chimichurri saue (see below)

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.


  1. You've done so well with this - difficult - challenge Paula!!! I also still don't have any idea how a rump steak is called in Dutch. Lol. So that'll be interesting to find out since we don't really have a good butcher here. Love how you prepared the various props to make them look older... I definitely think you've managed to create a similar feeling to the original!

  2. Wonderful!! I love everything you did get get the props to look the way you wanted, I will definitely be remembering a few of these tips - especially for treating the knife! Lovely photo :)

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  4. Wonderful! I saw you're attending the BlogHer Food Conference...I've never been before but am really looking forward to it. Hope to meet you there!