There was a time, when I started blogging, that I used to hunt for blog events, cook food to fit the theme, blog that very day and send my entry across. I don’t do it anymore. I just do not have that kind of drive anymore. I have become more choosy. If the photograph does not satisfy me, I would rather not post the recipe. Yet, there are some events that I long to be a part of each month. These days, the events that interest me revolve around health or photography, both of which seem to have consumed my living. I am just glad that these addictions at least guarantee sanity.
Once Lubna had invited me to write a ‘food photography’ post and I had mentioned that the best way to learn is by looking at what the masters do, set up table and try and take pictures like they did. Sometimes by copying you learn to move out of your comfort zone and try things that you otherwise will not, and some of the new things you learn might actually help you improve your own style. It is for this reason that I love the monthly contest Simone hosts. DHSPC, short for Donna Hay’s Styling and Photography Challenge, is now in its sixth month, and this time Simone has chosen a photograph taken by Con Poulos from the cookbook ‘Seasons’. Donna Hay is the Goddess of food styling. Her signature style is to keep the food setting clean and simple, calling the viewer’s attention to the food. The photograph chosen for this month is;
I faced a few hurdles while setting up and had to make some changes.
I could not bring all the elements together in one frame, try as hard as I did. My table stands at an end where I do not get light. It is wrought iron and heavy to disturb. In order to do justice I placed my tea table and a low level chair behind, but this was a rectanglular table. I wanted the bottle to fall in completely and angle the camera so that the bread would receive prominence. Because Summer has already set in, the light was turning harsh every few minutes. It did not give me much time to manipulate the settings or change lenses and try a second photograph. I needed time to do my own set ups too. I generally place my boards on the window sill and manage all my photography there. That is my studio, filled with natural light. I replaced tahini for the bottle and poured some fresh orange juice in a glass as I wasn’t sure what the transparent liquid was. Next time for such a photograph I must remember that I should use my 24-105mm and not the prime lens! That was a big mistake.
I made a vegan version of the arugula pesto using nutritional yeast flakes and hazelnuts as my daugher is allergic to pine nuts, and instead of regular bread, used the English muffins I baked the previous evening. And, I realized when I later saw the photographs that I had completely forgotten to place a napkin below the plate and had placed my plate off center! I am also a bit irritated that I let my own character emerge in a photograph that was supposed to be someone else’s. Well, one makes mistakes and learns. Next time I am going to have the laptop open with the picture and then do my setting.
Having tried the above, I decided to move on with my style. For me, this was a foreign scene – not one that would happen in my home. We consume only fruits till 12.00 in the afternoon. Today, was an exception. I drank all of the orange juice and ate many fruits, but could not resist having one muffin as it looked very inviting with all that pesto on top. My husband and children were surprised that we were to have a rare, hearty breakfast. Pleasantly.
Since this post is only to do with the challenge, I will post the recipe associated with the challenge today. My vegan recipe for the English muffins will follow in another post.
Elements of breakfast:
English muffins (forked and split into halves)
Extra virgin olive oil – as needed for toasting the halved breads
Toffuti cream cheese – as needed
Zucchini ribbons – About 1-2 for each bread
Lemon flavoured black pepper
Arugula pesto – About a tablespoonful for each slice of bread – recipe below
Recipe: Vegan arugula pesto
Adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe, as appearing in Simone’s post
Yield: Enough to top 8-10 slices of bread
Basil – 1/2 cup
Arugula / Rocket leaves – 1 cup
Toasted hazelnuts – about 10 [Can use pine nuts instead]
Nutritional yeast flakes – 1/4 cup
Fresh garlic cloves – 2
Extra virgin olive oil – 1/8 cup [Can use more if you like]
Pink salt to taste
Rinse the leaves (basil and arugula), and pat dry between kitchen towels.
Place arugula, basil, hazelnuts, nutritional yeast flakes and garlic in a mixer and grind. Open once or twice in between and add extra virgin olive oil, and scrape the sides. Grind to a thick, coarse paste. Mine took about three to four minutes.
Heat a cast iron griddle.
Fork the muffins in the center and pull apart to form two slices. Toast both slices to golden brown and crispy. Rub this with half a clove of garlic and sprinkle some extra virgin olive oil.
Top the toast with a bit of tofutti cream cheese, and dab lots of pesto.
Top with zucchini ribbons and finish with some salt and pepper.
Come, join me at the table as I breakfast for lunch! The pesto has a peppery edge coming from the arugula leaves that is very tasty, but one who is not used to the taste of arugula (also known as rocket leaves) might need some inititation.
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