I had meant to write a longer post today, with a bit of an update into what I’ve been doing lately. Instead, I managed to end up down a rabbit hole of photography related web articles, with a particular focus on (surprise!) food photography after stopping by a photography shop in the city to look at some new lenses earlier today. Oops.
When I started this blog almost a year ago, the purpose was to experiment and delve deeper into vegetarian food recipes, cook more from the pages of my many cookbooks, to learn as much as I could from other chefs and home cooks and to share these recipes with my family and friends. One of the unexpected but welcome side benefits was that I realised how much I enjoy the photography side of the blog (and outside world). Its been a very steep learning curve, and I have so, so much more to learn and experiment with; but that is the fun part.
I’m currently looking into doing a (more general) photography course at the Australian Centre of Photography, where I can learn more about working with light and composition. In the meantime, these are a couple of articles I’ve been reading today:
- Really helpful article from a reformed pastry chef and excellent photographer at one of my favourite food blogs, Bojon Gourmet
- Shooting moody images by Souvlaki for the Soul
- Tips from some of the best food photographers
- Highlighting nature’s harmony, the Fibonacci numbers
- This book from the author of Tartelette keeps popping up.
I especially love seeing the shots taken of the food scene, props, backgrounds and all (I often wonder what my neighbours think while I’m out on the balcony with my camera and latest creation…). If any one has some other great recommendations, please send them through.
Anyway, back to this dinner. I had some wonderful, crunchy rosemary polenta chips earlier in the week with my friend Tanya after we checked out a swimming pool with a harbour view at North Sydney. (We have been trialling different swimming spots around Sydney in the past few weeks making the most of the warmer temperatures, and I probably need to write a round up of them at some stage.) Instead of the creamy mushroom sauce I had originally planned on making, I decided to make a simple tomato salsa, featuring some of the lovely, ripe late summer tomatoes which are everywhere in the shops this week, with some yellow, summery pattypan squash and creamy ricotta. This dish looks little bit fancy, but its fairly simple, just requiring some time to set the polenta after it cooks. Serves 3-4, and is lovely with a green salad.
- 4 cups (1L) vegetable stock
- 250g yellow cornmeal (polenta)
- 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
- 35g parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 450g ripe tomatoes, finely diced and a couple halved
- 1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 350g yellow squash, halved
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 100g fresh, good quality ricotta
- 2 tablespoons baby capers, rinsed
- Extra virgin olive oil, for cooking
- Salt and pepper
- Prepare the polenta by adding the stock to a medium sized saucepan over high heat. Once the stock is boiling, turn the stove down to a simmer and continuously whisk in the polenta in a steady stream. Continue whisking for about 5 minutes until the polenta has thickened. Stir in the tablespoon of butter (or olive oil) and turn stove to low. Leave the polenta covered on low heat until it is cooked (follow the instructions on the package, this can take another 10-15 minutes to 30-40 minutes, depending on the type of polenta), stirring regularly to avoid it sticking too much to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the polenta is cooked, stir in a tablespoon of olive oil and the parmesan cheese. Pour the polenta into a rectangular baking tray (25cm x 15cm x 5cm) and put in the fridge, covered, until the polenta sets. This should take around 3-4 hours, and you can leave it overnight.
- While the polenta is cooking, add the tomatoes, parsley, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a good couple of grinds of salt and pepper to a medium sized bowl. Stir the tomatoes through the olive and leave to sit for at least an hour (or until the polenta is set). Season to taste.
- When you are ready to eat, remove the polenta from the fridge and cut into squares. Cut each square in half to form a triangle.
- Grill the squash in a grill pan with some olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes until just tender. While the squash is cooking, add some olive oil to a frypan over high heat and then add the polenta triangles. Rotate the polenta around so all sides are browned.
- Arrange a couple of polenta triangles on a plate, add a couple of squash pieces and spoon over 2-3 tablespoons of the tomato mix and juices and 2-3 tablespoons of ricotta. Squeeze lemon juice over the plate, and sprinkle across half a tablespoon of capers. Repeat for the other plates. Serve immediately with a green salad.