Sunday, July 1, 2012
I've been developing recipes for a handout on "Farmers Market Cooking" over the past few weeks, and since I wrote them myself and needed to photograph them, testing was required. I thought it might be fun, and I did enjoy the cooking aspects of it, of course, but it turns out while some basic food styling is fairly easy...
Others are, um... less so. Seriously, how does anyone ever style a dish like this? The best I could manage was "its best side."
I was reminded of one nice advantage of food photography, though: it only matters what it looks like. For this pesto - the recipe is actually written for basil - I used arugula. Arugula that turned out to be more mature than I thought. Arugula so bitter that no matter how much lemon juice and salt I added to it, produced an absolutely inedibly bitter pesto.
Also, that basil? It's a lie. It's from the renegade plant I posted last time - a plant I have since ripped out by its roots and tossed into the yard with disgust - and, damnit it is not basil. I have no idea what's wrong with it, or wrong with our soil, or wrong with me, but I cannot for the life of me grow basil that tastes like basil. It has a hint of that glorious basil flavor, buried under a mountain of this awful astringent, medicinal taste. It makes my tummy sad.
Of course, the one clear advantage of a recipe testing frenzy is having lots of delicious food fill the house, and fortunately everything I made - except that damn pesto - did turn out quite delicious. For this salsa, Keith tossed some locally grown hydroponic tomatoes on the grill to char up, and the glorious smokiness really elevated it. Not surprisingly, the salsa was not long for this world.
This grunt was pretty directly adapted from Alton Brown's grunt recipe, and it was by far the last dish to be made, in part because ugh am I really going to turn the oven on for an hour in the middle of this heat?, and in part because I'd burned myself out on recipe testing by then. The peaches sat on the counter for a week and barely made it through my holdout. Keith's first comment on this photo was, "You should've wiped the rim." Thanks, butthead.
Fortunately some dishes are hard to get any way but right. I've never come across a bruschetta that I wasn't thankful for, and this is no exception.